ATT-Jill-Evans-blog-photo-congoThe countdown is on! Today, the United States and nations around the world can take a critical step to stopping human rights abuses by signing the Arms Trade Treaty.

The notion of an Arms Trade Treaty started nearly 20 years ago when a group of Nobel laureats drafted the first version. Today, their vision is close to reality. And with hundreds of thousands who took action to get the Arms Trade Treaty passed, we are in a strong position to keep pushing for the Treaty. Join us by urging President Obama to sign the treaty today.

Earlier this spring, on April 2, 2013, the final language for the Arms Trade Treaty was adopted at the United Nations by 154 nations, including the United States. The landmark vote for the treaty sent a clear signal to gunrunners and human rights abusers: their time is up. The treaty aims to produce greater oversight, transparency and accountability of those involved in international weapons trade and will help keep weapons out of the hands of the world’s worst criminals.

President Obama has shown strong leadership on the Arms Trade Treaty. The United States played a critical role in shaping the Treaty and in supporting its passage at the United Nations. And in April, the Obama administration touted the Arms Trade Treaty as a critical part of its strategy to “isolate, inhibit and weaken those who enable or perpetrate atrocities.” And today they can take the next step as the treaty opens for signatures.

The treaty needs to be signed and ratified by 50 countries before it will enter into force. After ratification, each nation will decide how to implement it. “It won’t solve all problems,” Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations at Amnesty International, said recently. “But right now we have nothing.”

Rachel Stohl, senior associate of Managing Across Boundaries at the Stimson Center who was also on the panel, noted that this treaty should be used as “a tool for [activists] to ask the United States government where their arms go and for [activists] to ask the United States government to pressure and question other governments around the world.”

Speaking after the passage of the treaty, Alex Galvez, a survivor of armed violence and Executive Director of the Transitions Foundation of Guatemala made the next set of tasks clear: “The work doesn’t stop here. We have to make sure that this Treaty actually makes a difference on the ground. States must move to ratify the ATT now, and make its swift implementation a top priority.”

We agree. Ask President Obama to seize this historic moment and be one of the first to sign the Arms Trade Treaty.

 

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