Most people are familiar with Amnesty International for its actions in trying to free prisoners of conscience and demand that they be treated fairly and be subject to the rule of law, e.g., not being held indefinitely without trial or charges being brought against them. Another aspect of its work are campaigns on various human rights issues, such as violence against women and ending the death penalty. Our actions on Day of Deeds were concerned with its global campaign pushing for a robust Arms Trade Treaty with strong human rights and humanitarian protections and a comprehensive scope including ammunition.

The reason for the push at this time is that final negotiations to establish a first ever treaty to establish a mechanism to help prevent weapons ending up in the hands of tyrants and child soldiers are coming soon. Serious human rights abuses have been committed around the world because of irresponsible transfers of conventional arms. We wish to bring pressure on the Obama administration to demonstrate leadership as we are the world’s biggest arms exporter and economic power so we carry great weight in the talks taking place from March 18—23, 2013.

In our actions on Day of Deeds, people were asked to write a letter to their senator to support a strong, comprehensive treaty. At present, there are fewer global restrictions on the weapons trade than on a host of common commodities like bananas and water. Contrary to claims by the NRA, it does not threaten U.S. sovereignty or 2nd Amendment rights, as it does not regulate sales within a particular country. In addition, there was also a petition to President Obama asking him to support a robust Arms Trade Treaty, which would both advance world peace and help to limit serious human rights abuses.

This is an example of some of the work done by our local Amnesty USA Group 42. If any are interested, we usually meet the first Monday of each month at 8pm at the nearby Community Unitarian Church.

– Oliver Swift