Church welcomes UK ratification of Arms Trade Treaty

Leaders of the Methodist Church in Britain have welcomed the UKGovernment's ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty today. ThePresident of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Ruth Gee, said thatthe move was a "legal milestone that should help to protect thosewho are abused and oppressed".

"The Arms Trade Treaty has come about because, across the world,people have made their voices heard," said the Revd Ruth Gee. "Theyhave spoken against the obscenity of the sale of arms togovernments or groups who abuse rights and kill civilians. It'sover ten years since the Methodist Conference called on the UKGovernment to support a global Arms Trade Treaty. We are convincedthat trade and economic exchange must be grounded on the principlesof justice and the dignity of every individual that lie at theheart of the Christian faith.

"The ratification of the treaty by the UK and other governmentstoday is a legal milestone that should help to protect those whoare abused and oppressed. But it's more than that. It makes clearthat profiting from the sale of arms to oppressors is beyond aminimum standard of moral behaviour deemed acceptable in the 21stcentury. It also establishes the principle that the industry ofarms production and sales should be accountable to thepublic."

Two years ago, as Churches across Britain were preparing tocelebrate Peacemaking Sunday and the treaty was being negotiated,church leaders wrote to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, urging him topress for agreement on a comprehensive and unambiguous text. Theformer Methodist President, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, signed theletter on behalf of the Methodist Church.

Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church inBritain, said: "The ratifications by the UK and other EU statestoday are important steps in the implementation of the Arms TradeTreaty.  We need to see the treaty make a real difference toarms exports. Potentially, lives will be saved once the Arms TradeTreaty has been ratified by 50 States and formally enters intoforce. But even then the job is not yet finished. Those who pressedgovernments to commit to the treaty will need to remain vigilantand call for its application to all situations where people areoppressed."

1) See here for the Churches' Joint Public Issues Team position on theinternational Arms Trade Treaty dating back to 2004.
2) Photograph of the President of the Methodist Conference, theRevd Ruth Gee, here.