Canadian church marks global week of action against small arms
It is a time to remember that "God calls us to be peacemakers and reconcilers in a world of much conflict and division," says the United Church of Canada (UCC) as part of its contribution to the Global Week of Action Against Small Arms (22-29 May 2006).
The UCC, in line with Project Ploughshares initiative of its countryís Council of Churches, comments that small arms are a big problem, not only for cities in developed countries, but also for communities across the globe.
In Britain, supporters of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (including its Christian network) will be marking a ëstop the arms tradeí week from 3-11 June 2006.
Small arms are a destructive and often hidden component of the market, alongside the sale and transfer of major weapons systems, says CAAT. Development and peace groups have been working together to work against the small arms trade.
"With over 600 million small arms in circulation globally, killing over 500,000 people annually, we cannot close our eyes to the issue of small arms," says Choice Okoro, the United Church of Canadaís programme coordinator for Human Rights and Reconciliation.
Ms Okoro has written to Canadian PM Stephen Harper, urging him to stiffen the resolve of the countryís delegation attending the June 26 - July 7, 2006, United Nations Small Arms Review Conference.
"Small arms contribute to untold social, economic, and political destruction, and act as a major hindrance to human development," declares Ms Okoro, explaining that their circulation increases the lethality of armed violence, prolongs conflict, and exacerbates world poverty.
In the letter, the United Church of Canada asked the Canadian Prime Minister to engage other leaders in setting a small arms agenda at the United Nations.
It also wants to see the implementation of all aspects of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.
Concludes Ms Okoro: "I appeal to you, as the leader of a country that espouses its role as an international peacekeeper, to speak out against the grave humanitarian suffering caused by small arms proliferation and misuse.î
[Also on Ekklesia: Canadian churches back action against small arms; UN urged by Vatican to examine arms trade; Churches urged to renew action for peace and healing; C of E accused of hypocrisy over links to arms company; Campaigners highlight child deaths at UN; Government urged to revive ethical foreign policy; Brazilian churches take part in national disarmament campaign; UK Christians step up anti-arms trade work; Move by UK government to close loophole in the arms trade; Bishops denounce arms sales loopholes; Named: 'Dirty dozen' local authorities trying to profit from arms trade; Claims of campaigners against arms trade substantiated; Campaigners gear up for world's largest arms fair; C of E's disinvestment vote increases risk for arms dealers say critics; Christian calls for inquest on Pinochet arms scandal]