Scots fathers launch global video for Arms Trade Treaty

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

3rd May 2012

David Grimason and Mick North make personal plea for action


The fathers of two murdered children have joined forces in a powerful new video to raise support worldwide for a global Arms Trade Treaty.

Dr Mick North's five-year-old daughter Sophie was killed along with 15 classmates and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School in 1996. David Grimason's son Alistair was two-years-old when he was shot dead during a holiday to Turkey in 2003.

The two fathers have joined Oxfam to make a short film, called "Grieving Dads Demand Global Action", in support of the Control Arms campaign. 

In the film - which will be promoted worldwide - the two men urge global leaders to agree a robust treaty restricting the illegal or unlicensed movement of weapons.

Final talks will be at the United Nations in New York in July. 

One person dies every minute because of armed violence. Every year, millions more are injured and forced out of their homes and into poverty.

In the new video, both fathers recount what happened to their children and describe the impact it has had on them personally. 

Describing the moment after he was told Sophie was dead, Dr Mick North said: "She was not just my daughter, she was my friend. Even at five years old. Sophie's mum had died two-and-a-half years earlier so it was just the two of us and so I went home to an empty house. I was just numb."

David Grimason's son Alistair was on holiday in Turkey when he was killed. The toddler was asleep in his pram in a cafe when a man opened fire.

Mr Grimason said: "Alistair was two-and-a-half years old. He was enjoying his life, having a lot of fun on holiday, playing in the sea, playing in the sand. He had that taken away from him. I think about Alistair every day. I think about what he would be doing, what age he would be, what school he would be going to."

Both men have travelled with Oxfam to see the damage caused in other parts of the world by the uncontrolled movement of weapons. Dr North visited Uganda and Mr Grimason went to Kenya.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "We are hugely grateful to both Mick North and David Grimason for agreeing to recount their experiences to help boost public support around the world for a strong treaty. 

"We are on the brink of an historic moment but the challenge is to ensure the new Treaty is really strong. It must unambiguously stop arms transfers where they would fuel conflict, poverty or human rights abuses. 

"Existing arms embargoes are far too easy to break or ignore. The lack of international regulation means states under embargo have been importing whatever weapons they choose with impunity."

It comes as Oxfam reveals new research showing regulation of the weapons industry is long overdue. 

New figures show more than $2.2bn worth of arms and ammunition have been imported since 2000 to countries operating under arms embargoes. The report, called The Devil is in the Detail, shows the extent to which states have been flouting the 26 UN, regional or multilateral arms embargoes in force during this period.

Oxfam is calling on the international community to put an end to decades of irresponsible arms deals which devastate people's lives, by agreeing a set of legally-binding laws when diplomats meet to draw up a new Arms Trade Treaty in July. 

The new report also demonstrates how the lack of robust and legally binding obligations on the sale and transfers of arms has allowed the ongoing flow of weapons into Syria. 

In 2010, for example, Syria imported $167m worth of air defence systems and missiles as well as $1m worth of small arms and light weapons, ammunition and munitions. 

Oxfam wants to see the new treaty place strict, unambiguous and legal obligations on states to control the global trade in arms. 

Judith Robertson added: "The new Arms Trade Treaty must be robust enough to have a genuine impact on the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians suffering from armed violence every single day. This is the chance of a generation to truly make a difference. 

"Our position is clear: a weak treaty would be worse than no treaty at all as this would merely legitimise the existing flawed system. We are urging Scottish people to back the campaign and sign up to show their support and give a voice to the victims of armed violence." 

Please join the campaign at www.oxfam.org.uk/controlarms


Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

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