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World's first Arms Trade Treaty is a milestone

World's first Arms Trade Treaty is a milestone

Arms Trade Treaty campaigners including representatives of ecumenical organizations at UN headquarters for the March 2013 conference to finalize the treaty. © Control Arms

03 April 2013

The world's first Arms Trade Treaty is “a milestone in efforts to bring commerce in deadly weapons under much-needed controls,” according to the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

“This long-overdue act of international governance means that people in many parts of the world who live in fear for their lives will eventually be safer,” the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, commenting on the Arms Trade Treaty adopted on 2 April, voted by 155 countries at the United Nations in New York, United States.

“Churches in all regions share in the suffering caused by armed violence,” Tveit noted. “We can all now give thanks that national authorities responsible for public safety and well-being have finally adopted binding regulations for the global arms trade.”

Tveit praised efforts by the churches and organizations in more than forty countries who joined the Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty led by the WCC.

“Together, we have helped in the long struggle to make the treaty strong and effective so that it can save lives and protect communities. Our first reason for doing so is to put a human face on the heavy scourge of armed violence,” he said.

The campaign focused on the ways that the new treaty can help to save lives and protect communities. Campaigners made repeated contacts with governments in their countries in parallel with ecumenical lobbying related to treaty meetings at United Nations sessions in New York and Geneva.

“From Syria to Democratic Republic of Congo, from Sudan to Colombia, our prayers will continue for people afflicted by violence and injustice,” Tveit said. “With them, we all need weapons to be controlled, given up and melted down into useful implements.”

The campaign grew from a WCC Central Committee action followed by recruitment at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in 2011. With policy set by the WCC Executive Committee in early 2012 and almost two years of mobilization, the campaign eventually reached nearly 100 churches and ministries, who advocated for the Arms Trade Treaty.

Read the WCC general secretary’s public comment

States vote overwhelmingly for ground-breaking Arms Trade Treaty (Control Arms news of 2 April 2013)

WCC Arms Trade Treaty campaign