Govt Begins Arms Treaty Campaign

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Several Liberian advocacy groups have begun a campaign to support global parliamentarian declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), ahead of a United Nations conference in the United States.

The awareness, which is being led by the Liberians United to Expose Hidden Weapons (LUEHW), also involves both non-governmental organizations and human rights groupings here.

These NGOs and Human Rights bodies have said they are lobbying with the government to support the global parliamentarian declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) summit scheduled for July 2-4, this year in the United States.

J. Koffa Torbor of LUEHW told the media Saturday that they would engage three branches of government as well as consultations with local leaders on the matter.

"The campaign of lobbying [with] government to support the Arms Trade Treaty has already begun and we believe that the government will see the need to support the process," the spokesman noted. It can be recalled that United Nations Resolution 63/240 issued in 2009, states that the global principles for international arms transfers go with responsibilities of states.

The resolution states that with jurisdiction over any part of an international transfer of conventional arms or ammunition should ensure, on a case-by-case basis, prior to the authorization of any transfer that it is in accordance with national laws and procedures that conform to states' obligations under international law. The global parliamentarian in a statement issued recently said the international community stands at a crossroads in the negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

As democratically elected members of parliament worldwide, the MPs went on, "we strongly endorse and support this negotiation process, which must deliver a robust, legally binding instrument that effectively tackles the devastating consequences of armed violence and conflicts globally.

"We are concerned that the international trade in arm, when undertaken irresponsibly or diverted to illicit markets, contributes to armed conflict and armed violence," the statement noted.

The Global Parliamentarian noted that this often results in serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, internal and cross-border displacement, terrorism, organized and common crimes, and the facilitation of the illicit trade in narcotics.

Moreover, the declaration amongst many things said it facilitates gender-based violence against women, who also disproportionately endure the indirect, longer-term consequences of armed violence.

In turn, the parliamentarian said "all these factors undermine peace and peace-building processes, human security, poverty reduction initiatives, and prospects for sustainable socio-economic development."

"We (Parliamentarian) fervently believe that a strong Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) can make a significant contribution in addressing the terrible human toll, which is a direct consequence of this poorly regulated trade," the global parliamentarian declaration noted.

At a minimum, the MPs indicated that the ATT should establish that no international transfer of arms and ammunitions would be authorized if there is a substantial risk that the weapons will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law, or will seriously impair poverty reduction or socio-economic development.