European campaigners meeting in Amsterdam


The European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT) is a loose network of researchers, campaigners and lobbyists. The network meets once a year somewhere in Europe to discuss campaign strategies, political developments and the newest tricks from the arms industry. Although every European country has its specific political culture and the arms industry differs from country to country, there are many reasons to work together. The arms industry is very globalised hardly any country makes a complete weapon system all by itself. Components come from all over Europe, and due to new EU legislation only one country has to grant an arms export licence.

It is very useful to share research methods, translate each other's campaign material, and occasionally join in each other's demonstrations. At present, several ENAAT groups are running campaigns against military investments by banks. Another newly emerging issue is that many countries are privatising parts of their armed forces. This gives rise to a completely new branch of military industry with a huge interest in a permanent state of war. Because for them - even more than for “traditional” arms producers - no war means no business.

Most ENAAT participants come from countries that belong to the European Union. They are confronted with growing European military ambitions and a very active EU arms industry lobby.

All of these issues were discussed at this year's ENAAT meeting in Amsterdam. The report of the meeting and the lectures given are published on .

Although most groups are terribly understaffed and underfunded, they are remarkably successful. Not that any of us is expecting to end the multi-billion arms business overnight, but we are very good at exposing its misbehaviour and making its business as difficult as possible. One of the success factors is that groups do not use just one campaign method but use just about all methods available. In general, a campaign starts with thorough research because much in the arms trade is kept from the public eye. The next step depends on political space and staff possibilities. Sometimes it is wise just to lobby or take legal action. In other cases is more fruitful to organise a highly-visible public action and so interest the media. In recent years ENAAT groups have also become more creative with the use of the internet for campaigning. Examples of this can be seen in the weblog that reported live from the first day of the ENAAT meeting in Amsterdam and that can still be viewed on the above website.

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