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On Arming Syria Rebels, Oxfam Says Not Now, France Urges, Clause in ATT

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 -- As the Arms Trade Treaty talks continue in the UN's North Lawn, Oxfam came for a second time for a press conference in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium.

  A week ago Inner City Press asked the Oxfam panel, which included another NGO's representative from South Sudan, about how they viewed the call to arm the Syrian rebels, and how the treaty would have applied to the South Sudan struggle to separate from Sudan.

  The answers were not entirely responsive, implying that the international community could somehow agree in which rebel or liberation groups are legitimate and should be armed.

  On March 25 Inner City Press asked the question again, directly to Oxfam's Anna MacDonald, letting her know that in the interim, Amnesty International had said that currently the Syrian rebels should not be provided arms, under what its Salil Shetty called the “Golden Rule.”

  MacDonald said, “this treaty will not be a blanket blacklist” but rather “case by case.” Generally, she said, “any government considering arms to any group needs to go through proper risk assessment."

  Then she finally answered on Syria, saying “In the current situation it is highly likely that any country going that right now would conclude no, not right now, weapons would not be provided.”

  But France wants to arm the Syrian rebels - and also supports the so-called Indian clause in the most recent ATT draft, which also dropped the “three little words,” named “at a minimum.” So the list of arms covered, for example not including drones, would be just that: the final list. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.

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