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77 governments champion an Arms Trade Treaty

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Media Release
15th October 2006


77 governments champion resolution for an Arms Trade Treaty


Amnesty International New Zealand has welcomed growing international support for a global Arms Trade Treaty, and called on the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) to join the campaign.

77 governments have co-sponsored a United Nations resolution to start work on a global arms trade treaty at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

New Zealand has been a major contributor to the global push for stronger regulations governing conventional weapons. The Government first signalled support for an Arms Trade Treaty in 2004 and has encouraged other states to join the initiative at subsequent UN Conferences. New Zealand was among the first ten countries to co-sponsor the current resolution.

12,000 New Zealanders contributed photo portraits to Amnesty International's Million Faces Petition. The worldwide petition, calling for an international Arms Trade Treaty, was presented to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier this year.

Explaining New Zealand's position, Minister for Disarmament Phil Goff said: "Conventional arms are used every day in conflicts around the world, exacting large-scale suffering, taking hundreds of thousands of lives a year, and violating human rights and international humanitarian law. An Arms Trade Treaty is critical, both for humanitarian reasons, and to achieving greater stability and security in the world."

Several emerging exporters of weapons including Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria joined long standing supporters of an Arms Trade Treaty like New Zealand. Other countries to co-sponsor the resolution included war-torn Haiti, Liberia, East Timor and Rwanda.

"It is exciting to see such a wide range of states calling for an Arms Trade Treaty at the UN level. Developed and developing nations alike believe the regulation of the arms trade is a critical component in ensuring security and prosperity," said Ced Simpson, Executive Director of Amnesty International New Zealand.

The United Nations First Committee in New York coincides with the New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) Forum 2006 at Te Papa in Wellington a stage for local, national and international companies to showcase defence and weapons systems while networking with Pacific-based defence forces.

"The global arms trade supplies arms to governments and factions with track records of using weapons to commit gross abuses against civilians. It is important that New Zealand companies work hard to ensure weapons and weapons components manufactured here are only used for legitimate national self-defence, peacekeeping and law enforcement, operating in accordance with international law", said Mr Simpson.

Amnesty International New Zealand has asked Neal Garnett, the Chairman of the New Zealand Defence Industry Association, to publicly support the Arms Trade Treaty.

Ends

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