Archive for June, 2006

The meeting is hopelessly behind schedule. Eight moree governments spoke in the morning followed by international and regional organizations such as Interpol and NATO. Finally the President of the Review Conference, Sri Lankan Ambassador Kariyawasam, closed the morning session by promising that the remaining governments (some 20 states) speak on Monday.

The NGOs will still get to deliver their statements tomorrow morning after which inexplicably a time-wasting session on assistance and cooperation has been allocated for the rest of the day. The NGOs unfortunately intend to provide about 16 speeches to the plenary followed by an unknown number of gun lobbby statements including the National Rifle Association, which has gotten into the meeting as a “NGO.”

Things got more interesting in the afternoon as the President took feedback on the principal outcome document of the meeting a twelve-page “strategy for further implementation.” Forty governments gave their feedback with Western or developed states such as New Zealand converging around elements favoured by the NGOs such as strengthened text on arms transfers and the need to reinsert language on the linkages between small arms/light weapons and development, human rights, and gender. The President has apponted three facilitators (Colombia, Japan, and Switzerland) to consult with concerned countries on the text to return Monday with their findings.

After finally gave an indication on how hbe intends to handle the remainder of the

The conference started late today as the General Assembly room was in use for an event to welcome the Republic of Montenegro as the newest (192nd) member of the United Nations. Finally Serbia is completely alone.

The speeches then continued with approximately 25 governments statements in total. My patience is wearing a bit thin and it felt as if there was less quality in the content (eg. fewer references to the impact of small arms on development, little talk about arms transfer controls or the need for an Arms Trade Treaty).

One bright spot was tonight’s Control Arms concert at the Supper Club of Times Square featuring some great artists such as South African hip hop act Zola.

New Zealand was one of approximately 32 governments to speak on the second day of the small arms Review Conference here in New York. Nik Kiddle, our deputy disarmament representative from Geneva, gave the speech, which included support for the Arms Trade Treaty and the need to place the small arms problem within the broader context of development. New Zealand was among at least a dozen speakers that talked about the need to address transfer controls on governments. These are two principal items that Oxfam is been seeking government support for.

During the lunch hour I tried, but couldn’t even get it in the door for a crowded event to release IANSA’s “Red Book” report on implementation of the Small Arms Programme of Action. A lot of great research has been prepared for release this week, including Oxfam’s report on the AK47 assault rifle that it highlighted with a huge statue unveiled yesterday of a huge AK47 made from prosthetic limbs. Another report, the 2006 Small Arms Survey includes some great statistics and an overview of gun violence in Papua New Guinea.

Throughout the day I saw U.S. ambassador John Bolton in the corridors as our meeting room is just down the hall from the UN Security Council then in the evening I met the man himself when he invited governments to a reception at the U.S. Embassy. I went as a member of the NZ delegation and consequently found I was the only NGO in the room. That’s if you don’t count the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists such as the one on the N.Z. delegation.

It was a typical U.S. reception in which their diplomats approached us to find our views on the U.S. position that was given in a speech during the day. While making clear I was an NGO rep on a government delegation, I spent some time talking to the U.S. delegation including fifteen minutes with Bolton’s chief of staff discussing, among other issues, why the U.S. continues to resist efforts to include the impact of armed conflict and small arms on development (Bolton’s aide: “disarmament matters should be discussed separately from development”). I asked why the persist when they lost a UN General Assembly vote on the matter last year by a vote of 190 governments to 1 (“we get lonely sometimes”). I tried to get more details on what the U.S. meant in its speech when it stated its opposition to negotiations on transfer controls i.e. Arms Trade Treaty, but professed support for discussion of global principals governing arms trade.

Eventually the aide professed that he had really come to the reception for a drink after dealing with North Korea all day!

Before coming home, Oxfam New Zealand asked if I would attend a meeting at the United Nations in New York on small arms and light weapons. The two-week long meeting opened today. After scrambling up thirty blocks in the humid and rainy summer weather traffic I grabbed my UN badge entered the building. I caught a press event to hand over a visual petition by one million people from over 160 countries calling for tough global controls on the arms trade and an Arms Trade Treaty. The leaders of three NGOs spoke (Amnesty, Oxfam, IANSA – the small arms NGO coalition) spoke and then the “millionth face,” a Kenyan survivor of armed violence named Julius Arile, handed over the petition to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Annan subsequently referenced the Million Faces in his opening speech to delegates attending the conference. He also repeated that the conference aimed to address the illicit transfer of small arms and not an effort to ban small arms. He said, the meeting did not seek “to deny law-abiding citizens from their right to bare arms.” The morning contained an undercurrent of tension as Americans convinced that the United Nations was attempting to take away their firearms had bombarded the president of the conference and Anan with over 100,000 emails, letters, and calls. I’d heard about the lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and associated NGOs, but seeing them in action was something else.

