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.

Four days after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, a human rights and environmental activist from Honduras, activists in Canada entered the world's largest mining convention taking place in Canada, to protest extractivist projects that lead to militarisation, violence and human rights absuses. The group named some of those killed because of their activism against large-scale mining projects before being escorted from the event by police.

Activists from Peace Action Wellington (PAW) organised two days of nonviolent direct actions against the annual Weapons Conference held in New Zealand (NZ) last November. Following their peaceful protests, dozens were arrested and taken to court. 26 activists returned to court on 18 February to defend their right to peaceful demonstration. As an outcome, 25 protesters are still facing charges and were remanded to appear again on 11th March.

The European Parliament has voted in support of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. The European Network Against the Arms Trade (ENAAT) were part of efforts to lobby Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to impose the European-wide arms embargo. The lobbying action included groups from Germany, UK, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

“Every bomb that is dropped, every bullet that is fired, has to be made somewhere. And wherever that is, it can be resisted.”

Smash EDO

For anyone involved in anti-militarist campaigning, the Seeds of Hope action has almost mythical status. Not only as an extremely radical and inspiring action; but as an example of how a jury's verdict can be decided on moral grounds on the basis of trying to prevent a greater crime. I have been running direct action trainings for a few years and I don't think there's a single one where Seeds of Hope didn't get mentioned, and its reach extends far beyond the anti-militarist movement.

Originally published on WRI's antimili-youth.net website

Activists from Peace Action Wellington (PAW) organised two days of nonviolent direct actions against the annual Weapons Conference held in New Zealand (NZ) last November. Following their peaceful protests, 27 activists - 26 of whom keep fighting charges - were arrested and taken to court. On 18 February they are standing trial again, defending their right to peaceful demonstration for peace and justice.

Sending our solidarity messages to the activists in Wellington, we reached Valerie Morse from PAW and asked her about their campaign Stop the Weapons Conference as well as many other questions on militarism and the antimilitarist movement in New Zealand.

A destroyed house in Yemen. Photo: wikipedia

The European Parliament has voted in support of an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. The European Network Against the Arms Trade (ENAAT) were part of efforts to lobby Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to impose the European-wide arms embargo. The lobbying action included groups from Germany, UK, Spain, Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Groups from across Europe tweeted and emailed MEP's using the #StopArmingSaudiArabia hashtag, and the vote was passed on the 25th February, despite being heavily opposed by diplomats from Saudi Arabia, who met with and wrote to MEPs before the vote.

Martin Broek

Defence-industries profiting of the Dutch tax laws are double cynical. Apart from ethical objections, the defence industry are evading the very taxes which are uses by their governments to pamper them, buy their product, subsidize their research and facilitate their exports.

In 2009, US president Obama put the Netherlands on his list of the world's worst tax havens. The Dutch government did its utmost to deny this allegation. But the issue was on the agenda and has never disappeared since.

Tahoe Resources is a Canadian mining company. In mid-2010, Tahoe acquired the Escobal mine in southeast Guatemala from Goldcorp; Escobal is a 'high grade silver' mine, and also contains gold, lead and zinc. Some analysts believe it to be one of the biggest silver mines in the world. The Escobal mine is approximately 40km southeast of Guatemala City, and 3km from San Rafael los Flores.

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

It'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.

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.

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