Victim assistance brings the human into the arms trade treaty

March 2 2011, 6:29 AM  by Ray Acheson
States are negotiating an agreement that aims to regulate transfers of weapons because of the human suffering caused by the irresponsible weapons trade. We”ve heard the numbers: 250,000 people killed each year, millions displaced and countless more bear the cost of the lack of global regulations of arms Nerina Cerva, Action on Armed Violence

For each person killed, up to 28 are injured by armed violence each year on average. They are the living proof of the humanitarian impact that states are trying to prevent with the arms trade treaty. Recognizing the rights of victims and the need to assist them in recovery is an essential component of a treaty that aims to reduce the humanitarian impact of poorly regulated trade in weapons. Without provisions to ensure they can enjoy their rights and live their lives in dignity, without bringing the “human” back into the discussions, the humanitarian aspect of the treaty will be meaningless.

Victim assistance provisions should NOT form the basis for monetary compensation, or entitlement for special benefits. What victim assistance requires is that particular needs of victims be addressed in the policies and programs relevant to them. It is based on the same international human rights and humanitarian law and standards that form the basis for state obligations to trade weapons responsibly.

Victim assistance should not fall victim to irresponsible negotiations in conference rooms at the UN. States should step up victim assistance if they genuinely aim for a treaty with a humanitarian impact.