Catholic Bishop joins Christian leaders in calling for an arms trade treaty

Bishop William Kenney

Bishop William Kenney

Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham and member of the International Affairs Department of the Bishops’ Conference, has joined Christian leaders from the Baptist and Methodist Churches and the Church of England to call for an arms trade treaty to help save lives.

In a letter to The Times (published 7 October 09), the leaders state that an arms trade treaty could “prevent human rights abuses and protect the livelihoods of communities around the world".

Full text

Sir, As Churches we have long argued that the global trade in conventional arms is an ethical problem that can only be addressed internationally. In July we were encouraged that all states agreed in the UN that there was a need to address the problems caused by the unregulated trade in conventional weapons. It is now time for states to honour this commitment by ensuring that the October UN discussions on an arms trade treaty result in a clear and convincing timetable to secure a strong and effective treaty.

Important though it is to ensure that national export controls are effective, an arms trade treaty would close the gaps that exist between national and regional export control arrangements, preventing conventional weapons from reaching the illicit market. By fuelling conflicts around the world, this illicit market causes massive social and economic dislocation in countries and regions that are already facing significant development challenges.

With the United Nations Development Programme estimating that 1,000 people a day — mostly women and children — are killed because of the illicit trade in arms, there is a clear moral imperative for governments to reduce the human suffering caused by the spread of illicitly transferred weapons. By helping to regulate the international trade in conventional arms, an arms trade treaty could help to save lives, prevent human rights abuses and protect the livelihoods of communities around the world.

The Right Rev William Kenney
Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham

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