The following letter was sent earlier this week to Secretary of State John Kerry from Pax Christi International and Pax Christi USA.
Dear Secretary of State Kerry,
We are writing to express our appreciation for U.S. support of the recently adopted Arms Trade Treaty, an achievement that required years of exhaustive and sometimes difficult deliberations. We are grateful that the United States joined the 155-state majority that voted for this new treaty to finally help regulate the global arms trade.
Pax Christi International with Pax Christi USA joined many other civil society organizations in advocating for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that protects vulnerable communities and saves citizens’ lives. We did so with 80 churches and related organizations in 40 countries as members of the Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective ATT, a campaign led by the World Council of Churches. Our efforts were part of the global civil society coalition, Control Arms.
Now a critical moment is approaching to put the international seal of approval on this success. On June 3rd the treaty will open for signatures at the United Nations in New York.
The ATT needs a strong start to accomplish its task. It should be signed as early as possible, by a large number of states, and at as high a level as possible. We are encouraged by reports that Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers will be attending the signing ceremony. That is precisely what is needed.
We strongly urge that the United States be represented at this milestone event at the UN. Your personal presence or that of another high level U.S. official would send an important signal about U.S. national values and commitment to reform the arms trade. We respectfully request that you announce your intention to sign the treaty personally and encourage other governments to do likewise.
The treaty adopted by vote in the U.N. General Assembly deserves a solid start. The ATT sets new and important standards where standards are sorely needed. Though all provisions of the treaty did not meet our expectations, there is much for which we are grateful.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.
Bishop Kevin Dowling, CSsR and Marie Dennis, Co-Presidents
Jose Henriquez, Secretary General
Pax Christi International
Sister Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, Executive Director
Pax Christi USA