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Friday, October 31, 2008

Frey Reminds UN First Committee Delegates that Human Rights are Core Obligations regarding Arms Transfers

Because the promotion of human rights is one of the central purposes of the United Nations, UN Members must consider the human rights consequences of their arms exports, testified Barbara Frey in a recent side meeting of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee.The First Committee, charged with considering security issues at the UN, is working toward drafting an Arms Trade Treaty to control the export of arms used to commit atrocities.

Frey at UN.JPG

On Thursday October 16 Human Rights Program Director Barbara Frey joined a panel of experts to discuss the legal issues involved in the proposed Arms Trade Treaty being considered by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN Professor Frey has worked extensively on the issue of small arms control and is the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Prevention of Human Rights Violations Committed with Small Arms and Lights Weapons. More information on Small Arms and Light Weapons is available on the Human Rights Program’s website, accessible by clicking here.
The UN panel was sponsored by Amnesty International as an effort to understand the issues involved in drafting a treaty to establish common international criteria for arms exports. Since 2003 Amnesty International, Oxfam, and International Action Network have spearheaded the Control Arms Campaign, an international movement in support of the Arms Trade Treaty.
The Control Arms Campaign states that its ultimate goal is to reduce the human causalities associated with the proliferation of small arms. The proposed Arms Trade Treaty looks to create international standards on the use, management, and transfer of arms, based on the following “5 Golden Rules:� “States shall not authorize international transfers of conventional arms or ammunition where they will:
(i) be used or are likely to be used for gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international human rights law.
(ii) have an impact that would clearly undermine sustainable development or involve corrupt practices;
(iii) provoke or exacerbate armed conflict in violation of their obligations under the UN Charter and existing treaties.
(iv) contribute to an existing pattern of violent crime.
(v) risk being diverted for one of the above outcomes or for acts of terrorism.�
Barbara Frey was joined on the panel by Clare de Silva, a lawyer from Amnesty International, and Robert M Young from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Professor Frey’s briefing focused on the human rights obligations of states who export arms into situations where there is a high probability that they will be used to commit atrocities.
Currently, the Arms Trade Treaty is gaining traction in the General Assembly. Several countries have recently finished drafting an Arms Trade Treaty resolution, which includes the mandate for an Open Ended Working Group that will meet in 2009 to discuss how to best formulate and implement an arms control treaty in the framework of the UN. For further information about the Control Arms Campaign and the Arms Trade Treaty visit their website.