The broken silence, full of strength

As part of the celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Vision GRAM-publish this document to assert the rights of survivors of gun violence.

VGI supports the theme this year, “Human Rights 365” which instills the idea that every day 365 days in a year, each of us, wherever we may be, is entitled to the enjoyment of all rights man as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Hundreds of women kidnapped by militias and armed groups in the eastern of DR Congo

bike“They have no peace; they undergo physical and psychological torture throughout their lives. This has created a situation that has destroyed the lives of families, the community and the nation as a whole.”

December 2014

These women have suffered an interminable ordeal since the advent of armed conflict in eastern DR Congo.

Kalonge is one of those territories, which host a large number of Rwandan Hutu refugees since 1994. Their presence has impoverished the people by creating an unsafe environment. Since then the population pay the heavy price.

Women and children are the first victims recruited to fight, raped, abducted, and treated as sex slaves. The active rebels and militias have prevented the population from going to the fields because they occupied forests and villages.

One woman, Marguerite, had a bad experience when one day she fell into their hands. “It was a Friday, I was returning from the fields with my two friends from the neighborhood. We met a group of FDLR (Rwandan Hutu rebels) under command of a certain Tharcisse. They arrested us and brought us to their camp. Upon arrival, they started arguing about who would take me. Then the great commander decided to stay with me. His teammates were then removed to create another group after a fight, so there was division because of me. ”

After two months of captivity, she became pregnant, while the military were already beginning to hunt down. “So he (the captain) told me that he will get me someone who will accompany me in a safe place until I find my village, because he did not want me to be killed by the military. This is what was done. We crossed rivers in order to not leave any footsteps.”

On the one hand, despite her return to the village, she was accused by local population to be the basis for the death of her colleagues: “My neighbors in the village accused me of having killed my two sisters, yet they were killed in the bush when they wanted to escape while they were there for two months.”

bike 2On the other side, the husband refused to allow her to come back. “My husband did not want to see me and I was not in contact with him, each occupied his house.” Thus, Marguerite observed, helplessly, fields confiscated by her husband.

Pregnancies resulting from rape are undesirable in the family, according to the tradition, threats and risks become greater. Many women prefer to keep the child, which is not the case for other family members.

Children born of rape suffer trauma, stigma and rejection because of the ongoing conflict. The presence of these children in families breaks the bonds and relationships. Despite the woman’s fate by her husband, her in-laws and the rest of the community, children, meanwhile, are discriminated, rejected and sometimes death threats. They are called “children of the snake, rebellious children, Hutu children …” “Everyone followed me to kill this child because you cannot mix a Hutu child with Batembo children they said to me,” said Marguerite, tears the eyes.

“They brought me totems to cause abortion because they did not want this child in their family. During childbirth, my sisters-in-law had me out the womb. “The only protections those children have are just the mother. She provides everything to help them to survive by taking care of their educational and health care needs.

The meeting with Vision GRAM-International’s team has been beneficial to confide in and benefit from the assistance. She was taken to the hospital and began to benefit from psychological support from the center in company of other women. She received financial support for her business: “My life changed and I feel proud and respected in my village. People do consider me as before. I have the security that gives me such support. ”

The presence of this child gives him hope that life goes on and that he deserves better: “I look after one of his school; although I have no activity that can guarantee all his schooling … She is 8 and she is now in the second primary. But with the support of Vision GRAM-International, I know that this child is going to study like other supported by their father … She lives well with others, although she is still called ‘Hutu child’ ‘by my husband, “says Marguerite with a low voice, bursting into tears.

She is not the only woman to endure  this situation. They are numerous in eastern DR Congo, they are struggling to recover and regain their health and rights. They have joined other women around the world to end this phenomenon, which has become a task in this part of the DR Congo, ravaged by violence due to armed conflict.

(Stories gathered by Vision GRAM-International Kalonge, Eastern DR Congo)

 

DIGNITY                                 RIGHT                             JUSTICE

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“STOP by Stories” is a document that will be published regularly by Vision GRAM-International, for you to experience the situation of children and women survivors of gun violence in DR Congo.

These are the testimonies of survivors who have decided to break the silence by talking about their stories.

Shattered lives, but full of hope … .The broken silence, full of forces…are messages and stance to change their lives.

Many are suffering from those violations of human rights. They want it to stop and their dignity, right and justice to be recognized.

