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.

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.

Research released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that over the last five years, India has become the world's biggest importer of arms, accounting for 12% of all arms imports between 2013 and 2017, and a signifant increase (24%) on the previous five years.

Thales is a French company, part owned by the French government, that builds a vast range of radars, sonars and electronic surveillance satellites, tactical communication systems and combat management systems, drones, helicopter avionics, armoured vehicles, mortar systems and missiles.

For the past few years, the Finnish arms trade has been changing. Data compiled by the peace and security think-tank SaferGlobe shows that the largest export region used to be the European Union, since 2015 the top position has been taken by Middle Eastern countries.

In London, activists arrested taking nonviolent direct action against the DSEI arms fair have been in court in a series of trials. A large number of the defendants – mainly accused of obstruction of the highway – have been acquitted or had their cases dropped, successfully arguing that they were acting within their human rights to protest peacefully.

Chemring Group is the world's 68th biggest arms company, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The company was formed in 1905, and now employs just under 3,000 people. The companies profits in 2016 came to £8 million before tax.

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