U.S. Signs Historic Arms Trade Treaty – Over 100 countries have now signed
Today U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signed the international Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations (UN). The U.S. joins over 100 countries who have now signed this historic treaty less than four months since the treaty opened for signature on June 3rd.
“I want to congratulate everyone who has worked hard in order to help bring this agreement into fruition, including our international partners and the civil society organizations’ commitment was absolutely vital to winning support for this treaty. The United States is proud to have worked with our international partners in order to achieve this important step towards a more peaceful world, but a world that also lives by international standards and rules. And we believe this brings us closer to the possibilities of peace as well as a security, a higher level of a security, and the promotion and protection of human rights. That, frankly, is a trifecta for America, and that’s why we’re proud to sign this treaty today,” said Secretary Kerry at the signing ceremony.
IPPNW members around the globe are part of the civil society coalition that contributed to the adoption of the Treaty, and are now working toward urging their countries to sign and ratify it. The Control Arms coalition, of which IPPNW is a leading member, now calls on countries who have signed the ATT to swiftly incorporate the agreement into their national law and ratify the text. The Treaty will not enter into force until 50 countries ratify it.
“We applaud the leadership of the U.S. in playing an important role in the negotiations of the Arms Trade Treaty, and in now signing it,” said IPPNW co-president Dr. Robert Mtonga of Zambia, who has been a leader of the IPPNW delegation to the ATT meetings at the UN, and has served on the official Zambian delegation. “As health professionals, we see the devastation the unregulated arms trade wreaks on human lives. This landmark treaty will prevent suffering and death from the misuse of arms.”
IPPNW and its U.S. affiliate Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) joined with dozens of major U.S. human rights, religious, international development, and arms control groups in an August 2013 letter to the White House urging U.S. signature of the treaty. The letter was also signed by leaders from Amnesty International USA, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam America, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Arms Control Association and others. It stated that U.S. signature of the ATT “would be a powerful step demonstrating the United States’ commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict around the globe.”
“This is a victory for health worldwide,” said PSR executive director Dr. Catherine Thomasson, who last year delivered another letter from 18 Nobel Peace Prize laureates to President Obama, which said, “The US and other arms supplier states have both a moral duty and a national security interest to help achieve [a strong] Treaty in order to protect human rights and save the lives of innocent civilians caught in the crosshairs of conflicts fuelled by the irresponsible international conventional weapons trade. As humanitarians and peacemakers, we cannot accept the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are gunned down each year, with millions left maimed and traumatized…The poorly regulated arms trade fuels conflict, violence, and serious violations of human rights, with devastating effects on health, security, and sustainable social and economic development.”
“The Arms Trade Treaty will be a huge step forward in preventing further unnecessary injury and death from armed violence. The U.S. signing will enhance the prospects for achieving this urgent humanitarian agreement,” said Dr. Thomasson.
In a press release yesterday, the Arms Control Association wrote that, “U.S. signature will accelerate progress toward entry into force of the treaty and put pressure on other major arms suppliers, including Russia and China, and major buyers, including India, to join the treaty. Allegations made by some here in the United States that the Arms Trade Treaty infringes on the domestic rights of U.S. citizens to legally possess firearms amount to irresponsible demagoguery. The Arms Trade Treaty only governs international arms transfers and fully respects the sovereign rights of nations to regulate gun ownership as they see fit. It effectively internationalizes the standards for U.S. weapons exports that have been in place for many years. No one, except maybe illicit arms dealers and human rights abusers, should oppose common-sense international law regulating the arms trade. Senators should take the time to review the facts on the Arms Trade Treaty before rushing to judgment on the basis misinformation from the U.S. domestic gun lobby. When implemented, the Arms Trade Treaty will help protect innocent civilians against the scourge of violence and war across the globe. It deserves the full support of the President, the Congress, and the American people.”
Next steps will involve ratification by the Senate.
We need the support of all U.S. IPPNW and PSR members to contact their Senators and press for swift ratification.
Please send thanks to Secretary Kerry and President Obama for signing the ATT.