Feed in to the government review of security policy

The UK Cabinet Office is in the final week of calls for evidence to its ‘Integrated Review’ – a major overhaul of its military, security, foreign and international development policy. The Prime Minister describes it as “the biggest assessment of Britain’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War”, a look at how the UK can adjust “to the changing nature of threats we face”. It’s a good question. As the country is still reeling from the government’s lack of preparation for the global pandemic (which had been predicted in its own security reviews), adjusting strategies and budgets is very timely.

There are fears among military circles that Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings wants to cut army troops and axe costly aircraft carriers. He has described spending on aircraft carriers as a “farce”, “enriching some of the worst corporate looters and corrupting public life via the revolving door of officials/lobbyists”. However his real interest is in small but deadly high-tech drones and other new technologies. Media reports have claimed that Defence Minister Ben Wallace is “incredibly supportive” of Cummings’ ideas.

The PM has said he will not roll back on commitments to exceed the NATO target of spending 2% of the UK’s budget on military spending, or to maintain the nuclear deterrent. However this was before the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent days, the Chancellor has announced a potential roll back on the Party’s Manifesto promise to protect foreign aid.

Controversial decisions are being considered, but core assumptions aren’t changing. The number one finding of this review should be that the government’s definition of security needs to be completely rethought.

The last few months gave many of us pause for thought about many things. About the inequalities in our society, with the key workers who put themselves most at risk to keep our health, food and care systems going – being paid and protected the least in society. About the disproportionate death rates of the virus for people of colour, who are also more likely to be working in key worker roles and more at risk of being exposed.

About the escalating climate crisis behind the unprecedented heat waves. Extreme weather events, food insecurity and conflict are already impacting on people across the globe – predominantly people of colour, predominantly countries still recovering from centuries of colonialism and slavery by the same nations who created the climate crisis today.

And with the death of George Flloyd, and the use of tear gas on protestors, (a product we have exported to the US) about the impacts of the UK arms exports, as well as the racism engrained in every structure of our society too. Black people are policed, criminalised, and killed more than white, and migrants are left to drown rather than be offered sanctuary in the 9th richest country in the world, home to less than 1% of its refugees.

The crisis has brought to the surface these questions of human security that urgently need addressing, and this review must include changes to create the fairer society promised in the Conservative Party’s election Manifesto.

Even the Director of Military Sciences at industry think tank Royal United Services Institute notes that this is a critical question in the Integrated Review. He says that the pandemic has “brought into stark relief a question of whether the government’s first duty is actually to protect its people from external threats – as it is often asserted – or whether ensuring the domestic safety and protecting the quality of life of its people matter even more.”

We need a radical rethinking, to create an alternative vision of Security. We need to move funding away from promoting and subsidising the arms trade, and into renewable energy and technologies, working to protect the rights of those in the countries where the minerals that power them are sourced. And we need fairer societies, strong public services that create a secure and safe environment for everyone.

Send your message to the government review now.

Stop Arming Israel: Take Action against HSBC, Saturday 22 August

6 years ago Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza killed over 2,200 Palestinians, nearly a quarter of them children. Attacking densely populated civilian areas, it destroyed 18,000 residential units, and left over 100,000 Palestinians homeless. Even in the face of widespread condemnation of Israel’s deliberate targeting of civilians by the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others, the UK continues to arm Israel.

Stop Arming Israel Day at the Stop DSEI Week of Action 2019. (Credit: Darren Johnson)

Between 2014-18, the UK issued licences for £364 million of military equipment and technology for export to Israel, as well as 20 secretive ‘open’ licences, allowing unlimited deliveries over 3-5 years. And the UK continues to buy weapons from Israel too, advertised as ‘battle-tested’ – on the Palestinian people. 

CAAT stands in solidarity with Palestinian civil society in their call for an immediate two-way arms embargo to Israel. 

But it’s not just the government which is complicit. HSBC bank invests and provides services worth millions to companies that supply Israel with equipment – including BAE Systems and Raytheon, whose weapons components were used in the attacks in 2014, and Caterpillar, in which HSBC held £99.5 million of shares in 2017. 

Caterpillar sells its bulldozers to the Israeli military knowing they are used to demolish Palestinian homes, factories, agricultural land, and water pipes. It provides equipment used to reinforce the illegal Apartheid Wall, and to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. 

HSBC’s investment gives these companies the cash and the social licence to continue to support and even profit from human rights abuses. The complicity must end. 

