arms trade

Reflections from Stopping the War Business

At the end of the Stopping the War Business international seminar, three participants shared their reflections from the meeting. Here they are below.

Tuuli Vuori

Tuuli taking action against the ADEX arms fairTuuli taking action against the ADEX arms fairIt's good to be in South Korea. I'm from a country which still maintains conscription and I've used half of my life working with issues related to conscientious objection. That is one reason why it feels so special to be in Seoul, as I've heard so much about the campaings that our South Korean friends have been doing here.

Anyway, war profiteering is not the strongest area of my knowledge so I've learned a lot during this seminar. Thanks for the really interesting keynote speakers as well as workshops!

In this seminar we discussed about the consecuenses of war profiteering for the individual people. We also discussed about the vast and dark structures of the war profiteering. Sometimes these structures make me feel very small.

Editorial: Stopping the War Business

War draws on deep roots, and leaves long legacies. Years before the attention-grabbing shots of bombs falling and armoured vehicles rolling around, and well after the photographers have packed up and gone home, violence is being fed, nurtured, and profited from. In November we saw the shocking attacks in Paris – the first business day after the French president 'declared war' on Daesh saw healthy growths in the share prices of some of the world's biggest arms companies.

Stopping the War Business: report

Summary

The Stopping the War Business seminar was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 16 and 17 October, 2015. It was co­hosted by World Without War and War Resisters' International. The seminar provided space for learning about effective tactics used to challenge war profiteers around the world, and forged relationships between campaigners that will inform and enable new campaigns from here onwards. Activists from 21 different countries took part, with 70 participants in total (30 internationals, and 40 Koreans).

Quote from the evaluation: 'I came back with a big bag of knowledge and experiences from different regions that I would very much like to spread the information in my country'

After the seminar, a nonviolence training and then action against the ADEX arms fair took place. The seminar and the actions were deliberately linked, in order to support local activists in their struggle against a local example of war profiteering, and to put the learnings and relationships built up during the seminar into action.

Amnesty International: Taking Stock: the arming of Islamic State

Amnesty International press release, sourced from here.

Decades of poorly regulated arms flows into Iraq as well lax controls on the ground have provided the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) with a large and lethal arsenal that is being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale in Iraq and Syria, Amnesty International has said in a new report.  

Research, funding and the arms trade

A PhD student studying applied matematics at a university in Britain reflects on the links between academia and the arms trade.

When I started my PhD in applied mathematics around one third of my proposed funding plan was to come from BAE systems. Knowing very little about BAE and the arms trade in general I did some research, and was horrified at what I found. It soon became clear that there was no way I wanted their money or any involvement with them, which fortunately did not involve me dropping out of my PhD, just taking a funding cut. This move was a knee-jerk reaction; one which I have been trying to justify ever since. I do not struggle to justify standing against weapons research, but mathematical research by nature can have many unpredictable outcomes; a new technology that might seem like a genuine asset to humankind is only a couple of modifications from the latest killing machine, so even non-military research cannot be truly considered safe.

Stopping the weapons conference

New Zealand is a place often associated with its nuclear-free position, and it rates highly on the global peace index. In spite of a relatively bucolic lifestyle downunder, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, plays host to an annual weapons conference in November where about 550 delegates representing 165 companies converge for an annual weapons conference.Peace Action Wellington: Activists blockade the entrance to the weapons conferencePeace Action Wellington: Activists blockade the entrance to the weapons conference

War profiteering: the neoliberal militarism

Jordi Calvo Rufanges

War profiteering is explained with the military economy cycle which is based - as is most sectors of the economy - on neoliberal logic, the free market, privatization and reduction of regulations. It causes attitudes strictly related to personal enrichment and maximizing the economic benefit in the defense industry, forming the so-called neoliberal militarism. Moreover war profiteering goes beyond arms and defense sector. War needs lots of resources, not only weapons and armies, also logistics, transport, food, cleaning, translation services and private security. There are also wars for greed, which is not only power but also resources: oil, coltan, diamonds and whatever can be bought and sold in a market. Economic profits are part of war and wars are also made for profit.

The relation between militarisation and extractive industries. A view from Latin America.

Lexys Rendón

Between 2003 and 2013 - while the rest of the world experienced a wave of economic crises - Latin America showed good economic indicators. The continent benefited from the “boom of price in raw materials”; historically, the region's main export products are energy resources like oil, gas, coal and other minerals, and this continues today. In 2011, for example, 13 of the 20 biggest companies in Latin America belonged to the oil, gas, mining and iron and steel sectors. The money that entered the region managed to reduce poverty; in 2012, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) affirmed that the continent showed the lowest percentage of poverty (28.8% of total population) in the last 30 years.

However, the high economic incomes were not only destined to reduce levels of extreme poverty, they were also intended to modernise the armed forces of Latin American countries by a significant increase in arms purchases. In a study carried out by Peace Laboratory, based on figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) it was revealed that Latin America had increased it's weapons purchases by 150%, spending $13.624 million between 2000 to 2010. Military spending worldwide in 2012 reached $1.7 billion, or 2.5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Latin America, defence spending was about 4% of its total GDP, above the world average.

North East Asia-Geopolitics, Arms Race and Jeju Naval Base in the Middle

Wook-sik Cheong

How can North East Asia best be defined geopolitically? Geographically one can say North East Asia includes North Korea, South Korea, Japan, all of territorial China and a part of the Russian territory. The de facto state of Taiwan occupies a very strategic and important place geopolitically. Although geographically not located in the region one cannot exclude the United States, a country that exercises the greatest influence and the most powerful state actor geopolitically in the region.

The Korean peninsula occupies a particularly important place geopolitically in North East Asia. Over the past centuries there has been a series of wars including the Imjin War (the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592) and the Manchu War of 1636, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 towards the latter period of the Choson Dynasty, the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, and the colonization of the Korean peninsula by Japan followed by the division of the peninsula, the Korean War and subsequent armistice. Geopolitically, the Korean peninsula has increasingly become a highly sensitive region. If maritime powers such as Japan and the United States continue to expand, territorial powers such as China and Russia will seek to use the Korean peninsula as a buffer zone to check this expansion. On the other hand if territorial powers continue their expansion then Japan and the United States would be very wary of the threat of territorial powers using the peninsula to exert force against Japan.

Corruption and the arms trade

Andrew Feinstein

The global trade in arms is a business that counts its profits in billions and its costs in human lives. It is arguably the most damaging of all trades, accounting for around 40% of all corruption. It has massive influence on the way our governments operate, ensuring that war is a preferred option to diplomacy, and that we spend billions of dollars every year on weapons we often don’t need. It perpetuates, makes more deadly and sometimes even causes conflict and repression.

Global military expenditure is estimated to have totalled $1.77 trillion in 2014, that is more than $250 for every person on the planet. This was a fall of 0.4% on the previous year and is about 2.3% of global GDP.

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