Handicap International applauds the United States signature of the Arms Trade Treaty, which aims to improve the regulation of the international trade of conventional arms, light weapons and related ammunition, while preventing the illicit trade of these weapons.
Following the UN Treaty Signing Ceremony on September 25, more than 105 countries have now signed the Arms Trade Treaty. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the treaty in April.
“The transfer of weapons is a sensitive subject—to have the United States, the world’s largest arms dealer, lend its support to the Arms Trade Treaty is both significant and sobering,” says Elizabeth MacNairn, Executive Director of Handicap International U.S. “These weapons result in civilian deaths and disability—we see it time and again in our work. It is a pleasure to see the U.S. take a leadership stance by signing this treaty. We hope that the ratification process will now happen quickly.”
Handicap International appreciates the beneficial effect the Arms Trade Treaty can have on the lives of people who may be affected by armed violence. Through its programs in 40 countries including Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Mali, the organization continually responds to the devastating impact of arms proliferation—and its consequence of increased deaths and disability in conflict situations. Handicap International staff and volunteers run risk awareness sessions for civilians, and help survivors of armed violence regain their strength and mobility through rehabilitation, and the provision of prosthetic limbs, orthotics, wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids.
In a 2012 report, Handicap International highlighted that armed violence is a significant cause of disability. It noted that 80% of victims interviewed in Colombia, Haiti, Pakistan and Uganda developed a severe disability that now requires lifelong care. For example, in 2012, four people were injured every day, on average, in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli as a result of small arms. More than three quarters of these 1,600 victims were under the age of 25.
“We must help to prevent unnecessary accidents,” says Sylvie Bouko, Handicap International’s conventional weapons risk reduction technical advisor. “This is totally unacceptable. We hope that one result of the Arms Trade Treaty will be that more civilians will avoid injury, disability or death as a result of armed violence.”
Following U.S. signature, the Arms Trade Treaty must now garner enough support—at least 67 votes—in the U.S. Senate in order to be ratified.
The treaty language and the volume of countries joining the convention is the result of the Control Arms coalition's dedicated advocacy.
More detailed information about the treaty can be found by visiting the United Nations website: http://www.un.org/disarmament/ATT/.