Arms Treaty that could help save a life a minute

States must use every available minute to draw up a new international arms treaty that could save thousands of lives every year, said a coalition of campaigning organisations as negotiators from 192 governments today begin formal talks at the United Nations.
 
According to the Control Arms Campaign, one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence, with thousands more injured and abused every day. 128 armed conflicts since 1989 have resulted in at least 250,000 deaths each year.
 
The Control Arms Campaign calls on governments to commit real diplomatic resources towards drafting a robust and effective treaty to control the conventional Arms. A legally binding deal that covers all weapons, ammunition and related equipment is urgently needed, the organisations said.
 
There are currently no comprehensive, legally binding international rules governing the trade in conventional arms, and gaps and loopholes in national controls allow weapons to end up in conflict zones and in the hands of serious human rights abusers.

Oxfam’s Head of the Arms Control Campaign, Anna McDonald said:
 
“The time for delays and excuses is long gone. Every single country must work to achieve the strongest possible deal to stop arms getting into the hands of human rights abusers and warmongers.

“We need clear rules that will oversee how states transfer and regulate the trade in arms; this is a no-brainer. By the end of the next two weeks, member states must have made real progress: and this means delivering a draft text.”
 
To save lives and protect livelihoods, the treaty must have specific criteria based around international human rights and humanitarian law and sustainable development.
 
Negotiations are starting four years after the United Nations General Assembly agreed by an overwhelming majority to work toward an Arms Treaty to establish international rules and standards to better regulate the trade. Just four weeks of negotiations – 120 hours of negotiating time – have been allotted by the UN General Assembly to develop the text of the new international instrument before the final negotiating conference in 2012.
 
Arms Control Policy and Advocacy Coordinator of Instituto Sou da Paz in São Paulo - Daniel Mack said:

“Half of the world’s poorest people live in states that are at risk of, or experiencing, violent conflict. Conventional arms, especially small arms, light weapons and associated ammunition, are used for the majority of grave human rights violations. Now is the time for an Arms Treaty that really protects people, not just states.”
 
The vast majority of governments in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia have voted in the UN General Assembly since 2006 for the development of the Treaty, In December 2009, 151 of the UN’s 192 states voted to begin formal negotiations. Around 20 states, however, have persistently abstained in the UN votes on the Arms Treaty.
 
Head of Amnesty International’s Arms Control Programme, Brian Wood said:

”A small minority of states, however powerful, should not be allowed to stymie progress in New York over the next two weeks. The world urgently needs a bullet-proof Arms Treaty to save lives, protect livelihoods and safeguard human rights."

Find out more about Amnesty's Control Arms campaign

View latest press releases