Should they be sold
for human rights abuse?
Well, think about some of the horrific human rights abuses of the past few decades - the wholesale murder of civilian men, women and children in places like Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and more recently in the Darfur region of Sudan. The thousands of innocent people killed as a result. The idea that people would commit such horrific acts against their fellow man makes me sick to my stomach. Thinking about these situations, you have to wonder where exactly these monsters got their weapons - the hundreds of guns and thousands of rounds of ammo used in these protracted tradgedies.
And the answer is points to something that is perhaps as sickening as the acts themselves: there are people who either gave these armies their weapons for some sort of personal gain, or worse, knowingly sold those weapons for profits. Somewhere out there sleeping in their mansion after selling guns and ammo to some 3rd world tinpot dictator with the weapons, while knowing that thousands of kids would be shot and needlessly slaughtered as a result. It's thoroughly immoral, and it should be illegal too: globally.
And this is what Amnesty International is trying to do with Global Arms Control.
John Howard and George W. Bush claim that the reason for invading Iraq (after the Weapons of Mass Destruction failed to show up) was to stop human rights abuses by Saddam Hussein. Well, they should get behind Amnesty International in supporting Global Arms control to ensure that no other dictator, like Saddam Hussein, ever gets the opportunity to commit such large scale attrocities ever again. Australians who knowingly sell weapons that are used to abuse human rights deserve to be thrown in jail, and foreigners - and foreign businesses - that do it should be banned from doing business in Australia. And those tough laws must be adopted worldwide.
The fact is that Global Arms control matters because thousands more people will die - like they did in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Darfur, if we do nothing. It's time our so-called 'leaders' stepped up to the plate and showed their leadership in arms control.
Here's the full text of Amnesty International's Press Release:
Thirteen more governments announce support for Arms Trade Treaty
18 July, 2005 | IOR 40/019/2005
In the last week, thirteen more governments have announced their support for the international Arms Trade Treaty at a UN arms control meeting in New York. The governments of Benin, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, the Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, Turkey, Uganda and the Vatican gave their support, bringing the treaty much closer to being a reality, said campaigners today.
A number of other governments, including the EU countries, some East African states and the Mercosur grouping of Latin American states also made positive statements in favour of stronger export controls based on global minimum standards.
The proposed Arms Trade Treaty has the support of Nobel Laureates and citizens around the world. It would be legally binding and would ban arms transfers if they are likely to contribute to human rights violations or fuel conflict, or undermine development. The treaty would close the loopholes that currently exists between incompatible national arms export laws.
The new expressions of support for the Arms Trade Treaty came during a week-long conference at the UN in New York to review progress in curbing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons under a 2001 agreement, the UN Programme of Action.
"While many governments are still failing to meet their obligations under the Programme, it is encouraging that momentum is building towards the agreement of a new legally binding treaty on export controls", said Brian Wood, arms control manager of Amnesty International.
"Governments at last seem to be waking up to the fact that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are killed every year by armed violence. So many governments backing the treaty in just one week is a massive step towards enforcing stricter arms controls", said Anna MacDonald, Director of Policy at Oxfam.
"This is a major shift from the last UN review meeting two years ago, when export controls were barely on the table. As a result of strong campaigning from a global network of NGOs, along with the support of states including Kenya, UK, Costa Rica, Norway and Finland, states are recognising the necessity of a legally binding treaty," said Rebecca Peters, Director of IANSA.