If all politics is local and the personal is political then few advocates can make a more compelling case for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) than Hollywood actor Djimon Hounsou.
The Benin-born global superstar, Oscar-nominated for his roles in Blood Diamond and In America, knows from first-hand experience the devastation the arms trade has brought to Africa. He knows, too, the importance of people-power in ensuring decision-makers gathered at the UN produce a strong Arms Trade Treaty.
Hounsou spoke eloquently and powerfully before a standing room only crowd at the Control Arms opening reception last nightalongside the Finnish Foreign Minister and the ATT Conference President, Peter Woolcoot. While each delivered powerful remarks about the need for an Arms Trade Treaty and the vital contributions both States and civil society have made, but it was Hounsou who most captivated the entire audience.
He spoke of the impact of arms on the Africa of his childhood and recent trip to South Sudan with Oxfam. But it was his hope for the future that was most inspiring. A strong treaty will give a foundation to ensure weapons and ammunition are not transferred to places where the weapons will be used to stall development or violate human rights.
This is not a false hope. This is a future that’s within our reach. A future that the diplomats and politicians gathered in New York this week can deliver.