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Obama – can we do it? #armstreaty

By Verity Coyle, Campaign Manager at Amnesty International UK

Arms Trade Treaty negotiations are at a crucial halfway point.

So much has happened yet in terms of concrete decisions, as Ambassador Moritan, the president of the conference, has said many times:

“Nothing is decided until everything is decided."

Human rights-based criteria that could save the lives of millions of people are at risk of being seriously weakened as the historic Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is negotiated at the UN in New York.

So we've been looking for opportunities to influence, inform and persuade governments about key policy concerns that we have about the content of the treaty.

But we can't ignore the elephant in the room any longer.

So what am I talking about? Well, to put it simply, the USA – specifically, their approach to criteria provisions in the treaty.

As the world’s biggest exporter of arms, a super power and a member of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council we cannot ignore the influence the USA has on every area of this process.

Weakening these rules would mean that governments would be able to continue supplying deadly weapons to those who commit serious human rights abuses.

President Obama’s officials have indicated that under the treaty any state considering an arms export should be entitled to use national security considerations to trump grave human rights concerns.

So will they use their power for good, or for something not so good?

Obama holds that decision with members of his National Security Council and the Pentagon.

So Obama – can we do it? Is there 'hope' for a treaty that will protect people across the world by keeping weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to commit serious human rights violations?

Obama has spoken about his vision of a world where people treat each other like they would like to be treated themselves. I think this sums up quite nicely what a strong ATT would help to create. With all the domestic and commercial pressures on him will he take the path of least resistance or will he step up to the plate?

Amnesty members around the world are taking urgent action to urge the USA to support strong human rights criteria in the Arms Trade Treaty, join them, add your voice and let’s make sure the White House cannot ignore the outcry from around the world.

Take action:
Human rights at risk in treaty talks (Urgent action, 13 July 2012)

Read more:
Playing the game, working the room for a strong Arms Trade Treaty (Blog, 16 July 2012)
Arms control: UN urged to seize once in a lifetime opportunity (News story, 12 July 2012)
Arms control and human rights (Campaign page)