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Thoughts on Violence: Anna Macdonald, Head of Arms Control at Oxfam

Anna Macdonald, head of arms control at Oxfam, Co-Chair of the Control Arms Coalition and member of the AOAV board, explains the purpose and potential of a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

Who is Anna Macdonald?

Anna Macdonald is Head of Arms Control at Oxfam, and has worked on the Arms Trade Treaty since 2002, representing Oxfam at many conferences on the arms trade internationally.

She has worked with people affected by conflict in many of Oxfam’s programs around the world. She is co-chair of the global Control Arms Coalition, and led the coalition team of 160 advocates during the final ATT negotiations.

Anna Macdonald has over 17 years experience in the voluntary sector. She played an active role in the campaign to ban cluster munitions, representing AOAV, then Landmine Action, at many negotiation meetings and was appointed to the Board in May 2007.

What is the Control Arms Coalition?

The Control Arms campaign is a global civil society alliance calling for a bulletproof Arms Trade Treaty: a global, legally binding agreement that will ease the suffering caused by irresponsible transfers of conventional weapons and munitions.

The idea of an arms trade treaty first came from Nobel Peace Laureates, supported by civil society organisations worldwide.

In 2003, the Control Arms campaign was launched and has since gathered support for the Arms Trade Treaty from over a million people worldwide.

In 2006, Control Arms handed over a global petition called “Million Faces” to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

In December 2006, 153 governments finally voted at the United Nations to start work on developing a global Arms Trade Treaty. Momentum for the treaty has been building ever since.

In 2009 the UN General Assembly launched a time frame for the negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty. This included one preparatory meeting in 2010, two in 2011, and a negotiating conference.

In July 2012 the Diplomatic Conference on the ATT was held acting as a month-long negotiation for all countries at the United Nations. The conference produced a draft treaty text, but failed to adopt a treaty by consensus after the United States, followed by Russia, and a few other states requested more time.

In November 2012, Member States voted and received a mandate to organize a final UN Conference on the ATT. The vote came on the last day of the UN’s First Committee and was passed with an unprecedented 157 votes in favour, 18 abstentions and 0 votes against.

The Final Conference took place from 18-28 March 2013. It again failed to produce a successful agreement on a Treaty. However, a large number of Member States moved to take the Treaty to the General Assembly in order to vote on it as quickly as possible.

That vote took place on 2 April 2013. The Arms Trade Treaty was finally adopted by a vote of 154 in favour, 3 against, and 23 abstentions. 

ATT map

Who has joined the Arms Trade Treaty so far? Click here to find out.