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Oxfam calls for Scots MPs to back Arms Trade Treaty

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

30th May 2012

Oxfam is calling on every Scottish MP to back the creation of a strong international Arms Trade Treaty.

The aid agency has written to politicians urging them to support a binding global agreement that will cover bullets, as well as bombs.

It comes as a new report reveals global sales of ammunition are worth more than $4bn (263KB) and are growing at a faster rate than the trade in guns, yet there is virtually no regulation in place to control where the bullets end up.

The report, 'Stop a Bullet, Stop a War,' has been published ahead of this summer's Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in New York, where diplomats from around the world will gather to try and hammer out a new global agreement to regulate the trade of weapons and ammunition.

The Scottish campaign for a strong Arms Trade Treaty has been backed by Dr Mick North, whose daughter Sophie was killed at Dunblane Primary School, and David Grimason, whose toddler son Alistair, was shot dead while on a family holiday in Turkey. The two fathers made a short film for Oxfam explaining how an Arms Trade Treaty will save lives and prevent human rights abuses.

Watch the video

Some countries, including the United States, Syria and Egypt, have recently voiced their opposition to including ammunition in the final treaty text. Oxfam believes it is essential ammunition is covered given the devastating impact the illicit arms trade has on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world, particularly those living in conflict-hit or fragile states like Afghanistan and Somalia.

Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "We want every Scottish MP to show their support for an Arms Trade Treaty that covers not only weapons but the ammunition that fuels them.
"It is crucial that our MPs send a clear message to the UK Government that they must champion for a comprehensive treaty at the United Nations in July.

"That treaty must include bullets because they are what turn guns into lethal weapons.

"It is absolutely essential that the sale of ammunition is included in the treaty and it is far better regulated. It would be totally irrational to leave it out.

"The trade in ammunition is lucrative; but while the monetary cost of production is low, the price paid in human lives for the trade in ammunition is incalculable.

"An Arms Trade Treaty which doesn't include the trade in bullets doesn't make sense."

Oxfam's report reveals how poor regulation of the ammunition trade makes it virtually impossible to put an accurate figure on the number of bullets currently being produced and transferred across the world each year, though estimates hover at around the 12bn mark - enough to kill nearly every man, woman and child on the planet twice.

Judith Robertson added: "There are no global controls on ammunition flows and no global reporting system to keep track on where the billions of bullets are ending up. That must change."

2000 people die each day from armed violence, 26 million people are currently displaced within their own countries by armed conflict and around 30 conflicts continue around the world today.

Two out of every three people killed by armed violence die in countries at peace; one in 10 people around the world possess small arms; two bullets are produced each year for every person on the planet.

Oxfam is part of the Control Arms campaign, an alliance aiming for a treaty to protect lives and livelihoods and to prevent arms being used for atrocities on civilians.

Join the Arms Trade Treaty campaign

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

More by Jamie Livingstone