The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Louis Belanger

Talks for an Arms Trade Deal Going at Snail's Pace as Figures Show Over 2,000 Die per Day from Armed Violence

Oxfam and a coalition of NGOs reveal death toll reaches 2.1 million in three years of talks about talks – issue urgent call to launch negotiations on arms trade treaty


Talks to establish an
effective international treaty on the trade in conventional arms are
going at a snail's pace because of self interest and delaying tactics
by some major arms exporters, warned international agency Oxfam today.
This diplomatic wrangling is taking place ahead of crucial UN talks
this month and as figures show that tens of thousands continue to
suffer from armed violence worldwide.

In a report published today entitled "Dying for Action",
Oxfam and 11 other NGOs who support the international Control Arms
campaign, show that some 2.1 million people have died either directly
or indirectly as a result of armed violence since governments agreed in
2006 on the need to regulate the arms trade. This is the equivalent of
more than 2,000 people per day - worse than one person killed each

Governments are meeting this month at the United Nations in New York
in a make-or-break debate to decide whether to officially kick start
formal negotiations on creating an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Oxfam said
that the world cannot afford to wait any longer and that a Treaty must
be concluded before the end of 2012 at the latest. A robust treaty
could limit the flow of weapons and ammunition and prevent arms deals
that fuel poverty, conflict, armed crime and abuse of human rights.

"Armed violence costs 2,000 lives every single day. Eight out of
every ten governments want to get an Arms Trade Treaty agreed and
ordinary citizens are calling for one too. This month we need the
majority of enlightened countries at the UN to make it happen. An
intransigent few cannot be allowed to keep their foot on the brakes
forever," said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

Hobbs: "More than trade in any other item, politicians must do all
they can to make sure we control the flows of arms and weapons. We must
change the current system where there is no effective global control on
the arms trade, and where unscrupulous arms dealers can too easily send
weapons to the world's worst conflict zones."

Among the 2.1 million deaths - overwhelmingly of civilians - more
than 700,000 have been caused by the direct and indirect impact of
armed conflicts, including those in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and
Sri Lanka, the reports says. This year the world's deadliest war in the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) worsened, which pushed numbers
further up.

The report cites several instances where governments have shown the
political will to move quickly and effectively when they want. For
instance, the Convention on Cluster Munitions took less than two years
to complete. It took just 17 days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11
for all states to freeze the financial assets of anyone connected with

Jan Egeland, the former UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, who wrote the Foreword to the report said:

"Even though there has been a marked decline in wars since the fall
of the Berlin Wall, the number of violent attacks against civilians has
continued at intolerable levels. Only a forceful, unambiguous and
verifiable convention can control transfers and do away with the
networks of illegal arms brokers that supply our generation's weapons
of mass killings and mass misery."

Oxfam and its allies say that an effective treaty would not impede a
state's right to acquire arms to be used for legitimate self-defense
and law enforcement purposes. The group is calling for all
international arms transfers to be authorized based on criteria
centered on international human rights law, International Humanitarian
Law and sustainable development.

"We need a robust treaty that would make it harder for any war lords
to obtain new arms and ammunition. Dangerous arms deals like recent
deals with Chad, Zimbabwe or Libya should be avoided as thousands of
weapons can end up in the wrong hands. In all these cases, the sale of
arms should have never been authorized," said Oxfam's Hobbs.

Download the report: Dying for Action: Decision time for an urgent, effective Arms Trade Treaty

Notes to editors

International is part of the Control Arms campaign, an international
movement of non-governmental organizations working for effective global
regulation of the arms trade. The report is published with the support
of Asociacion para Politicas Publicas, Africa Peace Forum, Control Arms
Foundation of India, Instituto Sou Da Paz, Non-Violence International,
Norwegian Church Aid, Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development,
Saferworld, the Schweitzer Institute, Swedish Fellowship of
Reconciliation, and WINAD.

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.