Arms Trade Treaty enters into force offering fresh hope for the protection of civilians in 2015 – Unfortunately, Canada has yet to sign
Campaigners hailed a “huge victory” as after more than a decade of campaigning, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) today becomes international law at last. Oxfam has worked with the Control Arms coalition to make this treaty a reality.
Unfortunately, Canada has yet to sign or ratify even though Canada voted in favour of the treaty in April last year.
The treaty aims to set the highest standards for controlling the $85 billion international trade of arms and ammunition and to cut the supply of weapons to all dictators and human rights abusers.
The ATT has taken only 18 months from opening for signature to entry-into-force. This is one of the fastest approval processes for any multilateral arms treaty, and shows the weight of political support the world’s nations have invested in the treaty.
“The irresponsible trade of arms has fed conflicts around the world, taken the lives of millions of people, stolen the innocence of children and youth, contributed to worsening violence against women and robbed communities of their livelihoods,” said Oxfam spokesperson Lina Holguin. “The ATT is moving us towards a safer world. If robustly implemented, it has the potential to save lives and protect vulnerable civilians. The ATT will transform the global arms business. It will no longer be acceptable to look the other way when arms are transferred to regimes that will use them to harm innocent people and violate their human rights.”
Under the new rules in the ATT, before any arms transfer takes place, the supplier government must assess associated risks of the deal against strict criteria, including whether the arms might be used for human rights violations or war crimes. If there is a substantial risk of this happening, the deal cannot be authorized by the seller.
The first Conference of States Parties (CSP) of the Treaty is expected to take place during late-August/early-September next year. At these meetings States and civil society will work together to ensure the treaty is properly implemented and that irresponsible arms trades are being stopped.
In order to be at the table of this crucial Conference of State Parties in 2015, Canada needs to sign the treaty before it enters into force this December 24th. Canada can play an important role in discussion to ensure the effectiveness of the treaty by making it harder for human rights abusers, criminal and terrorists to get their hands on deadly weapons. It is time for Canada to, today, join with the 129 states that have signed the ATT and the 60 states that have ratified, including major arms exporters such as France, the UK and Germany.
Notes to Editors:
1. The Control Arms Coalition in Canada includes Oxfam Quebec, Oxfam Canada, Project Ploughshares and Amnesty International Canada. Since 2003, we have been calling on Canada to support the Arms Trade Treaty. The Coalition, over the past 10 years, has garnered the signatures of 150 members of parliament and Canadians have signed petitions in support of Canada signing and ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty.
2. The Control Arms Coalition is a global civil society movement of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) campaigning for tough controls on the international arms trade. Control Arms has over 100 organizations working in over 120 countries. It includes major international NGOs such as Oxfam, Amnesty International and Saferworld, as well as many regional and national level organizations.
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