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Arms Trade Treaty: It’s time to act

Time at the UN is a precious commodity.

Being told by Chair Ambassador Moritan that there are just 99 hours of negotiation left for the Arms Trade Treaty was a sobering moment.

The sceptics, countries like Syria, Egypt, Iran and others, are fighting hard to eat into the time left for negotiation. Procedural wrangling is a diplomatic art form.

Sceptics are persistent in their approach and Moritan has a hard task ahead of him if he wants to keep moving forward without calling for votes, which he could do on procedural issues such as what discussions happen and when. But it seems he is loathe to take that step.

Not all doom and gloom

The UK Government statement finally made it onto conference floor. It's such a shame that the wrangling meant Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt was no longer in NY to deliver it.

But Ambassador Jo Adamson took to the floor and, in my opinion, lifted the bar for these talks.

Jo began by referencing the cross-party, industry, civil society and general public support that the British Government has for a strong and robust treaty.

We should feel proud of the campaigning and lobbying work we have undertaken together

The Government needs and wants to know it has support. These negotiations are, as the first four days have shown, no walk in the park.

A strong statement

Jo, on behalf of the UK Government, also spoke about wanting a treaty that will maintain international peace and security and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. And to make sure we'd heard her, she repeated it.

When language (also a precious commodity at the UN) is used so emphatically  you know someone means business.

With all the stalling, it was great to hear substantive discussion. Jo spoke about the security and humanitarian effects of the arms trade being all too clear and rallied governments to make the most of this opportunity.

In her words, 'the time to act is now.' I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A timely reminder

Being part of Amnesty involves learning about and acting on some of the worst cases of human rights abuse: torture, unlawful killings, rape and arbitrary imprisonment. But the human cost of irresponsible arms sales and transfers affects everyone.

Jo finished her speech with a personal reflection from nearly a decade ago when 23 international civil servants were killed in a terrorist attack on the UN. People from Brazil, the UK, Egypt and other states were killed.

Her story was a timely reminder of why we are all here trying to get the strongest treaty possible.

Please help us secure it – 'like' the Control Arms facebook page and be alerted when we need you to act. Fast.

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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