New York: Governments from over 190 member states have a second chance
to make history this month by agreeing the first ever Arms Trade
Treaty, a coalition of NGOs and human rights groups said today.
Diplomats meet today in New York for two weeks of negotiations at the
United Nations, to agree an Arms Trade Treaty, which will control the
international supply of arms and ammunition.
The Control Arms coalition, supported by Academy Award nominee Djimon
Hounsou, urged diplomats to use the time effectively to close the
massive loopholes in the current draft text and agree a treaty that
will truly save lives.
In July 2012, member states were unable to reach agreement on the ATT
after a number of countries including the US and Russia requested more
time in the final hours of negotiations. Since July, there have been
indications that some of those major exporters are more open to
agreeing a treaty this time around.
“It’s ‘crunch time’ in New York this week. The negotiations must
successfully deliver a strong treaty text as the world can wait no
longer for a global treaty to bring the arms trade under control. Too
many unscrupulous regimes, militias, arms dealers and criminals can
easily get their hands on dangerous weapons. Too many innocent
civilians including teachers, doctors or children die as a result of
the current situation. It’s now time to put an end to this and agree
on robust and clear rules that will bring the trade of M16s, AK47s,
attack helicopters and countless rounds of ammunition under control,”
said Anna Macdonald, Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control.
“Seeing young boys carrying AK-47’s, and young girls with their babies
in one arm and a gun in the other was a frightening sight, like
something out of a Hollywood movie, but for me it was a painful
reminder of what I myself could’ve become,” said Djimon Hounsou,
Actor and Oxfam ambassador. “But it’s apparent that the people of
South Sudan long for peace with both their brothers to the north and
within their own borders.”
“It doesn’t solve every problem, but a strong Arms Trade Treaty on
weapons and ammunition is not something we can question. It is
something we must act upon; today,” continued Hounsou.
The Control Arms coalition said that the draft text from July 2012
contains many of the basic elements needed to better regulate the
global arms trade. However, the campaigners say the text also includes
a number of weaknesses which threaten to fatally undermine the
treaty’s overall effectiveness.
In its current form, Control Arms believes, the treaty does little to
increase responsibility and restraint in the global arms trade. One
major concern is that ammunition, a deadly trade worth more than $US4
billion annually, is covered by weaker provisions than other types of
“We cannot have a treaty that regulates the trade in arms but excludes
one of the main causes of death: the bullets. Some conflicts in Africa
have been prolonged because of the ability of combatants to reload. We
need to regulate how ammunitions are transferred from the production
line, to the end destination,” said Geoffrey Duke, National
Coordinator of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms (SSANSA)
Another clause could exempt weapons transfers from the treaty if they
are labeled as being part of a “national defence cooperation
agreement”. This clause, introduced by India, would mean that
transfers made under existing defence contracts, between Russia and
Syria for example, would be allowed to stay outside of the
jurisdiction of a future treaty.
Control Arms is also worried that the criteria that set out whether or
not an arms transfer is permissible are too weak and contain loopholes
that could allow some irresponsible deals to continue to slip through
“These ‘escape clauses’ have been pushed by a vocal minority of
states. They want a Swiss cheese Treaty, full of holes to continue
their deadly trade with impunity. The majority of governments who are
craving for a safer world must speak out and get the most robust ATT
agreed in two weeks’ time,“ said Allison Pytlak, Campaign Manager at
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