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10 May 2006

Barrett joins calls for urgent action on arms trade controls

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today joined lobbyists from across the country in parliament calling for tougher regulations to combat the global arms trade.

Mr Barrett today added his name and face to the world’s largest visual petition – the Million Faces Petition which will be delivered to the UN Review Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons in June. Over 945,000 people have already signed up around the world calling for an international Arms Trade Treaty (IAAT).

Currently, the UK is one of the world’s three biggest exporters of arms, with current regulations often criticised as weak and open to abuse. Mr Barrett has today written to the Foreign Secretary calling on her to give the campaign her full support.

John Barrett, a member of the powerful Quadripartite Committee which oversees arms exports said:

“At a time when the UK is one of world’s leading arms exporters it is crucial that we conduct our affairs in an ethical and responsible manner. However, the arms trade is costing hundreds of thousands of lives every year and yet the Government seems content to sweep the problem under the carpet.

“I have seen for myself the devastating impact of arms trading in the conflicts zones across the world. Far too often guns are pouring into countries which are already suffering from conflict or close to civil war.

“The UK now has a real chance to do something about it when the UN meets in June, however any agreement will not work unless it is supported by the major exporting nations. It is crucial that the UK take a lead and persuade countries such as South Africa and Nigeria to sign up while preventing the US from blocking the treaty.

“ I will keep up the pressure on the international community to get tough on the dealers and transporters of weapons. We now need a workable Arms Trade Treaty that will bring the whole industry under control, and stop weapons being sold to those who continue to abuse human rights.”


Notes

· Today’s Lobby is organised by a coalition of Amnesty, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms and coincides with the release of a new Amnesty report which reveals how a network of arms transporters and brokers – including UK-based companies - fuel the world’s bloodiest conflicts. The new report, Dead on Time – arms transportation, brokering and the threat to human rights, shows how weak and outdated controls are failing to stop arms brokers and transporters from fuelling massive human rights abuse around the world.

· We are currently half way through 100 days of campaigning leading up to the UN Small Arms Review Conference. There are 47 days left until the conference which takes place in New York from 26 June – 07 July 2006.

· The UN conference is seen as a key step towards reaching agreement on the IATT.

· The IATT was drawn up in October 1995 by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates, a legal instrument that would prohibit arms transfers to destinations where they are likely to be used to commit grave human rights violations or undermine development. It is supported by 50 countries, the whole of the EU and the British Defence Industry.

· The ‘million faces’ petition is to be presented to Margaret Beckett on 6th June and to the UN during the June conference.

· Currently, it appears that no UK Minister will attend the United Nations conference to review progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, taking place in New York from 26 June – 07 July 2006 . A response to a Parliamentary Question, of 8 May, indicates that the highest ranking British official attending will be John Duncan, UK Ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament.

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.