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For more informations

Visit : http://www.gram-international.org

Blog : http://www.visiongram.wordpress.com

Email : amsulvic1@yahoo.ca

1(613) 261 0171

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Twitter : @VisionGRAMintl

Des silence brisés, pleins de forces

Dans le cadre de la célébration de la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme, Vision GRAM-International publie ce document pour faire valoir les droits des survivants de la violence armée.

VGI appuie le thème de cette année, “Droits Humains 365 ” qui inculque la notion que chaque jour des 365 jours dans une année, chacun de nous, où que nous soyons, a droit à la jouissance de l’ensemble des droits de l’homme tel que stipulé dans la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l’Homme.

Calvaire des femmes kidnappées par les milices et groupes armés à l’Est de la R D Congo

bike Ces femmes subissent un calvaire interminable depuis l’avènement des conflits armés à l’Est de la R D Congo.

Kalonge est l’un de ces territoires, qui a accueilli un grand nombre de refugiés, hutus rwandais depuis 1994. Leur présence a appauvri la population en rendant le milieu insécuritaire. Depuis, la population paie le lourd tribut.

Centre Cifunzi/Kalonge (Photo GRAM)

Les femmes et les enfants en sont les premières victimes : recrutées pour combattre, violées et enlevées, traitées d’esclaves sexuelles.  Les forets et villages étaient occupés par les rebelles et milices actives, empêchant ainsi la population d’aller aux champs.

Marguerite eut une mauvaise expérience quand un jour il tomba entre les mains de ces derniers. « Ce fut un certain vendredi, en revenant du champs avec mes deux amies du   quartier. Nous avons rencontré un groupe de FDLR (Rebelles hutus rwandais) sous commandement d’un certain Tharcisse, ils nous avaient arrêtées et nous avaient amenées dans leur camp. Une fois arrivées, ils ont commencé à se disputer concernant celui qui me prendra. C’est alors que le grand commandant décida de rester avec moi. Ses coéquipiers se sont alors retirés pour aller constituer un autre groupe après un une bagarre, donc il y eu division à cause de moi ».

Après deux mois de captivité, elle tomba enceinte, alors que les militaires commençaient déjà à les pourchasser. « C’est ainsi qu’il (le commandant) me dira qu’il va me chercher quelqu’un qui m’accompagnera dans un lieu sûr, jusqu’à ce que je retrouve mon village puisqu’il ne voulait pas que je sois tuée par les militaires. C’est ce qui a été fait. Nous avons traversé des rivières pour faire disparaitre les traces ».

D’un coté, malgré son retour au village, elle fut accusée par les habitants d’être à la base de la mort de ses consœurs : « Mes voisins du village m’ont accusée d’avoir fait tuer mes deux consœurs, pourtant elles étaient tuées dans la brousse lorsqu’elles voulaient s’évader alors qu’elles étaient déjà là durant deux mois ».

bike 2De l’autre coté, c’est le mari qui refuse de la recevoir. « Mon mari ne voulait plus me sentir et je suis restée sans contact avec lui, chacun occupait sa maison ». Ainsi, Marguerite a observé, impuissamment, ses champs confisqués par son mari.

Les grossesses issues de viol sont indésirables au sein de la famille, selon la tradition, les menaces et risques deviennent plus grands. Bon nombre de femmes préfèrent garder l’enfant, ce qui n’est pas le cas pour d’autres membres de la famille.

Les enfants nés du viol subissent des traumatismes, de la stigmatisation et du rejet parce qu’issus des conflits incessants. La présence de ces enfants dans les familles brise les liens et les relations. En dépit du  sort de la femme par son mari, sa belle famille et du reste de la communauté, les enfants, quant à eux, sont discriminés, rejetés et parfois menacés de mort. Ils sont appelés « enfants du serpent, enfants rebelles, enfants de hutus… » : « Tout le monde me poursuivait pour tuer cet enfant car on ne peut pas mélanger un enfant Hutu avec les enfants Batembo me disaient-ils », déclare Marguérite, larmes aux yeux.

« On m’amenait des fétiches pour provoquer cette grossesse car il ne voulait pas de cet enfant dans sa famille. Lors de l’accouchement, mes belles sœurs m’avaient fait sortir la matrice ». La seule protection dont bénéficient ces enfants vient de la mère. Elle assure seule leur survie en répondant à leurs besoins  en éducation et soins de santé.

