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Scots dad's plea as Arms Trade Treaty talks begin

Posted by Jamie Livingstone Head of Oxfam Scotland

3rd Jul 2012

David Grimason: "No better chance to end the killing"

David Grimason, whose two year old son was shot dead with an illegal gun, has urged world governments to show the courage needed to agree a strong Arms Trade Treaty and end the 'body bag' approach to arms control.

Mr Grimason, from Edinburgh, joined campaigners from around the world yesterday (Mon) at a stunt to mark the start of the final negotiations at the United Nations in New York.

Body bags were laid out in front of the U.N. building to symbolise the 1,500 people who die every day around the world as a result of armed violence.

The 40-year-old, who has campaigned for new international laws for nearly a decade, says the talks represent the best chance we have to end the deadly trade in arms.

Mr Grimason said: "We've waited so long for these final talks to get underway. The world has been calling for an Arms Trade Treaty for more than 10 years and it's now six years since the UN process got underway - they must now deliver.

"We can't wait any longer. The delegates who have come here from around the world must understand the personal impact of arms and show the courage needed to make history. I am here because of what happened to my son Alistair, but I have also seen for myself the impact of arms around the world.

"For Alistair, and the other innocent victims, I urge the delegates meeting here to agree the strong treaty we all know is so urgently needed. There is no better chance to end the killing".

Mr Grimason's two-year-old son Alistair was shot dead during a holiday to Turkey in 2003.

Alistair was asleep in his pram in a cafe when an argument broke out at a nearby table and a man opened fire - killing the toddler, from East Kilbride.

Mr Grimason launched a campaign for stricter gun laws in Turkey and has also campaigned for new global restrictions.

In 2006 he travelled with Oxfam to Turkana in Kenya to see the impact of armed violence.

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

The situation is fuelled by the poorly regulated global trade in conventional arms and ammunition - there is currently no international legislation on the global arms trade. 

Jamie Livingstone, Oxfam Scotland's Campaigns Manager, said: "We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly make the world a safer place. This isn't just any Treaty, but one that can rein in a trade that is spiraling out of control at the moment.

"From Congo to Libya, from Syria to Mali, all have suffered from the unregulated trade in weapons and ammunition allowing those conflicts to cause immeasurable suffering and go on far too long. In the next few weeks, diplomats will either change the world - or fail the world."

Campaigners from around the world are determined to make governments put an end to the 'body bag' approach, which in some cases sees arms embargoes imposed by the UN Security Council, but even then, only after reckless arms trading has fuelled a human catastrophe. Instead, an ATT is urgently needed 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.

For more information contact Jamie Livingstone, Oxfam Scotland Communications Manager, in New York on on 07803 970489.

Notes to Editors

David's UN visit comes after he featured in a powerful video for the global Control Arms campaign.

Blog post written by Jamie Livingstone

Head of Oxfam Scotland

More by Jamie Livingstone