It’s now just 5 days to go until negotiations begin in New York for the first ever legally binding Arms Trade Treaty, to prevent arms exports from ending up in the wrong hands. Today Oxfam Australia’s Government Relations Advisor Reece Kinnane and Oxfam supporter and volunteer Melissa Gillies joined Amnesty International, Act for Peace and the Medical Association for the Prevention of War to hand over a petition signed by 31,400 Australians in support of a strong Arms Trade Treaty to the Australian Government. The petition was received by Mr Richard Marles MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
Australia isn’t a major exporter of arms – in fact, just five countries, the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – are responsible for 75% of all arms transfers worldwide! These countries are undoubtedly key to an effective Arms Trade Treaty, but Australia also has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the strongest possible outcome. We were one of the co-authors of the original UN resolution that started work towards an Arms Trade Treaty in 2006, which was endorsed by a whopping 153 countries worldwide.
Australia also has a long and distinguished reputation as a leader on international disarmament issues, and has played a leading support role as one of three “Friends” of Arms Trade Treaty Chairman. This respected status places us in a good position to act as a powerful and influential advocate with the small group of countries, including the United States, China, Russia and Egypt who may seek exemptions from the treaty that could seriously weaken the final instrument.
So when it comes crunch time, will Australia stand firm on their commitment to a robust and effective Arms Trade Treaty without loopholes, rather than a compromise with little impact? Today more than 31,000 Australians urged the Government to have courage at this critical moment. We have only one shot for an Arms Trade Treaty in 2012.
You still have a chance to add your voice to the global petition which will be presented UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in New York on Tuesday 3rd July. Make sure the world gets a clear message that only a “bullet-proof” treaty is good enough!