Arms Treaty - get your tweet on and #AskFCO | Campaigns | 24 Jul 2012 | Amnesty International UK

Arms Treaty - get your tweet on and #AskFCO

Update - thanks for adding your questions to the #AskFCO Q&A. Alistair Burt maintained throughout that the UK government is determined to get the strongest treaty they can, read the full transcript of the Q&A. It's our job now to keep up the pressure and ask him to honour his word. Send him an email and ask he keeps fighting for a strong treaty

It feels surreal here in NY right now. The weather has been flipping from stifling heat to raging thunderstorms. It's pretty much reflecting what's going on in the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.

Civil society, campaigners and lobbyists like me, have been excluded from the talks for what feels like ages now. Basically Ambassador Moritan, the President of the negotiations, can use a technique called ‘private consultations’ whenever and however he likes.

In terms of transparency and the agreed rules, this falls far below what we would expect from such an important UN process.

But it doesn't stop us! We are actively meeting with and lobbying States at every opportunity: over breakfast; when we catch them leaving a closed meeting; at formal sessions at their UN mission offices;  and, in some cases, while they are trying to walk down the street between meetings. 

Moritan ran long sessions over Friday night and all weekend. Delegates were squeezed into a room that was too small, with a notice saying not to bring water and food with them. If this is part of a plan to get people negotiating, I hope it doesn't back-fire. I know what I'm like when tired and hungry, and it's not my best look.

Get your tweet on

Today we all have an important opportunity, through the wonder that is twitter, to ask direct questions to the UK Government Minister responsible for the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.

We need you to join us in asking questions about the negotiations, and press for strong commitments on international human rights and international humanitarian law in the Treaty.

He’ll be answering questions live from 2.15pm, so think about what's important to you and tweet your question to @foreignoffice with #AskFCO in the tweet,  to make sure your voice is heard.

Tweet #askFCO !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Questions, questions

I'm going to be asking about rules around gender based violence: women and girls suffer horrendous abuses as a result of the unregulated arms trade. Does the Minister believe a Treaty that doesn't make an effort to protect them is ok? What will he do to make sure a rule is included that says arms shall not be transferred where there is risk they’ll be used to commit gender based violence?

It’s not the snappiest, but it is important.

Colleagues here are pressing on a number of issues all of which are important, but I can’t help feeling that it’s the criteria of this treaty – the bit that says when and when not arms exports can take place – that, if got right, will change the way the trade and transfer of arms takes place for the better.

If got right, criteria is the bit that should prevent Russia, for example, from transferring arms to Syria during this human rights crisis. It would stop the flow of arms from fuelling the atrocities being committed in the country.

You might want to ask the Minister about a conflict you care about. Would the Treaty he is fighting for stop the transfer of weapons in that situation?

You could also see what the Minister thinks about moves by powerful states to create a national security get out clause. How can a treaty be robust with that type of massive loophole?

Tweet #askFCO !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Follow @amnestyuk and #AskFCO during the Q&A, to see our thoughts on the Minister’s answers. See you there!

It’s time to deliver

As we enter the last few days of negotiations, a small number of determined states are set to ruin this opportunity to disarm dictators, warlords and child soldiers. They are trying to derail the talks. And we can’t let them do that.

As one of the most influential supporters of human rights in the Arms Trade Treaty, we’re calling on the UK government to make their voice heard. They have been a leader in this area for over six years. Tell the UK government it’s time to deliver

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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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