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Govts & Business Must Control Global Arms Trade


For Immediate Release

Governments and Business must control the global arms trade - Mary Robinson speaks from World Social Forum, India

Mumbai, India - The international arms trade is out of control, fuelling poverty and global insecurity, said Honorary President of Oxfam International, Mary Robinson, speaking from the World Social Forum in India. Mrs Robinson called on governments and business leaders attending next week's World Economic Forum in Switzerland to take control of the global trade in arms.

The world's most powerful governments are also the world's biggest arms suppliers, highlighted Mrs Robinson, formerly the President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights. "The sad reality is that close to 90% of the small arms that get into illegal hands are sold legally by countries - and the biggest sales are by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the US, UK, France, Russia and China" said Mrs Robinson.

"It is small arms that are the weapons of mass destruction - in a average year, more than half a million men, women & children are killed by small arms" said Mrs Robinson. "Arms proliferation and abuse have reached crisis point and that it is poor people who are suffering the most."

The theme of next week's World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland is "partnering for prosperity and security". Mrs Robinson will attend the World Economic Forum and hopes to raise these issues and press for action. "We will not have human security when there are 640 million small arms proliferating and out of control of states, out of control of any kind of authority," said Mrs Robinson.

Mrs Robinson called for the creation of a universal and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty - which countries including the Netherlands, Brazil, Cambodia, Iceland, Costa Rica, Mali, Macedonia and Finland have indicated support for.

"Every government in the world has a responsibility to control arms - both their possession within its borders, to protect its own citizens and their export across its borders to ensure respect for international human rights and humanitarian law in the wider world" said Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International, also attending the World Social Forum in India.

In October 2003, Oxfam, Amnesty International and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) launched the Control Arms campaign and are collecting people's photograph for the Million Faces petition, calling for tougher arms control. "This is a real human rights issue. I hope that India, Indian civil society and the World Social Forum will really help with this campaign" said Mrs Robinson.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Oxfam's Carly Hammond in Mumbai on +91 98206 24185 or Aditi Kapoor on +91 98103 06200

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