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Why We Need An Arms Trade Treaty

Posted by Jack Dangerfield Media Intern for Oxfam in the South East

24th Jul 2012

Like many people in the UK, I am fortunate enough to have lived a sheltered childhood and to have had a loving family who have always been there to support me.  I grew up thinking that that was normal and that every child was the same.    

But I was shocked and appalled when I first heard that some children around the world are forced to grow up in a society plagued by conflict and gun violence - a society that forces these children to carry a weapon and take part in conflict.

Take the example of Juliet, a girl who at the age of just 12 was kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in Northern Uganda and forced to face conflict as a child soldier.   

One of the main causes of this problem is a poorly regulated global arms trade where it is easier to trade weapons than goods such as coffee and bananas.  The world spends as much as $1.6 billion on arms while allowing them to fall into the hands of human rights abusers.  This then serves to fuel conflict and perpetuates poverty in many parts of the world.

We happen to be at a critical stage in efforts to put an end to this injustice as world leaders are meeting in New York this month (2-27 July) to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty which could literally save millions of lives.  It would, for the first time, ensure that the arms trade is globally regulated and that the transfer of weapons is closely monitored and scrutinised. 

As we enter the final week of the negotiations there are worrying signs that the treaty is in danger of being watered by a small handful of sceptical nations.  Both the UK and the US have objected to the inclusion of ammunition which needs to be included if the treaty is to be effective.  I'd like to stress the importance of stepping up the pressure on the UK Government to change its position.  (You can sign the petition here. 

There are only a few days left of the negotiations and supporters have a key role to play in ensuring that people like Juliet will be able to live lives away from violence. 

A group of UK MPs recently agreed in Parliament that it would be better to have a strong treaty agreed by fewer countries than a weaker treaty agreed by many.  Let's make sure the Government listens to them. 

In the time it's taken you to read this two people have lost their lives from gun violence. 

Find out more about the Arms Trade Treaty campaign

Blog post written by Jack Dangerfield

Media Intern for Oxfam in the South East

More by Jack Dangerfield