Scottish arms control campaigner David Grimason launched Amnesty Scotland's campaign for a bulletproof global Arms Trade Treaty at Glasgow University on Monday (13 February). He was joined by Oxfam Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council as well as other human rights activists. The launch marks the first day of a week-long UN conference at which vital elements of the final Arms Trade Treaty will be discussed, ahead of the final negotiating conference in July.
David Grimason, who has pushed for tighter controls on the arms trade since his two-year-old son Alistair was shot and killed in a Turkish cafe in July 2003, will speak about his experiences and involvement in nearly ten years of arms control campaigning.
David Grimason said: "It is incredible to think that we may finally be on the brink of delivering something that will prevent the devastating impact that the arms trade has on families around the world. After nearly a decade of governments saying that something must be done, now is the time to finally do it.
"It is up to our politicians to ensure that they put people's lives ahead of profit, but it is also up to the people of Scotland to make their voices heard and demand that the UK is at the forefront of championing a comprehensive treaty on the sales and transfer of weapons.
"Every day, more than 1500 people die from armed violence, the majority of these in countries which are not at war. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really make a difference to the lives of so many. We have one shot, we must not squander it."
Shabnum Mustapha, Programme Director for Amnesty in Scotland, said: "It is mind-boggling to think that we have international treaties governing the selling of postage stamps, bananas, and even dinosaur bones. But when it comes to weapons and the impact that an irresponsible arms trade has on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world, there are no controls.
"We need the UK government to stay true to their word and ensure that a treaty governing the sale and transfer of arms is comprehensive, is enforced and puts human rights at its heart."
Judith Robertson, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “Now is the time for the UK Government to step up to the plate and push for a truly bulletproof treaty. The next few months represent an unprecedented opportunity to bring this deadly trade under control. Other countries look to the UK for leadership on this issue, and the Government must deliver."
Gary Christie, Head of Policy and Communication at Scottish Refugee Council, said: "We need to tackle the root causes of violence that lead people to our shores seeking safety. One of those is the volume of unregulated arms.
"At Scottish Refugee Council we see the direct affects of an irresponsible arms trade every day, whether we are dealing with women who experience sexual violence by militia in the Congo, or people fleeing the fall-out of conflict like that happening in Sudan. We would urge everyone to get behind Amnesty's campaign and seize the chance to stop the suffering, happening across the world, today."
Amnesty International is urging the public to increase pressure on the UK government by writing to party leaders and asking them to publicly commit to lead the way in securing a robust Arms Trade Treaty.
Read Amnesty Scotland's Arms Trade Treaty briefing here: http://amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_22335.pdf