Crucial Week Ahead as Arms Trade Treaty negotiations resume in New York

With France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States now caught in scandals involving pending and past transfers of arms to places where there is substantial risk they will be used to abuse human rights, the Control Arms coalition has stressed that there has never been a greater need for strong global arms controls. Diplomats will meet this week in New York for the next round of negotiations for the first global Arms Trade Treaty. There is currently no global treaty regulating the conventional arms trade, making it easy for arms to end up in the hands of human rights abusers, stoke armed violence and fuel poverty and conflict.

This week, diplomats have the difficult task of translating the intent of the treaty into meaningful action. While a number of major exporting states have expressed support for a strong treaty, their involvement in recent questionable arms deals or training to Bahrain, Libya and Saudi Arabia have highlighted the urgent need for a treaty that actually holds countries to account.

“You can’t come to the meeting praising the process to get a global arms deal done and at the same time engage in irresponsible arms transfers. We need countries to negotiate a treaty with teeth, something that will make a difference on the ground, in the communities where thousands of people die every year because of the poorly regulated arms trade. We need to see real progress in the next five days. A double standard cannot be tolerated.”

– said Jeff Abramson, Coordinator of the Control Arms Secretariat.

This week in New York, over 140 civil society participants from more than 50 countries will be attending the talks as part of the Control Arms coalition, to urge member states to deliver a treaty that not only looks good on paper, but actually reduces the harmful impacts of the arms trade. Armed violence survivors from across the world will be present at the negotiations as a reminder to states that the Arms Trade Treaty is not just about bureaucratic processes, but mostly about the lives of ordinary people around the world.

To ensure this, campaigners call on diplomats to agree on a set of rules that will make the Treaty workable, enforceable, impactful and increases the transparency of all international arms transfers.

“Arms dealers have been masters in using the current legal vacuum in the international trade of weapons and ammunition. We must close these loopholes by seeing that all states commit to enacting strong national legislation to regulate the arms trade.

States must also agree on ways to resolve disputes and hold each other accountable. Absent that, the future Arms Trade Treaty may simply be nice words that have little practical impact.”

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