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Petitioning President of the United States

President Obama: Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers

Every minute, someone dies from armed violence. Because of the out-of-control worldwide arms trade thousands more are injured, raped, forced into becoming child soldiers and worse.  

While the international community regulates things like bananas and dinosaur bones, there are virtually no global rules for the trade of products designed to kill and injure!

But a solution is in sight. In July, representatives of nearly every country will convene at the UN in New York to negotiate an historic Arms Trade Treaty.  A Treaty that could prevent weapons from ending up in the hands of tyrants and child soldiers.

The U.S. currently exports a significant amount of the world’s weapons, often to regimes known to use them against their own people.  It's time for the U.S. Government to lead the effort to stop the unregulated flow of weapons.

Join Amnesty International USA and call on President Obama to do everything in his power to ensure that the United Nations adopts a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that will keep arms out of the hands of human rights abusers.

Letter to
President of the United States
I am writing in support of an effective Arms Trade Treaty that will stop irresponsible arms transfers. I believe that the U.S. Government should be leading the effort to stop the unregulated flow of weapons because the U.S. has historically been a leading force in the effort to promote and protect human rights and has also been one of the most steadfast responders to humanitarian crises resulting from conflicts that have been exacerbated by small arms.

I am deeply concerned about the thousands of people who must bear the cost of the irresponsible arms trade, the people who are killed, injured, raped, or forced to flee from their homes due to conflict and armed violence. Inadequate and loophole-ridden regulation of international transfers of conventional arms permits such weapons, equipment and munitions to be supplied to those who will use them to destroy lives and threaten livelihoods.

I was shocked to learn that there are treaties to regulate the international trade in bananas and dinosaur bones, but no global rules for the trade in products specifically designed to kill and injure. The Arms Trade Treaty will address this glaring gap in international law.

I support the strongest possible treaty to prevent international transfers of conventional arms where there is a substantial risk that the intended recipient is likely to use those arms to commit or facilitate grave harm, including:

- serious violations of international human rights law or international humanitarian law;
- acts of genocide or crimes against humanity;
- gross and systematic armed crime and violence; and
- actions that seriously undermine poverty eradication objectives.

I know that the U.S. shares many of these priorities, and that you share my concern that weak criteria simply requiring states to ‘take into account' or ‘consider' these impacts will fail to address the insecurity and human cost generated by irresponsible arms transfers. The treaty must therefore require states to undertake a rigorous risk assessment when considering transferring weapons to another state. Where the risk of human harm is too high, the transfer must be prohibited.

I urge the U.S. Government to ensure that the Arms Trade Treaty is as comprehensive as the United States’ own transfer control mechanisms. To be effective, the Arms Trade Treaty must regulate the global trade of:

- all types of conventional military, security and police armaments, weapons and related materiel, including small arms and light weapons;
- conventional ammunition and explosives used for the aforementioned;
- weapons, ammunition and equipment deployed in the use of force by police and security forces;
- components, expertise and equipment essential for the production, maintenance and use of the aforementioned; and
- dual-use items that can have a military, security and police application.

Finally, to avoid loopholes, the Treaty must also regulate all types of international transfer (import, export, transit, gifts, loans and other transfers) and the transactions essential for a transfer in each case (including brokering activity).

Please do everything in your power to ensure that the United Nations adopts a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that will keep arms out of the hands of human rights abusers.


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