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Scots Dad: “UK Minister Must Deliver On His Promise”

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

25th Jul 2012

David Grimason Returns To UN as Arms Trade Treaty Talks Reach Crucial Final Stage.

A Scottish dad, whose toddler son was shot dead with an illegal weapon, is urging the UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt to deliver on his personal Arms Trade Treaty promise during the final week of negotiations at the UN. 

The month-long talks to agree the world's first legally binding rules on the transfer of conventional weapons are on a knife edge and will come to an end on Friday. 

Right now the discussions are being dominated by sceptical governments including Iran, Syria and Cuba, who are intent on having a weak treaty - or no treaty at all. 

China and Russia are opposed to effective human rights and humanitarian rules in any deal whilst the US wants exclusions that could undermine the effectiveness of any treaty.   

David Grimason attended the first week of the talks - during which he met Alistair Burt MP, who promised the UK would do all it can to secure a strong treaty.

Mr Grimason's two year old son Alistair was murdered in Turkey nine years ago when a man opened fire in a cafe with an illegal weapon. Alistair was asleep in his pram.

However, there's now growing concern that UK delegates are not fulfilling Mr Burt's promise. 

Last Friday, the UK failed to sign a statement outlining the minimum humanitarian principles that must be included in the treaty, which attracted supported from 74 other states.

With just three full days left to go, Mr Grimason has now returned to the UN to push for the strongest possible deal to be agreed. 

He has also written a personal letter to Mr Burt in which he says "the UK must show more of a commitment for the strongest possible text," adding: "I was disappointed that the UK did not join with the 74 nations who demanded a strong treaty text."

Speaking from the UN, David Grimason said: "These talks are at a key stage - and the UK need to stand up and be counted by voicing their full support for a strong treaty. 

"Alistair Burt promised me the UK would do just that, but right now I remain unconvinced that's the case. I am worried that the UK is prepared to compromise too far.

"The world cannot let this chance pass and the UK must keep fighting for a strong treaty that will save lives.

"I am here to honour my son and to push for the treaty we all know is needed - the UK must now honour it's promise." 

Earlier this month Mr Grimason marked the ninth anniversary of his Alistair's death by attending the first week of the talks. It was the first anniversary he was not at Alistair's graveside. 

Notes to editors

Mr Grimason has also featured in five campaign videos on behalf of the Control Arms coalition, which have now been viewed thousands of times around the world:

Grieving Dads Demand Global Action
End 'Body Bags' Approach to Arms Control
600,000 Voices Call For An Arms Trade Treaty
The Grieving Dad, The Cattle Raider and The Youth Worker
Scottish Dad Marks Anniversary of Son's Murder

One person dies every minute because of armed violence. Every year, millions more are injured and forced out of their homes and into poverty. 

Global campaigners want a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will prevent arms transfers that fuel human rights abuses, poverty and conflict.

Patchy, diverse and often completely absent national regulations have failed to adapt to the increasingly globalised nature of the arms trade. Existing national and regional controls are not enough to stop irresponsible transfers of arms and ammunition between countries.

Gaps and legal loopholes can too easily be exploited by unscrupulous governments or unscrupulous arms dealers, allowing arms to be transferred into the wrong hands. 

The treaty must have robust criteria which clearly determine on which grounds an arms transfer shall be denied. It must cover all conventional arms - everything from fighter jets and tanks through to small arms and ammunition, and all types of arms transfer. 

It must also be workable with implementation delivered through national legislation and mechanisms put in place to ensure compliance with the new treaty. 

Please tell Alistair Burt to stand firm - and fulfil his promise - on the Arms Trade Treaty

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

More by Jamie Livingstone