Future of Arms Trade Treaty in hands of 28 government experts

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11 Feb 2008
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Arms Trade Treaty

Talks starting today in the UN offer an historic way forward on conventional arms control, say Control Arms campaigners.

Today 28 delegates from every continent will sit on the Group of Governmental Experts in New York, where they will start their first discussions on a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Hundreds of non-governmental organizations in the campaign to Control Arms have been campaigning since 2003 for a Treaty which would prohibit arms transfers that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights abuses.

While 80 percent of states broadly support these goals, some sceptical governments wrongly claim that a Treaty would prevent responsible arms transfers for legitimate defence, policing or peacekeeping.

So far there has been huge momentum internationally for the Arms Trade Treaty. The UN overwhelmingly voted in 2006 to start work on the ATT and last year 100 states responded to the Secretary Generals consultation ? more than ten times the usual amount.

In addition an array of military leaders, police officers, doctors, parliamentarians, community leaders, human rights workers, celebrities, religious groups, and people forced to flee violence took part in Control Arms events and in a Global People's Consultation to demand tougher controls on the international trade in conventional arms.

Anna MacDonald, Head of the Control Arms campaign at Oxfam, said: "These UN arms control talks must not fail. A thousand people each day die from armed violence and many thousands more see their lives destroyed. It is essential we do all we can to reduce these figures. These government experts have an unprecedented opportunity to help prevent armed violence."

Brian Wood, Research and Policy Manager on arms control at Amnesty International said: "Every day we are documenting gross human rights abuses and war crimes perpetrated as a result of the irresponsible trade in conventional arms, including small arms. This Treaty is urgent but it will only be effective if it requires governments to prohibit transfers when there is a clear risk the arms will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law."

Rebecca Peters, Director of IANSA said: "This Treaty will bring about a new level of global cooperation. The uncontrolled commerce of small arms and ammunition devastates human lives and seriously hinders sustainable development. The government experts need to take in to account all aspects of the trade - from production and brokering, to transit and logistics."

11 February 2008