Target: United Nations General Assembly
Goal: Urge the U.N. to establish the first global treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons.
After failed attempts to reach an agreement during the summer of 2012, the United Nations is resuming negotiations towards the first global treaty to regulate the trade of conventional weapons. Negotiators from around 150 countries are meeting to push for this treaty, which aims to combat illicit arms trafficking, keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, and protect the ability of sovereign states to conduct legitimate arms trade.
Every day, roughly 2,000 people die from armed violence abetted by illicit arms trade. Wars, human rights abuses, and atrocities have been aided by a lack of regulation that has led to an uncontrolled flow of weapons and ammunition. Conventional arms trade reaches $60 to $70 billion annually, and, as Oxfam International points out, “gunrunners… operate with impunity on the shady fringes of this deadly trade.”
In fact, a prime purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty arises out of “the need to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade of conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market and for unauthorized use.”
The treaty will set standards for all transfers of weapons and ammunition across national borders. It would set binding requirements for nations to review all cross-border arms contracts and ensure that munitions will not be used in human rights abuses, do not violate embargoes, and are not illegally diverted. The treaty will cover at least eight categories that include small arms, tanks, aircraft, missiles, launchers, and warships. Once approved, national parliament will need to ratify the treaty.
Last year’s attempts failed when the three biggest arms exporters—the United States, Russia, and China—requested more time. With talks resuming at last, urge the United Nations to finalize a treaty and begin regulating an out-of-control, deadly market.
Dear United Nations General Assembly,
Recent violence in the United States has pushed gun control into the national spotlight, but armed violence is a global issue. Genocide, war, and horrific human rights abuses around the world, from South Sudan to Colombia, from Darfur to Syria, have been fueled by a multi-billion dollar trade that is a virtual free-for-all, so lax in regulations (when there are any at all) that there’s no telling in whose hands a gun, rocket launcher, or even an airplane may end up.
Your negotiations stalled last year when the biggest weapons exporters pushed for more time, but now a treaty that is more than simply a piece of paper for everyone to sign needs to be established. We need a strong and effective treaty that will eliminate the illicit arms trade through transparency and accountability. We need global peace and stability. Regulation of the conventional arms trade is a key ingredient.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: JoAnn S Makinano via Wikimedia Commons