War Profiteers

WRI activists disrupting the welcome dinner at the ADEX arms fair
WRI activists disrupting the welcome dinner at the ADEX arms fair

Economics is one of the key causes of war - wherever there is a military conflict, someone is profiting from it. We call this "war profiteering".

WRI looks at war profiteering in a broad sense - we consider all companies and initiatives that benefit financially from military conflict as war profiteers, in some sense. This includes the arms trade and companies profiteering for the privatisation and outsourcing of the military, but also those extracting natural resources in conflict zones, financial institutions investing in arms companies, and many others.

WRI publishes a quarterly magazine called War Profiteers' News (in English and Spanish), and organises events to bring campaigners and researchers together to share strategies against war profiteering. In 2017 we will gather members and friends of the WRI network in London, for a seminar called “Stopping the War Business”. Campaigners will share experiences and strategies of countering the arms trade and other war profiteers. The seminar will take place at the same time  as the DSEI arms fair, where we will also take nonviolent direct action together. In 2015, we organised a similar event in Seoul, South Korea, which took place at the same time as the ADEX arms fair.

In Paris, activists from across Europe joined with French protesters to take action against the Eurosatory arms fair, a biannual event that in 2018 saw over 1,700 arms companies exhibit their products to 57,000 individuals from over 150 countries, including military delegations from across the world.

After many years of campaigning by local activists, the Sterlite copper plant in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has been permanently shut down by local officials, days after 13 people were killed by police gun fire, and over 100 injured during protests that turned violent on 23rd May.

A new report from the Transnational Institute exposes the huge impact of the European Union's “border externalisation” policies, the companies that profit, and the huge numbers of people impacted. Expanding the Fortress explores how migration control has become a major part of the EU's foreign relations, with externalisation policies requiring neighbours to “act as Europe's border guards”.

The trial of six ex-employees of German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch has begun in Germany. The six ex-employees are accused of illegally exporting 4,500 assault rifles and other guns to Mexico, where they ended up in states effected by violence subject to a ban by the German state.

War Profiteers News is WRI's monthly email bulletin about the arms industry and other types of war profiteering. April's edition has just been released, and covers stories about “weapons inspectors” visiting a British missile company, legal proceedings against an Italian arms company and officials response for arms exports licensing, and a profile of a Belgian arms company called CMI Defence.

On Monday 9th April ‘The People’s Weapons Inspectors’ blocked the gates of arms manufacturer Roxel in the UK, and attempted to inspect the site. The inspectors believe that the site is supplying weapons components that could be used by the Saudi Arabian military to commit war crimes against the people of Yemen.

CMI (“Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie”) Defence is a Belgian company, building a wide range of artillery systems for light and medium armoured vehicles, as well as related services and training, including simulation systems, maintenance and repair, and upgrades.

The promotion of peace and human rights is a priority of Swiss foreign policy. But consistency doesn’t seem to be a highly held value in the small Alpine country; not only do Swiss financial institutions - like private and public banks, insurance companies and pension funds - invest billions in arms producing companies all over the world, Swiss-made weapons and military technology are used in many conflicts.

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