Support a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer because of the poorly regulated arms trade.
This year, you helped change that.
Congratulations, you helped make history. We have an Arms Trade Treaty!
Why an Arms Trade Treaty is so important
Musician and activist Emmanuel Jal knows more than most about the human impact of an arms trade that is out of control. Aged just 8 he was forcibly recruited as a child soldier to fight in Sudan's bloody civil war.
This year for the first time we had the opportunity to disarm dictators, warlords and child soldiers. World leaders met in New York to draw up an historic document: the first ever international Arms Trade Treaty.
And, on Tuesday 2 April 2013, they voted overwhelmingly to adopt a Treaty that saves thousands lives and improves many more. A Treaty that prevents transfers where there is risk that they would directly contribute to human rights abuses.
Arms supplies fuelling unlawful killings and rape in DRC
The ease with which weapons and ammunition are available to government forces and armed groups alike continues to fuel multiple human rights violations in DRC including rape, looting, abductions and unlawful killings. The main arms suppliers include China, Egypt and USA.
Senior DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) officials often sell or give weapons to armed groups, including those they are fighting against. Armed groups also frequently obtain weapons and ammunition left behind when FARDC units flee combat zones. And civilians bear the horrific cost of such lack of control, diversion of weapons and impunity.
- Read the blog: An AK-47 - often the 'credit card' for FARDC soldiers
- Get the details in our new report If You Resist, We'll Shoot You (pdf)
The Control Arms Campaign is an alliance of organisations calling for a robust Arms Trade Treaty. Follow the negotiations at controlarms.org
In response to your hard work and action taking, we've had four very positive statements from key politicians supporting a robust Arms Trade Treaty:
- Prime Minister David Cameron reacted to your campaigning - which included 23, 786 petition signatures, MP lobbying and direct appeals from his own constituents - by assuring us, '[We] want to see a Treaty that contains strong provisions on human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development'. Read more of David Cameron's statement
- Labour leader Ed Miliband responded to over 7000 emails by reinforcing his commitment to a 'robust and effective global Arms Trade Treaty with comprehensive scope and robust parameters'. Read Miliband's full statement
- UK foreign Secretary William Hague responded to your lobbying on Facebook by stating that the 'UK Government remains totally committed to securing a robust and effective Arms Trade Treaty, with strong human rights and international law provisions at its core'.
- Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the UK will 'lead the charge for a robust, legally-binding treaty, covering all conventional weapons' Read Clegg's full statement on independent.co.uk
Many thanks to everybody for taking action. You are being heard!
- See the overwhelming cross-party support from MPs across the country
- Check out what you got up to, to ensure such cross party support
The key focus for us is to ensure that the treaty adopted is robust and not just hollow law.
We are urged the UK government to ensure it continues to champion robust legislation and lobby for a Treaty that:
- Protects human rights by preventing any transfer of arms where there is substantial risk that they will directly contribute to serious human rights abuses, war crimes or poverty
- Has a comprehensive scope of equipment to include all types of conventional weapons and equipment, their parts and components, as well as technology to develop, maintain and produce them. This must also include small arms, light weapons, ammunition and munitions of all kinds and weapons used for internal security.
- Includes all types of international arms trading so that it covers commercial sales and government deals, gifts and loans as well as all essential services to support these activities - including deals arranged my middle men (brokers), and arms transportation.
- Is enforceable and transparent to ensure all governments adopt strong national laws, rules and regulations to strictly control all weapons transfers from, into, via and through their territories, including all individuals and companies operating under its jurisdiction. All Governments must publicly report on their arms sales so they can be held accountable for their actions
- Enters quickly into force because, believe it or not, even once the Treaty is agreed it will only be binding if a set number of states introduce national legislation to ratify it. This number is to be determined during the negotiations.
Every minute that passes someone loses their life to armed violence or conflict.
We have been reporting widespread misuse of arms in serious human rights violations and killings for decades. We highlighted the use of UK-supplied defense vehicles being used in the crackdown against peaceful protestors in Libya; the ease with which weapons and ammunition are available to government forces and armed groups alike in DRC and South Sudan - fuelling human rights abuses.
Although there are global regulations for all sorts of things - from postage stamps to dinosaur bones - the arms trade, with all its violent consequences, has so far been allowed to function largely unrestricted in the absence of effective international regulations.In 2006 the world took a major step forward - 153 governments voted at the UN to start work on developing a global Arms Trade Treaty. By 2009 the UN general assembly had launched a time frame for the negotiations, including one preparatory meeting in 2010 and two in 2011.
At these meetings it became clear that not everybody involved wants a robust Treaty - the inclusion of weapons such as tear gas and crowd control vehicles and even bullets was at risk for some time.
The formal negotiations started in July 2012. They ended without agreement but a strong second chance and the UK government committed to taking the matter to the UN General Assembly in October. When they, along with seven other governments, did so, the Assembly voted overwhelmingly for final talks to agree the Treaty to happen in March 2013.
With so much at risk we continued to work hard between these negotiations to ensure that human rights are enshrined in the Arms Trade Treaty. And our campaigners left for the final talks with a spring in their step after the UK Government Minister responsible for the Treaty responded to your actions
After a tumultuous ten days of talks, and a decent draft Treaty, world leaders once again left without agreement. But by now there were many supporters, committed to making this Treaty a reality and Kenya delivered a resolution for the UN General Assembly meeting just four days later - a resolution with 90 co-sponsors - to take the Treaty to vote there and then. So vote they did, and we are pleased to say that an incredible 154 states voted 'yes' to adopt a Treaty that protects human rights and saves lives. Find out more about the final Arms Trade Treaty vote
- Year of rebellion: The state of human rights in the Middle East and North Africa (PDF) 9 January 2012
- Arms transfers to the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons for an Arms Trade Treaty (PDF) 19 October 2011
- Arms Trade Treaty: National Licensing or Authorisation Systems (PDF) 12 July 2011