Sa rencontre avec l’équipe de Vision GRAM-International a été salutaire pour se confier et bénéficier de l’assistance. Elle fut conduite à l’hôpital et a commencé à bénéficier de l’appui psychologique au centre en compagnie d’autres femmes. Elle bénéficie de l’appui financier pour son petit commerce : « Ma vie change et je me sens fière et respectée dans mon village. Les gens ne me considèrent plus comme avant.  J’ai de la sécurité que m’offre cet appui ».

La présence de cet enfant lui donne l’espoir que la vie continue et que ce dernier mérite mieux : « Je m’occupe seule de sa scolarisation; bien que je n’aie pas d’activité pouvant garantir toute sa scolarité…Elle à 8 ans et est maintenant en 2e primaire. Mais avec l’appui de GRAM, je sais que cet enfant va étudier comme les autres soutenus par leur père…Elle vit bien avec les autres, bien qu’elle soit toujours appelée ‘enfant de ‘HUTU’  par mon mari », confie marguerite avec une voix basse en fondant en larmes.

Elle n’est pas la seule à traverser cette situation. Elles sont nombreuses à l’est de la R D Congo, elles se battent pour se relever et recouvrer leur santé et leurs droits. Elles se joignent à d’autres femmes à travers le monde pour que cesse ce phénomène, devenu une tâche dans cette partie de la R D Congo, meurtrie par les violences dues  aux conflits armés.

                                           (Témoignage recueillis par Vision GRAM-International à Kalonge, Est de la R D Congo)

DIGNITÉ                                 DROIT                             JUSTICE

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« Arrêt sur les témoignages » est un document qui                sera publié régulièrement par Vision GRAM-International, pour vous faire vivre la situation des enfants et femmes, survivants de la violence armée en R D Congo.

Ce sont les témoignages des survivants qui ont décidé de briser le silence en parlant de leurs histoires.

Des vies brisées, mais pleines d’espoirs….Des silences brisés, pleins de forces sont des messages d’interpellation et de prise de position pour changer leur vie.

Ils sont nombreux à subir ces violations de droits de la personne. Ils veulent que cela s’arrête et que leur dignité, leur droit et leur justice soient reconnus.

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Plus d’informations          Visitez : www.gram-international.org

                                                                                  Blog : www.visiongram.wordpress.com

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                                                                   1(613) 261 0171

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Second informal Consultations for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) First Conference of states Parties

vgOttawa, Dec 28, 2014- Vision GRAM-International, as a member of Control Arms, has joined Campaigners from around the world in Berlin to call on governments to take action on ATT implementation, ahead of the next round of informal consultations on the Treaty on 27-28 november 2014 in Berlin.

This meeting was an important moment to bring and share research and expertise, lobby governments to uphold their treaty commitments, organize side events and provide information for the media.

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Full members of the Conference of States Parties (CSP) were the States who have ratified the Arms Trade Treaty. Signatories were able to attend as observers. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was opened for signature on June 3, 2013 at the United Nations in New York.  Having reached the threshold of 50 ratifications required by the treaty on September 24th, 2014, the ATT will enter force on December 24, 2014, marking the beginning of the formal preparatory process towards the First Conference of States Parties which, according the treaty’s Article 17, has to be convened within a year following its entry into force.

Civil society played a major role in advocating for progressive, majority-based rules of procedure, full participation of civil society and fair financing mechanics; to contribute technical expertise, contribute research-findings, and offer support to States. They participated at the meeting and delivered several interventions on key areas of the agenda (in Opening Session and Prepcoms, Provisional Secretariat, Secretariat, Financing mechanisms, Rules of Procedure and Reporting).

vgvvBefore the conference, the majority of campaigners held iconic green “Ampelmännchen” traffic signs to signify how too many irresponsible arms deals have been given the green light for too long. One campaigner stood alone to stop the others, holding a red sign symbolizing that it is time to stop arms deals that cause untold death and destruction.

The action reinforces Control Arms’ call to governments that they have a “#chance2change” the arms trade if they implement the ATT strongly and effectively, according to Control Arms.

