Government urged to bring home bullet proof Arms Trade Treaty

Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 27 Jun 2012

With just days to go until Foreign Minister Bob Carr travels to New York for United Nations negotiations on legally-binding regulations for the international weapons trade, Australians have called on the Government to bring home a “bullet proof” Arms Trade Treaty.

To mark today’s Global Day of Action on the Arms Trade Treaty, a petition signed by 31,400 Australians has been delivered to the Government in Canberra by a coalition of not for profit organisations, including Oxfam Australia.

Worldwide, 397,027 people have signed the petition, calling for the treaty to prevent weapons sales from fuelling human rights abuses, war crimes or poverty. Activities are also taking place across the Pacific, Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America and the Middle East today urging governments worldwide to stand firm on their commitment to deliver the highest possible common standards to regulate international arms sales.

After almost a decade of campaigning by NGOs worldwide, the United Nations negotiations for the Arms Trade Treaty will begin on July 2.

“The global arms trade is worth approximately $1.2 trillion a year, but even today it has less international controls than the trade in bananas or coffee,” Ben Murphy, Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Advocacy Officer said.

“Millions of people are being killed, injured, raped, repressed and forced to flee their homes every year as a result of gaps in the current patchwork of national and regional controls. A global problem requires a global solution; an Arms Trade Treaty is long overdue.”

Although a vast majority of countries have voiced their support for an Arms Trade Treaty, there are concerns that a small group of states, including several major arms exporters such as Russia, China and the United States, may push for exemptions from the treaty that seriously weaken the final instrument.

Mr Murphy, who will join the Australian delegation to the negotiations next month, said that despite not being a major arms exporter, Australia was a respected international voice on disarmament issues and had a pivotal role to play in ensuring that a watered down treaty did not become a reality.

“As one of the co-authors of the original UN resolution on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2006, Australia is well placed to push for a truly meaningful outcome, rather than settling for a compromise that has little real impact,” Mr Murphy said.

In a new report published today, ‘Piecing it All Together’, Oxfam said the new treaty must take into account the reality of how today’s globalised arms industry operates, where parts and components for everything from battleships to machine guns are manufactured in different places around the world and then assembled somewhere else. Copies of the report are available.

The global petition was handed to Mr Richard Marles MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who accepted it on behalf of the Australian Government this morning. 


Media contact: Raina Hunter, Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator – 0402 145 820 or