The daily atrocities unfolding across Syria show the urgent need to control irresponsible and unregulated arms transfers. Away from our TV screens the death toll rises in places such as Democratic Republic of Congo and many other conflicts that are fuelled by an arms trade that has few, if any, meaningful checks. Crucial talks resume this week among key governments at the UN to agree an historic new global arms trade treaty. It’s vital that the UK government does not allow a treaty that only pays lip service to human rights.
It’s absurd that we have global treaties on the trade of postage stamps and dinosaur bone, but the deadly trade in conventional weapons and ammunition remains poorly regulated. In a world where twice as many bullets are manufactured each year than there are people on the planet, the need for a robust and effective arms trade treaty is now more crucial than ever.
Kate Allen Amnesty International, Henry Smith Saferworld, Thomas Nash Article 36, Barbara Stocking Oxfam
• What was the UN going to do if the Syrian vote went through? US, UK and French forces undertake months of “humanitarian bombing” like in Libya and then walk away? All the international bodies can do is encourage talks. Don’t be hypocritical about Russia arming the Syrians, when Obama has sold $50m of arms to Bahrain that will be used to attack its citizens. And let’s not forget the $60bn’s worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.
• Simon Tisdall laughs off President Assad’s claim that the US has been involved in trying to destabilise his regime (9 February), but WikiLeaks evidence reported in the Washington Post on 17 April 2011 shows that the US has indeed had a hand in supporting anti-Assad elements. It started under President Bush and leaked emails suggest it continued at least into 2010.