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Vision GRAM-International

Deuxième série de Négociations informelles sur le Traité sur le Commerce des Armes (TCA) : Première Conférence des États parties

vgOttawa, 05 déc. 2014- Vision GRAM-International, en tant que membre du Contrôlez Les Armes, a rejoint d’autres militants du monde entier à Berlin pour demander aux gouvernements de prendre des mesures sur la mise en œuvre du Traité sur le Commerce des Armes (TCA) pendant la série de consultations informelles sur le traité sur 27 au 28 novembre 2014 qui s’est tenue à Berlin. Cette rencontre a été un moment important pour apporter et partager la recherche et de l’expertise, faire du lobbying auprès des Gouvernements à respecter leurs engagements conventionnels, à organiser des événements et fournir des informations pour les médias.vgv

Les membres à part entière de la Conférence des États parties (CSP) étaient ces États qui ont ratifié le traité sur le commerce des armes. Les signataires ont pu assister en tant qu’observateurs.

Le traité sur le commerce des armes (TCA) a été ouvert à la signature le 3 juin 2013 aux Nations Unies à New York. Ayant atteint 50 ratifications requises par le traité le 24 septembre 2014, le TCA va entrer en vigueur le 24 Décembre 2014, marquant le début du processus préparatoire formel vers la première Conférence des États parties qui, selon l’article 17 du traité, doit être convoquée dans un délai d’un an après son entrée en vigueur.

vgvvLa société civile a joué un rôle majeur pour plaider en faveur de règles progressistes, fondé sur la majorité de procédure, la pleine participation de la société civile et de la mécanique équitables de financement; de contribuer avec l’expertise technique et offrir un soutien aux États. Ils ont participé à la réunion ont fait plusieurs interventions sur des domaines clés de l’ordre du jour (Session de conférence préparatoire, Secrétariat Prévisionnel, Secrétariat, les mécanismes de Financement, Règles de procédure d’ouverture et Rapports).

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Avant la conférence, la majorité des militants a tenu des signes iconiques verts  « Homme vert» de trafic pour signifier combien sont trop nombreuses les offres d’armes irresponsables qui ont reçu le feu vert depuis longtemps. Un militant se trouvait seul pour arrêter les autres, avec une pancarte rouge symbolisant qu’il est temps d’arrêter les ventes d’armes qui causent la mort et la destruction indicibles.

L’action renforce l’appel du Contrôlez les Armes aux gouvernements qu’ils ont une  « #Opportnunitedchanger » le commerce des armes s’ils mettent en œuvre le TCA fortement et efficacement, selon Contrôle Les Armes.

Vision GRAM-International

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.”

By Jennifer Fierberg

vgvVictor Amisi is the CEO and founder of Vision GRAM-International. Vision GRAM is an organization that provides resources and rehabilitation to decommissioned child soldiers in the Eastern part of DR Congo as well as victims of sexual violence due to war. In a recent trip to NYC Vision GRAM-International participated in the discussions of gender and disarmament in regards to changing the dialogue on experts in the field being only male with the organization Control Arms.

Mr. Amisi sat down with this journalist to answer a few questions about his work in DRC as well as the international struggles that have plagued the region for many decades.

Below is the interview:

JF: You grew up in Eastern Congo. Was there ever a time when you knew peace there? What was the community like in times of peace when you were growing up?

VA: As a child in Eastern DR Congo we experienced a long period of peace. I had not experienced war. Communities were united and no one was aware of the problems between communities. There was a common sense of cohesion and a peaceful coexistence among neighbors. Being young, I could not distinguish the difference between the communities. I grew up in an area where several communities were combined; even foreigners from neighboring countries were part of our communities.

JF: Rwanda and Uganda have long been involved in destabilizing Eastern DRC in search of minerals for money. How has their involvement changed the landscape and the people of the region?

VA: The involvement of Rwanda and Uganda in conflicts in D R Congo changed this cohesion between the peoples. The Rwandese communities living in Congo had returned to Rwanda after taking Kigali in 1994. Rwandans who were born, grew up and spent several years in DR Congo were suddenly backed with arms from outside governments to support rebellions whose goal was to destabilize the region and profit from the rich mineral resources (RCD/Goma, CNDP, and M23). Hatred against communities that were part of the rebellion took hold, attacks between the Banyarwanda and local communities began, the resurgence of the militias wanting to resist against foreign aggression. Due to the years of ongoing conflicts the social climate is not good in the region.  The violence brought on by these wars has caused mistrust among many groups in the area and has become a reality of daily life.

