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September 25, 2013

U.S. Signing of International Arms Trade Treaty Sends Strong Signal to Syria, Others

Washington, D.C. – Secretary of State Kerry prepares to sign the International Arms Trade Treaty on behalf of President Obama, Human Rights First praises the United States’ commitment to joining 88 other nations in regulating the $70 billion global trade of heavy weapons and small arms. The organization notes that one of the treaty’s most significant mandates is its text prohibiting transfers of heavy weapons and light arms to those countries where they would be used to attack civilians, commit genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes.

“The U.S. government is to be commended for signing this treaty and contributing to a significant shift in the commitment of foreign governments to proactively protect civilians from genocide and mass atrocities,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Lieberman. “Moving forward, we urge the Senate to see past partisan politics and consider this treaty on its merits. This treaty sends a strong message to those countries committing mass atrocities, like the current Syrian regime, as well as those who are arming them, like Russia. It makes clear that the arms trade status quo is no longer internationally acceptable and that nations – including the United States – will no longer stand idly by as weapons are provided to countries seeking to harm civilians and break international law.”

Human Rights First notes that the United States’ decision to sign the International Arms Trade Treaty is a very concrete step by the Obama Administration toward fulfilling its promise of escalating atrocity prevention to a national security priority for the United States, a commitment made through Presidential Directive 10.  The United Nations adopted the treaty in April 2013 by a vote of 153 to 3. The treaty covers weapons such as tanks, helicopters, ships, missiles and small arms – weapons that are at the heart of atrocities in Syria and elsewhere.

For more information or to speak with Lieberman, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.