The official justification for the Government’s unquestioning support for the arms trade is that it is vital to safeguard “national security”. CAAT’s Arms to Renewables campaign argues that we must shift priorities to tackle the root causes of insecurity.
What is security?
For individuals in the UK and all over the world, security means having basic needs met and feeling safe in our homes and communities.
In contrast, the Government views security almost exclusively through a military lens. Its National Security Strategy is based on military force and the projection of power. Continue reading “A New Vision of Security”
In this blog anti arms trade writer and campaigner Nicholas Gilby, author of Deception in High Places – A History of Bribery In Britain’s Arms Trade, analyses misconceptions about the arms trade treaty.
The Arms Trade Treaty came into force on 24 December 2014. At the time of writing the Treaty has been signed by 131 states and ratified by 61. I want to try and clear up some misconceptions about the Treaty that have been aired in the commentaries surrounding its the entry into force.
Will the Arms Trade Treaty prohibit the sale of arms which might be used to violate human rights?
The short answer is no.
The Arms Trade Treaty sets out criteria for when arms exports should be prohibited (Article 6) and the criteria which should be used when deciding whether other arms exports should be permitted (Article 7).
From Israel to Hong Kong, the arms export controls system is broken.
The UK’s arms export policy rarely comes under as much scrutiny as it did this summer. As Israel launched its devastating attacks on Gaza which were to leave more than 2,000 dead, over 500 of them children, the UK’s arms sales and military collaboration with Israel were challenged from all sides.
Last month Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, pronounced on Russia’s support for separatists in Ukraine: “They have been supplying them, they have been supporting them… They cannot deny their responsibility for the acts that these people are carrying out.”
He is right, but the same could be said of the UK’s support for Israel in the bombardment of Gaza.
Since 2010 the UK government has licensed £42 million worth of military equipment to Israel, including targeting systems and drone components. Even the UK government’s own review found 12 licences for components that may well have been used in the bombardment of Gaza.
The government’s response to its own review was shocking. It said it would suspend the licences only if ‘significant’ hostilities resumed. Yet even when Israel renewed its attacks on Gaza, with a further seven days of conflict, it did not do so. Continue reading “UK must stop arming Israel”
It was a surreal sight to see Foreign Secretary William Hague posing with Hollywood’s most famous couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the recent high profile Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Responding to media accusations that he was “hobnobbing” and “starstruck”, Hague defended the importance of his role at the summit, telling Radio 4 listeners that “this is about conflict prevention.”
So let’s take a look at Hague’s record on conflict prevention.
In the past the authorities in the United States have been much more successful in prosecuting foreign bribery by their companies than the authorities in Britain.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s latest report on steps taken to implement and enforce the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the United Kingdom is far more scanty than that for the United States (even after allowing for the fact the economy of the United States is much bigger than the UK’s). Further, since the Bribery Act 2010 came into force in the UK almost three years ago, there has been no conviction of anyone for foreign bribery under the Act. And last year, in 2013, there was only one conviction of someone for foreign bribery under the previous legislation. So how can the UK improve its record, and what should those wishing to see this happen do?
We are writing with respect to the National Security Strategy (NSS) review and the Defence and Security Review (DSR), both of which are scheduled to be published following the 2015 General Election. We do so in light of the report of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (DC), Towards the Next Defence and Security Review, (HC 197), published on 7 January, to which several of us submitted evidence, and the Government’s response, published on 26 March. We understand that the recommendations of this report will be the subject of a parliamentary debate in the coming months.
We urge you to ensure that the NSS and DSR processes help to shape the UK’s strategy in the world in a coherent manner. In summary, we believe:
At this time of flux, there is a need to address some fundamental questions that have been neglected in the past, in particular the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and threats to security.
There is a need to be honest about the UK’s capability to contribute to tackling security challenges, and the Government needs to be prepared to change its approach, not simply focusing on dealing with the symptoms of insecurity.
This discussion needs to be frank, inclusive and (as far as possible) take place in the public realm.
The DSR needs to sit clearly and transparently within the NSS, with its decisions justified by reference to the NSS.
It was billed as the “auction of dreams”- but Liberal Democrats arriving for their spring fundraiser in Twickenham were met by protesters with placards, Vince Cable masks and some uncomfortable truths.
With Baroness Shirley Williams attending as the after dinner speaker and guests including Greg Dyke, Lord Oakshott and Geoff Pope it must have been embarrassing for Vince Cable to have his track record of support for the arms industry laid bare.