Arms trade 'undermines efforts to relieve debt'
Read on for accusations from Oxfam, Amnesty International and
others, that five of the G8 nations [the US, Britain, France, Russia
and Germany] are "the world's biggest arms exporters, accounting for 84
per cent of the global trade". While the accusations are timely, none
come close to being the 9 o'clock news, or at least not for those who
have read Asoka Bandarage's "Women, Population and Global Crisis"
[London New Jersey Zed Books, 1997, and a MUST for every feminist
To quote some of Asoka's revelations on the subject:
"The total global military expenditure of $815 billion in 1992 equalled
the income of almost half the world's population. Notwithstanding
expressions of intent to 'observe rules of restraint' in arms sales to
volatile regions,all the five permanent members of the UN Security
Council continue to be concerned more with protecting the comparative
advantage of their respective arms industries and export markets than
with preventing proliferation. These five countries - the US, Russia ,
France, Britain and China - together account for over 80 per cent of
all global trade. When Germany is added to this group, they account for
90 per cent".
Back in 1997 Asoka clearly illustrated the devastating impact of the
arms trade on third world poverty, particularly with respect to
feminized poverty, and yet on the eve of the impending G8 fest in
Gleneagles,Scotland, not a single word has been forthcoming from Bush
Jnr, or Tony Blair, about curbing the export of military weapons and
equipment. And until military exports cease, developing countries
remain in a debt trap, the price for which is increasingly the burden
of women. In other words, the rhetoric of Blair and his G8 counterparts
is a total crock! - Lynette
PS:With apologies to Asoka if I have misquoted your words in my anger
over all of this BS which we have been force fed about the G8 solution
to Africa's poverty.
The Independent -- London -- Wednesday June 22 2005
Arms trade 'undermines efforts to relieve debt'
By Andrew Grice, Political Editor
The world's richest nations stand accused of double standards -
exporting billions of pounds worth of arms to poor countries while
discussing measures to lift them out of poverty.
In a joint report published today, pressure groups including Oxfam and
Amnesty International say the G8 countries are compounding the problems
in developing nations, including much of Africa, by allowing them to
import costly arms and weapons.
Tomorrow, G8 foreign ministers, meeting in London, will consider a
proposal by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary for a watertight
worldwide treaty covering small arms as well as major weapons. Although
today's report strongly endorses his proposal, it could also prove
embarrassing because it criticises Britain over its arms exports.
According to the report, Britain is the world's second biggest arms
supplier with exports estimated at $4.3bn (£2.2bn) between 1996 and
2003, less than America's $15.18bn but more than other G8 nations such
as France ($3.02bn), Russia ($2.62bn) and Germany ($1.08bn). The five
countries are the world's biggest arms exporters, accounting for 84 per
cent of the global trade.
The pressure groups express concern that open licences for multiple
shipments issued by Britain for exports to Turkey could allow weapons
to be sent on to other countries with whom Britain would not trade
directly. They say Britain has licensed arms exports to countries with
serious human rights concerns, including Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Nepal,
Israel and Indonesia. They also raise fears that the Government is not
putting enough resources and staff behind new legislation on arms
control which took effect last year.
The United States is accused of providing military aid to states guilty
of persistent human rights violations including Pakistan, Nepal and
Israel, while France is alleged to have exported bombs, grenades,
ammunition and mines and to countries subject to EU arms embargoes,
such as Burma and Sudan.
The pressure groups warn that the trade could jeopardise Britain's goal
during its year in the G8 presidency of relieving global poverty
because the purchase of arms diverts resources in poor countries.
The report says: "Many of the G8 countries are large donors to aid
programmes in Africa and Asia. However, continuing arms transfers to
developing countries undermine their pledges to relieve debt, combat
Aids, alleviate poverty, tackle corruption and promote good
governance." It also warns that the arms could be used to suppress
human rights and democracy.
It accuses the G8 nations of not matching their rhetoric about arms
sales and Africa with action. "G8 governments have left significant
loopholes in their own arms export standards and control mechanisms.
Their efforts to control arms exports are not in proportion to the G8's
global responsibility," the report says.
The Foreign Office defended Britain's record, saying that export
licence applications were considered on a case-by-case basis and were
blocked if there was a risk they would be used for "internal repression
or external aggression".
But a spokesman admitted: "There is currently no international treaty
that sets binding global standards. The irresponsible and unregulated
trade in these arms inflicts untold misery in some of the world's
poorest and most vulnerable nations, so it is vital to tighten the net
to eliminate blatantly irresponsible trading and ensure legitimate
trade is properly regulated and not diverted to undesirable purposes or
Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, said: "Each
year hundreds of thousands of people are killed, tortured, raped and
displaced through the misuse of arms.
"How can G8 commitments to end poverty and injustice be taken seriously
if some of the very same governments are undermining peace and
stability by deliberately approving arms transfers to repressive