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Iconic images by Bristol’s Banksy recreated for control arm campaign.

Posted by Ben Walshe Constituency Campaigner

13th Jul 2012

One of Stern's recreations draws upon armed violence as a central theme.

Iconic images of graffiti artist Banksy have been recreated using real life lookalikes to support the control arms campaign. The campaign which is supported by Oxfam as well as Amnesty International aims to regulate the weapons trade which kills one person every minute.

Nick Stern, a news photographer with first-hand experience of the devastating effect of armed conflict, has recreated a series of Banksy images and released two of these photographs in support of the charity as world leaders meet for crunch talks on an Arms Trade Treaty to regulate the deadly trade.

The first is Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction characters played by Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta holding bananas instead of guns and the second is a child soldier.

The photographs illustrate Oxfam research, which shows there are more regulations on the banana trade than the gun trade and there are 300,000 child soldiers.

Every day, more than 1,500 people around the world die as a result of armed violence and each year enough bullets are produced to kill every person on the planet twice. 60 per cent of human rights abuses are linked to guns.

Leaders from 153 countries are at UN crunch talks on an Arms Trade Treaty (New York 2-27July). Oxfam is calling for leaders to sign a strong treaty that would be based on a simple principle: no transfers of weapons when there is a substantial risk that they may be used for serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law. It also says ammunition and parts must be included in the treaty.

Stern, who splits his time between the UK and USA, said: "As a photographer I've seen the misery armed conflict causes, in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. I wholeheartedly support a treaty that can save thousands from the horrors of armed violence and conflict.

"In recent years we've seen thousands of news images of more and more women, children and civilians whose lives have been ended or ripped apart by armed conflict.

"War is no longer the preserve of well trained, tactical military personnel, it has spread into every area of society. The people taking up arms are farmers, engineers, builders and students, and lives are being blighted or ended.

"The ease at which ordinary people can obtain weapons is adding to this misery. This Arms Trade Treaty can make a real difference, it's not the politics or the economics that's important, it's the lives of thousands of people each day that matter."

Oxfam's recent report, The Devil is in the Detail, shows 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. Some of these arms have played a central role in the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters in which the United Nations estimates 8,000 people have been killed this year and last.

Anna Macdonald, Oxfam's Head of Arms Control, said: "The unregulated international arms trade is a dangerous business, and for too long the steady flow of arms around the world has been largely ignored. The irresponsible arms trade fuels serious human rights abuses, armed violence, poverty and conflict around the world. This could change with a comprehensive, robust treaty, a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty."

Macdonald added, "A robust Arms Trade Treaty would turn off the tap. It would place stronger controls on the international movement of all arms and ammunition. This will help stop the flow of arms and ammunition into communities in conflict already awash with weapons, and give people a fighting chance of retaking their communities from the claws of violence and fear."

To find out more information on Oxfam's work with the ATT click here.

Blog post written by Ben Walshe

Constituency Campaigner

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