NI pupils and student delegation head to Westminster to call for robust Arms Treaty

On Wednesday 20 June, pupils and students from Shimna Integrated College, Newcastle, Co. Down and Queen’s University, Belfast will travel to Westminster to join 150 other youth delegates from across the United Kingdom to call for a robust international Arms treaty.

The pupils and students will join dozens of other young activists – some as young as 12 – from Amnesty International and Oxfam to urge the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and other senior government officials to ensure that the UK does not compromise in working to deliver 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.

After arriving in Westminster on Wednesday morning, pupils and students from Shimna Integrated College and Queen’s University will hear from arms control campaigner David Grimason whose two-year-old son was tragically killed in Turkey in 2003, and former child soldier turned rap singer, Emmanuel Jal before meeting with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister Alistair Burt, having an opportunity to debate the government’s position on this treaty.

Greg McGlynn, 16 year-old student of Shimna Integrated College, stated: ‘I think that the most important thing about this event is we young people are showing politicians how important we think this issue is, and that if we can make the arms treaty more air tight, we will have done something great.

Jamie Brannigan, 16 years old, also of Shimna Integrated College added: 'I would hope to find that David Cameron will support and contribute to our cause, to give us the support needed to ensure we push for a strong Arms treaty with no concessions made to made the U.S, China or Russia, henceforth minimizing the mass bloodshed during armed conflict and hopefully minimizing armed conflict globally.'

22 year old Gary Spedding from Queen’s University Belfast also stated: “This is a really exciting and unique opportunity to put our questions to the UK Government about this crucially important treaty.

"Using this opportunity I wish to ask my government and the UN a very simple question, what they value more; Human beings and our basic rights or the profit from an Arms that they know decimates entire communities”

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 organizations are also calling for the treaty to cover all weapons and ammunition, ranging from bullets to sporting rifles.

This event comes just two weeks ahead of the start of crucial talks at the United Nations where government leaders will agree upon international standards on the Arms for the first time.

Amnesty International’s 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.”

For more on our control arms campaign see amnesty.org.uk/arms

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