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Worldwide/UK: New figures show massive rise in arms transfers as campaigners call for Arms Treaty

These figures come amid further calls for an international Arms Treaty to regulate the export of arms across the globe.

The campaign was given a major boost last week when UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced Britain's support for the Arms Treaty at the Labour Party Conference. The UK is the world's second largest arms exporter.

'The massive rise in arms transfers makes the case for controls more pressing than ever. Now that Jack Straw has publicly backed the Treaty, we look forward to him doing all that he can to make it a reality. Only when it is on the statute book will it begin to save lives,' said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam.

The first Control Arms day (9th October 2003) was marked in 70 countries across the world, when Oxfam, Amnesty International and IANSA (International Action Network on Small Arms) launched the Control Arms campaign. The campaigners are pushing for a legally-binding, international Arms Treaty to help stop weapons being sold to destinations where they might undermine human rights, fuel conflict or exacerbate poverty.

So far, the political leaders of countries including Cambodia, Mali, Costa Rica, Finland, Iceland and Kenya have given their support to the Arms Treaty.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The Labour government should make an Arms Treaty a manifesto commitment. The treaty will help keep arms out of the hands of torturers and killers. And it will provide a global level playing field so UK firms can compete equally with other countries who at present have weaker arms export controls.”

There are around 639 million small arms and light weapons in the world today. Eight million more are produced every year. Without strict control, such weapons will continue to fuel violent conflict, state repression, crime, and domestic abuse.

As part of the Control Arms campaign, Oxfam, Amnesty and IANSA also launched the Million Faces petition, a visual means by which members of the public worldwide can pledge their support to the campaign by posting a photograph or self portrait on the website Celebrities such as Dido, Desmond Tutu, Bob Geldof and Michael Moore have taken part.

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