A long-awaited global Arms Trade Treaty has been delayed just hours from the end of a six-year diplomatic process. Our concerns as churches go first to the people and communities waiting for protection from the unregulated arms trade. An estimated two thousand people are killed every day as a consequence of armed violence. An Arms Trade Treaty is urgently needed to save lives.
Governments gathered at the United Nations for the month of July to negotiate a treaty to control the international trade of all forms of conventional weapons. Regrettably, the long and difficult process has been postponed as the negotiations stalled and time ran out. Hope, however, remains for a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty, as next steps are presented to the General Assembly in the coming months.
For decades, churches around the world have been calling for an Arms Trade Treaty that would protect people from irresponsible arms transfers. We will not let go of this demand.
This past year the Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty has been working in more than 30 countries. Our goal is a treaty that saves lives by preventing sales or transfers of arms when there is a significant risk that the arms will be used in serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Similarly, the treaty must stop arms sales where they could be used in gender-based violence or to undermine development. The World Council of Churches-led campaign also calls for a treaty that covers all conventional weapons, including small arms and ammunition. It is critical that the treaty contains measures for effective implementation and compulsory public reporting. Churches will be following these processes carefully, and work with our partners to hold governments to account.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches