(New York)– Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA, made the following comments Friday night about the White House about-face that ended progress toward achieving an Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations:
"This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line. It’s a staggering abdication of leadership by the world’s largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough that would have required all nations to deny arms export licenses where there was an overriding risk that the weapons would be used to facilitate serious crimes against humanity. Raising eleventh-hour issues with the treaty language and wanting more time to consult with itself, the Administration stopped momentum that was about to lead to a vital treaty being finalized at the United Nations to curb the global flow of arms and help save some of the 500,000 civilian lives lost each year in armed conflict. When the talks began a month ago, many feared that China or Russia might sabotage the talks. No one imagined the United States would be the spoiler. The Administration bears heavy responsibility to get these talks restarted and brought to a successful conclusion this fall at the U.N. General Assembly."
The negotiations are the culmination of six years of U.N. work on the treaty and over a decade of campaigning by Nobel Peace Laureates and groups including Amnesty International.
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.