We can use bad PR to shame HSBC into action. It’s worked before – in 2018 HSBC announced it had divested from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems under public pressure. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell HSBC to end its complicity

  • Print out a Stop Arming Israel sign by clicking on one of the images at the bottom of this page or get creative and write your own message.
  • On Saturday 22 August, take a photo of you holding the sign to share on your social media – invite your household, or safely assemble a group if you can, while social distancing.
  • If you have a branch of HSBC near you and you’re able to get there safely, why not take the photo outside the branch?
  • Check PSC’s website for the latest planned photo calls already happening around the UK which you could join.
  • Use the hashtag #StopArmingIsrael and tag @HSBC_UK and @CAATuk 

For any queries on local actions, please contact  lewis.backon@palestinecampaign.org

Thank you for standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people on Stop Arming Israel Day of Action.

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #stoparmingisrael on Saturday 22 August to see and amplify what’s going on around the UK. Let’s flood social media with our resistance!

Glasgow University continues to support arms companies

In this guest post, David Bloomfield from the Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC)  provides an update on the campaign against Glasgow University investments in the arms trade. Unfortunately a similar story can be told about universities across the UK. We recommend reading this post as background.

At the end of June, the University of Glasgow decided to retain the bulk of its £3 million worth of investments in some of the world’s largest arms companies, including BAE Systems, Airbus and Boeing.

The decision to keep profiting from the arms trade was made despite a fierce campaign by the student group Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC) and concerned members of the community. As has been pointed out again and again, weapons produced by the huge arms companies that the University has chosen to invest in have been linked to serious war crimes across the world. The University has publicly proclaimed that ‘#BlackLivesMatter’, but it has refused to accept that the bombs it profits from have been used to kill people around the world.

Continue reading “Glasgow University continues to support arms companies”

CAAT Reading Group: ‘Arms Trade 101 and intersecting issues’ series – 6 parts

Join us for our first ever Reading Group series! Following our ‘Arms Trade 101 and intersecting issues’ panel, we will delve deeper into some of the profound issues connected to the global arms trade over the course of 6 weeks with the help of some of the UK’s brightest critical thinkers.

Starting by setting the landscape with an overview of the arms trade by CAAT’s very own Andrew Smith, we will move through the weeks grappling with issues including the UK’s arming of Saudi Arabia and the devastating effects on Yemen; militarised policing, borders and migration, capitalism, colonialism as well as drawing connections between the current pandemic and the arms trade.

Wk 1: Arms Trade 101 (Thursday 16th July) with Andrew Smith (CAAT)

Wk 2: Stop Arming Saudi/ Yemen (Thursday 23rd July) with Sham Murad (‘A’ is for Activism)

Wk 3: Policing & the Arms Trade (Thursday 30th July) with Dr. Adam Elliott-Cooper

Wk 4: Borders & Migration & the Arms Trade (Thursday 6th August) with Dr. Nadine El-Enany

Wk 5: Coronavirus and the Arms Trade (Thursday 13th August) with Reem Abu-Hayyeh (MedAct)

Wk 6: Climate Justice & the Arms Trade (Thursday 20th August)

Guest speaker: TBC

Sign up to all 6 sessions here: SIGN UP HERE

CAAT presents… ‘Arms Trade 101 and intersecting issues’: Panel Event – Thursday 9th July 2020, 6.30pm – 9pm

Following a successful series of online trainings, join us for our first online panel event, focusing on building our understanding of how the global arms trade intersects with other key issues of our time, including racism, colonialism, climate (in)justice and militarised policing.

We will start the event with poetry from Yemeni poet Amina Atiq, based in Liverpool and move into our panel, chaired by Demilitarise Education’s Melina Villeneuve.

Speakers are as follows:

Sign up to attend here: MEETING REGISTRATION

RSVP on Facebook here: FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

Why the UK must stop arming Israel

This week the Israeli government is expected to begin its immoral and illegal annexation of the West Bank. This follows years of increased tensions and atrocities: including shootings at protests on the Gaza border in May 2018.

Reports from health officials in Gaza say that Israeli forces killed at least 214 Palestinians throughout the 2018 protests. Last month Israeli forces killed the nephew of a senior Palestinian official at a checkpoint in the West Bank.

Despite ongoing abuses, and the threat of annexation, UK arms sales to Israel have continued unabated.

Continue reading “Why the UK must stop arming Israel”

Stop Arming Saudi Arabia: to the Supreme Court

Today marks the one year anniversary since we won a landmark victory at the Court of Appeal, challenging the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

As a result of that ruling, we have stopped the export of new weapons for use in the war in Yemen. A multi-billion pound deal to sell more fighter jets to Saudi Arabia remains on hold.

