Human rights abusers put on notice as states move closer to arms trade deal

“We need a Treaty that covers all arms – everything from small arms to helicopters to tanks, and their ammunition and components.”
Seydi Gassama
Director of Amnesty International Senegal
Published: 22 July 2010

Civil society says treaty must be "bulletproof" to protect lives

Diplomats emerged today after spending half of the time allocated for the preliminary negotiations on a global Arms Trade Treaty with draft elements and principles for the future treaty. These included principles that if implemented would outlaw international arms supplies to grave human rights violators and to where they risk fuelling poverty and conflict.

The Control Arms alliance expressed some satisfaction at progress made but urged governments to maximize time before the next meeting in 2011 to develop a draft Treaty further.

"While much work remains to be done to iron out the details of a future Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a majority of states has clearly recognized the need for the treaty to reduce the human suffering caused by the absence of global standards and irresponsible transfers of arms," said Maria Pia Devoto, from APP Argentina.

Other draft principles advocated by many states would prevent international arms supplies that would contribute to armed conflict, war crimes, organized crime and terrorism.

"We need a Treaty that covers all arms – everything from small arms to helicopters to tanks, and their ammunition and components. And we need common procedures so that all international arms transfers are rigorously assessed to keep arms out of the hands of human rights abusers, and away from places where they will fuel conflict and human suffering," said Seydi Gassama, Director of Amnesty International Senegal.

A controversial aspect of the UN talks has been the closure of some of the substantive meeting sessions to NGOs. The Control Arms alliance said this was an unexpected decision by the Chair and called for greater openness and transparency in future sessions.

"The world is one step closer to having a Treaty that will make it harder for war mongers and human rights abusers to obtain weapons and ammunition. A great deal of preparation is now needed by states before the next UN ATT meeting in March 2011 to ensure they deliver a 'bulletproof' Treaty that will save and protect lives and livelihoods," said Anna MacDonald, head of Control Arms at Oxfam.

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Louis Belanger, Oxfam International Media Officer + 1 917 224 0834