With just several weeks left in 2012 (crazy!) and the 2012 election behind us, Amnesty International and other human rights activists can now focus on other issues. For December and the rest of November, will be focusing on two issues: the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA, which is different from VAWA) and the global arms trade. We will be pushing our senators and representatives to co-sponsor I-VAWA and to advocate for a strong global arms trade treaty that helps prevent the human suffering caused by the poorly regulated flow of arms around the world.
What is I-VAWA?
I-VAWA is the International Violence Against Women Act, which was originally introduced in the 110th Congress and received bipartisan support at the time. Specifically, I-VAWA would:
- Address violence against women and girls comprehensively, by supporting health, legal, economic, social, and humanitarian assistance sectors and incorporating violence prevention and response best practices into such programs.
- Alleviate poverty and increase the cost effectiveness of foreign assistance by investing in women. Strengthen security by reducing social tensions.
- Support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent violence.
- Create a five-year strategy to fight violence against women in select countries which have a high incidence of violence against women.
This bill is not to be confused with VAWA, or the Violence Against Women Act. The status of VAWA is that the two versions of the bill must be reconciled into one version by a conference committee. It is unknown, at this time, when/if that conference committee will convene. Therefore, our efforts are better directed at I-VAWA, since we have don’t have any information about this conference committee.
What’s This About the Global Arms Trade?
Did you know that there is a multilateral Arms Trade Treaty that is in motion in the United Nations? Under the right circumstances, this treaty could pass and begin regulating the global trade of weapons. It is currently being negotiated at the UN, so now is the time to take action and to urge the Obama Administration and others in our government to support this global treaty and to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of human rights abusers like Syria and the Sudan.
Did you know that there is more global regulation on the trading of bananas and dinosaur bones than there is on guns and bullets? Did you also know that the global weapons market is worth $55 billion dollars, and that one person dies every minute as a result of armed violence? This is why we need to urge the Obama Administration TODAY to support an Arms Trade Treaty now. The administration is in support of this treaty, but the administration needs to know that U.S citizens are in support of this treaty, so that this treaty is a strong one and one that will be supported by our Congress as well.
The arms trade has always been an issue of focus for Amnesty International, but only now is the issue getting attention as the violence continues in Syria and other countries around the world. With a treaty and regulation finally a serious topic of discussion, let’s not lose this opportunity to stand up for human rights.
How Do I Take Action?
To take action on either of these issues (preferably both), please contact our senators and representatives on these issues. We have a contact information page available to make it easy for you to find Claire McCaskill’s phone number in Washington, or Lacy Clay’s address. These two issues are not only pressing, but are two that we can reasonably work on with a few Missouri lame ducks in Congress.