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Annie Lennox joins campaign to control arms

Posted by Lindsay Clydesdale Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

2nd Jul 2012

Scottish singing star Annie Lennox has joined dozens of international artists to demand world governments take action now to improve regulation of the international arms trade. 

The singer has added her name to a letter demanding an Arms Trade Treaty alongside international stars like Keira Knightley, Yoko Ono, Scarlett Johansson and Kevin Spacey.

On Monday representatives from more than 190 governments met in New York for the first day of month-long negotiations at the U.N. to agree a treaty which will control the supply of weapons, ammunition and armaments.

David Grimason, from Edinburgh, whose two-year-old son was killed by an illegal gun while on holiday in Turkey, is attending the talks.

As they get underway, more than 30 high-profile Oxfam and Amnesty International supporters have urged governments to deliver a strong and effective treaty that helps protect human rights by preventing the flow of arms to irresponsible users.

They include journalist Paul Conroy, the British war photographer injured in the mortar attack that killed Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin, in Syria, earlier this year.

The letter has been sent to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who will play a vital role in the negotiations by keeping the talks on track to deliver a strong treaty that will save lives. 

The letter states: "Every year an average of two bullets for every person on this planet is produced. With so few global rules governing the arms trade, no one really knows where all those bullets will end up - or whose lives they will tear apart.

"Under the current system, there are less global controls on the sales of ammunition and guns than on bananas and bottled water. It's a ridiculous situation.

"As supporters of Amnesty International and Oxfam, we urge governments to step forward and deliver a robust, effective treaty that protects human rights. A treaty that puts a stop to the needless deaths and injuries which occur every day as a result of armed violence and conflict. The decisions taken around this treaty really are a matter of life and death."

An effective Arms Trade Treaty would be based on a "Golden Rule": if there is a substantial risk that arms exported to another country are likely to be used for serious human rights abuses, violations of international humanitarian law, or to undermine sustainable development, then those arms supplies must be stopped.

The deadly and poorly regulated trade in arms leads to serious human rights abuses, armed violence, conflict, poverty and organized crime around the world.

The lack of clear and binding principles governing decisions on international arms transfers combined with patchy, diverse and poorly implemented national regulations are inadequate to deal with the increasingly globalised nature of the arms trade.

Anna Macdonald, Oxfam's Head of Control Arms, said: "This impressive range of public figures from many walks of life urging governments to sign-up to a robust treaty this month underlines the importance of the treaty negotiations.

"This is a critical moment. The world has never before agreed to have a set of international rules on the arms trade. This is a chance of a lifetime, a chance of a generation, to make a difference by stopping the trade flows of arms going into the wrong hands."

Brian Wood, Amnesty International's Manager of Arms Control, Security Trade and Human Rights said: "These are big voices echoing a global civil society message to world leaders that is clear: seize this historic opportunity to agree a Golden Rule to make a strong arms trade treaty that can stamp out irresponsible arms trading, stop shattering the lives of millions and help protect everyone's human rights."

The full list of signatories includes: Gillian Anderson Actor, USA, Los Aterciopelados Musicians, Colombia, Harry Belafonte Singer, songwriter, actor and social activist, USA, Gael Garcia Bernal Actor, Mexico, Paul Bettany Actor, UK, Jane Birkin Actor/Singer, UK, Miguel Bose Singer, Spain, Rahul Bose Actor, India, Helena Christensen Photographer and model, Denmark, Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion Members of Coldplay - Rock band, UK, Jennifer Connelly Actor, USA, Paul Conroy War photographer, UK, Sophie Dahl Writer and model, UK, Kristin Davis Actor, USA, Andrea Echiverri Musician, singer and guitarist, Colombia, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs Musicians, Argentina, Livia Firth Film Producer and Eco-Age Creative Director, UK, Anjelica Huston Actor, USA, Eddie Izzard Comedian, actor and writer, UK, Bianca Jagger Chair of Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, UK, Emmanuel Jal Musician and activist, South Sudan, Scarlett Johansson Actor, USA, Angelique Kidjo Singer, Benin, Keira Knightley Actor, UK, Annie Lennox Singer/songwriter, UK, Baaba Maal Singer/musician, Senegal, Bill Nighy Actor, UK, Yoko Ono Artist, author and peace activist, Japan, Emma Pooley Olympic cyclist, UK, Tim Roth Actor and director, UK, Kevin Spacey Actor, director and producer, US, Dave Stewart Musician and record producer, UK, Imelda Staunton Actor, UK, Vivienne Westwood Fashion designer, UK.

Blog post written by Lindsay Clydesdale

Campaigns Press Officer, Scotland

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