Countries Delay Global Arms Trade Treaty, Churches Concerned

(Photo Credit: Control Arms/Andrew Kelly)Rev. Dr. Silvester Arinaitwe Rwomukubwe, a delegate at the Arms Trade Treat conference and executive secretary for Uganda Joint Christian Council in New York lays flowers beside a tombstone in a mock graveyard set up by the Control Arms coalition next to the United Nations building in New York July 25, 2012.

Churches expressed concern on Friday about delays in talks to create a long-awaited global Arms Trade Treaty meant to protect people and communities around the world but said they were determined to keep pressing for an agreement.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty concluded on Friday after nearly four weeks of negotiations, having been called off after governments failed to reach an agreement on international regulation of arms exports.

More than 170 countries meeting in New York for the conference needed to pass the treaty with a consensus. One country could veto the deal.

A spokesman for Britain's delegation told Reuters a treaty "is coming – not today but soon. We've taken a big step forward."

Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC General Secretary issued a statement on churches' determination to see an agreement.

"For decades, churches around the world have been calling for an Arms Trade Treaty that would protect people from irresponsible transfers. We will not let go of this demand," he said.

An ecumenical delegation in New York also issued a statement saying work would continue.

"Churches are concerned with the postponement in this long process, but we will plead for stronger controls of conventional weapons for a more peaceful and just world. Recent conflicts in several countries show the need for that," they said.

The delegation represents 70 member churches of the WCC and related organizations in 35 countries involved in the WCC campaign for a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty.

One of the appeals of the delegation is to "keep ammunition in the treaty" in addition to control of weapons.

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