NGO hails US for Signing Arms Trade Treaty

The Control Arms Coalition, a global alliance of more than 100 member organisations around the world advocating for the Arms Trade Treaty, has welcomed Wednesday’s signing of the Treaty by the US government, a statement obtained by PANA at the UN headquarters said.

The statement, signed by the coaliton’s spokesperson, Mr. Louis Belanger, stated: ‘As the world’s biggest arms exporter, the United States joins more than half of UN member states who have already signed the treaty.’

He said: ‘So far, 89 have joined the treaty, only four months since the treaty opened for signature, and this number is expected to rise to over 100 by the end of the day.’

The coalition urged the US to now live up to the spirit of the treaty by not authorizing any transfer of weapons where there is a major risk of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as in the current conflict in Syria.

It disclosed that over a dozen countries signed the Arms Trade Treaty in New York at a ceremony on the margin of the UN General Assembly.

Recent signatories to the Treaty included Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

The statement also quoted Mr. Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, as saying ‘Today’s signing of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United States is a significant victory for human rights and development.’

He said: ‘The US is the world’s foremost arms exporter, and US signature is a powerful step demonstrating the United States’ commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict.’

Also, Ms. Allison Pytlak of the Control Arms Coalition, said: ‘Just three months after opening for signature, more than 100 governments have signed this ground-breaking agreement and many are making progress toward ratifying it.

‘Today is a tremendous milestone. We urge all countries to take their obligations seriously and pass national laws that will enforce the Treaty and transform the words on the page into action on the ground.

‘Control Arms will continue to advocate for the Treaty’s universalization but also stands ready to monitor and assist with implementation.’

She also said Control Arms now called on the more than 100 countries who have signed the ATT to swiftly to incorporate the agreement into their national law and ratify the text.

The treaty, which was agreed in April by an overwhelming majority of the UN member states, will become international law after 50 countries ratify the text.

The Arms Trade Treaty is the first ever multilateral treaty on the global trade in conventional arms and ammunition, requiring governments to establish common standards for the international trade of weapons.

The Treaty creates binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers against the risk that weapons will be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organized crime or violations of humanitarian law.

It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a major risk countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.

It is the first ever global answer to the inadequate control system of national laws, regional initiatives, and country-specific embargoes that have failed to effectively control the world’s deadliest trade up to now.

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