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You speak, they listen! The government responds to your actions on the Arms Trade Treaty

For the past few weeks, as world leaders prepared to meet for talks to agree the world’s first international treaty to control the arms trade, thousands of you have been telling your MPs how much you care. You have been emailing, tweeting and meeting them, all in an effort to bring home the significance of the Treaty for the millions around the world who suffer as a result of the poorly regulated arms trade. You have worked to bring your MP on board and let them know we’re relying on the UK to deliver a strong Arms Trade Treaty when our representatives walk through the doors of the UN today. 

You asked them to write to Alistair Burt, the Minister responsible for the Treaty, to tell him that we need the UK government to stand firm on human rights and close the loopholes in the draft text. 

Well guess what? It worked! 

The talks begin today, but as he prepared to head to New York, Minister Burt took the time to respond directly to your calls, saying that: ‘we will work to strengthen the draft text. We have been clear throughout the negotiations that, while we recognise the need for flexibility and compromise, we would not accept or sign a weak treaty’.


Not everything in his letter is perfect, of course, but the significance of this response – and the timing - cannot be underplayed. We want to thank you for all of your help in achieving this commitment from Alistair Burt. It is a fantastic message to receive as our campaigners Verity and Olly set out for an intense fortnight of lobbying – you have made their job that little bit easier.

No time for sitting on our laurels, though. There’s still way more to do!

As the Minister says in his letter, we can’t take any of this for granted. Many governments are sceptical about the value of a Treaty; others are downright opposed to it. Our priority remains what it always has been – ensuring that the Arms Trade Treaty agreed is one that protects human rights and saves lives. And, as you may have heard us say a million times before, it can only do this if it contains clear rules preventing the transfer of arms where there is a risk that they will be used to commit human rights abuses. 

Alistair Burt may have responded to many of our calls, but he also concedes that the UK would like universal participation, and we need to be sure he is not willing to compromise on human rights to get there. Please, if you haven’t already, email and tweet your MPs. And if you’ve already done that, tell your friends to follow your example.

The next ten days of talks will be an intense emotional roller coaster ride of political negotiating. States will concede on some points, to win concessions on others. We need to ensure that none of this weakens the Treaty, and that the UK fights to close the loopholes.

To keep up-to-date, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll be in touch to let you know when we need you. Together, we are going to do this.

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About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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