Arms Trade Treaty, wow what a night...
Wow, what a night. It takes quite a lot to make me speechless, but tonight’s special event at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office certainly did that.
It’s been 20 years in the making, but here were the great and the good all gathered together for one final push to make the Arms Trade Treaty a reality.
The Treaty was adopted by the United Nations in April this year and is open for signature on 3 June, but will only enter into force once 50 nations have ratified it.
And here I was with Amnesty’s photographer watching a procession of ambassadors and dignitaries representing countries from across the world queue up to pledge that their nation would be there with pen in hand on 3 June.
Here was First Counsellor Sibylle Katharina Sorg from Germany, following the Deputy High Commissioer of Malawi, John L Tembo, all with the single aim of making a reality of a Treaty that could stem the flow of weapons to conflicts; conflicts where thousands of people are killed, injured, raped, and forced to from their homes.
It was a truly surreal moment.
But it wasn’t just about the ambassadors and the politicians. Also in the room were so many people that have worked tirelessly to make this moment happen.
There were several students present, including Eilidh Douglas, from Amnesty’s Edinburgh group, and Amanda Orre, from Amnesty’s Portsmouth University group, both of whom helped organise ‘die-in’ photo stunts at their respective universities earlier this year.
Also present was Jade Thomas from Paddington Academy, who quizzed Minister Alistair Burt on camera on why David Cameron had not made a public statement in support of the Treaty, with her classmates Karolina and Zoe who got nearly a thousand cards signed and sent to their local MP in just two days.
Then there was Rebecca, Chloe and Susanna from Lady Eleanor Holles School, who organised an hour-long meeting with Vince Cable.
And of course, there was Amnesty UK’s Director Kate Allen, who has spent ten years trying to make the Treaty a reality.
For everyone involved it’s been a long journey, but is has been worthwhile.
The end of an inadequately regulated global arms trade is near.
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