Churches campaign for treaty to tackle illicit arms sales
Published 06 April 2012
The World Council of Churches is calling upon governments to clamp down on the illegal arms trade.
A new WCC campaign is urging diplomats from nearly 200 countries to agree on the proposed Arms Trade Treaty when they come together at the United Nations in July.
The WCC wants the details of the treaty to make it harder to buy and sell arms used to commit atrocities and serious crimes.
The treaty will seek to strike a balance between the need to keep the arms trade open to militaries, police forces and other legal users, and closing it off to those buying for criminal purposes.
“The human impact of the arms trade is the galvanising factor for churches,” said a spokesperson for the WCC.
The WCC is campaigning to ensure that the treaty protects people and communities put at risk by current arms trade practices.
Churches from across 30 countries are involved in the campaign and representatives have so far met with 20 governments from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to discuss ways to strengthen the treaty.
A WCC policy statement for the campaign warns that millions of lives are being shattered or lost each year in armed violence and that “badly regulated exports, imports and transfers of weapons must bear part of the blame”.
The statement goes on to assert that the treaty must prohibit arms sales where there is a “substantial risk” of serious violations of human rights, where there is a pattern of gender-based violence, or where development work will be seriously impaired.
The churches are advocating for tighter controls in major arms producing countries like the US, Sweden and Norway, as well as recipient countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Sierra Leone, where imported arms are fuelling conflict and violence.
The WCC said: “Lives and communities will be spared to the extent that sellers, middlemen and buyers are all held to higher and more consistent standards along a supply chain that usually runs from the Global North to the Global South.”
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