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Arms: The UK must lead the way for the most robust Arms Treaty

Amnesty International has welcomed the UK Prime Minister’s support to deliver an Arms Treaty (ATT) and has called on him to ensure his government pushes for the most effective treaty possible as they begin negotiations with other states  at the United Nations in New York tomorrow (Monday 2 July).

Speaking in Parliament last Wednesday (27 June), the Prime Minister noted that his government ‘back the Arms Treaty’ and that his party ‘lobby very vigorously on that issue’.

David Cameron’s comments in Parliament follow his letter to Amnesty International and Oxfam where he stated:

"We are now in a crucial phase of the UN process and it is vital that we continue to work together to achieve a successful outcome. Britain has maintained its leading role in the UN process… Britain wants an ATT that including small arms, light weapons and ammunition.

“We also want to see a Treaty that contains strong provisions on human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development, and covers activities like brokering. It is important that the ATT contains reporting and transparency measures."

Historic talks are set to begin at the United Nations tomorrow where more than 190 states will gather for month-long talks to agree upon the detail of an international Arms Treaty.  While most states are supportive of the Treaty, some countries remain sceptical of the need for robust regulations and threaten to dilute the Treaty. 

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s public support for an international Arms Treaty.  We hope that he sends a clear message to the UK team at the United Nations that there must be no compromise on key principles that would prevent weapons from being transferred to regions where there is a substantial risk that they will be used to fuel conflict and deepen poverty.

“Thousands of people die every day as a result of poorly regulated arms controls. It’s imperative that talks which start tomorrow deliver a treaty that stops human rights abusers dead in their tracks.” 

The UK delegation will be led by Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Minister Alistair Burt.  Speaking at a recent Amnesty International and Oxfam event with youth delegates from around the country, Minister 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.”

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