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Public comment on the adoption of the world's first Arms Trade Treaty

“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 2013, voted by 155 countries at the United Nations in New York, United States.

03 April 2013

We give thanks to God for the adoption of the world's first Arms Trade Treaty and for the efforts by a large majority of countries and many civil society groups to bring it into existence. The affirmative vote by 155 countries at the United Nations on 2 April is a milestone in efforts to bring commerce in deadly weapons under much-needed controls. It will help to preserve peace and protect communities from crimes and atrocities where illegal and unregulated weapons are used.

Churches in all regions share in the suffering caused by armed violence. 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.

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 and more secure. The new treaty will reduce threats from violence linked to unscrupulous arms sales and trading.

I would especially like to thank the churches and related organizations in 40 countries who joined the Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty led by the World Council of Churches.

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. You have spoken out as part of your own societies, the international ecumenical community and international civil society, and in cooperation with the many governments convinced of the need for such a treaty.

From Syria to Democratic Republic of Congo, from Sudan to Colombia, our prayers will continue for people afflicted by violence and injustice. With them, we all need weapons to be controlled, given up and melted down into useful implements. So we will also pray and work for the new Arms Trade Treaty to come into effect, for states to live up to their treaty obligations and for the need to strengthen the rule of law in the years ahead.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC general secretary