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Majority of Govt's Support Arms Trade Treaty

Overwhelming majority of world's governments join NZ in voting to start work on international Arms Trade Treaty

Control Arms campaign: Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

Today at the United Nations, the majority of the world's governments took the first step towards a global Arms Trade Treaty to prevent international arms transfers that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights violations.

The vote comes three years after the launch of a campaign which has seen over a million people in 170 countries, including 12,000 New Zealanders, calling for a Treaty. The vote in the UN General Assembly's First Committee is the first time that governments have voted on the proposal to develop an Arms Trade Treaty, and support was overwhelming: 139 voted yes, with only the United States voting against. Support was particularly strong in Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Work on the Treaty will begin in early 2007 when the new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, will begin to canvass the views of all member states to establish the foundations of the Treaty.

Going into the vote, the resolution was co-sponsored by 116 governments, including New Zealand - a huge number for such a bold initiative.

Fifteen Nobel Peace Prize Laureates supported the call for an Arms Trade Treaty this week in a statement issued by the Arias Foundation and the Control Arms Campaign.

"This massive vote to develop a global Arms Trade Treaty is an historic opportunity for governments to tackle the scourge of irresponsible and immoral arms transfers. Any credible Treaty must outlaw those transfers, which fuel the systematic murder, rape, torture and expulsion of thousands of people," said Kate Gilmore, Amnesty International's Deputy Secretary General. "Today, the world's governments have voted to end the scandal of the unregulated arms trade. Since the Control Arms campaign began three years ago, an estimated one million people have been killed by conventional weapons. In response, over a million campaigners from over 170 countries have called for an Arms Trade Treaty.

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Today governments answered that call," said Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International. "We have come a long, long way since three years ago when we launched the Control Arms campaign: in those days the prospect of an Arms Trade Treaty being negotiated in the UN was viewed as idealistic at best. But today we are in the majority. Now this victory must be converted into a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty based on States' commitments under international law," said Rebecca Peters, Director of IANSA.

ENDS

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