The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade has announced plans to step up the pace of its efforts and work towards a United Nations instrument (such as a binding convention) to stop the trade in instruments for torture and the death penalty.

The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade – an initiative of the European Union, Argentina and Mongolia, now boasts 60 members. By joining the Alliance, countries commit themselves to restricting exports of these goods and to making it easier for customs authorities to track down shipments and identify new products.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, co-hosted the Alliance’s first Ministerial meeting held in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York on September 24. “Systematic use of torture is a crime against humanity. Today, we demonstrate our commitment to human rights and taking concrete steps to eradicating torture and capital punishment,” she said. “Torture is an instrument of fear and has no place in any society. We’ve come together with one voice to say that we will not stand for this trade – not in our countries, or anywhere else in the world.”

In her opening speech, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said torture had directly affected her family. “Torture is a grave attack on human dignity,” she said.  “It inflicts severe damage on both victims and societies.”