Faith leaders: a call for arms trade control (Op-ed)
Faith leaders from around the world call on the world’s governments to act urgently to bring the arms trade under control
Today, somewhere in the world, a mother will lose her child to armed violence, a young woman will be raped at gunpoint and a family will be forced from their home by conflict. Worldwide, up to 1,000 people are killed every day by gun violence, and many more are maimed or terrorised.
The world is awash with weapons, including an estimated 640 million firearms, or one gun for every ten people on the planet. And all too often, weapons fall into the wrong hands and are used against innocent people.
This is a global horror story, which plays itself out from the favelas of Brazil to conflict in the Middle East and to the killings in Darfur. And the vast majority of the victims are not fighters, but ordinary men, women and children.
There have been international treaties to control the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons for decades. Yet, despite the mounting death toll, there is still no comprehensive treaty governing sales of conventional weapons from handguns to attack helicopters.
This month, the world’s governments have the opportunity to take a vital first step when they vote on an international arms trade treaty at the UN General Assembly in New York. An international arms trade treaty based on governments’ existing commitments under human rights and humanitarian law would have the power to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
The treaty already has the backing of 55 governments, including much of Africa, Latin America and Europe. It also has widespread popular support: one million people in more than 150 countries have signed the Million Faces Petition calling for tougher arms controls.
As faith leaders from many different countries, we call on the world’s governments to act urgently to bring the arms trade under control.
THE MOST REVEREND DESMOND TUTU
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA
BISHOP GUNNAR STAALSETT
Executive Committee, World Conference of Religions for Peace
REVEREND DR OLAV FYKSE TVEIT
Secretary General, Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations
SHEIKH MUSA MUHAMMAD
Chief Imam, Abuja National Mosque
DR HANNY AL-BANNA
President of Islamic Relief
RABBI DAVID SAPERSTEIN
Director and Counsel
Religious Action Center
President of the World Council of Arya Samaj, India
FATHER ROBERT F. DRINAN
Professor of Law
Georgetown University, US
Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
MARY ELLEN McNISH
American Friends Service Committee
DR MUHAMMAD ABDUL BARI
Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain
REVEREND DR WILLIAM OKOYE
Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria
BISHOP WILLIAM KENNEY
Auxiliary Bishop of Stockholm