Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird should step up during next week’s Arms Trade Treaty in New York and lead negotiations, said human rights groups Wednesday.
“When it comes to controlling arms, Canada has left its allies to lead,” said Mark Fried of Oxfam Canada, which partnered with Amnesty International and Ploughshares to raise the call.
“If Canada remains silent, opponents of the treaty will weigh it down or hold it up.”
In negotiation since 2009, the treaty would see countries who sign on ready to halt shipments of weapons and ammunition believed to be destined for regions where human rights are violated and is development undermined.
“A robust Arms Trade Treaty would help stop states from fueling the violence and abuses we are seeing in Syria today,” said Hilary Homes of Amnesty International Canada. “We’re witnessing a business as usually approach to arms transfers there.”
The groups called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make a statement saying Canada supports the treaty. They’re also asking for Minister Baird to attend and take a leadership role at the negotiations from July 2 to 27 at the United Nations.
Six countries including Germany, France, China, Russia, Britain and the U.S. are responsible for 74 per cent of arms sales internationally, the group said.
Mexico is one country pushing for new rules that would slow the flow weapons across their borders they say are helping fuel the ongoing drug war.
During negotiations, Fried worries countries opposing the treaty such as Syria, Egypt, Iran and Cuba will raise endless procedural points to draw out and stifle debate.
“That can only be overcome when there are many countries working to keep things moving,” he said, noting that Canada could be one of those countries.