Control Arms campaign welcomes Arms Trade Treaty proposal, urges more reference to human rights

Published: 25 July 2006

International campaigners welcomed the tabling of a draft proposal revealed today by a group of seven key governments to achieve an Arms Trade Treaty in the United Nations. However the Control Arms campaign – Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms also criticized the draft for failing to include the respect of human rights which must be a fundamental requirement of an Arms Trade Treaty.

Today the ambassadors of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom sent a letter to all governments proposing to set a UN group to consider options for a global treaty establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. The draft resolution refers to the need to respect the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions and Protocols, but leaves out human rights.

It is crucial that the creation of an Arms Trade Treaty is formally on the UN agenda,” said Brian Wood, Amnesty International's Arms Research Manager, “but if the Treaty does not prevent arms transfers to countries where they are likely to be used for grave violations of international human rights law, then it simply won’t help save enough lives and deliver better security in most countries.”

The sponsoring governments want the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October to set up a Group of Governmental Experts “commencing no later than 2008, to examine the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.”

“Governments have now put on the record their desire to reduce the unrestrained spread of weapons which fuel violent conflicts; they must now make sure that progress towards an Arms Trade Treaty is speedy so no more lives are lost,” said Anna McDonald, Oxfam’s Control Arms Campaign Director.

“The political reality shown at the recent UN Review Conference on small arms and light weapons in July was that the bulk of European states are willing to join many developing states in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere in pressing for meaningful controls on international transfers, but there are still powerful states who do not want any international instruments that hinder their own arms trading,” said Rebecca Peters, director of the International Action Network on Small Arms.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
James Dyson at Amnesty International, +44 (0)7795 628367, or
Caroline Green at Oxfam International, +1 202 321 7858, or
Rebecca Peter at IANSA, +44 7900 242 869