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Syria and the Arms Trade Treaty
June 13, 2012
On Tuesday (June 12th), the Obama Administration alleged that Russia is sending attack helicopters to President Bashar Assad's regime and warned that the Arab country's 15-month conflict could become even deadlier. Russia has continued to insist that any arms it supplies to Syria are not being used to quell anti-government dissent. As ridiculous as that sounds, it mirrors what the United States has said about our resumed arms sales to Bahrain where suppression of the year-long protests against the Kingdom’s rulers has yielded serious human rights abuses including targeting health professionals.
We live in a world of unregulated and unchecked international arms sales. There are, for instance, more international laws regulating the sale of bananas than there are for weapons. This summer, delegations from across the world will be meeting at the U.N. to discuss the language for a potential new arms control agreement - the Arms Trade Treaty. This treaty will be an important first step towards curbing the use of arms sales to support oppressive regimes. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility will be participating at the meeting and presenting a Medical Alert in support of a robust treaty - signed by over 1,000 health professionals.
At this important meeting, here are some of the key concerns that we will be pushing delegations to address:
12 billion bullets are produced every year. We are pushing for a treaty that regulates and asks states to track their sales of ammunitions. The problem is that conflict zones are already flooded with weapons. It is the continued sale of ammunition that makes those weapons far more deadly than the clubs they would be otherwise.
Human Rights Standard
1,500 people are killed every day due to conflict and armed violence. We want a treaty that prohibits the trade of arms to countries where there is an expectation that those weapons will be used to commit human rights violations. Major arms exporters have said that they are not comfortable with that language and do not want to allow other countries to question their arms sales decisions. We need this standard to allow the international community the language to be able to enforce embargoes on countries like Syria.
74% of the world’s weapons are provided by just 6 nations. Out of those 6, the U.S. far exceeds the rest in terms of total arms sales. Physicians for Social Responsibility and advocates like you must be vocal in your support of this treaty if we are to have a robust treaty. Sign-up for our e-mail alerts and stay tuned for how you can help us push the United States to take a leadership role in creating a treaty that has an impact on the international arms trade.
Facts and Figures provided by Amnesty International