An Arms Trade Treaty at last: my reflections

I’m sitting here in a haze. Yesterday I attended a historic milestone. A celebration that meant that over 20 years of campaigning had taken effect. On 3 June an Arms Trade Treaty will be open for signatures.  We will no longer live in a world where bananas are more regulated than weapons.

As a second year student at the University of Portsmouth, for me to be attending an event at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was a dream. I was surrounded by various different influential and inspirational people. For the entirety of the event I could not stop smiling nor could I believe it was true.

We talked to Kate Allen, the Director of Amnesty International UK. It was easy to deny that as a student I had not been of a major importance in this 20-year long fight for an Arms Treaty when still listening to her speech.

It was something entirely different to hear it directly from her that we had been part of making it happen, that we should be proud. I was completely star struck.

If there is something we have learned throughout this process it is that every action counts.

Our society has from the off focused on campaigning for the Arms Trade Treaty. Since I started university in 2011, I have been involved in both flash mobs and fundraising events such as pub quizzes and cake sales where we have spread information.

For me the moment when I felt really involved was at this spring’s Action for Change at the Human Rights Action Centre, the headquarters of Amnesty International UK. I have never felt more part of something or been so inspired as I was then.

We had a die-in, which meant that at a given moment we all fell down to the ground “dead”. Representing how one person dies every minute due to armed violence. It was so simple but had such an enormous impact. I had never been so excited to die!

I had to do it again. We returned home and created our own just in time for a final push before the negotiations started in New York.

During the negotiations Twitter was my best friend. I needed to hear every update. It was a rollercoaster of feeling proud and happy when so many nations showed their support and the disappointment when it did not seem as though it would happen.

On the morning of 2 April I was sitting with a cup of tea in my mum’s living room back home in Sweden. When I turned on my laptop and saw an Arms Trade Treaty had been adopted, without consciously knowing it I started screaming and jumping up and down. When I realised how silly I must look, I was kind of glad my dogs were the only ones who were watching.

The world had finally decided to save lives. To put human rights first.

I really urge every single nation to sign this treaty on 3 June. Sign it for the benefit we will all share when guns are regulated. Sign it because guns will cause significantly less harm than they do now. It is time to protect the future.

Post by Amanda Orre, President of University of Portsmouth’s Amnesty International Society


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