|March 12, 2010|
March Focus on Peace & Conflict
WEAPONS: A DEADLY TRADE
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all.— Former U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a speech on April 16, 1953
The trade of large and small weapons is a major cause of human rights abuses. Some governments spend more on military budgets than on social development, education, agriculture, industry creating jobs, infrastructure, roads, communications and health care – combined.
Annually, the world spends US$900 billion on defence but this figure is increasing all the time. Compare this to what the world spends on agriculture: US$325 billion; or aid: only US$60 billion each year.
TOP TEN MILITARY SPENDERS IN 2008
- USA 607 ($billion)
- China 84.9
- France 65.7
- UK 65.3
- Russia 58.6
- Germany 46.8
- Japan 46.3
- Italy 40.6
- Saudi Arabia 38.2
- India 30
The USA is the world’s largest weapons exporter, followed by Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
There are at least 640 million firearms in existence in the world today. That’s one for every ten people on the planet. A lot of attention is given to ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which include nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, but it is conventional weapons such as AK-47s, landmines, tanks and fighter aircraft which are responsible for the vast majority of casualties in the worlds’ conflicts. Conventional weapons are responsible for the death, wounding and uprooting of countless numbers of people each year.
There are currently no legally binding international rules regulating the weapons trade. National controls and laws have gaps and loopholes, making it all too easy for weapons to end up in the hands of those who use them to abuse human rights.
This unregulated weapons trade has devastating results. In an average year, small arms kill around a third of a million men, women and children – and leave hundreds of thousands more injured, disabled, traumatised and grieving. It is estimated that 2,000 people die each day from armed violence, and hundreds of thousands more are displaced, maimed or lose their livelihood.
THE ARMS TRADE TREATY
At the UN General Assembly in December 2006, a huge majority of 153 governments voted in favour of developing an agreement to put controls on the weapons trade, and this was called the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Three years later in 2009, after pressure from the Control Arms campaign, 153 countries again voted to start negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty, and to conclude negotiations in 2012. This historic step is a major achievement for the millions of campaigners across the world who were asking for negotiations to start immediately.
IN THE NEWS
On March 6, 2008, notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death,” was arrested in Thailand on charges of attempting to sell weapons to a Colombian rebel group on the U.S. terrorism watch list. Bout, who had evaded arrest by exploiting the patchwork of national and international laws regulating arms trading, supplied weapons to many of the world’s bloodiest conflicts during the last two decades.
Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Pray this prayer with us:
God, we bring before you the weapons trade which brings death and destruction to the people and world you created. Let there be a stop to the arms trade that puts weapons into the hands of people who abuse human rights. Please give us courage and strength when we feel overwhelmed by the tasks before us.
Lord, work in the hearts and minds of world leaders and politicians to put into action a control on the arms trade. Let there be an Arms Trade Treaty. Work within organisations like Amnesty International, Oxfam and the International Action Network on Small Arms to address these issues in the arms trade, and let their actions bring about real change.
God, we know and understand that nothing is impossible for you to do, so work within people and organisations to bring peace.
See March’s full justice post with all the details here
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