Control Arms Campaign supported by Lib Dems

February 14, 2005 11:09 PM
David Howarth signing million faces petition

David Howarth is photographed for the Million Faces petition

Liberal Democrats voiced strong support earlier today at the launch of Amnesty's 'Control Arms' campaign in Cambridge. The campaign is calling on the international community to adopt a global Arms Trade Treaty before the 2006 UN arms conference. Various media and fundraising events will take place over the coming weeks, including signature collecting for the Million Faces petition, which is hoping to photograph one million people registering their support for the Treaty.

There are currently almost 640 million small arms and light weapons in the world, and millions more are manufactured every year. Yet there is no international treaty regulating the sale of small arms, and no global system for tracking them after their initial sale.

Will Moy, Chair of Cambridge University Amnesty International, told a collection of politicians, students and journalists that the campaign was off to a good start: "Over 60 shops in Cambridge have shown support for our campaign. With an election approaching, we are asking political parties to include promises on tackling the arms trade in their manifestos."

Lib Dems hold Control Arms banner

Cambridge Lib Dems supporting the campaign: (from left to right) Jonathan Monroe (Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats), John Hipkin (deputy mayor) and David Howarth (PPC)

Deputy Mayor and Lib Dem councillor John Hipkin spoke at the launch, and fully backed the campaign: "Not only do we need an arms treaty, but we also need moves to get rid of the guns that are already out there. From May this year we will be having a year of reconciliation in Cambridge, which means the city will put itself firmly behind campaigns like these. We have an obligation to stand up for them."

Cambridge PPC David Howarth explained why he wanted to attend the launch: "It is important that local politicians and representatives show their support for these campaigns. I have long been a supporter of Amnesty, and the Lib Dems have argued for greater control of the arms industry. Today I think it is important we send the government and the country a strong message - that the British people want tighter controls on this deadly trade."

The Lib Dems have argued for the creation of a UN small arms decommissioning body, to oversee the destruction of such weapons wherever UN peacekeepers are deployed. They also want to make it mandatory for all arms dealers to register and comply with a strengthened EU Code. They want greater transparency in the licensing process, and would establish a Select Committee of Parliament to monitor UK arms exports. The Lib Dems would stop export credit guarantees for arms exports.

The Control Arms campaign is being backed by Amnesty International, Oxfam, and IANSA, the International Action Network on Small Arms.

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