Time to Get Serious on the Arms Trade Treaty

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 01 Mar 2011

Campaigners today called on governments meeting at the United Nations to ensure no weapons or munitions are sold to human rights abusers. The call came as delegates meet this week in New York to resume negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a legally-binding treaty to regulate the global arms trade.

There are currently no comprehensive, legally binding international rules governing the trade in conventional arms, and gaps and loopholes in regional and national controls allow guns, bullets, tanks, missiles and rockets to end up in conflict zones and in the hands of those who commit war crimes, grave human rights abuses and other systemic forms of armed violence.

“It is ridiculous that there are Treaties to regulate the sale of everything from dinosaur bones to postage stamps, but not deadly weapons,” said Anna Macdonald of Oxfam who is at the talks.

“The time where governments and companies could operate without any legally-binding rules is coming to an end. It’s time to put the arms trade under control.”

Top of the agenda at the talks will be discussions on the criteria against which transfers of arms should either be authorised or denied. Campaigners, including Oxfam, stress that if there is a substantial risk that weapons, munitions or related equipment will be used for serious human rights violations, the sale of arms should not be authorised.

One person every minute dies as a result of armed violence, with thousands more injured and abused every day, according to estimates of the Control Arms Campaign, an international network of civil society from around the world.

Control Arms campaigners stress that all weapons, munitions and related equipment – from armoured vehicles, missiles and aircraft through to small arms, grenades and ammunition – for the use of force in military, police and internal security operations enforcement must be covered if the Treaty is to be effective in saving lives and preventing grave human rights abuses.

“We hope that this week we will see the development of a Treaty text laying out in detail what common standards governments will have to implement in future. It is vital that this happens considering that we are halfway through the negotiations and there is not a lot of time left,” said Baffour Amoa of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

For more media information or to speak to a representative from Oxfam attending the talks, contact (in New York) Louis Belanger Tel +1 917 224 0834