Wien, 12. February 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: “Austria calls for international treaty on arms trade”

The uncontrolled proliferation of conventional weapons must be curbed

Vienna, 12 February 2010 – “Irresponsible arms trade constitutes a threat to security and stability, sustainable development, democracy and human rights. Austria, therefore, calls for an international, legally binding treaty on the arms trade that should be elaborated as swiftly as possible. Only in this way will we succeed in effectively eliminating uncontrolled and undesired proliferation of conventional weapons,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in his opening speech, delivered at an international conference entitled Towards an Arms Trade Treaty, which is taking place today at Vienna’s Hofburg Congress Centre. The event completes a worldwide series of seminars initiated by the EU which are designed to establish a broad basis of support for an international arms trade treaty.

Austria is also supporting this process because it is aware of its special role and responsibility as an internationally renowned manufacturer and exporter of conventional weapons: “An arms trade treaty is not to impair the right of states to self-defence, or question their responsibility as regards the management of their own security. But the lack of uniform rules and effective control is currently giving rise to gaps which are exploited by ruthless traders, corrupt organisations and terrorist groups. The same competitive conditions for industry and trade can only be created through the introduction of binding uniform rules, thus preventing a situation in which an irresponsible trade in weapons adds fuel to conflicts, and contributes to the agony of the civilian population,” stated the Foreign Minister.

Spindelegger referred to Resolution 1894, unanimously adopted under Austria’s chair by the UN Security Council last November, and called for the improvement of protective measures for civilian populations: “The irresponsible deployment of small arms and light weapons kills thousands of innocent people worldwide annually. Millions of men, women and children are forced to live in fear of armed violence, as in many parts of the world too many weapons end up in wrong hands, which leads to an escalation of conflicts and instability as well as facilitates terrorist assaults. The community of nations must respond to this.”

The Foreign Minister then thanked civil society representatives for their commitment: “The process of elaborating an international treaty on control of the arms trade once more demonstrates the important role of non-governmental organisations. It was through their insistent commitment and their raising of awareness that it became possible to broach this complex matter within the framework of the United Nations.”

 

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