Posted: 18 June 2012
On Wednesday 20 June, students and school pupils, including some as young as 13, will travel from Scotland to urge the Foreign Office Minister of the urgent need for an international legally-binding treaty which would control and regulate the transfer and sale of weapons around the world.
The students will join 150 other young activists from Amnesty International and Oxfam to urge the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt and other senior government officials to ensure that the UK does not compromise in working to deliver a robust treaty which, for the first time would globally regulate the trade of weapons across borders. Currently there are no global regulations controlling the arms trade.
After arriving in Westminster on Wednesday morning, students from Paisley Grammar School, St Andrews University, Glasgow University, Stirling University and Queen Margaret University will hear from Scottish arms control campaigner David Grimason whose two-year-old son was tragically killed in Turkey in 2003, and former child soldier turned rap singer Emmanuel Jal. They will then meet with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt to discuss the government’s position on this treaty, and have the opportunity to quiz experts on the arms trade treaty from the UK Government, Oxfam and Amnesty International. A member of the UK Government Arms Trade Unit will also be present to receive questions from the youth delegates.
Leila Shroufi, a student from Queen Margaret University, who will form part of the Scottish delegation, said: “This is a really exciting and unique opportunity to put my questions to the UK Government about this very important treaty.
“Currently, with no global regulations in place, about 1500 people die every day as a result of armed violence and conflict. If created effectively, an international arms trade treaty really does have the potential to save thousands of lives.”
The delegation will also be joined by David Grimason, who has pushed for tighter controls on the arms trade since 2003 and launched Amnesty Scotland's campaign for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty earlier this year.
David Grimason said: “It is fantastic and vitally important that so many young people have the chance to discuss this crucial treaty with the Foreign Office Minister. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to get it right when it comes to stopping the flow of weapons that devastate the lives of so many people around the word, including here in Scotland. We hope that Minister Burt will send a clear message that the UK Government will not compromise on delivering a robust international arms trade treaty which upholds human rights and development when it meets other world leaders at the United Nations next month.”
The event is being held at a significant time, in the two weeks leading up to the historic negotiations at the United Nations in New York, where the first ever international standards on the arms trade will be agreed upon.
Amnesty and Oxfam as part of the Control Arms coalition are calling for a treaty based on a simple principle: no transfers of weapons which are likely to be used for violations of international law. Every day, 1,500 people die because of the irresponsible sales of arms. The current poor regulations on arms trades allow these weapons to fall into the wrong hands, where they can be used to fuel conflict, poverty and human rights violations. A robust treaty would quite literally save millions of lives each year.
For more on our work around the Arms Trade Treaty, please see amnesty.org.uk/arms