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Campaigners Urges Government to Support a Strong Arms Trade Treaty

Jun 17, 2009, 6:42 AM

The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence was from 15-21 June 2009, organised by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

Events were being held in over 80 countries to draw attention to the human cost of gun proliferation and misuse. Campaigners in The Gambia have joined their colleagues around the world in demanding effective policies to stem the flow of guns and make communities safer.

In The Gambia, the Gambia Action Network on Small Arms, coordinated by the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP) is conducting the following events: sensitisation of its members and other stakeholders as well as paying courtesy calls on relevant ministries.

This is designed to advocate for active participation in further discussions on the proposed treaty and enhance awareness on the dangers of arms proliferation for the ultimate realisation of an Arms Trade Treaty.

According to a press release from WANEP, this year's campaign is targeted at the need for the Gambia government to take an active role in the forthcoming United Nations discussions about an Arms Trade Treaty.

The need for a strong Arms Trade Treaty is urgent: 1000 people are killed every day by conventional weapons. The idea of the treaty received overwhelming support in the UN last December, with only one country voting against.

We are proud that the Gambia has supported the resolution at the UN last December, but this will be rendered meaningless unless it is translated into practical action. It is vital that the government participate fully in the UN working group discussions in July and argue for a tough, effective treaty to control this deadly trade.

"The treaty should ban transfers of arms or ammunition in five instances: when those weapons will be used for gross violations of international human rights or humanitarian law; when they would undermine development or involve corruption; provoke or worsen armed conflict; contribute to " These restrictions should not be controversial, but some countries with vested interests will try to block them.

The GANSA Coordinator said: "Our government must step forward now to argue for a tough Arms Trade Treaty. Otherwise, the voices of less scrupulous countries will prevail, and dangerous arms transfers will continue unchecked."

The Gambia Action Network on Small Arms GANSA comprises 14 national organisations and networks intervening on the broader thematic areas of peace, human rights and development. Formed in August of 2007 and coordinated by WANEP, GANSA is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the global movement against gun violence. IANSA is a network of 800 civil society organisations working in 120 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons (SALW).

First launched in 2001, the Global Week of Action against Gun Violence has grown to be the largest coordinated gun violence prevention event in the world.