The security and rights of millions of people around the world are threatened by poorly regulated trade in arms and ammunition.
The world’s biggest exporter of arms—the US—has joined more than 100 other nations in signing the first-ever international arms trade treaty. A common-sense agreement, the treaty strictly forbids arms transfers for use in genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Oxfam is urging the US to live up to the spirit of the treaty by not authorizing any transfer of weapons where there is a major risk of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, such as in the current conflict in Syria.
Oxfam also called on the US Senate for its quick ratification, making a strong argument for that important step in a new briefing paper, “Saving Lives With Common Sense: The case for Continued US Support for the Arms Trade Treaty.” The treaty comes into force when 50 states have ratified it. Advocates expect that to happen before the end of 2014. In the US, ratification will require the consent of two-thirds of the Senate.
The treaty is a legally binding agreement between nations that would prevent the irresponsible sale of weapons across borders. It would keep those weapons out of the hands of war criminals and those fueling conflict and poverty.
The global trade in weapons is massive and poorly regulated. Manufacturers produce about eight million new small arms a year and 10 billion or more units of ammunition. While the US has some of the most stringent standards for the international transfer of weapons, weak laws in many other countries allow unscrupulous brokers to traffic across borders, making it easy for war lords and human rights abusers to buy and use guns and bullets.
Wherever you are in the world, a few minutes with the latest news report will tell you who could be helped by an Arms Trade Treaty. You may hear of conflict in Mali, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo that has forced countless families to flee their homes, leaving behind their work and belongings for futures of uncertainty and hardship. The massive and poorly regulated global trade in arms feeds conflicts like these, and threatens the security and rights of people around the world on a daily basis. A treaty would help keep millions of them safer.