The time is now to prevent weapons getting into the hands of human rights abusers
As we launch a new action calling on MPs to endorse a robust Arms Trade Treaty, Labour & Co-operative MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun Cathy Jamieson pledges her support.
At least one person dies every minute as a result of armed violence and conflict, yet the global arms trade remains unregulated. There are around 639 million small arms and light weapons in the world today. Eight million more are produced every year.
By 2020, the number of deaths and injuries from war and violence will overtake the number of deaths caused by killer diseases such as malaria. You only have to catch the news to see evidence of the human rights abuses that can take place when arms end up in the hands of those that will use them to kill, torture, maim or violently suppress and brutalise people. For example, the Syrian government has committed bloody crimes against its citizens for almost two years. The UN now estimates the death toll at 70,000 and it continues to rise seemingly relentlessly.
Today, Amnesty International has released the new short film above, highlighting the need to globally control the trade and transfer of weapons and ammunition. In less than four minutes this video shows the vital importance of an Arms Trade Treaty that would save lives, uphold human rights, and protect livelihoods.
For nearly 20 years, Amnesty International and others have been working to secure a global treaty that would regulate the global arms trade with a set of legally-binding controls that would apply to all weapons and munitions, including bullets and bombs. To be strong and effective, such a treaty would obligate governments to know where their weapons end up through proper monitoring and checks.
For the first time, an Arms Trade Treaty is now within reach and I am supporting Amnesty to ensure it becomes a reality.
Last July, the UN came together to discuss and agree an Arms Trade Treaty. Talks stalled after some countries, led by the US, called for more time to discuss the treaty and the UN General Assembly later agreed that the Arms Trade Treaty must be agreed upon at the Final Conference in March 2013.
We are now just weeks away from when the UK government will join 192 other UN Member states in New York for the UN Final Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty. The UK government played a leading role in ensuring progress was made this far and we can’t allow for a strong, effective and life-saving Arms Trade Treaty to slip through our fingers.
The UK government must continue to be champion of an effective Arms Trade Treaty in discussions and bring home a treaty which we can all be proud of.
I can’t begin to imagine what life must be like for men, women and children living in fear in places like Syria and I can’t find the words to describe how deplorable I think it is that there isn’t currently any global legislation that would prevent weapons getting into the hands of human rights abusers. The world seems able to agree on legislation regulating the sale of bananas, so why not this?
A strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty would help stop the flow of arms to governments and armed groups that abuse human rights. Amnesty is asking for people to send the short film to their local MPs and ask them to write to the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister dealing with the ATT negotiations, Alistair Burt MP, urging him to guarantee that the government will support a strong Arms Trade Treaty in March and that the UK will work to close existing loopholes. Email your MP now
As a member of the Labour Party – the party in government when the UK led calls for an Arms Trade Treaty to be created – I am a firm supporter of this campaign and I have written to Mr Burt myself calling on him to ensure we don’t let this momentous opportunity pass. I hope many other MPs will do the same.
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.