On Wednesday, June 11, civil society had the opportunity to address the participants of the Arms Trade Treaty Diplomatic Conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Several members of the Control Arms coalition, including representatives from Amnesty International, Oxfam, the International Action Network on Small Arms, and Women’s Right to Education Programme addressed government negotiators from around the world during the high level nongovernmental organization (NGO) segment.

Each organizational representative brought a different perspective for delegates at the conference to consider. During the speeches the panel made it clear that human rights, development, and other provisions must be included in the ATT in order for it to achieve the Treaty’s humanitarian objectives.

“It should be unthinkable that governments can choose to supply weapons, munitions, armaments and other arms to governments where the likelihood of those arms being used to commit or facilitate serious human rights violations or war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

– Seydi Gassama, Amnesty International 

“The poorly regulated trade in arms and ammunition weakens the ability and willingness of governments to create enabling environments. Development gains are reversed as communities are paralyzed; schools are closed, and immense strains are placed on health systems…”

– Deepayan Basu Ray, Oxfam

“I am afraid that some of you may suggest that this is just a trade treaty. Yes, I am afraid for the people who will not get access to clean water and basic health services or who can’t go to school because funds are diverted to weapons purchases.”

– Jasmin Galace, IANSA

The devastation caused by armed violence prevents my people from advancing their development and improving their own lives. This is why we are here. At the core of this treaty is the humanitarian imperative, the notion that the harm caused by arms proliferated because of poor trade regulations is unacceptable…

– Mimidoo Achakpa, WREP, Nigeria

We came here carrying the people’s suffering and pain: the suffering of a mother who lost her son in Tunisia, … the suffering of tens of thousands of displaced, detained and kidnapped people in Syria, where the evidence of crimes committed against humanity by the Syrian government increases daily. The presence of a robust and efficient Arms Trade Treaty would help stop the transfer of arms to different parties there and prevent such crimes.”

– Hazem Ksouri, Tunisie Libre

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