JF: The regional news is mostly dominated by violence from Eastern DRC; does the western part of the country know how the Eastern part suffers? Is Western DRC aware of the atrocities committed by Rwanda and Uganda?

VA: All parts of the DR Congo were aware of the situation in the country and this has affected everyone in DRC. However, at the beginning of the events, some people in Western countries said it was a matter for the people of the East with their neighbors and cousins ​​from Rwanda. In analyzing the situation closely, the west emphasizes the political struggle and seeking positions therein, while to the east the fight was the focus of the army. That is why, there are several armed groups who believe to claim their rights by the armed forces. Distrust is visible between the West and the East who treat each other  as traitors, but all are aware of the atrocities committed by the Rwanda and Uganda. They should put their efforts together to denounce the actions of these neighboring countries though through civil society and action in this manner should be encouraged.

JF: What are the greatest challenges facing the communities you work in in Eastern Congo? What is needed to help relieve these problems?

VA: The biggest challenges for communities are the uncertainties about their future due to the presence of armed groups in some villages. Families are living from day to day, work is insecure, and desperate poverty is a daily reality. The populations affected by armed conflict are in a difficult situation; so the reintegration of former child soldiers and victims of sexual violence is another big challenge. Psychological support to treat trauma victims is needed on a larger scale, economic reintegration for affected families to facilitate relief and seeking justice for the rights of victims. We face these challenges on a daily basis throughout centers in the region.

JF: Vision GRAM International has been instrumental in the negotiations of a strong Arms Trade Treaty. What would the ratification of this treaty mean to Vision GRAM International and Eastern DRC?

VA: Vision GRAM-International has been involved in the ATT process from the beginning of negotiations. The focus is on advocacy with the Congolese government to get involved in this process. Particular emphasis was placed on educating the public about the effects of illegal trade in weapons on civilian populations and the dangers they pose to the public. Vision GRAM-International has worked hard for the rights of survivors and are part of the Treaty. This treaty is the result of a long struggle and a victory for Vision GRAM-International. We are aware that the long journey will begin once it is in place in or to monitor its implementation. The ratification means a lot for a country that had the bad experience of war by the presence and movement of illegal weapons. This treaty is binding, is sturdy and provides hope for the victims of armed violence. Despite its adoption, its signature and ratification, it is disappointing to see that DR Congo has suffered atrocities and has neither signed nor ratified the treaty. I wonder what these authorities are thinking about. Also disappointing is that the government of Canada, my home country now, did not sign and ratify this important treaty.

JF: Why has Vision GRAM International worked so tirelessly to create this Arms Treaty?

VA: By focusing on victims of gun violence, Vision GRAM-International has invested to give voice on the international level in collaboration with other organizations. The purpose of this involvement was to help to reduce the suffering of the civilian population and to advance the process for states to take responsibility. Vision GRAM-International believes in the Arms Trade Treaty because it is an international legal instrument that will force states to take responsibility to protect civilians and ensure security in the region and peace in the world.

JF: What does the international community not understand about DRC? What popular distortions continue to get reported?

VA: Despite the intervention of the international community to resolve conflicts in DR Congo, there are important elements that should be included. To the east of DR Congo, there are land issues that create tensions between communities. Leaders do not seem to emphasize this aspect because they believe in cohesive communities, but in reality this is not the case. Cases of assault reported by the populations have not been considered by the international community to act quickly. The slow response of the international community to these situations exacerbated the climate of trust among the population. Obviously, in the popular misinformation there is something worthy of report. The public is not well informed of the exact and specific role of the international community with some issues of the day. This is why people sometimes accuse them as complicit, lax by this silence. An information campaign should be strengthened among the population.

JF: Can the international community help bring peace to the region and stabilization?

VA: The international community should work closely with all parties of conflict, including all segments of civil society at local and national levels. But, action should be extended to the regional level, because all neighboring countries are involved in the problem, having experienced the same problems. When discussing the ethnic problem, this applies to all neighboring countries. Governments are in a crisis of confidence and trust between them with the resulting crisis between peoples. So a regional approach must be taken into account to prevent armed violence and facilitate the development of the region. And the role of the international community to facilitate the realization of this approach.

JF: As the 2016 election approaches, in your opinion, would a change in government help Eastern Congo and relations with its neighbors?

