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Shady arms dealers can be defeated

The lobbying to shoot holes in the arms treaty need not be allowed to work

Campaigns can influence governments some of the time.  A new arms trade treaty has been under discussion since 2006. Setting the agenda for the final talks this summer starts today at the UN.  Amnesty, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Oxfam are trying to exert some public pressure to ensure that the UK Government will be seriously proactive in promoting much stronger controls.  The problem as always is that while the campaigns to control this toxic trade are out in the public place, the lobbying by commercial interests are slipping through the backdoor into the building.

But good to remember that campaigns can have some influence.  Go back to 2006 on another arms control issue. The UN’s attempt to get a treaty banning all cluster bombs was blocked by nine states, including the UK, despite a very high profile international campaign.  (To be fair to Princess Diana, one of the useful things she did was to give her support to this campaign) But two small countries, Norway and Ireland, refused to accept defeat.  The Norwegian Government took the initiative by organising a conference to consider how the Treaty proposal could be sustained and then the Irish Government took this forward and at a conference in Dublin in 2008, 109 states signed including at the last minute the UK where public pressure was strong.  A partial treaty wasn’t ideal but it was much better than failure.  It would not have happened without public campaigns and the initiative of two small states. Don’t underestimate what Scotland might do in the future.

So get onto the above organisations and give them support.

Isobel Lindsay