Stopping Weapons for Genocide

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Stopping Weapons for Genocide

With negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty reaching a "frenetic" pace at the United Nations ahead of a Friday deadline, non-governmental organizations said today (23 July) it is up to the United States and the world's other big powers to "knuckle down" and reach agreement on an international treaty they say will save millions of lives.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, a four-week gathering that began at UN Headquarters in New York on 2 July, has brought together the UN’s 193 member states to negotiate what conference organizers have called the most important initiative ever regarding conventional arms regulation.

Oxfam’s arms control expert Anna Macdonold told UNifeed that such a treaty could make a “huge” difference. Currently “up to two thousand people a day die from armed violence around the world, and that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the problems that the poorly regulated global trade in arms brings”, she said, calling this an “historic moment” and urging governments to seize it.

Macdonald said it was not unrealistic that countries could reach agreement by Friday (27 July), when the conference ends, but that there are still a number of sceptics among the member states, namely from the Middle East.

The head of arms control at Amnesty International, Brian Wood agreed the negotiations are “hanging in the balance”, but said that the “decision is in the White House with President Obama”.

The United States has opposed broadening the treaty to include ammunition as well as small arms, among other concerns.

Wood hoped Obama would decide to support a “golden rule” in the treaty, which he defined as one that would mandate governments to stop the transfer of arms if it’s known or there’s a substantial risk that arms will be used for war crimes, crimes against humanity, acts of genocide, or serious violations of human rights.

The head of Malawi’s delegation to the conference, Dan Kuwali, said his country was pushing for a treaty that would cover both arms and ammunition, and would also prohibit their transfer to countries or areas where they will be used to perpetrate gender-based violence.

Amnesty’s Brian Wood noted that the United States was “by far the largest arms trading country in the world”, followed by Russia and then France, the United Kingdom and Germany. If these countries could be brought on board to the treaty, smaller ones would follow, he said.

He urged the world’s big powers to “knuckle down” during the days remaining until Friday and “cut an agreement that is worthy of the United Nations, that is consistent with their existing international obligations”.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member states earlier this month to work towards a treaty, stressing that a set of rules on this matter is long overdue, as poorly regulated international arms transfers are fueling civil conflicts, destabilizing regions, and empowering terrorists and criminal networks.


Language: English

Year of Production: 2012

Length: 3:00

Country: United Nations


  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV)


  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV)