Amnesty International - 22 June 2009

Last week, campaigners in the largest number of countries so far took part in an annual worldwide Week of Action, aimed at highlighting the need for an effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

NGOs in over 90 countries organized activities to draw attention to the treaty, and the rapid rise in the human cost of armed violence. Over 30 Amnesty International sections took part in the biggest ever Week of Action since the campaign was launched eight years ago.

Every year over 700,000 people are killed in armed violence according to a recent UN and Small Arms Survey. Millions are displaced and have their fundamental rights abused and violated. The irresponsible trade in weapons and munitions is a major contributing factor in this ongoing tragedy.

Amnesty International and partner organizations pressed governments to support human rights criteria for an ATT and several US Senators sent a letter calling on Hilary Clinton to change the US position on the treaty. At present the USA is the only government to oppose the ATT. In addition, the disarming domestic violence campaign was launched in 24 countries.

This year’s Week of Action brought together NGOs from all continents, through demonstrations, public meetings, the collection of petitions, concerts, popular campaigning stunts and meetings with officials.

For example, on 15 June in a lively debate, 150 Amnesty International student supporters quizzed UK foreign ministers and diplomats on the process of creating an effective treaty based on international human rights and humanitarian law, and made pledges to continue campaigning for stronger arms control.

Amnesty International Venezuela used a gun-shaped candle as part of their campaign and collected signatures to petition the Venezuelan government to support an effective ATT and tighten national gun laws. Amnesty International members in Nepal marched in public and collected signatures in support of an effective ATT.

In many countries Amnesty International national sections and other NGOs campaigned for an effective Arms Trade Treaty,based on international human rights and humanitarian laws and covering all types of transfers and transactions of conventional arms and ammunition.

In July, Amnesty International and its partner NGOs will continue lobbying a United Nations Open Ended Working Group on the ATT when it meets in New York to discuss the contents of the treaty. The Week of Action was a great opportunity to lobby governments ahead of this meeting.



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