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Wanted: A bulletproof global Arms Treaty

Launch of Amnesty International Scotland campaign with David Grimason - supported by Oxfam Scotland and Scottish Refugee Council

Scottish arms control campaigner David Grimason will launch Amnesty Scotland's campaign for a bulletproof global Arms Treaty at Glasgow University on Monday (Monday 13 February). He will be joined by Oxfam Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council as well as other human rights activists. The launch marks the first day of a week-long UN conference at which vital elements of the final Arms Treaty will be discussed, ahead of the final negotiating conference in July.

David Grimason, who has pushed for tighter controls on the Arms since his two-year-old son Alistair was shot and killed in a Turkish cafe in July 2003, will speak about his experiences and involvement in nearly ten years of arms control campaigning.

David Grimason said: "It is incredible to think that we may finally be on the brink of delivering something that will prevent the devastating impact that the Arms has on families around the world. After nearly a decade of governments saying that something must be done, now is the time to finally do it.

"It is up to our politicians to ensure that they put people's lives ahead of profit, but it is also up to the people of Scotland to make their voices heard and demand that the UK is at the forefront of championing a comprehensive treaty on the sales and transfer of weapons.

"Every day more than 1500 people die from armed violence, the majority of these in countries which are not at war. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really make a difference to the lives of so many. We have one shot, we must not squander it."

Shabnum Mustapha, Programme Director for Amnesty in Scotland, said: "It is mind-boggling to think that we have international treaties governing the selling of postage stamps, bananas, and even dinosaur bones. But when it comes to weapons and the impact that an irresponsible Arms has on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, there are no controls.

"We need the UK government to stay true to their word and ensure that a treaty governing the sale and transfer of arms is comprehensive, is enforced and puts human rights at its heart."

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Now is the time for the UK Government to step up to the plate and push for a truly bullet proof treaty. The next few months represent an unprecedented opportunity to bring this deadly trade under control. Other countries look to the UK for leadership on this issue, and the Government must deliver."

Gary Christie, Head of Policy and Communication at Scottish Refugee Council, said:

"We need to tackle the root causes of violence that lead people to our shores seeking safety. One of those is the volume of unregulated arms.

"At Scottish Refugee Council we see the direct affects of an irresponsible Arms every day, whether we are dealing with Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who experience sexual violence by militia in the Congo, or people 
fleeing the fall-out of conflict like that happening in Sudan. We would urge everyone to get behind Amnesty's campaign and seize the chance to stop the suffering, happening across the world, today."

Amnesty International is urging the public to increase pressure on the UK government by writing to party leaders and asking them to publicly commit to lead the way in securing a robust Arms Treaty.

  • Download briefing: Amnesty Scotland Arms Treaty Briefing 2012 (PDF)

The launch

  • Where: Glasgow University G12 8QQ
  • When: Monday 13 February 2012, 10.00 - 11.00am

Notes for Media

  • Members of the media are welcome to attend. Photo opportunities available post-event.
  • David Grimason and Amnesty spokespeople are available for interview on the day.
  • Amnesty International will also launch its Scottish campaign briefing at the event - this is available upon request.

Monday 13th February marks the first day of a week-long conference where countries will debate how the final negotiating conference will operate, as well as some of the content of the treaty including aims and objectives, scope and reporting mechanisms. The final scheduled Treaty negotiating conference will be held at the UN Headquarters in New York from the 2nd until the 27th July this year.

In 2003, the Control Arms Campaign - comprising Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms - was launched and has since gathered support for the Arms Treaty (ATT) from over a million people worldwide. The UK Government pledged its support for an Arms Treaty in September 2004 and was one of seven 'co-author' governments that introduced the initial resolution to the UN in 2006 that kick-started the development of the treaty. In December 2006, 153 governments finally voted at the United Nations to start work on developing a global ATT. Momentum for the treaty has been building ever since. In 2009 the USA agreed to engage in negotiations with an ATT.

Scotland has been actively supporting the Control Arms Campaign since it was launched with the public signing up to the Million Faces campaign for an Arms Treaty and Scottish politicians raising the issue at both Westminster and the Scottish Parliament.

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