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ICRC President Warns ATT Delegates in Cancun: Don’t Trade Arms to Belligerents

August 25, 2015

The blogosphere is atwitter that the great global gun grab has begun now that the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) First Conference of States Parties (CSP1) has commenced in Cancun, Mexico.

Adam Weinstein’s brilliant piece “It’s a U.N. ‘Gun Grab’ — Reach for Your Wallets!”  in the new “The Trace” is a great retort and analysis.

But let’s get back to reality and the vital importance of a robustly implemented ATT, and the millions of lives and livelihoods that are at stake today.

Writing in the Reaching Critical Will ATT Monitor Ray Acheson of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom quotes Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)  in his video statement at the opening session of the CSP1:

“I am concerned about the gap that subsists between the duty to ensure respect for international humanitarian law in arms transfers and the actual transfer practices of too many States,” said Maurer. The ICRC, among others speaking during the opening day of the Conference, expressed dismay about the “appalling consequences” of the irresponsible, poorly regulated, and illicit trade in conventional weapons. “If States are to join the Treaty but continue to transfer arms to belligerents,” warned Maurer, “this would severely undermine the ATT’s humanitarian purpose and its credibility.”

ICRC's President Peter Maurer addresses delegates at opening of ATT CSP1

ICRC’s President Peter Maurer addresses delegates at opening of ATT CSP1

Maurer underscored how the ICRC is “directly confronted with this gap in many countries” where their health experts witness the dire consequences of the widespread availability and misuse of weapons that among other things “endanger vital medical and humanitarian assistance, provoke displacements, and prolong conflict.”

Maurer praised the Control Arms coalition for its role to date in both the passage and watchdogging of the ATT process.  In his video address Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also saluted “civil society for pushing for this from the very beginning,” after he said that the “ATT offers the promise of a more peaceful world.”

Control Arms has been advocating messages of transparency and the importance of robust, life-saving implementation of the Treaty. This was highlighted through a media action on the beach in Cancun that unveiled a tank sculpted from sand accompanied by the message to “save lives and stop dodgy arms deals.” IPPNW’s Dr. Bob Mtonga was front and center for this action and will be reporting on developments from Cancun as the week progresses.

Dr. Bob Mtonga and colleagues from Control Arms say

Dr. Bob Mtonga and colleagues from Control Arms say “Save Lives” with sand sculpture at ATT mtg Cancun.

You can follow the action in Cancun via a video livestream where you can also view previous statements by other luminaries including former president of Costa Rica Dr. Oscar Arias.

A daily summary by the Control Arms coalition can also be found in the Reaching Critical Will ATT Monitor.

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