International Artists Support Campaign for Effective Arms Trade Treaty As Talks Open at United Nations on Monday

Press Release
July 2, 2012

International Artists Support Campaign for Effective Arms Trade Treaty As Talks Open at United Nations on Monday

British War Photographer Paul Conroy Joins Keira Knightley, Yoko Ono, Scarlett Johansson, Coldplay, Tim Roth, Annie Lennox and Kevin Spacey, Among Others,To Support Amnesty International and Oxfam Campaign Regulate Global Arms Trade

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

(New York) – As more than 190 governments meet in New York Monday for the first day of month-long talks at the United Nations on arms control, more than 30 high-profile Amnesty International and Oxfam supporters, including the British war photographer Paul Conroy, urged governments to deliver a strong and effective treaty that helps protect human rights and prevent the flow of arms to irresponsible users.

Amnesty International and Oxfam sent the letter signed by Conroy, Keira Knightley, Kevin Spacey and others to U.N. Secretary General Ban ki Moon, urging governments to deliver a strong treaty that will save lives. Conroy is the British war photographer injured in the mortar attack that killed London Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and French photo journalist RemiOchlik, in Homs, Syria, earlier this year. (Full list of signatories below)

An effective ATTneeds a "Golden Rule:" if there is a substantial risk that arms exported to another country are likely to be used for serious human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, or to undermine sustainable development, those arms supplies must be stopped.

More than 30 high-profile Amnesty International and Oxfam supporters including Paul Conroy - the British war photographer injured in the mortar attack that killed Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and French photo journalist RemiOchlik, in Homs, Syria, earlier this year – urged governments to deliver a strong and effective treaty that helps protect human rights by preventing the flow of arms to irresponsible users.

The letter was sent to UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, who will play a vital role in the negotiations by keeping the talks on track to deliver a strong treaty that will save lives.

"Every year an average of two bullets for every person on this planet is produced,”the letter said. “With so few global rules governing the arms trade, no one really knows where all those bullets will end up – or whose lives they will tear apart.Under the current system, there are less global controls on the sales of ammunition and guns than on bananas and bottled water. It's a ridiculous situation."

"As supporters of Amnesty International and Oxfam, we urge governments to step forward and deliver a robust, effective treaty that protects human rights and puts a stop to the needless deaths and injuries which occur every day as a result of armed violence and conflict. The decisions taken around this treaty really are a matter of life and death."

The deadly and poorly regulated trade in arms leads to serious human rights abuses, armed violence, conflict, poverty and organized crime around the world.

The lack of clear binding principles governing decisions on international arms transfers combined with patchy diverse and poorly implemented national regulations are inadequate to deal with the increasingly globalized nature of the arms trade. As a result, irresponsible users are allowed to violate international humanitarian and human rights law.

"In Colombia, for decades civilians have been victims of armed conflict. Displacement and violence are everyday occurrences,” said the members of Colombian rock band Aterciopelados. "The ceaseless flow of arms fuels this terrible reality. But this isn't just the story of our country. It's vital that leaders implement a strong Arms Trade Treaty. It is urgently needed that they control arms to protect human rights."

"This impressive range of public figures from many walks of life urging governments to sign-up to a robust treaty this month underlines the importance of the treaty negotiations,” said Anna Macdonald, Oxfam’s head of Control Arms."This is a critical moment. The world has never before agreed to have a set of international rules on the arms trade. This is a chance of a lifetime, a chance of a generation, to make a difference by stopping the trade flows of arms going into the wrong hands."

"These are big voices echoing a global civil society message to world leaders that is clear: seize this historic opportunity to agree a Golden Rule to make a strong arms trade treaty that can stamp out irresponsible arms trading, stop shattering the lives of millions and help protect everyone's human rights," said Brian Wood, Amnesty International's manager of Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights.

The full list of signatories includes:

Gillian Anderson, Actor, USA.
Aterciopelados, Musicians, Colombia.
Harry Belafonte, Singer, songwriter, actor and social activist, USA.
Gael Garcia Bernal, Actor, Mexico.
Paul Bettany, Actor, UK.
Jane Birkin, Actor/Singer, UK.
Miguel Bose, Singer, Spain.
Rahul Bose, Actor, India.
Helena Christensen, Photographer and model, Denmark.
Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Members of Coldplay – Rock band, UK.
Jennifer Connelly, Actor, USA.
Paul Conroy War, photographer, UK.
Sophie Dahl, Writer and model, UK.
Kristin Davis, Actor, USA.
Andrea Echiverri Musician, singer and guitarist, Colombia.
Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Musicians, Argentina.
Livia Firth, Film Producer and Eco-Age Creative Director, UK.
Anjelica Huston, Actor, USA.
Eddie Izzard, Comedian, actor and writer, UK.
Bianca Jagger, Chair of Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, UK.
Emmanuel Jal, Musician and activist, South Sudan.
Scarlett Johansson, Actor, USA.
Angelique Kidjo, Singer, Benin.
Keira Knightley, Actor, UK.
Annie Lennox, Singer/songwriter, UK.
Baaba Maal, Singer/musician, Senegal.
Bill Nighy, Actor, UK.
Yoko Ono, Artist, author and peace activist, Japan.
Emma Pooley, Olympic cyclist, UK.
Tim Roth, Actor and director, UK.
Kevin Spacey, Actor, director and producer, US.
Dave Stewart, Musician and record producer, UK.
Imelda Staunton, Actor, UK.
Vivienne Westwood, Fashion designer, UK.

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.