Oxfam, Ploughshares, Amnesty Launch 100 Days of Action on the Arms Trade

Tasneem Jamal

Media release from the Control Arms Campagin

At public events in cities across the country, Oxfam Canada, Project Ploughshares and Amnesty International today kicked off a drive to mobilize public support to end the global threat of gun violence.

The Control Arms Campaign, led by the three agencies, seeks to collect the images of thousands of Canadians to present to Foreign Minister Peter MacKay ahead of a UN summit in June which could set global guidelines for arms transfers.

“The countries we work in overseas are awash in weapons,” said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. “Astoundingly, there are no international rules to keep small arms from falling into the hands of criminals or abusive governments.”

Over 600 million small arms (from handguns to AK-47 assault rifles to shoulder-fired missiles) are in worldwide circulation, the agencies said. These weapons can spark, fuel, and prolong conflict, divert money from health and education, exacerbate human rights abuses and foster a culture of violence.

“Governments continue to transfer weapons and ammunition to countries with records of gross human rights abuses, and insufficient national arms control laws make easy work for global gun-runners,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International. “Many
weapons traded legally end up in illicit markets with dire consequences.”

The UN World Summit on Small Arms and Light Weapons, to be held 100 days from today, will seek to reduce the proliferation and misuse of these weapons around the world. The agencies are asking Canada to take leadership at the UN.

“In today’s conflicts and in areas where urban violence is rife, small arms and light weapons do the most damage,” said John Siebert, executive director of Project Ploughshares. “Unless real progress is made at the June summit, hundreds of thousands of people stand to lose their lives.”

Today, at public venues in St. John’s, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, volunteers are asking the public to join the “Million-Faces Petition,” a global online effort to demonstrate public support for reining in the arms trade. Besides photographs,
volunteer artists are sketching faces for uploading to the petition.

The Campaign is also asking Canadians to write to Foreign Minister Peter MacKay.

For more information, visit www.controlarms.org or please contact:

  • Mark Fried, Oxfam Canada 613-850-9723
  • Ken Epps, Project Ploughshares 519-888-6541 ext 701
  • John Tackaberry, Amnesty International Canada 613-744-7667, ext. 236
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