The World Council of Churches (WCC) has welcomed ratification of the world’s first Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a year after it was adopted by the UN General Assembly – but wants more action.
“It is especially important that five of the world’s top 10 arms exporters are among those ratifying on 2 April 2014 – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK,” the General Secretary of the WCC, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said in a public comment.
“A few such suppliers dominate the multi-billion dollar global trade in arms,” he added.
“The news reminds us each day of how urgently people in different parts of the world need the arms trade to be brought under greater control,” Dr Tveit said.
After the ceremony at the United Nations last week, 31 governments will have ratified the ATT. For the treaty to come into effect, 50 states need to ratify the treaty.
“More governments need to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty so that arms trading can finally be regulated and people currently at risk can be better protected,” Tveit said. He noted that the example set today should be followed by the United States and Russia – the two largest arms exporters – as well as China.
The WCC leads a campaign among its member churches to strengthen the proposed treaty and make it more effective. Work to secure ratifications continues, especially in Africa, one of the regions where irresponsible arms sales fuel human rights abuses and war crimes.
“Many lives will be saved if the Arms Trade Treaty enters into force and becomes really effective,” said Steve Hucklesby, policy adviser of The Methodist Church in Britain, a WCC member church.
“But the job is not yet finished. Those who pressed governments to commit to the treaty will need to remain vigilant and call for its full implementation.”
At the recent WCC assembly in South Korea, church delegates from more than 100 countries called for their governments to ratify and implement the Arms Trade Treaty.
Armed violence and conflict kills approximately half a million people each year. Weapons are also used to displace, abuse and traumatise millions more.