Monday, May 30, 2011

Civil society claims control over arms


One out of ten people in the world has an arm, and not precisely as a decoration item: every year 747,000 people are killed and 12 billion bullets are manufactured --that is, two bullets per each person on the planet. These figures aroused the Control Arms campaign, launched in 2003 to urge the UN to sign a treaty regulating arm manufacture and trade around the world. There are countries with similar treaties, but there is no global law effective worldwide, so these treaties are often useless. For instance, even if Spain is the sixth largest arm exporter (statistics of 2008), Spanish laws clearly ban arm trade in countries with armed conflicts, although these laws are often bypassed at the demand of arm lobbies because, like most companies, arm manufacturers also threaten the Spanish government with relocation to countries with softer regulations. 
This campaign is a clear example of how civil society pressure can change things. In 2003, some Nobel Peace Laureates and organizations from around the world launched this idea, and three years later it was supported by more than one million people. With all these signatures, Control Arms handed this global petition to Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General by that time, to claim some action. It was June 2006. By September 2006, 153 countries voted in favour of developing a global Arms Trade Treaty, scheduled for July 2012. Only one country voted against it: the United States. If it is eventually approved, it will be the first global tool to fight against this revolting trade.  
If you want to join this campaign, it is never too late, just sign here.

Sources:
  1. Control Arms campaign: www.controlarms.org
  2. Spanish law of 2007 about arm export control: http://exportcontrol.org/library/conferences/2516/01_Spanish_Export_Control_System--ATERO.pdf
  3. About the joint report by Intermon Oxfam, Amnesty International, Fundació per la Pau (Foundation for Peace) and Greenpeace denouncing the non-compliance of Spanish law 53/2007: http://pressenza.com/npermalink/the-superpowersx-largest-arms-exporters
  4. Documents about arms trade and its consequences: http://www.controlarms.org/indepth.php?lang=
  5. Sign here for the Control Arms campaign: http://www.controlarms.org/join.php

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