It’s Official! United States Signs U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Secretary of State John Kerry signing the Arms Trade Treaty (Photo Credit: Adotei Akwei).

Secretary of State John Kerry signing the Arms Trade Treaty (Photo Credit: Adotei Akwei).

By Nate Smith, Amnesty International USA MSP Thematic Specialist

In an important step forward for human rights and international law, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on behalf of the United States earlier today.

Coming in the midst of concerns about the supply of weapons to Syrian government and Syrian rebels, Kerry’s signature signals the intention of the U.S., the world’s largest arms exporter, to abide by the terms of the treaty.

The treaty unequivocally bans arms transfers that are in violation of a U.N. arms embargo or that exporters have reason to know will be used to commit genocide and other grievous war crimes. Under the treaty, all exporting states have a new obligation to assess the risk that the weapons they provide will be used in human rights abuse and to halt such transfers where that risk is overwhelming.

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6 Questions Shell Oil Doesn’t Want You to Ask About Oil Pollution in the Niger Delta

By Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International

Full transparency is vital to establishing real solutions to oil spills and oil theft in the Niger Delta. But those that resist this most are oil companies such as Shell. If they are committed to addressing the Niger Delta’s problems of theft, sabotage and oil spills, why will they not disclose the relevant oil spill investigation data?

With that question in mind, here are 6 other questions Shell seems to be unable to answer about their role in oil pollution in Nigeria.

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Our Response to President Vladimir Putin’s New York Times Op-Ed

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit: Mikhail Kireev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images).

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (Photo Credit: Mikhail Kireev/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images).

In his New York Times opinion piece regarding Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin argues against the recently proposed U.S. military strike on Syria. Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones armed intervention in Syria. However, some of President Putin’s arguments obscure Russia’s own role in blocking a resolution to the human rights crisis in Syria.

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Does Monitoring Human Rights in Sudan Still Matter?

Three displaced Sudanese women finding refuge under a tree (Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Gallopin for Amnesty International).

Three displaced Sudanese women finding refuge under a tree (Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Gallopin for Amnesty International).

By Khairunissa Dhala, Researcher on Sudan/South Sudan Team at Amnesty International

Does the human rights situation in Sudan still require a U.N.-mandated Independent Expert to monitor and report back on developments? That was among the issues to discussed as the 24th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) opened this week in Geneva.

Given Sudan’s dire human rights situation – ongoing armed conflicts in three different states, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders and activists – it is hard to imagine that there is even a question on whether this is needed. But there is.

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6 Steps For Syria We Want to Hear in Obama’s Speech Tonight

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Amid a swirl of political developments, President Obama is set to deliver a national televised speech on Syria at 9:00 p.m. EST tonight. The speech was originally expected to be an effort by the White House to argue for a U.S. military strike targeting Syria. But now there’s talk of U.N. Security Council proposals to remove Syria’s chemical weapons from the country, for presumed eventual destruction. And against a backdrop of growing domestic opposition to a U.S. military strike, the U.S. government is changing its political posture in response.

Given the rapidly shifting geopolitical landscape, it is difficult to know for sure what President Obama will say in a few short hours. Indeed, it’s likely that White House advisers are themselves still editing the President’s script as you read this.

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Justice for Syrians in 6 Steps [INFOGRAPHIC]

SYRIA INFO

Congress is debating whether to authorize the President to use force in response to allegations that Syria used chemical weapons against opponents of the government.

Although Amnesty International has not taken – and is not likely to take – a position on the appropriateness of armed intervention, we believe the debate in Congress is inadequate, as it does not address many of the pressing issues of the Syrian crisis.

Accordingly, we have identified several steps that should be taken in response to this crisis, no matter where one lands, for or against, the use of force. They are as follows:

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3 Things G20 Leaders Can Do Now For Syria

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes US President Barack Obama at the start of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. Photo ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Easing the suffering of millions of civilians affected by Syria’s ongoing armed conflict must be a top priority for world leaders meeting at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg.

The G20 is made up of some of the world’s wealthiest countries and includes states with strong ties to each of the sides in Syria’s armed conflict.

Working together, these powerful countries can and must come up with a plan of action to ease the current humanitarian crisis.

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How Many More? Syria Conflict Refugees Top 2 Million

The U.N. refugee agency has announced that the refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict have surpassed 2 million (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images).

The U.N. refugee agency has announced that the refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict have surpassed 2 million (Photo Credit: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images).

By Charlotte Phillips, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Refugee and Migrants’ Rights

It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the scale and brutality of the conflict in Syria, the massive displacement and deep suffering it is causing countless human beings.

António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has described the Syrian conflict as “the great tragedy of this century – a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history.”

This situation has deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks after videos emerged showing scores of civilians apparently killed by chemical weapons in towns outside Damascus.

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6 Key Points for Military Intervention in Syria

Image from a civilian-uploaded YouTube video allegedly shows a mass grave of victims Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Damascus. The allegation of chemical weapons being used in the heavily-populated areas came on the second day of a mission to Syria by U.N. inspectors. The claim could not be independently verified and was vehemently denied by the Syrian authorities, who said it was intended to hinder the mission of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors (Photo Credit: DSK/AFP/Getty Images).

Image from a civilian-uploaded YouTube video allegedly shows a mass grave of victims Syrian rebels claim were killed in a toxic gas attack by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Damascus. The claim could not be independently verified and was vehemently denied by the Syrian authorities, who said it was intended to hinder the mission of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors (Photo Credit: DSK/AFP/Getty Images).

By Kristyan Benedict, Crisis Response Campaign Manager at Amnesty International UK

In recent days, several governments, including the UK, USA and France have signaled their intention to take military action against the Syrian government, which they hold responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attacks of August 21st. The horrific scenes in the dozens of videos I have watched from those incidents are some of the most haunting I have witnessed during this long and brutal conflict.

So now the specter of an international armed conflict looms between the Syrian government and foreign military forces. The protection of civilians is a key priority for Amnesty International. That is why we call on all parties who could be involved to comply with international humanitarian law. In particular, those concerned absolutely must:

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