On Thursday (10/26), a UN panel is expected to vote on whether to begin work on a global arms trade treaty. The treaty would control the sale and trade of small arms and some conventional weapons.
This week, 15 Nobel Laureates – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu – announced their support for a treaty.
Helen Hughes is the arms policy advisor for Amnesty International and has been lobbying in favor of the treaty resolution. From New York, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about efforts to approve the resolution.
“It’s very exciting at the moment. We have over 110 co-sponsors for the resolution, an overwhelming majority among many countries around the world of their support for the initiative and the resolution and also for the whole concept of an arms trade treaty. So, we’ll see obviously how the vote will turn out. But we’re looking hopeful and we think that Thursday will be an exciting and promising day,” she says.
As for the support of the Nobel Laureates, Hughes says, “They set out their concerns in a letter addressed to the United Nations. And in particular they stipulated the key elements that any arms trade treaty should agree, particularly in ensuring that no state authorizes any international arms transfers that could violate their specific obligations under international law.”
The letter reads in part, “Governments should take an historic step to stop irresponsible and immoral arms transfers by voting to develop a treaty that will prevent the death, rape and displacement of thousands of people.”
The Amnesty International advisor says some believe the process is moving too quickly, and Thursday’s vote will be a better indication. She says, “No one as yet has said that they’re opposed to the concept of an arms trade treaty.” She says that this includes the United States, Russia and China.