This is significant progress, but there is much more to do. The government is fighting every step of the way to continue the arms sales.  It is appealing to the Supreme Court for a final decision, with the hearing scheduled for 23-25 November.

Meanwhile it has still not complied with the Court of Appeal ruling that it should retake its previous decisions to allow weapons sales, and it is continuing to supply the war in Yemen.

Continue reading “Stop Arming Saudi Arabia: to the Supreme Court”

How Glasgow University is working with the arms industry

Photo from Flickr.

In this guest post, David Bloomfield and Claire Dobson from the Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition (GUADC)  examine the links between Glasgow University and the arms trade. Unfortunately this is happening in universities across the UK.

As Black Lives Matter protests all over the world draw attention to the systemic racism inherent in so many of our institutions, we have investigated the extent of Glasgow University’s ties to the arms trade and other industries that profit from globalised violence.

Revelations published in the Glasgow Guardian in 2019 had previously exposed how the university was profiting from over £3 million of investments in the arms trade — resulting in student activists GUADC applying pressure to the university directly through a series of protests.

However, Glasgow’s investment portfolio only represents the surface of the university’s long-running relationship with arms companies.

Continue reading “How Glasgow University is working with the arms industry”

What can our group do to support #BlackLivesMatter?

We’ve had questions from folks about how to engage with the issues of police violence and systemic racism raised by the Black Lives Matter movement in their CAAT meetings.

This post is written for the white folks in our network, especially white group coordinators, with some reflection questions to ask yourselves when tabling this at meetings. Continue reading “What can our group do to support #BlackLivesMatter?”

Racist State Violence: A US and UK Problem

Credit: Victoria Pickering, taken the morning after protests in Washington D.C. on 31st May.

The violent crackdown and use of rubber bullets and CS gas on peaceful protestors in the United States has shone a light on the increased militarisation of the police which is happening around the world. Tear gas, which can cause serious injuries, miscarriage, and even death, is a chemical weapon banned for use in war, yet it is widely used against civilians from Gaza to Minneapolis.

What is the UK’s role in all this?

Since 2010 the UK has licensed £2 million worth of Security and para-military police goods to the US police, and £18 million worth of ammunition sales to the US military and police, including crowd control ammunition, CS hand grenades, and tear gas. The USA is the second biggest buyer of UK arms in the world. 

UK licensing rules prohibit arms exports where there is a clear risk they might be used in internal repression.

Yet the UK has licensed tear gas to Hong Kong, which used UK-made tear gas against protesters in violent crackdowns in 2014 and 2019; to Egypt, where UK tear gas was used against protesters in Egypt’s Tahrir Square in 2011, aiding a bloody crackdown which killed over 800 people. It has been sold to Greece, where tear gas has been used against refugees, and to France, where tear gas was used against Black Lives Matter protesters in Paris. 

The UK doesn’t just license the sale of weaponry. It actively promotes the sale of crowd control equipment – and with it, the militarisation of policing – through multi-million pound arms fairs like the Defence and Security Equipment International. 

What can I do?

Call on the UK Government to end the licensing of arms to the US. 

The UK government should not be licensing this equipment, and increasing the militarisation of policing, anywhere. Right now, the public outcry against what is happening in the US gives us a window of opportunity to put pressure on. 

Call on the Government to cancel these licences and send a clear message against US state violence and racial injustice. 

Email your MP to stop arming the US now.

Use this moment to speak out against racism here too.

While the UK government can revoke arms export licences to send the US Government a message, it certainly does not have any moral high ground on the issues of state violence and racism. As we demand an end to the licensing of arms of the type used to shut down Black Lives Matter protests, and justice for George Floyd’s family, we must also recognise the need to address our own racism problem in the UK. 

For countless decades, black people have been fighting for an end to the deeply entrenched racial discrimination and inequality affecting the lives of black people and people of colour in the UK, rooted in our colonial past. From police violence, poorer health or education outcomes, to the inaction over the lives lost at Grenfell, or the focus of immigration detention and deportation policies on people of colour. As journalist Afua Hirsh puts it, the racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain.

As well as the continued demands for justice of the people living the experience of racism every day, research from the Race Disparity Audit, the Lammy Review, the Equality Commission, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Racism, E. Tendayi Achiume, all points to the same persistent exclusion and marginalisation of racial and ethnic minorities.

Find out more

The UK needs deep, structural change if we are to see true equality. And this begins with white people educating themselves and stepping up. If you are a white person wanting to find out more, or share information with other white people, here are a few places you could start. 

Learn more about state violence

Stand in solidarity

Take action