As several of the gun lobby’s grassroots messages were threatening, UN security decided that the first high-level days of the conference would be held in the UN General Assembly room. This is the grand room with gold seal and marble podium where heads of state make their speeches each September at the opening of the General Assembly. And speeches is what we heard all day. Approximately 27 governments spoke about their efforts to implement the UN’s 2001 Programme of Action to control the transfer of illicit weapons including Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

The New Zealand government speaks tomorrow…

Here I am in a New York hotel room… I have left my job, my home, my friends for a long journey back to New Zealand via NYC. How come? I got a new job. Here’s a couple of email postings from the past couple of days starting with the ‘eulogy’ by my boss…

From: “Steve Goose”
Sent: Thursday, June 22, 2006 5:38 AM
To:>, Subject: [ab] Mary W. to NZ

Please forgive duplicate postings.

As most of you know, tomorrow is Mary Wareham’s last day at Human Rights Watch. After eight years years in Washington at HRW running the landmines show, and several years before that working on the ICBL and coordinating the US Campaign to Ban Landmines while at the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, she will be returning to New Zealand to become the advocacy director for Oxfam New Zealand. The loss to the landmine movement is incalculable, but Mary no doubt will be busy making the world a better place in many other spectacular ways.

It is literally impossible to overstate Mary’s contributions to the global effort to ban antipersonnel mines. Even before coming to HRW, she was an indispensable part of the campaign that resulted in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty–it exists in no small measure because of her work–and certainly a huge chunk of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the ICBL in 1997 belongs to Mary. At HRW, she created the unprecedented Landmine Monitor initiative from scratch, one of the more notable NGO achievements in any field in recent years. As “global coordinator” of the LM, she made it work, building a network of 122 monitors in 95 countries, coordinating, organizing, cajoling, researching, writing, editing, fundraising, reporting, and on and on, while also doing the press work and advocacy that maximize LM’s impact. (Did I mention in her “spare time” she made an award winning documentary on the landmine issue?) Last but not least, she made me look good on more occasions than I can count; I have no doubt that she increased the effectiveness of my work and HRW’s work on mines many times over. I will miss her terribly, as will all of us in the mine ban movement, but I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next! Please wish her well in her new endeavors.

Steve Goose
Executive Director, Arms Division

And this is what I had to say…

Mary Wareham wrote:

This is my last day in the office so I’ll try and be brief and please, no more tributes. I’m off this HRW email in an hour or so and won’t be able to read them! But thanks for all your kind words. I feel like I’m retiring after 40 years!!! Instead of looking back, I’d like to say a few words about what I’ll be doing as Advocacy Director at Oxfam New Zealand…

I start this job on Monday, not in NZ, but in New York where I will attend the Small Arms Review Conference as a member of the NZ official delegation since some governments are still trying to lock out the NGOs. As many of you know, Oxfam has been engaged in the “Control Arms” campaign for a while now and the outcome of this conference will help determine the future of this engagement.

By 10 July, I should be back in New Zealand working out of the capital Wellington where I grew up. Oxfam NZ carries out relief and development in the Pacific (mainly Melanesia) and Southeast Asia (esp. Indonesia). The group also engages in advocacy on fair trade, debt relief, increasing aid levels, ensuring access to education and clean drinking water, and other pressing concerns. I have some things I’d like to see them do more on, such as universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty in the region, endorsing the Cluster Munition Coalition, advocating for disability rights and the forthcoming Convention, and pressing on human rights concerns esp. immigrant/refugee rights.

Here’s my new email: I can’t check it until 10 July though! So please use the film address:

So much to say, so many people to thank, but so much to clear/clean up and so little time so … I’m outta here! Lots of love & g’bye!

Mary Wareham
Senior Advocate, Arms Division (until 23 June)