The Hypocrisy Of The Arms Trade

uk arms tradeThe Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has accused the UK government of hypocrisy because of its arms deals with repressive regimes across the world.

In an acceptance speech for a peace prize in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on December 7, the charity highlighted the hypocrisy of the UK government, which claims to support human rights while maintaining its extensive weaponry exports to despotic regimes.

Receiving a 2012 Right Livelihood Award on behalf of the group, CAAT outreach coordinator Anne-Marie O’Reilly said, “The trail of destruction wrought by weapons produced in the UK extends beyond the wars waged in Afghanistan and Iraq. It reaches from Gaza to Sri Lanka, from Egypt to East Timor.”

The CAAT also criticized the UK for supplying the Manama regime with weaponry and the recent three-day trip of the British Prime Minister to the Middle East region as a proof that Britain is “not just allowing the [weapons] sales, but actively promoting them.”.

Earlier in November, David Cameron engaged in a dirty business with Persian Gulf countries of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman by selling as many as 100 Typhoon fighter jets worth £6billion to the Arab dictatorships in the region.

David CameronThe British Prime Minister David Cameron, wearing a red poppy to show how much he cares about the fallen in two world wars, claims however that the trade is completely legitimate.

The prime minister rebuffed critics unhappy with the idea of UK defence exports and said his discussions in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, both irritated by rows with Britain, would show “respect and friendship”.

The trip is aimed at drumming up business in both countries for BAE Systems, the defence manufacturer. An important BP oil deal in Abu Dhabi has run into trouble recently.

Thirty thousand jobs in the UK were at stake, sales were “legitimate and right” and his purpose was “to help Britain compete and thrive in the global race” he said. Cameron wants to persuade the UAE to buy Eurofighter Typhoons to replace their ageing fleet of French Mirage jets. The Emiratis have expressed interest in ordering 60 jets. Oman has expressed interest in 12, while the Saudis are considering a second order on top of the 72 they already have.

Amnesty International criticised what it described as a “deeply-disturbing trade-off” between trade and strategic interests and the promotion of rights and democratic reform.

It is not just the British Government of course that encourages the trade in arms. Many do it and many others view it as a lucrative and desirable business to get in to. There is the often touted argument that “if we don’t do it, France or Germany will just sell the weapons”.

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If we don’t sell the weapons to burn, dismember and kill countless innocents the world over, someone else will… I wonder if the child blinded and limbless is grateful one corporation profited from their suffering rather than another.

The European Union has just been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The head of the European Council, Van Rompuy told the audience of international dignitaries that the EU’s “secret” was “an unrivalled way of binding our interests so tightly that war becomes materially impossible. Yet,

Firms in the UK, France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Spain and Europe’s own European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company made around €75 billion from selling weapons in 2010.

In broader terms, the world arms trade is booming and has increased turnover by 147 percent since 2002, with companies based in western Europe and North America leading the sector.

In 2010 – two years after the eruption of the global financial crisis – some €305.6 billion of arms and weapons were sold on international markets according to a report released on Monday (27 February) by Swedish arms control NGO, the Stockholm International Research Institute (Sipri)

Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to an organization that now controls one third of global arms sales seems odd to many.


Bishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Nobel Prize for Peace being given to the EU.

Anti-apartheid stalwart Tutu said that rather than building peace the EU created “security based on military force and waging wars rather than insisting on the need for an alternative approach”.

“When we heard that the Nobel Prize for peace would be given to the European Union, we first thought it was a joke.”

While EU countries claim not to export weapons to countries at war or breaching human rights and are asked to comply with eight basic criteria contained in a common EU position paper, in reality there are very few restrictions in place, says the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT).

Recently, German news magazine Der Spiegel said that, in 2010 alone, EU countries exported €3.3billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, dominated by an anti-democratic, royal dynasty and a regime notorious for its violations of human rights.

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