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Arms Treaty: UK students head to Westminster to call for robust Arms Treaty

More than 150 school pupils and university students from across the UK will today travel to Westminster to urge the government to deliver a robust international Arms Treaty.

Students and school pupils from as young as 12 year old – and travelling from as far away as Belfast will meet the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Alistair Burt to discuss the need for a robust treaty which, for the first time would globally regulate the trade of weapons across borders. Currently there are no global regulations controlling the Arms.

Next month, the UK government will join others at the United Nations to negotiate this historic new treaty, which would legally regulate the global trade and transfer of weapons and ammunition around the world.

Amnesty International and Oxfam are calling for a robust international Arms Treaty to include essential criteria which prevents the transfer of weapons to regions where there is a risk they will fuel conflict, poverty or serious human rights abuses. The organisations are also calling for the treaty to cover all weapons and ammunition, ranging from bullets to sporting rifles.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We’re delighted that so many young people have the chance to discuss this important treaty with the Foreign Office Minister.

“We hope that Minister Burt will send a clear message that the UK Government will not compromise on delivering a robust international Arms treaty which upholds human rights and development, when it meets other world leaders at the United Nations next month.”

Mr Burt said:
“The unregulated trade in conventional arms feeds conflict and undermines peace and security. Since 2006, the UK has been at the front of a global effort to introduce more effective and coherent international regulation of that trade.
“With less than two weeks to the start of negotiations in New York, the Government remains committed to securing a robust, effective and legally-binding Arms Treaty. Over the past six years, we have worked closely with NGOs like Amnesty International to achieve that aim. Events like today’s are particularly important because they give the Government the opportunity to hear what is important to those who share our vision for what an Arms Treaty could achieve.”
Oxfam’s Head of Control Arms, Anna Macdonald said:

“In New York, diplomats will have an historic opportunity to bring the Arms under control once and for all. A robust Arms Treaty will significantly reduce the suffering caused to thousands of people each day by the illicit and irresponsible sale of weapons and ammunition.

“In countries suffering from high levels of armed violence, young people are often the most affected. It is symbolic therefore that it is young people in the UK who are taking the message for a strong Arms Treaty to the heart of government.”

Other speakers at the event include Scottish campaigner David Grimason whose two year old son was killed by a stray bullet while on holiday in Turkey in 2003.  Students will also have the opportunity to hear a performance from former child soldier turned rap singer Emmanuel Jal who will also share his personal experiences of war.

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