President Obama Must Back U.S. Adoption of Arms Trade Treaty, Says Amnesty International

Feb 19, 2013, 17:44 ET from Amnesty International

NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With two-thirds of the world's countries supporting a global Arms Trade Treaty, Amnesty International is rallying supporters to urge President Barack Obama to lead a life-saving effort to adopt the treaty when a second round of talks opens at the United Nations on March 18.  On Tuesday, Amnesty International said the treaty was a "call to conscience" for the U.S. administration to protect millions of lives around the world.

For more than a decade, Amnesty International has championed the cause of a global treaty to prevent arms from being sold or traded to dictators, warlords and other human rights abusers, including those who use arms to murder and torture civilians, recruit child soldiers and commit mass rapes in conflict zones.

Amnesty's main domestic opponent in this fight is the gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, which is riling its supporters with misleading and false claims that the treaty will threaten U.S. Second Amendment rights when in fact, the treaty will have no bearing on domestic gun rights.

"President Obama cannot ignore the plight of millions of civilians who too often are caught in conflicts fueled by unscrupulous arms brokers," said Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs at Amnesty International USA.  "To stop the carnage, we must have rules to stop weapons from flowing to governments, armed militias and others that could use those weapons in the commission of human rights abuses. President Obama can and must lead this fight."

The treaty would establish common global standards for how countries import, export and transfer conventional arms and small weapons. Most importantly, it would prohibit arms transfers where there is substantial evidence that such weapons would lead to serious human rights violations.

"The Arms Trade Treaty represents a call to conscience to the world – and especially to the United States government –to protect civilians and help develop a system that would prevent weapons from flowing into a situation where we know lives are at risk," said Ringuette.  

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.


SOURCE Amnesty International