“For in the time that it has taken us to do this difficult work, millions of civilians have been killed by small arms and light weapons flowing unrestricted across borders, most of them into the developing world. Many thousands of child soldiers have been armed. Families have been torn apart. And it is impossible to calculate the damage done by poor countries’ choice to spend on illegal or unnecessary weapons, diverting funds that should be spent on education and health care.

The people affected by the international community’s lack of binding regulations on the trade of arms, numbers in the millions. They are our ambition. They are our ideal. They are the reason for the late nights that have been dedicated to the details of this treaty. The challenge before us is not just to get a document signed.

The challenge before us is to do justice to those victims of violence. The challenge before us is to ensure that our goal becomes reality. These men and women and children deserve nothing less than swift and effective action.”

– Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez, excerpted from his speech delivered on 14 February 2012, with thanks to the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress

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