France

For many years, it looked like obligatory military service was on the way out. But in the last five years, the picture has changed: Norway has extended conscription for women; Sweden has reintroduced conscription for all; Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Kuwait have reintroduced conscription for men after short hiatuses; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have introduced conscription for the first time. We look at why governments are turning to compulsion in filling their armies, and what this means for pacifist movements.

From 11 to 15 September, Geneva will be hosting the Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty. The world’s third largest purveyor of armaments, France has a privileged relationship in this area with Saudi Arabia and its allies. According to hitherto undisclosed data revealed to Orient XXI by the Observatoire des Armements, the French government used a contract for weapons ostensibly meant for Lebanon to prepare for the Kingdom’s war in Yemen and speed up delivery at the height of that conflict.

WRI's Handbook for Nonviolent Campaigns is now available in French! The translation was completed by friends at the Union Pacifiste de France, collaborating with WRI staff on the design work – to get a copy of the book, please email andrew@wri-irg.org.

MagForce (or Mag Force) International is a manufacturer of military equipment based in France, with head offices in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers. The company sells equipment and vehicles to militaries and the police forces around the world, including uniforms and other clothing, armoured vehicles, and crowd control weaponry. The company’s website includes various water cannons, riot shields, and chemical weapons such as mace.

The eviction of the Calais "jungle" migrant camp took place in early November 2016, and saw thousands of migrants who had gathered in the port town moved across France. The camp had become one of the best-known examples of how free movement in Europe is only an option for some, and shows us how a militarised border regime functions. New research by the Calais Research Network has found over 40 companies profiting from security guards, walls and fences, border technology, deportation and detention systems, police support, and police weaponry.

The Eurosatory arms fair took place in Paris this month. The 'Defence and Security' fair, one of the largest in the world, takes place every two years. For many years, opposition to Eurosatory took the form of one woman, Yvonna Kressman, faithfully standing outside on her own, over decades. Gradually the word has spread, and this year campaigners from Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands joined French antimilitarists and others to make sure it wasn't “business as usual” for the arms trade. There was significantly more disruption, protest and awareness-raising than ever before.

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Pacifists in Europe will be travelling to Paris in June to protest the Eurosatory arms fair. Some will travel as part of a pilgrimage from Germany, via Strasbourg and arms factories. There will be actions on train stations as delegates arrive, vigils, and a demonstration on Tuesday 14th June at 6.30pm at Les Invalides. Follow @noneurosatory on twitter and sign their petition online. Also this week in Wales, activists have been disrupting the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability Fair in Cardiff. The event was previously held in nearby Bristol, but had to be moved because of protests here. Find photos here.

Read more, or write to noneurosatory2@gmail.com for more info...

Militarism is guns, armored tanks and drones, but it’s also a state of mind. Militarised mentalities have permeated many police forces and amplified dramatically the force of police violence against our communities.

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