At Peace Hub we are currently focussing on the UK arms trade, particulary calling for an arms embargo to countries where arms may be used for repression.
It’s easy to become cynical about what governments can do to overcome vested interests like the arms trade, but with pracrtical support, we can make a difference.
In 2013 a UN Arms Trade Treaty was signed – the first of it’s kind in history, written to restrict the sale of arms where they may be used to commit human rights abuses. So far 122 countries have signed the treaty, and 54 (including the UK) have ratified it – accepting the treaty as binding.
But – the arms trade is deeply entrenched across the world, and countries need help (as well as pressure from their citizens) to put this treaty into force – and that’s where Quakers have been helping.
The Quaker United Nations Office has been working with other likeminded NGOs to form the Geneva Forum. This group works with governements to help them understand their obligations under the treaty, and find practical ways to put these obligations into practice. At their first workshop on 6-8th October this year, 23 officialsfrom 18 countries participated in the course, representing Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
This kind of practical support can help governements overcome the ‘but if we don’t do it, someone else will’ fear. And if ordinary citizens are calling for politicians to take action, the effect is doubled: