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Draft resolution on conventional arms control before the United Nations

06 October 2006

Letter to the sponsoring states - Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan,
Kenya and the UK, 6 October, 2006

Your Excellencies,

The World Council of Churches would like to convey our gratitude for your
government's sponsorship of the draft resolution on the control of conventional
arms at the First Committee, UN General Assembly. We attach great importance
to the establishment of an Arms Trade Treaty. Member churches in 150 countries,
including your country, look forward to a treaty capable of controlling the
global arms trade and thereby saving lives.

We welcome the references in the draft to the UN Charter and to international
humanitarian law. However, an effective Arms Trade Treaty must also be anchored
in other foundational commitments and obligations of states and include specific
references.

Chief among these is the need for recognition of international human rights
law as a norm of great consequence in controlling arms. We urge your government
and the other co-sponsors to include a specific reference to human rights in
the draft resolution. Concern for the treaty's ultimate beneficiaries - the people
it must protect - requires this provision.

WCC policy in this area calls governments to negotiate a comprehensive and
legally binding treaty ensuring that arms transfers are limited and licensed as
well as lawful, that stops transfers to the black market and, when it comes to
human rights, that makes suppliers partially liable for human rights violations
committed with their products.

In this week there are signs of dysfunction on both ends of the spectrum of
arms control, from Pennsylvania to North Korea. The urgency of controlling the
global arms industry is especially evident. Yet every week, in every region, the
proliferation of weapons causes violent deaths, acute suffering and an unconscionable
diversion of resources from things that make for peace.

We look forward to your government's continued and increasing leadership in
bringing about reform.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary