Every minute one person on Earth is killed by a weapon. That makes more than half a million each year. While there are international conventions dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, no global treaty limits the trade in conventional weapons. Small arms and light weapons but also tanks, helicopters, rocket launchers and mortars can be transferred from one state to another without limit or control to whom and for which purposes they are sold.
The spread of weapons is increasing on a daily basis, turning more and more local communities into zones where carrying an arm is perceived to be the only way to secure one’s interests and security. While every government has an obligation under the UN Charter, international humanitarian and human rights law to prevent the abuse of weapons, many governments do not regulate the export of their arms. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, Russia, China, Great Britain and France) – first and foremost responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security – account for 88% of the world’s conventional arms exports.
The Ottawa landmines treaty has shown that arms trade can be put to an end. Since the entry into force of this legal instrument in 1997, no state has openly traded in landmines anymore. Thus, a broad coalition of international NGOs, among them Amnesty International and Oxfam, has launched a global petition to pressure for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The aim is to gather 1 million photos of people who support such a legally binding convention. The photo petition will be officially presented to the UN Review conference in June 2006 in New York, the next occasion to draft the ATT.
But the number of 1 million is still far from being reached. So if you want to support the campaign, go today to the website: www.controlarms.org and upload your picture. Please also spread the news.
Why one million? The one million faces equate to the number of people who will have died from armed violence between the start of the campaign and the delivery of the petition in June 2006. In addition, it will be a world record.
Janna Schönfeld is responsible for the one million faces petition for the French speaking part of Belgium.