I am from Cornwall and doing two weeks work experience with CAAT as part of my degree course in journalism. Its only my second day at CAAT but so far its been very exciting being in London. Yesterday we held a protest outside the AGM meeting of Reed Elsevier who run arms fairs as a subsidiary business.
Some of the CAAT team went into the meeting as shareholders and asked questions to the board asking them to justify their involvement with the arms trade, especially in the face of their links to healthcare and the loss of their rating as an ethical company to invest in. They also asked questions about the invitation to arms fairs given to human rights abusers and suspects of genocide.
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A sobering reminder of why opposing the international arms trade and working for de-militarisation across the world is increasingly vital was provided to me today. The latest report published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the catastrophic effects on the world that climate change is seemingly certain to have.
There are of course many moral reasons to oppose the arms trade. The sickening spectacle of executives such as Nicholas Prest and his shareholders, who profited handsomely from Alvis’s sale of armoured vehicles to Indonesia, used by the Indonesian Army in their horrific campaign of atrocities in Aceh in the early years of this century, is reason enough in many eyes.
Climate change is going to radically alter the global security environment in negative ways. As the UN notes “a warming world will place hundreds of millions of extra people at greater risk of food and water shortages and threaten the survival of thousands of species of plants and animals…floods, heatwaves, storms and droughts are all expected to increase, with people in poorer countries suffering the worst effects”. Most wars, both civil and international, take place in the poorer countries.
As the human race appears no more able to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner than it has for centuries, the negative effects of climate change are certain to increase the amount of war, killing and suffering in the world in the decades to come. The existence of the international arms trade, and the arms companies which develop ever more destructive weapons system in their quest for more and more war profits is going to exacerbate this problem in many terrible ways.