2006: Critical year for achieving Arms Trade Treaty
Governments must kick start negotiations on an international Arms Trade Treaty this year, the Control Arms Campaign said today as the UN launched its first major review of small arms controls in five years.
Existing arms controls are powerless to protect innocent civilians, according to three reports on the human cost of arms transfers to Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sierra Leone launched today by the Campaign.
This week's United Nations (UN) meeting in New York will prepare the ground for a landmark UN conference on small arms controls in June.
"In 2006, the world has a choice. Either it continues to ignore the massive human cost of arms proliferation or it finally acts to control the arms trade," said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam. "No one but a criminal would knowingly sell a gun to a murderer, yet governments can sell weapons to regimes with a history of human rights violations or to countries where weapons will go to war criminals."
There is no comprehensive international agreement governing the transfer of arms. By contrast, there is a legally-binding global treaty governing the transfer between countries of items such as dinosaur bones and old postage stamps.
The Control Arms Campaign is calling on all UN member states at this week's meeting to prepare the ground for a set of global principles to govern the sale of weapons as a building block towards a Treaty.
"Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone manufacture very few arms, yet they have been flooded with weapons, which have been used to kill, maim, displace and impoverish hundreds of thousands of people. Time and again, peacekeeping efforts have been undermined by the failure of governments to introduce effective arms controls. For the sake of millions of men, women and children who live in continual fear of armed violence, world leaders must seize this historic opportunity to begin negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty," said Denise Searle, Amnesty International's Senior Campaigns Director.
In Haiti, armed violence raging in the capital Port-au-Prince has increased uncertainty that credible and peaceful elections can be held in the coming months. The first presidential elections since President Aristide fled in February 2004 were postponed this month for the fourth time.
Yvonne, a 29-year-old Port-au-Prince resident interviewed in the Haiti report described an attack on 18 August 2005: "A group of bandits came to my home. They had machine guns, a lot of guns. They beat and raped me. We didn't have violence like this before. Bandits are killing people, and the police are killing people. Women are raped all the time."
In Sierra Leone, a UN arms embargo imposed during the 1991-2002 civil war was easily flouted, according to the report. The current patchwork of ineffective arms controls means that unscrupulous arms dealers quickly found a way round the embargo.
"Civilians in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, and in many other countries, have endured a wave of killings, rapes and kidnappings and the unregulated arms trade has fuelled these atrocities. These victims cannot personally lobby the politicians who will decide whether to crack down on irresponsible arms deals, but their voices, and those of hundreds of thousands of people whose lives are devastated by armed violence every year, must be heard," said Rebecca Peters, Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).
For more information or to request a copy of the reports, please contact:
Oxfam: Clare Rudebeck. + 44 (0)1865 472 530. Mobile + 44 (0) 7769 887 139,
Amnesty International: James Dyson +44 (0) 2074135831. Mobile: +44 (0)
IANSA: Anthea Lawson until 7 Jan: +44 (0) 7900 242 869. After 7 Jan: +1 347
European Union Office reports and papers
Photo of the wk: Young Ahmed holds the keys to 1 of 48 new wash blocks, Zaatari camp #Jordan http://t.co/qOs5BOPh63 #Syria #refugees20 hours 56 min ago
1000s homeless again, searching for safety as violence erupts again in eastern #DRC http://t.co/C3cLwXNit3 $1bn WorldBank aid pledge22 hours 16 min ago
UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference: Good, but needs to go further http://t.co/Hm54O1EsXT #GPDRR13 #drr @UNDP @unisdr @odi_development23 hours 21 min ago
European #taxhavens are 2/3 of the $150 billion tax loss problem http://t.co/jax7i3jVsd #G8 #taxdodging #transparency1 day 1 hour ago
Thx @Food_Tank! Proud 2b in 40 Orgs Shaking Up the Food System list @IFADnews @millenniuminst @OneAcreFund @ONECampaign @rocunited @FAOnews1 day 3 hours ago
RT @oxfamgb: Good news of £30m extra funding from @DFID_UK for #Syria. Still need more aid from others & big push for a peace. http://t.co/…1 day 3 hours ago
US pushes Europe to amend arms #embargo on Syrian rebels http://t.co/B8KYe8VNQn #SyriaCrisis @StateDept @WilliamJHague @eu_eeas @OxfamEU1 day 3 hours ago
+80,000 ppl have been killed & several million displaced since the #SyriaCrisis began; #EU must extend arms embargo http://t.co/JlpzH9egf71 day 4 hours ago
RT @Katie_Nguyen1: Another arresting headline from @katymigiro 'Chips for sex: Oxfam explores the lives of #Kenya’s hungry millions' http:…1 day 4 hours ago
RT @liviafirth: 1 empowered woman can spark a positive change for her whole community @Oxfam @thecircle_oxfam #SparksthatFly @eco_age1 day 4 hours ago
RT @Karl_Schembri: #Syria children nxt to newly installed water tap outside 1 of 48 new wash blocks by @Oxfam in #Zaatari Camp, #Jordan htt…1 day 5 hours ago
The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions, but first it needs signatures. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/4YUsIawus71 day 7 hours ago
#EU foreign ministers must bite the bullet & extend the arms #embargo on #Syria http://t.co/rL80yARiSt #SyriaCrisis #ArmsTreaty1 day 13 hours ago
RT @OxfamIreland: Ireland pledges €2.5 million in aid to Mali to contribute to reconstruction http://t.co/wvUzsRsHoD via @IrishTimes #Mal…1 day 21 hours ago
As @UN Disaster Risk Reduction Conference ends, worth checking #GPDRR13 for great tweets from @unisdr @UNOCHA @Federation et al1 day 21 hours ago