Oxfam urges Pacific leaders to achieve a strong arms trade treaty

Oxfam welcomes the strong commitment to regional cooperation in negotiating an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) made at the Pacific Islands Forum held in Auckland last week. Pacific governments should follow through on these commitments by actively working together to develop a common position ahead of the ATT negotiating conference next July.

Oxfam welcomes the strong commitment to regional cooperation in negotiating an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) made at the Pacific Islands Forum held in Auckland last week. Pacific governments should follow through on these commitments by actively working together to develop a common position ahead of the ATT negotiating conference next July.

The landmark treaty, being negotiated by 193 UN member states, will create the first truly universal, legally binding standards for the poorly regulated and often irresponsible trade in conventional arms.

Stop Gun Violence campaign. Credit: Jerry Galea/Oxfam

Eileen Kolma from Oxfam's Office in PNG
with Stop Gun Violence campaign
materials.

In the final communiqué, Pacific Islands Forum leaders welcomed progress on an ATT that would help deter and prevent illicit trafficking and proliferation of arms – including small arms and light weapons – and expressed support for the development of a common Forum position on an ATT to ensure a strong and proactive voice in negotiations.

This commitment followed a statement made jointly by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Pacific Islands Forum leaders calling for cooperation between the UN and Pacific states, including controlling the illicit trade in arms and negotiation of an ATT. The Pacific Small Arms Action Group (PSAAG), of which Oxfam is a member, is a coalition of organisations working to reduce the deadly impact of armed violence in the region.

”The Arms Trade Treaty negotiations next year will establish desperately needed controls on the international arms trade,” said Luke Roughton, Oxfam New Zealand’s Control Arms Coordinator. “The Pacific region has suffered more than its fair share of armed violence in places such as the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Bougainville. For the ATT to make a real difference in our region, it is critical that the voices of Pacific states are loud and unified in calling for the strongest possible treaty.”

“Making the most of real chances to succeed next year is key,” said Roughton. “Opportunities in 2012, like the Pacific Islands Forum Regional Security Committee, and a planned regional workshop on UN small arms processes, should be taken advantage of to develop a common position that will amplify and strengthen the voice of the Pacific in the negotiating room.”

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty will be negotiated from the July 2-27, 2012 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.