Worldwide: Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu call for tough laws to control “global horror story” of Arms

Religious leaders - including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Dalai Lama, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Centre – have called on the world’s governments to bring the Arms under control in a letter in today’s (Tuesday’s) Times.

The call comes as the UN General Assembly meets later this month to discuss proposals for an international Arms Treaty, which would help stop weapons being sold to human rights abusers and into conflict zones. The faith leaders call on the international community to support an Arms Treaty.

And the Control Arms campaign (Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA) this week launched a new report, “Arms Without Borders”, exposing how the globalisation of the arms industry has opened up major loopholes in all current arms export regulations, allowing sales to human rights abusers and countries under arms embargoes.

The letter describes the prevalence of armed violence as “a global horror story, which plays itself out from the favelas of Brazil, to conflict in the Middle East, to the killings in Darfur. And the vast majority of the victims are not fighters, but ordinary men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights”.

As the UN General Assembly meets this month it will have its best chance yet to make a real difference to arms proliferation and to reduce armed violence. Several countries, including the UK have proposed an international Arms Treaty to place tough restrictions on who arms can be sold to.

Currently 50 countries support the idea of an Arms Treaty. For a resolution to be passed at the UN this month, a majority of 192 member states must vote in favour.

Campaigners are urging countries to give their backing to what could be a unique opportunity to control the deadly trade in weapons. They are calling on people in the UK to support this campaign by emailing the embassies of target countries, using an e-action at www.amnesty.org.uk/arms

Notes to editors

The full list of signatories to the letter is:

  • The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu
  • His Holiness The Dalai Lama
  • Bishop Gunnar Staalsett, Executive Committee, World Conference of Religions for Peace
  • Reverend Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, Secretary General, Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations
  • Sheikh Musa Muhammad, Chief Imam, Abuja National Mosque
  • Dr. Hanny al-Banna, President of Islamic Relief
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center
  • Swami Agnivesh, President of the World Council of Arya Samaj, India
  • Father Robert F. Drinan, S.J. Professor of Law, Georgetown University, USA
  • Joe Volk, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Mary Ellen McNish, General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
  • Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari - Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain
  • Reverend Dr. William Okoye, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria

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