World's biggest arms traders promise global arms treaty
Today at the United Nation years of discussions and debates, the vast majority of governments – 153 in total – agreed a timetable to establish a "strong and robust" Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the "highest common standards" to control international transfers of conventional arms. There is currently no global Treaty on the conventional arms trade.
Most of the world's biggest arms traders – including the USA, UK, France and Germany - will now all back the UN process. Nineteen states abstained but are all expected to take part in the process. Zimbabwe was the only State to vote against.
During the debates on the resolution, many countries spoke out and underlined the need for the treaty to be based on international law, including international human rights and humanitarian law.
The Control Arms campaign – a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organizations in over 100 countries that has promoted the ATT – welcomed the historic breakthrough at the UN today and called on all States to negotiate a truly effective Treaty. They warned that governments must keep up the momentum to ensure the final Treaty has firm international standards for the global arms trade. Campaigners expressed reservations about the procedure planned for the UN Conference that could give every State the right of veto over final decisions at the UN Conference. They warned a small number of sceptical States must not be allowed to hijack the ATT process when it is clear the world wants a strong treaty.
“All countries participate in the conventional arms trade and share responsibility for the ‘collateral damage’ it produces – widespread death, injuries and human rights abuses,” said Rebecca Peters, director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). “Now finally governments have agreed to negotiate legally binding global controls on this deadly trade.”
The agreement in the UN today means that the eventual ATT will be negotiated in a series of UN meetings concluding at a UN Conference in 2012.
“The Arms Trade Treaty needs a ‘golden rule’ requiring governments to stop any proposed arms transfer that poses a substantial risk of being used for serious violations of human rights or war crimes," said Brian Wood, Amnesty International's head of arms control, “such a golden rule could save hundreds of thousands of lives and protect the livelihoods of many millions."
The resolution on the ATT also highlights the issue of international arms transfers contributing to armed conflict, displacement of people, organized crime and terrorism, thereby undermining peace, safety, security and sustainable development.
"For too long, governments have let the flow of weapons get out of control causing pain, suffering and death in some of the world's poorest regions. With hundreds of thousands of people dying a year from armed violence, weapons that fall into the hands of criminals and rights abusers destroy communities and livelihoods." said Anna Macdonald of Oxfam International. "Governments must ensure that negotiations live up to the promise of setting the highest possible standards – this is a life and death situation for thousands of poor people worldwide."
* The States that abstained were:
Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Venezuela and Yemen.
Watch the video Dying for Action - Why we need an Arms Trade Treaty
Follow our ConflictVoice team tweeting from the UN Arms Trade Talks
Read more about the Control Arms campaign.
Join our Stop the Killing in the Congo Petition. War in the DRC has killed over 5 million people -- a new political and military solution is needed.
RT @MeatFreeMonday: The Canadian city of Vancouver will be supporting Meat Free Monday on 10 June! http://t.co/zQ2tfrDX8y31 min 45 sec ago
RT @OxfamAmerica: "I went to Haiti too…" @intldogooder reacts to Nora Schenkel's @NYTimes Op-Ed about #aid in #Haiti: http://t.co/gaCC9xKWWe38 min 2 sec ago
#Syria's #refugees face dire health risks due to lack of shelter, water, basic sanitation http://t.co/s2WBOxn7dI #SyriaCrisis2 hours 23 min ago
3 hours 44 min ago
#Mali emerges as most fragile country in Africa's Sahel region. Displacement & humanitarian funding totals http://t.co/Ro3q9jLKnq @reliefweb4 hours 24 min ago
We’ve come a long way baby… or have we? The 7 #Women's Empowerment Principles http://t.co/g0kFCHOPeD #BehindTheBrands @UN_Women5 hours 3 min ago
Almost 7M people are in need. Life in #Syria's conflict zone: photos http://t.co/ayQ4TgH8wL #SyriaCrisis7 hours 18 min ago
Oxfam warns of health risks to #Syria #refugees as summer approaches http://t.co/hyO0oLc3OW Pls support our #SyriaCrisis appeal7 hours 46 min ago
+80 countries pledged aid at last wk's #MaliConference, including an add'l $32M from the US http://t.co/WCukv0SV7x8 hours 33 min ago
Thx for speaking up for women: @MarsGlobal,#Mondelez & @Nestle have now moved from words 2 action http://t.co/laFtaWajFI #BehindTheBrands2 days 21 hours ago
UN agency and Slow Food group partner to boost livelihoods of small farmers http://t.co/l0YMT9yyk8 @SlowFoodHQ3 days 3 hours ago
RT @oxfamgbpress: Oxfam very relieved that Cyclone #Mahasen did not cause damage to vulnerable communities in Myanmar http://t.co/t2VwONPjs03 days 4 hours ago
RT @annamac33: The #ArmsTreaty can create a safer future for millions. Urge the US to sign! http://t.co/HRlNC8BcO33 days 5 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @KristinDavis @GaelGarciaB @driverminnie @liviafirth @baabamaal @HelenLMirren @BoseOfficial3 days 5 hours ago
#FF Oxfam Global Ambassadors @AnnieLennox @djimonhounsou @angeliquekidjo @firthcom @coldplay @RahulBose1 http://t.co/rXOrgldjlt3 days 5 hours ago