Following an overwhelming vote at the United Nations, Oxfam called on the Canadian government Tuesday to quickly sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty in Parliament.
The landmark vote today at the United Nations for the first-ever global arms trade treaty sends a clear signal to gunrunners and human rights abusers that their time is up, Oxfam and other members of the international Control Arms coalition said.
After six years of diplomatic negotiations, and more than a decade of campaigning by Oxfam and other organizations, governments at the United Nations voted for the Arms Trade Treaty by a resounding majority of 154 countries. Canada voted for the treaty. Three voted against the treaty – Syria, Iran and North Korea – and there were 23 abstentions.
“This treaty will save lives,” said Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada policy coordinator. “Prime Minister Harper should seize this opportunity to stand up for a safer world by promptly signing and submitting the Arms Trade Treaty to Parliament for ratification.”
The treaty enshrines in international law a set of clear rules for all global transfers of weapons and ammunition. It will be implemented 90 days after ratification by 50 countries.
“Canadians have worked for a decade to bring the Arms Trade Treaty to fruition. Members of Parliament, former officers of the Canadian armed forces and thousands of Canadian citizens now know their efforts have been worthwhile,” Fried said.
“Today marks a great victory for the millions of people suffering the effects of armed violence,” said Lina Holguin, policy director at Oxfam Quebec. “Now Canada should become one of the first countries to sign and ratify the treaty.”
The vote at the UN General Assembly was held just five days after Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked the Treaty’s adoption by consensus in a tense session on the last day of the final negotiating conference.
The Treaty will create binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers to ensure that weapons will not be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organised crime or violations of humanitarian law. It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a risk countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.
The Control Arms coalition represents more than 100 civil society groups in 120 countries. Control Arms is represented in Canada by Oxfam Canada, Oxfam Quebec, Amnesty International and Project Ploughshares.
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Oxfam Canada media officer