Abramson, Amnesty’s Wood and Anna Macdonald of Oxfam spoke with reporters on Friday about the negotiations.
Much of the discussion revolved around Russia’s arms supplies to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s 16-month assault on an increasingly militarized opposition has killed over 10,000 people. Russia is Assad’s top arms supplier.
Wood said Russia is not the only culprit in Syria, one of many conflicts fed by unregulated arms deliveries. Western nations have also helped Assad. There are tanks on Syrian streets, Wood said, that come from Slovakia, upgraded by Italy.
The campaigners outlined what they want to see in the treaty. Governments should be required to regulate the sale and transfer of all weapons, arms, munitions and equipment used in military and domestic security activities, ranging from armored vehicles, missiles and aircraft to small arms and ammunition.
Governments should also be required to make risk assessments before authorizing arms sales, make public all authorizations and deliveries and track their use. Trading without permission or diverting arms should be made a crime, they said.
One of the reasons this month’s negotiations are taking place is that the United States, the world’s biggest arms trader accounting for over 40 percent of global conventional arms transfers, reversed U.S. policy on the issue after Barack Obama became president and decided in 2009 to support a treaty.
But U.S. officials say Washington insisted in February on having the ability to “veto a weak treaty” during this month’s talks, if necessary. It also seeks to protect U.S. domestic rights to bear arms - a sensitive issue in the United States.
The other five top arms suppliers are Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
Wood, Macdonald and Abramson said some of the top arms trading countries have been joining other nations in an attempt to weaken the treaty. They said the United States, China, Syria and Egypt were pushing to exclude ammunition.
China, they added, wants to exempt small arms, while several Middle East states oppose making compliance with human rights norms a mandatory criterion for allowing arms deliveries.