Congolese child soldiers, victims of the arms trade

An Amnesty International report has exposed the continuing corrupt arms trade of the five major UN powers, USA, UK, Russia, France and China, who continue to sell weapons to countries which could commit human rights violations and war crimes.

A report by Amnesty International yesterday has exposed the double standards of the world’s major powers when it comes to international law. The report states that the five members of the UN security council, USA, UK, Russia, France and China are responsible for supplying arms to countries which could commit human rights abuses and war crimes.

Ships registered in the UK and managed by UK companies delivered cluster munitions from South Korea to Pakistan between March 2008 and February 2010 for use by the army despite the fact that the UK government pledged to end the use of cluster munitions.

Machine gun/anti aircraft gunparts from Bulgaria were also flown on an Air France passenger flight from Sofia to Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris, in September 2008, towards Nairobi and finally Kigali, Rwanda which could be used in the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict.

Arms sales as a means to control the world

While Amnesty International called for greater compliance from countries to regulate the arms trade a key element of this debate has been ignored.  The sale of arms provide enormous profits for governments but they also play a huge role in how major world powers control the world.

Since the foundation of the European empires supplying arms to compliant or puppet governments and leaders has been an effective policy for Western governments. The sales of arms not only ensures that corrupt regimes obedient to the West remains the dominant force it also fulfills an old colonial strategy called divide and conquer.

The West has been known to sell arms to opposing sides in a conflict. One example is the Iran-Iraq war where the USA, Britain and other European countries sold arms to both sides.

According to Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, a senior fellow with the Center for Peace and Security Studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, “…the United States regularly transfers weapons to countries that its own State Department lists as violating human rights standards.” (Deen: IPS: 19 July, 2010)

The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CATT) is a London-based organisation which aims to eradicate the international arms trade.

On the CATT website figures from the US Congressional Research Service report, ‘Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations 2001-2008‘, 4 September 2009, showed that the top five international arms traders in 2008, in respective order were the USA, Russia, Germany, UK and China.

The international arms trade has had a devastating effect on developing countries and has also prolonged conflicts around the globe.

Amnesty International USA, stated in an article titled, ‘G8 countries arm human rights violator’, on May 19 2003, that “At least two thirds of all global arms transfers between 1997 and 2001 came from five members of the G8 — the US, Russia, France, the UK and Germany.”

Mark Curtis, an independent author and journalist said that up until May 2000 Britain was supplying arms to both sides in the war over the Democratic Republic of Congo. Arms went to Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, while, on the other, it went to Uganda and Rwanda.

Uganda and Angola were both on opposing sides but this did not stop Blair’s government from inviting both to the annual arms exhibition in September 2001. (‘Ten Years of New Labour’s Arms Exports’: May 21, 2007:

Curtis mentions that in June 2002 the British government sold arms to both Pakistan and India during the heights of the tensions between the two countries.

The British government also sold over £400m worth of equipment to the Indonesian military dictatorship since 1997.

The impact that the arms trade has on conflicts around the world is substantial.

According to a CAAT report called, ‘Shelling Out: How taxpayers subsidies the arms trade’: “For decades the UK Government has had a policy of promoting arms exports, seemingly at any cost. The result of this policy is that the UK continues to arm repressive regimes around the world. In 2000, the UK licensed military exports to 30 of the 40 most repressive regimes in the world and British weapons are being used in most of the world’s current conflicts.”

The report adds: “In modern armed conflicts nearly 90% of casualties are civilians with about 40% of those being children. It is estimated that 2000 children are killed or maimed in wars each and every day. It is no accident that the massive rise in casualty figures coincides with the expansion of the arms trade.”

Perhaps the most shocking revelation from this report is the fact that £760m of British taxpayer’s money was used to subsidise the British arms industry.

According to an Amnesty International report, titled ‘UK: New report reveals arms trade out of control as Amnesty members descend on parliament’, on May 10 2006, “…Weak and outdated arms controls are failing to stop brokers and transporters from fuelling massive human rights abuse around the world.”

The evidence provided provokes provocative questions such as how can the world’s major powers claim to be fighting global famine, starvation and poverty while at the same time contributing to all of the conflicts around the world? How can world powers be working towards democracy while at the same time prolonging wars? There are clearly gross contradictions which the mainstream media fail to address.

The evidence points towards the argument that the arms industry is a means by which major world powers control the world. Arms are provided to repressive regimes that are friendly with the major powers ensuring that the right leaders and the right governments are in power and remain in power.

The arms industry is state terrorism and while the major powers get away with fuelling conflicts the media keeps the general public ignorant about these issues.

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