ARMS TRADE  | history | british | investments | effects | action | news | ethicallinks

  Burning Tower of Guns
  Kenya marked the third anniversary of
  the signing of the Nairobi Declaration on
  Small Arms and Light Weapons with a
  symbolic burning of 1000 weapons in

A steady rise in arms sales since the late 1990s continues. Today the combined sale of the top 100 arms companies amounts to some $268 billion. US and West European companies accounted for most of this sum: 63.3% was accounted for by 40 US companies, and 29.4% by 36 West European companies.

In the post-cold war period concentration within the arms industry has increased: the top 5 companies' share of arms sales has increased from 22 per cent in 1990 to 44 per cent in 2003.

National shares of arms sales of the top 100 arms-producing
companies in the world
(excluding China)

There are some simple facts about the trade in arms.
The simplest fact
: The arms trade is the only trade whose products are designed exclusively to kill and destroy. It is also a trade that is uniquely supported by government.

Another simple fact: The arms trade is a huge transnational industry. It employs hundreds of thousands of men and women who make a living and bring up their children on the proceeds of arms sales. This means that they depend on the misery, and the deaths, of people they do not know, people in unfamiliar countries who are also trying to earn wages and rear their children.

Another simple fact: The income many British pensioners and charities receive comes from investments in arms manufacturing companies - the bigger the sales, the better the income.

Another simple fact: Many arms sales are made to poor developing countries whose governments choose to spend their limited resources on weapons rather than on their people’s essential needs. Often such sales are underwritten by the British government. This means that British taxpayers end up subsidising the impoverishment of millions.

These are just a few facts about the arms trade. There are many more. Of course, the full picture is more complicated. But however you look at it one fact can’t be disputed: the arms trade at the very least makes us all poorer: money that could be spent on beneficial things is spent on weapons and the other equipment of war. It also diminishes us as caring human beings. The arms trade kills and disrupts the lives of people at the receiving end of what it exists to make.
Is this too harsh?

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