Defend International (DI) is calling on UN negotiators of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to include a legally-binding provision to prevent armed gender-based violence. This global call is aimed at maintaining the momentum created over the last seven years in favor for a strong and an effective Arms Trade Treaty so that the next generations will benefit from this historical debate over the scope and objectives of such a treaty.
Focusing on gender, international security, and conventional arms trade, Defend International has joined Women s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and other organizations supporting the worldwide efforts aimed at ending gender-based violence. The campaign entitled "Make It Binding" has resulted in initiating a new web portal that call on negotiators of the Arms Trade Treaty to include a legally-binding provision to prevent armed gender-based violence.
Defend International has been involved in the UN discussions around an Arms Trade Treaty since 2006/2007. Given that at present there is no legally-binding international agreement that regulates the conventional arms trade, DI supported a strong and an effective international ATT to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. DI believes that this new call can be very important in initiating a much-needed support for the inclusion of a legally-binding provision on preventing armed gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty. Hopefully, these global efforts will continue to build momentum for the negotiators on the ATT to act in the best interests of future generations. The commitment to combat armed gender-based violence is a crucial investment in healthy minds and healthy bodies and in creating inclusive equitable, productive and healthy societies. The promotion of such an integrated approach to ending armed gender-based violence has always been at the top priorities of DI. We aim to provide new directions to assist in developing policy measures that counter the harmful impacts that illicit trade in small arms and light weapons have on vulnerable populations, especially on women and children.
The treaty must recognize the prevention of arms exports to territories where women are systematically affected by sexual and armed gender-based violence and where rape under threat of a weapon is frequently used as a political or religious tool against vulnerable groups, particularly during armed conflicts. Current national laws on violence against women are not adequately protecting the victims of armed conflicts, human trafficking, or domestic violence. For instance, rape is the most common offence in many parts of the world, including Liberia, India, and Fiji. Therefore, the second negotiating conference on the ATT that will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York from 18-28 March 2013 must reflect on the scope and objectives of the ATT.