Break the silence

By on March 1, 2012

The global arms trade is a human rights issue. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are killed, injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes as a result of the ready availability of weapons and ammunition and a poorly controlled global arms trade.The World Council of Churches general secretary said, speaking at the United Nations, we must “connect the needs of ordinary people in our communities with an agenda for a robust control of weapons that threaten their daily life and peace. This agenda of protection and safety allows us to make a connection between our Christian faith and the call for human rights.”In July 2012, governments will negotiate the wording for an international arms trade treaty (ATT) to regulate the global trade in conventional weapons. Civil society organizations, including faith-based groups, have championed the idea of a treaty since the early 1990s. Project Ploughshares, the ecumenical peace, research and action agency of the Canadian Council of Churches, and on whose board of directors the Anglican Church of Canada sits, has been a key player in these efforts.    At international draft treaty meetings in 2011, the government of Canada proposed that sporting and hunting firearms for recreational use be excluded from the scope of the ATT. Other countries objected. The question of definitions is a grey area and, as Project Ploughshares points out, there are no internationally accepted definitions to differentiate civilian from military firearms; nor is there agreement on what defines shooting and hunting firearms and their recreational use. Furthermore, Ploughshares notes, Canada is calling for an exemption that doesn’t exist in Canadian or international law. This proposal could block treaty negotiations.Our government needs to withdraw its weapons exclusion proposal and support a strong treaty to control the trade in conventional weapons. Canadians are urged to break the silence and to visit the “Speak Out” campaign on Ploughshares’ website: www.ploughshares.ca/content/conventional-weapons.

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