24 Hours to Adopt U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, AI Encouraged by Inclusion of Risk Assessment for Human Rights Atrocities

Press Release
March 27, 2013

24 Hours to Adopt U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, AI Encouraged by Inclusion of Risk Assessment for Human Rights Atrocities

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @AIUSAmedia

(NEW YORK) - Amnesty International said today it was encouraging that the final draft of a groundbreaking U.N. Arms Trade Treaty forces states to assess the risk of human rights violations before allowing arms sales to go ahead. The treaty would be a major step towards ending the devastating human rights and humanitarian impact of the global trade in conventional weapons and munitions.

The final draft of the treaty - circulated on Wednesday morning at the United Nations - is expected to be adopted by all member states on Thursday, barring significant objections.

"While there are still deficiencies in this final draft, this treaty has the potential to provide significant human rights protection and curb armed conflict and violence if all governments demonstrate the political will to implement it properly and develop it in the future," said Brian Wood, head of arms control and human rights at Amnesty International.

"After nearly two decades of campaigning by Amnesty International members worldwide, we are tantalizingly close to seeing the passage of a treaty, which includes strong prohibitions on arms transfers that fuel genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity - giving states no wiggle room to continue sending arms to fuel atrocities.

"It's also encouraging that the final draft forces states to assess the overriding risk of serious human rights violations - including summary killings, torture and enforced disappearances - before allowing arms transfers to go ahead. We expect all states to ratify the treaty promptly after it is adopted and implement this provision in good faith.

"We're disappointed that, despite widespread concerns by many governments, the scope of the treaty remains short of what types of arms should be covered - we urge all states to apply the spirit of the treaty to the broadest possible range of arms. And it's troubling that the rule on defense cooperation agreements is unclear and might be exploited to circumvent the terms of the treaty."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.