Scots Dad's call to finish the job on Arms Trade Treaty
Lindsay Clydesdale Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland
15th May 2013
A Scots father who campaigned for global arms laws following the murder of his son will today attend an event to celebrate the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
David Grimason will join hundreds of other campaigners and supporters of the ATT at a reception at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London. The event comes ahead of the ATT opening for signature at the United Nations next month.
Member states of the UN General Assembly last month voted by a huge majority (155 to 3) to control the trade of conventional arms. The Treaty opens for signature at a special ceremony in New York on June 3 with Foreign Ministers from many countries expected to sign on the day.
Speakers at the London event include Foreign Secretary William Hague and Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt, who Mr Grimason lobbied personally during negotiations at the UN last year. They will be joined by representatives from Oxfam and Amnesty International who are both members of the Control Arms coalition.
High Commissioners and Ambassadors from dozens of states that voted for the Arms Trade Treaty are also due to attend the event.
David Grimason has been a supporter of the Control Arms movement since his two-year-old son Alistair was killed during a family holiday in Turkey almost 10 years ago. Alistair was asleep in his pram in a cafe when an argument broke out at a nearby table and a man armed with an illegal gun opened fire, killing the toddler from East Kilbride.
David, who now lives in Aberdeen, has travelled to Kenya with Oxfam to witness the destruction arms have caused there, and has also attended key negotiations at the UN to lobby for an Arms Trade Treaty.
David Grimason said: "After years of campaigning with Oxfam and the Control Arms movement this event is a chance to recognise the importance of what happens next.
"After years of campaigning with Oxfam and the Control Arms movement this event is a chance to recognise the importance of what happens next.
"More than 150 states voted in favour of this historic new treaty and we want as many countries as possible to sign it on 3 June, helping it to become international law as soon as possible. We must finish the job on the Arms Trade Treaty.
"Every minute, someone loses their life to armed violence and millions more are affected. As someone who has been personally affected through the death of my son, I know the Treaty will make a big difference and save lives."
The Arms Trade Treaty will create binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers to ensure that weapons will not be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organised crime or violations of humanitarian law. It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a risk countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.
The Control Arms coalition, which represents more than 100 civil society groups active in 120 countries, is calling on all states to prioritise signing and ratifying the treaty. The coalition wants all governments to commit to passing the necessary national legislation in order to bring the Treaty into force as soon as possible, which will happen after 50 countries have ratified it.
The UK government has been an important champion of the Arms Trade Treaty since 2006 and played a key role during negotiations earlier this year.
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, who is also attending the event in London, said: "It has been a long journey to get this far and there are many people responsible for making the Arms Trade Treaty a reality, not least supporters like David Grimason.
"It has been a long journey to get this far and there are many people responsible for making the Arms Trade Treaty a reality, not least supporters like David Grimason.
"Over many years David has selflessly used his own experience to tirelessly campaign for the international control of arms, to save the lives of others.
"The Control Arms coalition has been campaigning for more than a decade for a robust Arms Trade Treaty and this event in London not only marks this historic achievement, but also celebrates the support we have had from thousands of people around the UK who were committed to making the Treaty a reality."
Anna Macdonald, Oxfam's Head of Arms Control, said: "It was a ridiculous situation where bananas were regulated but deadly machine guns were not. Finally the world has listened to the call of millions of ordinary people around the world and agreed it's time to bring the arms trade under control.
"It was a ridiculous situation where bananas were regulated but deadly machine guns were not. Finally the world has listened to the call of millions of ordinary people around the world and agreed it's time to bring the arms trade under control.
"The overwhelming support of countries at the UN vote last month sends a clear message to the arms dealers who supply war lords and dictators that their time is up.
"We are urging all countries to sign the Treaty at next month's ceremony at the UN and help to ensure that this agreement has a huge impact on millions of people around the world."