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One year on: Despite landmark vote, Arms Trade Treaty still needs worldwide backing

Arms Trade Treaty signing ceremony, New York, USA © Amnesty International

Amnesty International welcomes the UK government’s move to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty which also includes strengthening British laws over arms trafficking and brokering of weapons by UK citizens and companies.

However, one year after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty millions of people around the world continue to suffer the deadly consequences of the poorly regulated global trade in weapons. Amnesty is calling on the UK government to send a clear signal to others that it will no longer allow weapons to be transferred to countries that might use them for serious human rights abuses.

Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s Arms Programme Director said:

“As a leading champion of the Arms Trade Treaty and a major arms exporter, the UK has a special responsibility to see that the Treaty is properly implemented, enforced and monitored to end the irresponsible sale of arms to human rights violators. Unless the treaty is ratified by more countries, it remains powerless. The UK has a duty to persuade countries like Afghanistan, Kenya and Canada to sign as quickly as possible”

Although 17 of the European Union’s 28 member states will ratify the Treaty at the UN tomorrow, the total will still fall short of the 50 needed for the treaty to enter into force. Up to now, only 13 states worldwide have ratified the Treaty.

At least half a million people die every year and millions more are displaced as a result of armed violence and conflict. On the eve of its first anniversary, Amnesty is calling on more governments to take the rapid steps needed to bring the Arms Trade Treaty into force.

On 2 April last year, a total of 155 states voted in the UN General Assembly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty and 118 states have since signed the treaty, with the aim of eventually bringing it into their national law. But 43 of the states that supported the adoption of the treaty last year have yet to take any action whatsoever.

Amnesty is concerned that some states, including EU members, appear to be continuing arms transfers to countries where there is a clear risk they will be used for serious human rights violations and abuses.  If implemented robustly, the Arms Trade Treaty will stop the flow of weapons to countries that would use arms to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

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