• Press Release

United States Needs to Address Gun Violence Worldwide by Showing Leadership on Arms Trade Treaty

January 16, 2013

President Obama Needs to Lead on Global Arms Trade Treaty, As He is Doing on Domestic Gun Violence

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected] @strimel

(Washington) – As President Obama unveiled plans to address the issue of domestic gun violence today, Amnesty International USA urged the administration to show similar leadership to address the need for a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty when talks resume in March at the United Nations, to stop 1,500 deaths every day resulting from the virtually unregulated flow of small arms globally.

Weak export controls in countries around the world, including common-sense background checks on international arms sales, allow weapons to flow unabated worldwide, fueling conflict, atrocities and instability and leading to the deaths of millions of civilians.

The Arms Trade Treaty could change this by requiring all states to adopt basic regulations for the flow of small arms and conventional weapons across international borders, establishing common standards for arms transfers.

Last July, talks on the treaty failed to produce an agreement despite support for the treaty by three-quarters of the world’s countries.

Amnesty International believes the United States can make the difference when talks resume in March—if the Obama administration demonstrates leadership.

“The United States takes pride rightfully in having stringent export control laws to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, war criminals and human rights abusers,” said Adotei Akwei, Amnesty International’s managing director for government relations in Washington. “But other countries undermine U.S. efforts by allowing weapons to flow into the hands of those who use them against innocents. We are seeing the terrible carnage that results today in countries like Syria, where the Russian government has provided arms to the Syrian regime, which is using them against their own people.”

“The leadership that the Obama administration showed today must be replicated internationally by shaping a treaty that is comprehensive in its scope, robust in its human rights safeguards and that helps end illicit and irresponsible sales and transfers of small arms and conventional weapons,” said Akwei.

“Whether in Chicago or Ituri, illegal guns facilitate the commission of rape and murder. They are used to force children into conflict and keep them out of school. Children everywhere have a right to be free from violence. A global Arms Trade Treaty can help to save millions of lives of adults and children”

In its campaign to win support for the Arms Trade Treaty, Amnesty International is battling the National Rifle Association, which opposes the Arms Trade Treaty and has spread lies with the false argument that it threatens U.S. Second Amendment rights. In fact, the treaty is concerned exclusively with the flow of weapons between countries, not inside of them, and therefore has no bearing on the Second Amendment.

Unregulated weapons are used to force tens of thousands of children into armed conflict and to rape women and girls in conflict zones. More than 26 million people around the globe have been forced from their homes, and their livelihoods destroyed, by armed conflict. In spite of the appalling cost that is being inflicted on men, women and children on a daily basis the NRA opposes efforts to forge this treaty.

To read more about Amnesty International’s campaign against the NRA, visit: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=519084

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.