UK 'risks letting UN arms treaty fail'
26 July 2012
The UK must get "off its backside" to save negotiations for a United Nations arms trade treaty or risk seeing them collapse, former foreign secretary David Miliband has warned.
Writing in The Guardian, Miliband said that with arms treaty negotiations reaching a "crunch" point; the British government risked "betraying the original spirit that animated it".
"Seventy-four countries took to the floor of the UN last Friday to issue an appeal to save the treaty," he wrote. "They recalled the humanitarian and development principles that we sought to put at the heart of this treaty, and warned that these principles are being lost. But the UK stood aside.
"The private rationale was about 'building consensus'. That can be noble, but not if it involves abandoning principle. The danger is that in keeping quiet to seek an agreement; we end up with a deal so weak that it is not worth the paper it is written on."
"…It is no good saying you favour a strong treaty but backsliding when the going gets tough," he said.
Miliband added that the regulation of arms would help address "the under-reported but nonetheless deadly fact that up to 1,000 people a day – mostly women and children – are killed by such arms, often in the world's poorest countries. These weapons are used against UN peacekeepers from all round the world, as well as in inter-communal violence."
The conference produced a draft treaty suggesting that governments should not sell arms to countries where there is a "substantial risk of a serious violation" of human rights. Whilst the treaty would not ban arms exports, it would require arms exporters to meet a list of criteria, and prevent transfer where the result would be violations of international law.
HAVE YOUR SAY
27 July 2012
with arms deals in the billions of dollars range this treaty will not pass as too many countries stand to lose business.
Even if it did pass companies will find a way to get round it.
It is a sad fact that these weapons kill a lot of innocent people but trying to get countries to stop exporting them if there is a chance of mis-use is unreal. Those that don't sign up will move in when others cut back. People will always get weapons if they so desire.
Another thing as well, I'm sick and tired of hearing opposition MP's, no matter what party, trying to score political points off other peoples suffering. What is the UK's record of arms deals in the Blair government?
JC - UK
27 July 2012
Didn't the UK sell lots of "riot control gear" in the form of lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia which they used to suppress the Arab Spring in Bahrain? Probably on Labour's watch.
AlMiles - Bristol, UK