Leaders of the Methodist Church in Britain have welcomed the UK Government's ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty on 2 April 2014.
The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Ruth Gee, said that the move was a "legal milestone that should help to protect those who are abused and oppressed".
"The Arms Trade Treaty has come about because, across the world, people have made their voices heard," said Ms Gee.
"They have spoken against the obscenity of the sale of arms to governments or groups who abuse rights and kill civilians. It's over ten years since the Methodist Conference called on the UK Government to support a global Arms Trade Treaty. We are convinced that trade and economic exchange must be grounded on the principles of justice and the dignity of every individual that lie at the heart of the Christian faith.
“The ratification of the treaty by the UK and other governments today is a legal milestone that should help to protect those who are abused and oppressed. But it's more than that. It makes clear that profiting from the sale of arms to oppressors is beyond a minimum standard of moral behaviour deemed acceptable in the 21st century. It also establishes the principle that the industry of arms production and sales should be accountable to the public,” she said.
Two years ago, as Churches across Britain were preparing to celebrate Peacemaking Sunday and the treaty was being negotiated, church leaders wrote to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, urging him to press for agreement on a comprehensive and unambiguous text.
A former Methodist President, the Rev Dr Mark Wakelin, signed the letter on behalf of the Methodist Church.
Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, commented: "The ratifications by the UK and other EU states today are important steps in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty. We need to see the treaty make a real difference to arms exports. Potentially, lives will be saved once the Arms Trade Treaty has been ratified by 50 States and formally enters into force. But even then the job is not yet finished.
"Those who pressed governments to commit to the treaty will need to remain vigilant and call for its application to all situations where people are oppressed,” he added.
* The Free Churches' Joint Public Issues Team position on the international Arms Trade Treaty dating back to 2004 can be seen here: http://www.methodist.org.uk/downloads/lk_public_issues02-04.pdf?utm_medi...
* Control Arms Coalition - www.controlarms.org