It is easy at the moment to look on in dismay at the international community and its ability to cooperate. The Eurozone squabbles about its finances, Rio+20 talks stalling and in Syria the international community draws repeated lines in the sand, which Assad crosses without so much as looking down.
But in July an opportunity presents itself which, with the right cooperation, could do much to protect some of the world’s most people vulnerable against the violence of leaders like Assad. From the 2nd to the 27th of July all countries of the world will come together in New York to discuss conventional arms regulation, or an arms trade treaty.
The easy flow of weapons to some of the poorest parts of the world plays a significant part in entrenching these areas as underdeveloped and impoverished. It is easy to see the devastating effects that weapons have on these populations; human rights abuses, political oppression, violent crime and unimaginable fear are all part and parcel of the price paid for a supply of weapons to the wrong hands. But it is also important to remember that even the knowledge that such weapons exist, and are readily available in a region, is enough to halt investments in jobs, development projects and even charitable work.
I am proud to say that Britain is supporting a robust arms trade treaty. Nick Clegg has recently said:
“Internationally, we’ll lead the charge for a robust, legally binding treaty covering all conventional weapons… we’ll press states who sign up to block sales that fuel conflict or fail to meet the treaty’s obligations on human rights”.
The treaty itself has been in discussion since 2006, and the upcoming discussions present a unique opportunity to the international community to work together for the good of everyone. I have written to the Prime Minister, asking him to throw his weight (as the Foreign Secretary has done) behind such a robust ATT, and hope that he will do just that.
We seem to be living through a time of crisis, the scale of which has not been seen for a generation. But it is important, as we try to solve the problems of this generation, not to lose sight of an opportunity which could benefit the next.