Ottawa—On the eve of United Nations negotiations, supporters of the Arms Trade Treaty urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to champion strong and comprehensive rules on the international trade in weapons and ammunition.
Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Amnesty International Canada, and Project Ploughshares called the July 2-27 treaty conference in New York “a unique opportunity to keep weapons from reaching terrorists, criminals and human rights abusers and to curb the terrible human toll caused by armed violence.”
Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada said: “A robust Arms Trade Treaty would help stop states from fuelling the violence and abuses we are seeing in Syria today. There is strict global regulation on trade in bananas but no global rules on the multi-billion-dollar business of buying and selling conventional arms and ammunition.”
The absence of international regulation facilitates illicit arms trafficking and conflict, the groups said. “More than 2,000 people will be killed today by armed violence, nearly all of them in poor communities,” said Lina Holguin of Oxfam-Quebec. “The global flood of weapons is a disaster that must be contained.”
The proposed Arms Trade Treaty, which has been under negotiation since 2009, would require the governments of exporting countries to halt shipments of weapons or ammunition they judge likely to lead to violations of human rights or humanitarian law, or to exacerbate conflicts, deepen corruption or undermine development.
Canadian export controls are strong compared to many others,” said Ken Epps of Project Ploughshares. “Many exporting countries pay little heed as to whether the receiving country has the systems or the will to keep the weapons from ending up in the wrong hands. Now we have the opportunity to bring all states up to high global standards.”
119 Canadian MPs and Senators sign declaration
The groups announced that 119 Canadian parliamentarians are among more than 1,600 legislators in 75 countries who have signed a declaration that a strong Arms Trade Treaty “can make a significant contribution in addressing the terrible human toll which is a direct consequence of this poorly regulated trade.”
The groups urged Prime Minister Harper to declare his support and Minister Baird to take an active role at the negotiations. “Some countries will try to water down the treaty or wrap it in red tape,” said Mark Fried of Oxfam Canada. “The world needs Canada to move from quiet support to vocal champion if the treaty that results is to be strong and effective.”
Thousands of Canadians have added their name to a Global petition to all UN member states to negotiate a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty.
See attached press pack for the list of parliamentarians and background information.