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USA-Arms: World's largest arms exporter urged to reject human rights 'escape clause' in historic treaty

Amnesty International has today called on President Obama to demonstrate true leadership during crucial negotiations on the Arms by rejecting proposals that will severely undermine human rights.

US officials attending historic talks at the United Nations in York for an Arms Treaty have indicated that they want the Treaty to include an ‘escape clause’ that would allow national security considerations to override any serious human rights concerns when deciding to supply arms to other countries.

As the largest arms exporter in the world, the USA’s actions are likely to have a significant impact on other governments’ decision in relation to the detail contained within the Treaty text.  The USA – along with China, Syria and Egypt – have voiced their opposition for ammunition to be included in the Treaty.

Amnesty International UK Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague is part of Amnesty’s delegation at the United Nations.  He said:

“It’s vital that President Obama sends a clear message to other world leaders that the US administration is serious when it comes to respecting human rights.

“Scenes of devastation caused by weapons in the hands of human rights violators in Syria, Bahrain and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa flood our newspapers and television screens on a daily basis. Any escape clause that overrides human rights in the Arms Treaty would send a signal that countries can carry on with business as usual.”

Amnesty International is urging governments to ensure a ‘Golden Rule’ on human rights is included in the Treaty. This would mean that if there is a substantial risk that arms due to be supplied by a country are likely to be used to commit serious human rights violations, the arms transfer shall not take place.

Many governments and most US allies support this position. However, some influential states including China, Russia and US have been promoting weaker rules.

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