New campaign urges United States to agree to a binding and robust Arms Trade Treaty

By Oxfam

Washington, DC – International relief and development organization Oxfam America joined a number of other groups in an international day of action today urging the Obama administration to push for and agree to a strong and robust global Arms Trade Treaty. The day of action is just days before the United States and more than 150 countries gather at the United Nations to negotiate the text of the treaty.

While the United States and a few other countries have tough regulations governing the international trade of arms, many countries have weak or ineffective regulations, if they have any at all. In fact, in 2010, only 90 of the world’s governments reported having basic national controls on the import of small arms and light weapons. An arms trade treaty would require countries to adopt strong laws that would govern the flow of arms in and out of their borders and prevent weapons from reaching the hands of warlords and human rights abusers.

“There is more international law governing the trade of bananas than the trade of AK-47s, and that’s simply bananas!” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “A massive and poorly regulated global trade in arms and ammunition continues to threaten the security and rights of millions of people around the world, exposing them to death, rape, assault and displacement. This global problem requires a global solution: a legally binding arms trade treaty.”

To cap more than a decade of hard work pushing for a global treaty, Oxfam’s new effort includes a front cover wrap in the Washington Post Express, an online action to President Obama and a stunt in front of the United Nations on July 2nd, among other activities.

“For too long, we have witnessed the conflict the illicit arms trade feeds and the deaths caused each day by small arms are only the tip of the tragedy,” said Offenheiser. “With our campaign, we are reminding the United States and other world leaders they have a rare opportunity to make the world a safer place.”

Oxfam’s efforts coincide with the efforts of other groups, from the American Values Network to Amnesty International.

“From faith leaders to retired generals, the chorus advocating for the arms trade treaty is getting louder each day,” continued Offenheiser. “The Arms Trade Treaty offers a common-sense solution and the time to act is now.”

An effective and legally binding treaty would restrict transfers when there is a substantial risk that arms could be used to undermine peace and stability in a country, commit serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, or slow initiatives aimed at reducing poverty. It would also close the loopholes in the current system by establishing the highest possible international legal standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional weapons such as AK-47’s, and ammunition. Lastly, it would promote transparency and accountability in the international arms market and not infringe on Second Amendment rights.

Notes to editors:

PDF’s and JPEGs are available and the full text of the Express ad is as follows:

[Page 1]
There is more intentional law governing the trade of bananas than the trade of AK-47s. When you peel back the facts, what do you get? Slippery standards that lead to war crimes, displacement, and poverty. More than 2,000 people die every day from armed violence. The US must support a robust international arms trade treaty that would create strong trade rules and save lives.
Agree to the Arms Trade Treaty.

[Page 2]
There are no international laws governing the global arms trade. That’s simply bananas!
While the US has strong laws controlling the arms trade, less than half of all countries have even basic laws on the trade in AK-47s and similar weapons. It is time for a global arms trade treat to close the loopholes and prevent atrocities.

Blog Post: What's the deal with bananas and the global arms trade?

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Agree to the Arms Trade Treaty

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