Arms Trade Treaty
(July 2012)
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Arms Trade Treaty Campaigning

Stijn Van Bever

Now that the Preparatory Committee IV session ended in February 2011, we are in the last months before the final negotiations will take place in July 2012 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

All support is welcomed as we count down the remaining days. We invite you to write letters to your political leaders, to inform your network, to plan activities, and to use your imagination to share the message that a strong Arms Trade Treaty is needed. Together, we can increase momentum toward July!

The Commitment of Pax Christi International Member Organisations

Member Organisations have more than 60 years of Pax Christi International’s dynamic experience in promoting arms control and disarmament. Many Member Organisations of Pax Christi International also work on the community level in most countries that could benefit or suffer from the quality of the Arms Trade Treaty. The strengths of our network are unity amongst itself, solidarity with other parts of society, and utilizing this unity in the pursuance of the common good. If minorities within civil society speak, change will most likely not occur. However, when majorities across society unite – women’s groups, youth groups, elected officials, police, parliamentarians – their unity makes a difference. When Pax Christi International adds its voice to civil society and speaks in unity it makes a difference too.

Now is the time to bring more security through the control of arms, to prevent violence experienced by people in communities throughout the world, which is ultimately an implicit threat to us all. The scope and the depth of an Arms Trade Treaty will provide for further progress in reducing unlawful uses of illicit arms. The negative consequences of conflict on development are well documented, so now is the time to control the movement of arms and to invest in sustainable development.

If we lose sight of how weapons are actually used and abused in our world, we will not meet the needs of our suffering and vulnerable sisters and brothers.

Campaigning for the Arms Trade Treaty

Pax Christi International has joined the Control Arms Campaign in putting pressure on governments to endorse the Arms Trade Treaty. At a regional and national level Pax Christi Member Organisations are heavily involved in pressuring their own governments to do the same. More information on the campaign is available at

Pax Christi International participates in an ecumenical working group on the Treaty. Given the faith origins of civil society, the project will focus on issues that define the humanitarian scope of the Treaty. These include human rights, international humanitarian law, sustainable development, inclusion of small arms and ammunition in the treaty, and provisions to address gender-based violence and survivor assistance. About 60 participants from 29 countries are active in the working group.

Pax Christi International and its Member Organizations have also been involved with two major interfaith campaigns for a strong arms trade treaty. Members have been asked to endorse and support the efforts of these missions: the Control Arms Interfaith Campaign and the Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Robust Arms Trade Treaty. They both present a unique opportunity for individuals and their religious communities to be involved and to support the end of the illegal transfer of arms and munitions. The entire appeal can be read at Ref.: 2011-0575-en-gl-SD.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

-Former United States President Dwight Eisenhower

Members of Pax Christi International that are eye-witnesses to the harmful effects of these weapons have long advocated for international regulation that will reduce the suffering caused by easy access to small arms. In 2012, the world’s governments will gather in New York to negotiate a legally binding international treaty on conventional weapons and ammunitions trade.

Join us to demand a strong and robust Arms Trade Treaty that will save lives, reduce human suffering and stop weapons that prolong conflict.

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“Counting Down 100” Days and “Speak Out”

On the 26th of March 2012, there were 100 days left until the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations begin. Control Arms then launched a “Counting Down 100 days” campaign. An Action Pack was released, which included messages and methods you can use to create your own plans of action. Control Arms will feature an action or story on the Control Arms website each day. If you’re planning activities, or you want to share your story, please contact Control Arms.

“Speak Out” is the popular mobilization campaign of the Control Arms coalition. It runs on the momentum it built from the 2006 “Million Faces” petition, in which one million people submitted photos of themselves as endorsements of starting negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty. Now that the final treaty negotiations are only months away, Control Arms is asking supporters to speak out.

Visit the Speak Out website to add your support, publicize the number of participants of your events, or collect more endorsements for your declaration.

Please visit the Control Arms website for more information and we will keep you informed.

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Global Week of Action against Gun Violence

The Global Week of Action against Gun Violence 2012 will take place from the 11th to the 17th of June. Every year, activists from all over the world join the Week of Action. This gathering demonstrates the strength of the global movement against gun violence and advocates stopping the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. This year’s Global Week of Action will focus on the Arms Trade Treaty. As the Global Week of Action will be just before the final negotiations of the Arms Trade Treaty, this is a good moment for action. Visit IANSA’s website for more information and materials.

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Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong Arms Trade Treaty

As grassroots-based structures working in communities, churches bear witness to the brutal consequences of armed violence and are often directly involved in ministry and care for people affected by this violence. The role of the churches should be to mobilize the communities as well as to bring the experiences and stories from the ground to the level of decision makers.

The World Council of Churches invites churches and religious organizations to demand a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that will save lives, reduce human suffering, and prevent the prolongation conflict. As stated by the World Council of Churches, the Arms Trade Treaty must contain unequivocal criteria for arms transfers and to be effective, the Arms Trade Treaty should cover the following issues:

  • Inclusion of Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law
  • Inclusion of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), ammunition and parts in the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty
  • Inclusion of strong and effective language on the impact arms have on gender-based violence
  • Inclusion of measures for survivor assistance

More information on the WCC campaign can be found on their website.

We encourage you to take a look at the brochure “The Human Scope of the Arms Trade Treaty”, a compilation of personal testimonies demonstrating the human consequences of the arms trade and the direct impact that conventional weapons have on the lives of people around the world.

Write a campaign letter

An effective way to inform your members of government on the consequences of an uncontrolled arms trade and to urge them to support the negotiation process for the Arms Trade Treaty is to write them a letter. You can include your concerns and your recommendations for a strong and robust Treaty, ask your representatives to persuade their colleagues to support the treaty and at the same time ask them to sign the Control Arms parliamentary declaration. We include a model letter that you can adapt and use to send to the head of your nation’s foreign affairs or to your representative of the government.

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