West Midlands Area NUS Ethical & Environmental Officer and BUGS Independent Chair, Tom Hyner, writes the first of many regular blogs, this time on Arms Control.
As a part of my remit to raise awareness on the issues surrounding ethics and the environment, I have chosen to write a couple of blogs concerning international arms controls. This is as important an issue as any for the contemporary world as Britain plays such a big part historically in this area. The 2005 general election Labour party manifesto proclaimed proudly that Labour had already:
… introduced a strict regime to control the export of conventional weapons, and we led moves for EU-wide measures. We will work actively to secure an international treaty on the arms trade.
The Labour Party, 2005, p.85
However, despite progress, there is still a long way to go to bring accountability and change to the international arms transfer system. The facts are as stark as they are shocking, as between 1996 and 2000 the UK ranked fourth in the world for exporting major conventional weapons systems, cornering about 10% of the world market. In the UK alone, arms exports are worth around £5 Billion every year and supports around 90,000 jobs.
The Oxfam, Amnesty, IANSA report “Arms Without Borders” stated that: “…the US Congressional Research Service estimated that collectively, countries in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa spent $22.5bn on arms during 2004; 8 per cent more than they did in 2003. This sum would have enabled those countries to put every child in school and to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015, fulfilling two of the Millennium Development Goals.”
Labour Students, amongst other groups still supports important campaigns to change how this sytem operates. The control of arms exports is crucial for any form of ‘ethical foreign policy’ or ‘progressive’ international society as the sales of arms to nations believed to abuse human rights is, in effect, at the discression of the governments involved. Please help to make whatever change we can by putting your name to the petition on the link below: