UK: Foreign Secretary, Arms Campaigners and UK Defense Industry join forces for tough arms controls

At a press conference held today, UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, joined Control Arms campaigners (Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA) and the Defence Manufacturers Association in a call for tough arms controls.

Prior to the conference, campaigners presented Ms. Beckett with the Million Faces Petition – a global, visual petition to which 150,000 people in the UK have ‘put their faces’ - some of the one million people worldwide calling for an international Arms Treaty.

Whilst UK arms exports controls have improved in recent years, there are still no global, internationally agreed criteria for weapons sales.

Next week (26th June), the UK government will attend the UN Review Conference on small arms and light weapons. Campaigners hope that they will press for tough controls on the trade in small arms, to stop weapons being sent to conflict zones and human rights abusers.

Speaking for the Control Arms Campaign, Oxfam GB Director Barbara Stocking said:

“Controlling the Arms is good for business, good for security and good for development and human rights.

“Let's not forget why this issue is so important. Over 1000 people a day are killed by the misuse of guns and thousands more are suffering injuries. This destruction is being fuelled by the unregulated Arms. There are currently no agreed global standards for deciding who should be sold weapons.

“If one country refuses to sell, another will simply step into its place; if one world region tightens it's controls, unscrupulous dealers just move to a part of the world where no such standards exist.

“So small arms can - and do - end up in the hands of those who abuse human rights, and in areas where they will fuel conflict.”

Major General Alan Sharman CBE, Director General of the Defence Manufacturers Association, said:

"The fundamental weakness in global export controls is the sheer diversity of national policies, systems and procedures which exist, and which create a fertile environment for proliferators and illicit arms dealers.

“Until this is addressed, and greater harmonisation and consistency, at least at the policy level, is achieved, then we will not be able to prevent the unscrupulous from plying their trade - and that is why we warmly welcome the proposed international Arms Treaty, which could go some way towards achieving this."

Poll results released yesterday showed that over 80 per cent of people in Britain (81%) fear guns coming into the country from overseas and ending up on British streets. The majority of British people want tougher controls on the Arms to stop weapons getting into the wrong hands. An overwhelming 86 per cent of people surveyed want stricter international controls on weapons exports.

In countries around the world including Brazil, Guatemala, Canada, South Africa, Britain and India, nearly 2 out of three people said they were ‘worried about becoming a victim of armed violence.’ 30 percent of those surveyed have been the victim of gun crime or knows someone who has been in the last five years, with the proportion rising to more than half in Brazil, Guatemala and South Africa.

Read more about the latest ICM opinion poll press release

Find out more about the Control Arms Campaign /p>

View latest press releases