Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec, Project Ploughshares and Amnesty International delivered more than 10,000 pictures of Canadians to Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay as part of their contribution to the world’s largest photo petition.
The Million Faces Petition of the Control Arms Campaign (www.controlarms.org) calls for a global Arms Trade Treaty to curb the flow of weapons to human rights abusers and countries in conflict.
The petition was presented to the government ahead of a crucial United Nations conference on small arms and light weapons to take place in New York. So far, more than 960,000 people from 160 countries have added their photos and self-portraits.
Senator Romeo Dallaire spoke in support of the petition.
"I have seen how these weapons can spark, fuel, and prolong conflict," said Dallaire. "I join the thousands of Canadians who are asking the government to take leadership at the UN meeting on small arms to ensure it results in strengthened efforts to effectively regulate the arms trade, control munitions and arms transfers, and eliminate gun violence."
One thousand people are killed by guns every day around the world, and thousands more are injured. More than 600 million small arms (from handguns to AK-47 assault rifles to shoulder-fired missiles) are in worldwide circulation. At present, there are no international rules to keep small arms from falling into the hands of criminals or abusive governments.
"The UN Conference must set global standards to prevent weapons from being transferred to places where they might fuel conflict, hinder development, or be used in human rights abuses," said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. "Women are disproportionately affected by gun violence in poor countries."
"Governments continue to transfer weapons and ammunition to countries with records of gross human rights abuses, and insufficient national arms control laws make easy work for global gun-runners," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. "Many weapons traded legally end up in illicit markets with dire consequences."
"There is a growing awareness of the global gun epidemic and a growing demand for governments to do more about it," said Pierre Veronneau, Executive Director of Oxfam-Quebec. "The upcoming UN Conference is a vital opportunity. Canadians and people around the world are looking to their governments to work together to tackle this crisis"
"The Government of Canada has the opportunity at the Conference to strengthen the leadership it has shown on the international control of small arms. The stakes are high. People’s lives are being lost each and every day even while a solution is in sight," said John Siebert, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares.
For more information, visit www.controlarms.org or please contact:
- Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada 613-850-9723
- John Tackaberry, Amnesty International Canada 613-744-7667, ext. 236