VA: I think the change of government in the DRC would provide a solution for the Eastern DR Congo and its relations with its neighbors only up to a point. The problem is not just the people in mind. These are the institutions that must be strong in the country. Internal politics can change, of course, but the impact will not be seen in relations between neighboring countries as the people in these countries who live in a climate of mistrust created by politicians.

Unfortunately leaders of the current governments from DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, as they prepare for the elections, do not seem to want to let go of power. They have to try the alternative to see how it goes.

African Heads of States seek protection before the civilians

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Press release

Ottawa, July 5th, 2014

Heads of African States seek to protect themselves against lawsuits in conferring immunity during their entire term. This is what emerges from the meeting of African
heads of States, members of the African Union (AU), at their summit on 26 to June 27, 2014, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

For a long time, we have constantly bemoaned judicial accountability worn by African heads of States who commit or who have committed crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, after being unable to protect civilian populations.

The project created as a result of the meeting to establish the African Court of Justice and Human Rights by the African Union is a result of their relentless search encouraging impunity. This act delays the efforts already made in the fight against impunity.

“Unable to benefit from protection and justice from the African governments, civilian populations, meanwhile, are victims for the second time,” said Victor AMISI, Executive Director of Vision GRAM-International.

Vision GRAM-International remains concerned by the attitude of the leaders of African governments who want to protect themselves first, if they violate the human rights, which is a strong signal to encourage impunity.

Vision GRAM-International wishes to remind African States that they are members of the International Criminal Court, because they have accepted responsibility for international justice and the fight against impunity.

Anyone who is responsible for violations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide will not escape justice.

Victor AMISSI SULUBIKA
Executive Director
Vision GRAM- International
Ottawa -Ontario/ Canada
Website: http://www.gram-international.org
http://www.visiongram.wordpress.com
Twitter: @VisionGRAMintl
Facebook:VisionGRAM

Fifth Biennial Meeting of States on Illicit Trade in Small Arms

vg bm5By Jennifer Fierberg

In a Press Release by the General Assembly of the UN dated 16 June 2014, they stated:

“Since 2003, Member States have gathered to consider implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, adopted in 2001.  The Programme of Action prescribes measures for controlling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including legislation, destruction of confiscated weapons and the strengthening of State capacity to identify and trace small arms.  The current Meeting will run until 20 June, and earlier ones were held in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010, with review conferences held in 2006 and 2012.”

Vision GRAM International headed by CEO and Founder, Victor Amissi, attended this meeting for the full duration as a key stakeholder and NGO supporter since the inception of the Arms Trade Treaty in 2001. Mr. Amissi stated, “Our organization is here to be an active member during the conference and vigorously participate in the lobbying of countries to include certain language in the draft. We have contacted delegations in the US as well as DRC and have attended the side events. We have been present at all sessions. We have supported the development of a strong Arms Trade Treaty and  believe that the adoption of one by all states is needed in order to protect the citizens who live in high risk areas for violence and illegal arms trade that leads to the death and suffering of millions of men, women and children.”

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Programme of Action Highlights:

“More than a decade has passed since the adoption of the UN Programme of Action (PoA) in 2001. The PoA laid the foundation for action countering the illicit trade and uncontrolled circulation of small arms and light weapons at the national, regional and global levels.”

“Gravely concerned about the illicit manufacture, transfer and circulation of small arms and light weapons and their excessive accumulation and uncontrolled spread in many regions of the world, which have a wide range of humanitarian and socio-economic consequences and pose a serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable development at the individual, local, national, regional and international levels,”

“Gravely concerned about its devastating consequences on children, many of whom are victims of armed conflict or are forced to become child soldiers, as well as the negative impact on women and the elderly, and in this context, taking into account the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on children,”

“Reaffirming also the right of each State to manufacture, import and retain small arms and light weapons for its self-defence and security needs, as well as for its capacity to participate in peacekeeping operations in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,”

Full Programme of Action found here.

Also participating today were representatives of Japan, China, South Africa, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Guatemala, Republic of Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, India, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Brazil, France, Egypt, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Australia, Malaysia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Belarus, Benin, Nicaragua and Austria.

Representatives of Israel, Canada and the United States expressed regret over the State of Palestine’s participation in the Meeting, saying they did not recognize it as a State.