Politicians support Amnesty call for arms ban


Politicians from all the main parties have given their support to a global campaign to ban the sale of arms to conflict zones such as Darfur and Burma, where they are likely to be used for violations of human rights.

Launching a report which details the catastrophic effect of unrestrained arms trading on human rights in conflict zones, Amnesty International said 56 TDs, senators and MEPs had signed a parliamentary declaration supporting a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

These signatures will be added to those of 1,600 parliamentarians across the world who have signed the same declaration, and will be handed over to the United Nations, where a universal treaty is due to be discussed next month.

"The absence of a common binding standard on international trade in weapons has resulted in the widespread abuse of human rights in the form of rape, murder and violence," said Noeleen Hartigan of Amnesty's Irish section.

"The Irish Government has to date been a strong advocate for a comprehensive arms trade treaty. In the face of opposition from powerful states like the USA, China, India and Russia, Ireland must support the use of a human rights criterion as the basis for negotiations for a universal arms trade treaty."

According to Amnesty's report, Blood at the Crossroads, large quantities of arms are making their way to Iraq despite human rights violations by all parties in the conflict there, and there is a lack of monitoring by the Iraq, US and UK governments over where the weapons end up.

It also states that China and Russia remain the largest suppliers of conventional arms to Sudan, while in Burma, despite persistent human rights violations committed by government forces, China, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine have supplied armoured personnel carriers, trucks, weapons and munitions.

"The time for an arms trade treaty is now. Sixty years after the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the same governments can and should deliver an effective agreement on international arms transfers with human rights at its heart," Ms Hartigan said.