Disappointed but not discouraged

July 30 2012, 6:42 AM  by Rachel George

Despite herculean efforts from around the world, the Arms Trade Treaty was not agreed on Friday at the end of the UN diplomatic conference. We went into the final morning session to discuss a text that the majority of countries in the room supported, albeit with a few loophole issues outstanding. There was a real euphoric sense that we were on the cusp of winning the treaty.But the US took to the floor and called for “more time to consider the text”, which was the diplomatic signal that they were blocking the process. Despite frantic lobbying in the next three hours, they wouldn’t budge and it began to sink in that despite being so close, the treaty was not going to get agreed on Friday.

States mobilized to draft a statement of support for a strong treaty and we worked with them to get as many others as possible to sign up. In a few minutes an incredible 90 countries had signed. As the session started again at 5pm, President Moritán announced that the treaty would not be adopted but that the text would be attached to his report. This technical point was hugely important, as it means the text can be taken forward to the UN General Assembly meeting in October.

Immediately after this, Mexico took to the floor and announced all of the countries who want to continue to work for a strong treaty – which was both extremely moving and ensured the conference finished with the strong message that this is not the end.

Whilst the negotiations have been under way in New York over 54,000 people have lost their lives due to armed violence. Despite the disappointing decisions of the US and several other blocker nations on the last day, our campaign continues with the overwhelming support of the majority of countries around the world.

The world desperately needs an Arms Trade Treaty that will protect lives and livelihoods and we will not stop until we make this a reality. It’s not if, but when.

by Anna MacDonald, Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control, in New York

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