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Minister Burt pays a flying visit to Arms Treaty negotiations

Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The bad news is that a procedural stumbling block related to Palestine’s status at the UN laid waste to the first day of this 19 day long negotiation.

The good news is that Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt today joined the UK Government Arms Trade Unit team in NYC. He and other high level politicians are in town to lay out their governments’ vision for the Arms Trade Treaty and get negotiations off to a good start.

The bad news meant that the Minister was not allowed to speak though. I bet that doesn't happen very often....

On a serious note, it wasn't for lack of trying. The UK Government team are working hard along with other States to overcome the delays and get these historic talks started.

The false start didn’t stop us

As with all negotiations, the action is not just that on conference floor.

We’ve been working hard with  other NGO lobbyists to make the most of this ‘spare’ time. , We’ve been spreading our important messages by sharing them out amongst the Government Delegates.

In this blog I’ll frequently talk about the robust and effective controls on the arms trade that we want written into the treaty. But sometimes I won’t have time or room to provide more detail. Luckily we’ve set out the key principles of an effective Arms Trade Treaty (pdf) so I don’t have to.  

Take a look and see. These principles, if adopted, will ensure the treaty saves lives.   

Meeting with the Minister

Minister Burt did get a chance to speak at lunchtime when he met with UK campaigners at the UK mission at the UN. We had a frank exchange about the UK government’s strategy going forward.

I am always pleased when Government engages with civil society in open discussion. My Amnesty colleagues around the world are not all able to have this level of dialogue with their governments

Nothing that was said today makes me think that UK Government commitment to a securing a robust treaty is waning. But we are under no illusion that the language of compromise still peppers everything that they say.

Amnesty's mandate is to campaign to protect and promote human rights. And when we see Governments taking the easy road or compromising on human rights then we will hold them to account.

So we’ll keep reminding them that there can be no compromise on human rights in these negotiations.

We are watching. Not only here in NYC but all over the world.  

I hope the UK Government stays strong, it'd be nice to go the UK Mission again.They have great sandwiches.

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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