Control Arms: Letter to the Prime Minister
Project Ploughshares and Citizens for Public Justice among others have endorsed the “Control Arms” interfaith declaration on the Arms Trade Treaty (http://www.controlarms.org/interfaith). Please see the following letter from Control Arms to the Prime Minister. You can also find it on the CCC website here: http://www.councilofchurches.ca/en/news-view.cfm?newsID=178.
You may wish to listen to a substantial and compelling commentary on “The Current” that featured the Director of Control Arms Jeff Abramson: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/news-promo/2012/06/15/international-arms-sales-and-the-syrian-conflict/.
June 14, 2012
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
RE: Arms Trade Treaty
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We, the organizations listed below, are writing to thank you for Canada’s support to date for the Arms Trade Treaty, and to call on the Canadian government to do its utmost to ensure negotiations at the UN Diplomatic Conference in July result in a meaningful and effective convention that will save lives and safeguard communities worldwide.
The human cost of the current patchwork of inadequate transfer controls, and the corresponding widespread availability and misuse of weapons, is unacceptably high. This manifests itself in several ways: in the killing, wounding, and rape of civilians; the devastating impact on children, and in particular girls; in the perpetration of other serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law; and in the displacement of people, sometimes on a massive scale, within and across borders.
The UN General Assembly has agreed to prepare a binding treaty containing the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. The treaty is an unprecedented global opportunity to reduce the human cost associated with inadequate controls on arms transfers and to contribute to improved safety and security for communities affected by conflict and armed violence. It is an opportunity that Canada and other UN member states must seize to the fullest extent.
A strong treaty must be rooted in the responsibilities of states under international law. States have a duty to interdict any transfer if there is significant risk that the weapons in question will be used in contravention of international laws and norms. To succeed, the treaty must be comprehensive in scope and include all arms, related equipment and ammunition, as well as all types and manner of transfer. The treaty also must establish clear guidelines for transparency and full implementation.
The Canadian government has emphasized that the treaty should not impede legitimate trade in conventional weapons nor lawful and responsible ownership and use of firearms. This emphasis is a welcome clarification that the purpose of the treaty is to prevent illicit and irresponsible arms transfers between states. The treaty will not affect national domestic regulations on firearms or other conventional weapons.
Treaty negotiations face major challenges, not the least being that a minority of skeptical states will seek to weaken or prevent a strong treaty sought by the majority. For negotiations to reach a meaningful result, Canada must step forward as a strong and public advocate of a treaty that is comprehensive and robust and will lead to significant reductions in the human costs of irresponsible arms transfers.
We call on you to:
- Issue a prime-ministerial statement emphasizing Canadian support for a strong Arms Trade Treaty and indicating that Canada will not accept treaty text that inadequately responds to the humanitarian costs of irresponsible arms transfers;
- Instruct Minister Baird to take up the invitation to attend the high level segment during the first days of the Diplomatic Conference;
- Instruct the Canadian delegation to the Diplomatic Conference to actively engage and support other states seeking a comprehensive and effective Arms Trade Treaty.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response.
-Amnesty International Canada
-Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale
-Canadian Council for International Cooperation
-Canadian Nurses Association
-Canadian Society for International Health Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches
-Mines Action Canada
-Oxfam-Québec Pax Christi – Montréal Plan Canada
-Physicians for Global Survival
-Religions for Peace – Canada
-Religions pour la Paix – Québec.
-Vision GRAM – International
-World Federalist Movement
Date: June 26, 2012