Amnesty International USA Celebrates Human Rights Victory with U.S. Signing of Arms Trade Treaty at United Nations

Press Release
September 25, 2013

Amnesty International USA Celebrates Human Rights Victory with U.S. Signing of Arms Trade Treaty at United Nations

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

(NEW YORK) - Amnesty International USA issued the following comment today from Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins, on the U.S. signing of the Arms Trade Treaty by Secretary of State John Kerry:

"The U.S. signing of the Arms Trade Treaty is a major human rights victory, and a moment to celebrate the extraordinary commitment of millions of activists here in the United States and around the world who spoke out against the irresponsible arms trade and demanded action. The voices were heard at the highest levels of power for two decades of campaigning and today we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to them. This day would not have happened without their determination and passion.

Coming in the midst of concerns about the supply of weapons to the Syria government and Syrian armed opposition groups, the U.S. signature on the treaty signals the intention of the world's largest arms exporter to respect the terms of the treaty. It is now crucially important for the U.S. to move toward implementing the treaty.

By signing the Arms Trade Treaty Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry has aligned the United States with the vast majority of nations in saying 'enough' to this irresponsible international arms bazaar. As the world's largest exporter of conventional arms, the United States has a special obligation to lead when it comes to ensuring that exported weapons do not fall into the wrong hands. By signing, the United States places more political pressure on other arms exporters to also take action to help establish as transparent and responsible a global arms trade as possible.”

Amnesty International and the Arms Trade Treaty:

Twenty years ago, Amnesty International campaigners and a handful of partners developed the idea for a global treaty that would stop the irresponsible flow of weapons to dictators and others who use them to commit human rights atrocities. Though initially greeted with skepticism, even mocked as simply too audacious, the idea drew support from luminaries like Nobel Peace Laureates Desmond Tutu and Oscar Arias, giving momentum to a worldwide effort by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who lobbied their governments to push the treaty forward. The movement ultimately produced a significant human rights victory on April 2, 2013, when the treaty was overwhelmingly adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

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.