FOR USE ON MONDAY 12 JULY 2010
New York: The UN was urged today to take action to end the irresponsible trade in conventional weapons, as discussions on the Arms Trade Treaty began in New York. IANSA (The International Action Network on Small Arms) director Rebecca Peters welcomed the opening of the discussion process, but stressed that delegates must work hard to make the proposed treaty bullet-proof.
She went on to say “These discussions aren’t just a matter of diplomacy. To people who live in areas affected by gun violence they are a matter of life and death. It’s the job of the UN to take legal steps to protect the rights of people to live in peace – and to put irresponsible arms traders out of business.”
The irresponsible trade in conventional arms costs over 1000 lives a day worldwide and IANSA members in over 100 countries are urging their governments to take a strong line to ensure the Arms Trade Treaty is worth the paper it’s written on.
‘To save lives the Arms Trade Treaty has to make sure that all states involved in the transfer of conventional weapons are held accountable to how those weapons are used. Human rights abuses, especially at the hands of those in possession of guns, result in huge levels of human suffering and this is an opportunity to do something that really changes the way the world works and saves millions of lives’ said Azril Mohammad Amin, vice president of the Muslim Lawyers Association in Malaysia.
The Control Arms Campaign* has been calling for formal ATT negotiations to begin since 2003 and today, at the United Nations, diplomats will begin the process at the first of two Preparatory Committees. The final stage will be a UN conference in 2012 when the text for the ATT will be negotiated and finalised.
Azril said ‘Now is the time. It has taken 7 years to reach this stage and in two years time we will have an ATT. Will it be the ATT that the people of Malaysia and the world want, or will it be another useless piece of paper that does nothing to prevent weapons being traded around the world irresponsibly, leading to guns in the hands of those who rape and kill with no regard for life or human suffering’.
The next two weeks at the United Nations will be the first stage in the development of the ATT and it is the role of diplomats who realise what is at stake, to stand up for what they believe in and not give way to states that do not like the idea of regulating irresponsible arms transfers.
Azril said ‘It is an opportunity that will be gone before we realise it and no one will want to look back in 3 years time and think they could have done more’
* Control Arms Campaign is a group of over 100 NGOS leading the call for a strong ATT