Innovation, Social Media, and the #ArmsTreaty

September 26 2012, 1:21 PM  by Lorey Campese

To begin UN Week, I attended the Social Good Summit hosted by Mashable, the UN Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, and a few other global partners. The main goal of the conference was simple: to show how we can use technology and innovation to make the world a safer and better place to live.

Jeffrey Sachs may have said it best on a panel talking about working towards peace: “We need a different approach. We’re spending $1.5 trillion on armaments right now compared to less than 1/10 of that, about $130 billion, on development — and it’s a total miscalculation.”

When I think about making the world safer and about Sachs’ statement, the first thought that comes to mind is an Arms Trade Treaty. We need one and in a hurry. Why? Because every minute a real person like you and I dies from armed violence that is being fueled by the irresponsible trade in weapons and ammo.

That definitely sounds like we need a different approach.

So if technology and social media is being used to solve the world’s problems, can it help us win an Arms Trade Treaty? We think it can.

Control Arms and our coalition members have been lobbying governments for years advocating for a strong treaty. Not only are we doing it in person, we’re doing it on Twitter. Not only have we been raising awareness at events and public forums, we’re shouting about it on Facebook. This year, campaigners across the globe beat the pavement collecting signatures from ATT supporters, but hundreds of thousands more grabbed their smart phones, iPads, and laptops to provide their digital signatures online.

Last month, tech giant Google added even more innovative flare to the discussion by creating an interactive visual tool that shows the who is trading weapons and ammo, where they are sending them, and what the values of the transfers are.

Fifteen years ago, a handful of Nobel Laureates called for a code of conduct to regulate the international arms trade. They called them crazy. They said that it was impossible, unrealistic, even worse… idealistic. Maybe they wouldn’t have said that if they knew that Oscar Arias would one day have a Twitter handle.

We’ve already proved the skeptics wrong and are within reach of an ATT that can save lives. But we have more to prove and we know that in order to do it, we’ll need your help.

In July alone, the campaign reached about 1.5 million people online. If we really want the countries of the world to sit down and agree to a treaty that will protect human rights, development, and women and girls you all will have to make your voices heard.

It may be hard to get to the United Nations to let your government know how you feel, but thanks to online platforms you can have a seat at the table.

Written by Lorey Campese, Communications Specialist at Control Arms