The World Council of Churches (WCC) on Wednesday called on African countries to sign Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to help save lives being shattered by proliferation of illicit weapons.
In a statement received in Nairobi, WCC said the new, global and potentially life-saving Arms Trade Treaty is showing record progress toward coming into effect.
"African governments, civil society groups and churches worked hard to make this treaty strong. We call on them to ratify it now, " said Joseph Dube of the WCC's Ecumenical Campaign for a Strong and Effective Arms Trade Treaty.
The treaty enshrines in new international law a set of clear rules for all global transfers of weapons and ammunitions.
The Treaty will create binding obligations for governments to assess all arms transfers to ensure that weapons will not be used for human rights abuses, terrorism, transnational organized crime or violations of humanitarian law.
It will require governments to refuse any transfers of weapons if there is a risk that countries would use them to violate human rights or commit war crimes.
Given the lives shattered by illicit weapons each day in places like Syria and South Sudan, WCC and member churches said they are part of a concerted effort by civil society groups and governments to have the treaty ratified as soon as possible.
According to WCC, 10 countries were slated to ratify the treaty by June 3, raising the total to 42 ratifications just one year after the agreement was opened for signatures.
Zambia, Australia and Jamaica were among the governments scheduled to ratify the ATT on Tuesday in a ceremony at UN headquarters.
"It is critical that African states ratify the Arms Trade Treaty the way Zambia is to do today," said Dube.
The WCC campaign is promoting ratification in some 25 countries, half the number needed to bring the ATT into force.
Of these, Mexico, Nigeria, Finland, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom have ratified already. Three more were expected to sign on Tuesday.
Lobbying continues with regard to Ghana, Malawi, Togo, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Philippines, South Korea, Sweden, Canada, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.