Tutu endorses anti-arms treaty

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Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is calling on all member states of the United Nations to “end the slaughter” caused by the proliferation of arms.
In a message delivered to all 192 UN missions in New York yesterday, Tutu said that “in the last two years almost three quarters of a million people have died as a result of armed violence.
“You have an opportunity to make history again. It is an opportunity you must not allow to pass by,” Tutu says. “You can and must act to control the deadly trade in weapons that is behind these deaths. There can be no further delay … It is time to end the slaughter”.
Tutu’s appeal comes ahead of next week`s meeting of the UN disarmament committee. On the agenda is the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), co-sponsored by some 85 countries.
“There are some states which are opposed to a Treaty. They will seek to block, derail, and delay any further progress. They will seek to convince you this treaty is not required or cannot work,” Tutu adds in his missive.
“They must not be allowed to succeed, the human cost is too high.”
Tutu’s message was delivered by activists of the Control Arms campaign, which is pushing for a strong treaty to stop the sales of small arms around the world.
“If endorsed, the treaty would control the export and import of arms in the world. This would help reduce the flow of arms into areas of conflict and ensure that they do not fall into wrong hands and be used to perpetuate crime,” Tutu emphasised.  

The campaign was launched five years ago by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms.

Oxfam International`s Anna McDonald says Tutu “is lobbying all countries in the UN to vote in favour of the treaty that will set international standards for transfers of arms.”
“We have a global arms industry but we don`t have a global regulation,” McDonald adds. “Different states have different rules governing their export and transfer of weapons; this means any dodgy arms dealer or dubious government can easily find their way around this at best patchwork system of regulation.”
Retired Kenyan diplomat and Africa Peace Forum activist Ambassador Ochieng Adala says their “intention is not to curtail or stop the flow of arms but [to ensure it takes place] in a structured manner.”
The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution launching the treaty process in December 2006. The United States voted against the resolution and 24 governments abstained.
That resolution asked then-UN secretary general Kofi Annan to seek the views of member states “on 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 treaty follows in the wake of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention and formally named the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destructionthat outlawed the manufacture, storage, export and use of antipersonnel landmines (APM) and further mandated their destruction.
SA was an early supporter of the treaty and in 1998 destroyed most of its APMs in a controlled explosion witnessed by the media. Then SA ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Jackie Selebi, was a key mover behind the treaty. Selebi went on to become Director General of Foreign Affairs before being appointed Commissioner of Police.
SA is likely to support this new treaty although the Department of Foreign Affairs could not confirm this by publication time.