Arms Trade – 1

A letter sent to the European Commission

‘With the number of conflicts around the world increasing, the EU should be in the forefront of seeking to reduce weapons of all sorts, not encouraging their sales.  As you are aware, in purely economic terms, conflicts prevent international trade, and lead to greater corruption and bad governance.  And then, there is the ‘people’ cost, with civilians bearing most of the deaths.  It also means a loss of potential skilled workforces in these countries.

I would like to see the following put into place:

  • A publically-held list of countries with a reasonable record of human rights, to be determined by an independent group consisting of MEPs (who have no connection with defence companies directly or in-directly) and NGOs representatives (eg Amnesty International), with whom possible trade in weapons could be undertaken.
  • A publically-held framework of conditions that a sale to one of the above countries would be considered to take into account those countries’ actual defence needs and their effect on their economy, especially in terms of expenditure on education and health.
  • An effective end-user monitoring system is put in place to prevent any weapons sold or given to the above countries being passed onto countries not on the approved list.  A website set up with annual reports.  The group monitoring should be independent of the EU.
  • BAE Systems and other large arms companies are broken up into several smaller companies to reduce corruption.
  • Sufficient funding is made available to communities affected by the reduction in orders as a result of the above changes to develop alternative industries to take on the skilled staff made redundant.
  • All Pension Funds to have to withdraw from investments in defence companies.  They are making money out of people’s misery.
  • Government ministers and members of any of the Royal Families to refrain from encouraging or supporting defence exports (like at the Farnborough Air Show).
  • Arms Trade Fairs to be banned throughout the EU as they encourage a militaristic viewpoint instead of a defensive one.
  • Each EU member country to set up a Commission to determine their own actual defence  requirements, but also the processes to obtain such equipment and any training required to use it (which are based on the EU Directive – see below).  It should also take into account of their responsibilities within the United Nations peacekeeping forces, and Rapid Intervention Forces alongside NATO.  This Commission to consist of the country’s Minister of Defence plus a few of that country’s MEPs (who are not connected with the Defence industry directly or indirectly).  Ideally, the MEP’s should be cross-party.
  • An EU Directive is created based on the above principles.  This is to include the processes to obtain such equipment, which would cover from whom they are obtained (based on their human rights and environmental record – countries and companies), the areas of application to which the equipment is to be used (and whether they fulfil the requirements of the various Treaties in place like the one for Cluster Bombs) and whether they are necessary (in terms of avoiding excess buying of military equipment and hardware).  Also the Directive should stipulate the need to take into account value for money and effectiveness and not for political reasons.
  • In light of the lengthy period of consultation over the International Arms Treaty, an EU-wide version of it should be urgently put in place, which would be even stricter and more enforceable than the current status of the Treaty.

I look forward to your response to the above brief points.

Thank you for your help in these matters.’

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