Anti-arms campaigners up rhetoric as Arms Trade Treaty negotiations kick off at UN

Anti-arms campaigners up rhetoric as Arms Trade Treaty negotiations kick off at UN

The 60-billion per year arms trade industry is in danger of collapse as the negotiations around the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) kick off today, 18 March 2013, at the United Nations in New York.

And anti-arms campaigners have gone an extra-mile to ensure that something ‘robust’ comes out of these intense negotiations which are expected to last for two weeks.

A short film, Guns, depicting the ‘dark side’ of uncontrolled arms was shot in London (UK), New York and Seattle in the US, and selected to be screened at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in a view of creating awareness on this burning issue.

Film analysts believe Guns stands a chance of being selected for an Oscar nomination.

Guns director Minos Papas said: “I sincerely hope that our world leaders will achieve a meeting of the minds at these upcoming ATT negotiations.

“Unlike other UN resolutions that remain unenforced, this treaty has the potential to truly save lives and help contain the rampant devastation occurring in war-torn areas of the globe. The business of selling arms has been upholstered for too long. It’s time to control it.”

Featuring in the film were:

  • Kathi Lynn Austin, arms trafficking investigator and Conflict Awareness Project executive director
  • Ishmael Beah, former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
  • Paul Conroy, Sunday Times war photographer, injured while working in Syria
  • Stuart Franklin Platt, US Navy Rear Admiral (ret.), author of Letters From the Front Line

Close to 526 000 people on average were killed annually between 2004 and 2009 by unregulated arms, according to the 2011 Global Burden of Armed Violence Report of the Geneva Declaration Secretariat.

In conflict-hit African countries such as DRC, Somalia, Central African Republic, Sudan, Chad and Mali, guns have been selling like hot cakes in the black market, paving the way to rogue elements to become trigger-happy, including hunt women and young girls at gunpoint for gang-rape, and use some for armed robberies and establishing militia groups.

The Control Arms Coalition, which has been at the forefront of this struggle, has last week called on world leaders to urgently adopt robust rules on international transfers for arms and ammunition as conflicts continue to destroy lives worldwide.

Allison Pytlak, campaign manager of the Control Arms Coalition, said: “We’re thrilled that the short film was chosen and the timing could not be better.”

The ATT intense negotiations were unexpectedly halted last year, and Oxfam and Saferworld, which are part of the Control Arms Coalition, estimate that over 325 000 people have since lost their lives through armed violence.

“It is time for states to stand up for a treaty that will make a difference,”

Anna Macdonald, Oxfam’s head of Arms Control, said.

*Photo: Poster of Guns

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