First Committee Meeting Underway in New York
October 13, 2016

Over 140 people lost their lives and more than 500 were injured on Saturday, 4 October, after a Saudi-led coalition airstrike targeted a funeral in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a. This attack was especially tragic, but it was only the latest incident in a long-running pattern of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Similar attacks targeting hospitals, schools and markets have been ongoing since March 2015 in Yemen, and have resulted in over 3000 civilians killed, including over 700 children.

During the first week of the General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security many governments lamented the humanitarian devastation in places like Yemen and Syria. But as Control Arms reminded delegates “strong statements are not enough – governments must stop the arms supplies that are enabling these attacks on civilians”. In an address to First Committee this year, Control Arms called for Arms Trade Treaty States Parties to uphold their obligations under the Treaty and halt all arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and its allies. It also took this opportunity to remind member states of the Treaty’s gender-based violence provisions within the risk assessment criteria. The recent shocking incidences of mass rape at gunpoint in July in South Sudan, where hundreds of women and girls were raped, including aid-workers,demonstrates the need for governments to be rigorously applying this criteria, states Anna Macdonald in her statement. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was intended to stop arms transfers which fuel devastating humanitarian crisis and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

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Anna MacDonald addresses the UN First Committee on 12 October 2016

Read Control Arms’ full statement here.

During the general debate, over 40 countries took the opportunity to lend their support for the universalization and implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. As expressed this week by many states, including Costa Rica, Hungary and the EU, the regulation of the global arms trade and the Treaty’s humanitarian promise will only be achieved with its full and effective implementation. <Also positively, several countries, but Zambia in particular, noted the link between gender based violence and illicit arms trafficking and  called for “for sustained efforts in ensuring that women, who are mostly affected by the illicit trade in SALW, are allowed to participate in all phases of UNPoA and ATT implementation”.