Control Arms couriers set off on rickshaws to deliver specially branded parcels containing Archbishop Tutu’s urgent message to every UN mission – "it's time to end the slaughter and back a global Arms Trade Treaty." Credit: Imogen Brown/Oxfam
An effective global Arms Trade Treaty is urgently needed.

‘It is time to end the slaughter’: Desmond Tutu

“There are some states which are opposed to a Treaty. They must not be allowed to succeed, the human cost is too high.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Published: 21 October 2008

Archbishop sends ‘Control Arms’ message to every nation

Today [Tuesday] Archbishop Desmond Tutu sent a strong message to every UN member state, calling on them to ‘end the slaughter’ arising from the uncontrolled arms trade, by giving their backing to a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and calling for them to vote in favor of the treaty at the crucial upcoming vote at the United Nations’ Committee on Disarmament and International Security, (1st Committee).

The crucial vote will take forward development of the ATT within the United Nations. The Control Arms campaign is calling for a strong Treaty which will stop the transfer of weapons which fuel conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. Already 85 states have indicated that they will vote yes for the treaty by ‘co-sponsoring’ the resolution.

The message from Archbishop Tutu was delivered by teams of campaigners who raced round Manhattan, reaching the embassies of all 192 member states in under 192 minutes.

In his message to each and every UN state, delivered to their UN missions in New York, Archbishop Tutu said:

“It is time to end the slaughter.

“In the last two years almost three-quarters of a million people have died as a result of armed violence. Women and men and children, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. More than one thousand people, every single day.”

Speaking to states about the upcoming vote, Archbishop Tutu said:

“There are some states which are opposed to a Treaty. They will seek to block, derail and delay any further progress. They will seek to convince you this treaty is not required or cannot work. They must not be allowed to succeed, the human cost is too high.

“All around the world, people are watching, waiting and holding you to account. They are demanding an Arms Trade Treaty with human rights at its heart. It is down to each and every one of you to see it done.

“You can and must act to control the deadly trade in weapons that is behind these deaths. There can be no further delay, we can wait no longer.”

The vote on the next stage of the Arms Trade Treaty takes place at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on week beginning 27th October.

Notes to Editors

1. The Control Arms campaign was launched by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in October 2003.

2. As previously intimated there will be a photocall today [Tuesday 21st October] at 9.30am at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, at the corner of United Nations Plaza (1st Avenue) and East 47th Street, New York. Control Arms couriers from around the world will set off to deliver specially branded parcels containing Archbishop Tutu’s urgent message to every UN mission, using Control Arms rickshaws.

3. Photographs will be issued to the media immediately after the event.

4. The full text of Archbishop Tutu’s speech is below:

"In 2006, history was made at the UN, when 153 governments voted to start work towards a global, legally-binding, Arms Trade Treaty.

In the two years since that historic vote, almost three-quarters of a million people have died as a result of armed violence. Women and men and children, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. More than one thousand people, every single day.

You can and must act to control the deadly trade in weapons that is behind these deaths. There can be no further delay, we can wait no longer; it is time to end the slaughter.

Yet there are some states which are opposed to a Treaty. They will seek to block, derail and delay any further progress. They will seek to convince you this treaty is not required or cannot work. They must not be allowed to succeed; the human cost is too high.

All around the world, people are watching, waiting and holding you to account. They are demanding an Arms Trade Treaty with human rights at its heart. It is down to each and every one of you to see it done.

At this month’s vote on the Treaty, you have an opportunity to begin to create a better, safer future for millions of people. A future free from poverty, insecurity and violence. You have an opportunity to make history again; it is an opportunity you must not allow to pass by. Lives hang in the balance, we can’t wait any longer.

Seize the opportunity; vote 'Yes' for the Arms Trade Treaty resolution."

5. More details on the background of the Arms Trade Treaty are available on request, including a graphic on the ‘story so far’ suitable for use in the media.

6. For more on the Control Arms campaign visit www.controlarms.org.