Thursday, July 5, 2012

Forsaking the victims?

by Nerina Cevra, Action on Armed Violence

The Chair of the ATT negotiations submitted a Discussion Paper on Tuesday, 3 July, as a reference for this month’s negotiations. Despite stating that the goal of the treaty is to “reduce unnecessary human suffering,” it is very disappointing to see that the only reference to that same human suffering in the entire paper is a preambular provision expressing states’ resolve to assist victims of armed conflict. 

Over half a million people die each year from armed violence. Many more victims are left injured, with permanent disabilities and without family members; their lives and livelihoods unnecessarily destroyed. If this isn’t unnecessary suffering, what is? We strongly urge the states participating in the Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty not to turn their backs on the human suffering that triggered this process and the need for this treaty.

To truly help reduce unnecessary human suffering, not only of those potential victims, but of those millions of victims and survivors that have suffered and will suffer the consequences of armed violence every day, the ATT must include recognition of victims’ rights. It must call for greater cooperation in providing assistance to victims in recovery and toward inclusion in society as one of the treaty’s operative provisions.

To that end, states should:

  • Recognize rights of victims of armed violence and states’ existing obligations to meet their needs in recovery and toward inclusion.
  • Include a separate Victim Assistance section in the operative part of the treaty, recognizing existing obligations toward victims in their own jurisdiction and territory, and committing to international cooperation and assistance in helping states meet the needs and the rights of victims of armed violence. 

Suggested language on victims’ assistance for the ATT along with a commentary is available online.

For more information, contact Nerina Cevra, Victims’ Rights Coordinator at ncevra[at]