The international arms trade is out of control
Film Screening and Panel Discussion
20 June 2012, Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, 6.30pm-8pm
New Delhi: The international arms trade is out of control. A thousand people die every day because of armed violence, and many more are seriously injured. Many of the victims are women and children. In India alone, 12 people die from armed violence every day. Yet the global trade that fuels the epidemic of armed violence is not subject to international regulation. The arms industry is unlike any other. It operates without regulation. There is more regulation in music and film industry than in arms. The movement of arms across the world is a huge threat to human security. 1,135 companies in 98 countries manufacture arms, ammunitions and components worldwide. Around 8 million new small arms are manufactured every year, but far more significant is the movement of second-hand guns from one user to another. They last – and remain lethal – for decades. At present, it is impossible to monitor or interrupt this deadly flow of weapons. This is because there are no agreed global standards for governments when authorising exports or transfers.
Why a globalised trade needs globalised control?
Globalisation has changed the arms trade. Arms companies, operating from an increasing number of locations, now source components from across the world. Their products are often assembled in countries with lax controls on where they end up. Too easily, weapons get into the wrong hands. Each year, at least a third of a million people are killed directly with conventional weapons and many more die, are injured, abused, forcibly displaced and bereaved as a result of armed violence. Rapidly widening loopholes in national controls demonstrate how this globalised trade also needs global rules. The time for an effective international Arms Trade Treaty is now.
Origin of Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)
The idea of a global ATT was inspired by Nobel Peace Laureates and developed by lawyers, human rights organisations, and humanitarian NGOs. It now enjoys the support of 153 governments as well as more than 800 civil society organisations worldwide. 2000 parliamentarians from around the world have also supported the call for an ATT. Since 2003, the international civil society under the Control Arms Campaign has been calling for a strong and effective ATT, a legally binding international instrument, in the hope that will draw together and consolidate states’ current obligations under international law; that if implemented, such an ATT would reduce the human cost associated with the proliferation of conventional arms. It would prevent unscrupulous arms suppliers finding the weakest point in the supply chain, and ensure that all arms exporters and importers are abiding by the same high standards regarding the use, management and transfer of arms, leading to a more secure world.
United Nations Resolution process for an Arms Trade Treaty
On 6 December 2006, work on an international Arms Trade Treaty began immediately following a historic vote in the UN General Assembly, which saw 153 governments supporting the proposed Arms Trade Treaty. The UN General Assembly vote comes just three years after the launch of the Control Arms campaign, which has seen over a million people in 170 countries calling for a Treaty. In 2006, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to establish a group of governmental experts to look into “the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”. The report of that group, concluded in 2008, prompted the General Assembly to start discussions focused on a possible arms trade treaty, open to all Member States. Two one-week meetings per year are foreseen from 2009 to 2011. And then in October 2009 at the United Nations First Committee, after years of discussions and debates, the United Nations agreed a timetable to establish a ‘strong and robust’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with the ‘highest common standards’ to control international transfers of conventional arms. 153 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 19 abstained and 1 voted against. As a result of the vote, the conference to finalise the Treaty is now scheduled for July 2012.
Recent Developments on Arms Trade Treaty
The formal preparatory stage of treaty negotiations is now complete. Five weeks of Preparatory Committee meetings (PrepComs) have been held and states are now positioning themselves ahead of the Diplomatic Conference to negotiate the treaty scheduled for July 2012. The concept of a treaty has now received widespread support. Delegates have discussed possible principles, goals and objectives of the treaty, as well as specific elements that an ATT would need to include.
India and the Arms Trade Treaty
The proposed element of Arms Trade Treaty is in keeping with India’s historic role for non-violence, civil order and universal disarmament. India’s Constitution and national laws support gun control. India has in place a legal and adjudicatory system for controlling small arms. It has an autonomous National Human rights Commission to address violations. These national laws conform to international standards. India should not fear binding clauses. That fear should reside in states that are habitual violators of rights, do not conform to democratic principles. The Indian government has repeatedly admitted the easy availability of illegal arms and that they are unable to stop or even arrest people engaged in such illegal sale or production. India has a historic opportunity to be involved in such an important process.
On 20 June 2012, Control Arms Foundation of India in collaboration with Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network are organising a Panel Discussion and film screening on the topic “United Nation July Conference on Arms Trade Treaty” at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, 6.30 pm to 8pm.
Eminent speakers of the panel discussion include Mr Ravinder Pal Singh, Defence Analyst and Former Project Leader on Arms Procurement, SIPRI, Dr. Tasneem Meenai, Professor and Officiating Director, Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution Jamia Millia Islamia, Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and
Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India. Please do join us in our call to make the July United Nations Arms Trade Treaty happen.
For more information, please contact:
Ms Binalakshmi Nepram
Founder, Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India. Email: Binalakshmi@gmail.com. Mobile: 9891210264
B 5/146, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110029, India
Phone: +9-11-46018541 Fax: +91-11-26166234.
Website: www.womensurvivorsnetwork.org & www.cafi-online.org