World leaders have proved “shameful and ineffective” in failing to protect civilians from groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), said Amnesty International, calling 2014 a “catastrophic” year.
In its 415-page annual report detailing abuses in 160 countries, the group on Wednesday accused governments of “pretending the protection of civilians is beyond their power”.
The Amnesty document urged all states to abide by a treaty regulating the international arms trade which came into force last year, saying this could help stop huge shipments of weapons to countries like Syria and Iraq.
Susanna Flood, Amnesty’s Media Director told Al Jazeera: “At least half a million people die every year on average and millions more are injured, raped and forced to flee from their homes as a result of the poorly regulated global trade in weapons and munitions”.
The arms trade is “shrouded in secrecy”, says Flood.
“The recorded value of international transfers is approaching $100bn annually. Five of the top 10 arms exporters have already ratified the Arms Trade Treaty. While the US and Israel have yet to ratify, they have both signed. There has been resistance to ratification from other major arms producers like China, Canada and Russia.”
The report said the number of displaced people around the world exceeded 50 million last year for the first time since the end of World War II.
Amnesty singled out the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for criticism, warning that the situation would get worse this year unless leaders took immediate action. Amnesty’s secretary-general, Salil Shetty said it had “miserably failed” to protect civilians.
The five permanent UNSC members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – “consistently abused” their veto right to “promote their political self-interest or geopolitical interest above the interest of protecting civilians”, he added.
The report urges the five states to give up their right to veto action in cases where genocide and other mass killings are being committed.
“2014 was a catastrophic year for millions caught up in violence,” said Shetty. “The global response to conflict and abuses by states and armed groups has been shameful and ineffective. As people suffered an escalation in barbarous attacks and repression, the international community has been found wanting.”
In addition, Amnesty called for new restrictions on the use of explosive weapons like mortars and rockets in populated areas. Al Jazeera