Control Arms Nears Culmination

by Mark Fried, Policy Coordinator, Oxfam Canada

Oxfam supporters who have been with us since 2006 will recall our Control Arms campaign. Many of you took part in the “million-faces” petition – and indeed we collected a million faces from across the world. 
The campaign set out to get the world’s governments to negotiate a treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. This treaty that would keep guns and bullets from reaching people who would use them to violate human rights or undermine development. And we won: the treaty process began in 2008 and is due to culminate in record time. The final negotiations are to take place in July this year.
In New York this week, governments are butting heads over several points still lacking consensus. Among these are several points regarding process: 
  • Will the final negotiations be open to civil society?
  • How will decisions be taken during the final negotiations?
  • Who will chair the final negotiations?
The chair of the negotiations has produced a draft treaty covering all key areas. Oxfam thinks it provides a good basis for moving forward, as it includes criteria for regulating arms trades based on human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development.
One serious weakness, however, is that the draft apparently restricts the application of these criteria to exports of conventional arms. Imports, transhipments and brokering of weapons would remain an unregulated free-for-all. 
What’s more, police and internal security equipment would be excluded from the treaty, even though such equipment is often used in human rights abuses, as during the Arab spring. 
Another problem with the draft is that it fails to spell out the record-keeping required or mandate public reporting on arms trades.
A small Oxfam team is in New York working with our Control Arms allies to lobby delegates to correct these flaws. You can follow the latest from them on Twitter: @linaholguin and @controlarms
Read more on the Control Arms Treaty from Oxfam Australia and Oxfam International