South Asian Small Arms Network launches
South Asian part of Global Control Arms Campaign
Media Release: For Release on Thursday 9 October 2003, 3 p.m.
Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA Launch Global Control Arms Campaign
The global arms trade is dangerously unregulated, and allows weapons to reach repressive governments, human rights abusers and criminals, says a new report Shattered Lives: The Case for Tough International Arms Controls released today. To address these concerns, Amnesty International, Oxfam and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) have jointly launched the global Control Arms campaign. The campaign is being launched in over fifty countries including Sri Lanka, and is aimed to reduce arms proliferation and misuse, and to introduce an arms trade treaty.
The staggering lack of regulation revealed by the report has allowed the arms trade to get dangerously out of control. According to the report, everyday, millions of men, women and children are living in fear of armed violence. Every minute one of them is killed while during the same minute 15 new guns and 30,000 new bullets are produced. Arms proliferation and misuse have reached a critical point fuelling poverty, conflict and human rights violations.
The costs of armed violence are horrific both in human and financial terms. In Sri Lanka alone over 65,000 people lost their lives and over 1 million people were displaced or directly effected by war. Almost every family from all communities in the North and East is affected by the war, as well as thousands of families in the South. It is estimated [by the Marga Institute] that the costs of war up until 1998 are about US $ 20 billion which includes war-related expenditure, damages, and loss of economic output, the report states.
In order to remedy the problem Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA propose urgent and interlinked action, from community level to international level, to control the proliferation and misuse of arms more effectively.
· International level Governments are urged to agree on an Arms Trade Treaty by 2006, to prevent arms being exported to destinations where they are likely to be used to commit grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
· Regional level Governments are urged to develop and strengthen regional arms-control agreements to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.
· National level Governments are urged to improve state capacity and their own accountability to control arms transfers and protect citizens from armed violence, in line with international laws and standards.
· Community level Civil Society and Local Government agencies are urged to take effective action to improve safety at community level, by reducing the local availability and demand for arms.
“In Sri Lanka the control of arms is seen as a necessary step to bring about sustainable peace, and the government is making initial positive attempts to respond to international efforts to control arms. We would like to see the proposed National Commission on Arms be quickly approved by Cabinet and strongly implemented. We also encourage Sri Lanka to take a lead in formulating proposals for regional control on arms transfers and tracking mechanisms. At the international level, an Arms Treaty is desperately needed to stop the flow of arms into the wrong hands and to help make our world a safer place,” said Phil Esmonde, Programme Representative of Oxfam.
“In the absence of an international Arms Treaty, weapons can easily reach areas prone to conflict, stimulate conflict and disturb people living in peace and harmony. Sri Lanka and other countries too are becoming a weapon-dependent society. This has to stop,” Dr. James Arputharaj of IANSA said. “A ban on exports to non-state actors is as important as a ban on exports to states in conflict. Both impede peaceful resolution of conflicts and lead to disastrous humanitarian consequences.”
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A draft Arms Trade Treaty has been developed by a group of human rights, development and arms control NGOs including Amnesty International and Oxfam in partnership with international legal experts. It carries the support of 19 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, led by Dr Oscar Arias. The central aim is to provide a set of common minimum standards for the control of arms transfers, based firmly on states existing responsibilities under international law. To see a copy of the draft Arms Trade Treaty, visit www.controlarms.org
For more information, please contact:
Phil Esmonde, Tel: 2597522 or 2585965
South Asia Small Arms Network (an IANSA member):
Dr James Arputharaj, Tel: 2500311