Britain Should Be Exporting Peace– Not Arms

by Outreach ~ August 11th, 2014. Filed under: News.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Russia.. these are some of the countries that continue to receive arms sales from the United Kingdom. With the breaking news that the UK has 250+ arms licenses with Russia still open, despite David Cameron’s claim that they were all closed, it’s now time once again to assess the ethically questionable nature of arms export.

In this case these licenses cover the sale of body armour, sniper rifles, and equipment for launching and controlling missiles, among other ammunition valued at a minimum of 132 million pounds which is ready for export to Moscow. This isn’t the first time the UK is under fire for their arms exports. Committees within the British parliament demanded clarification on 2004-2010 weapons licenses with Israel as well as with Syria in 2012.

The UK’s continued support of an arms trade with Israel has in part led senior Foreign Office minister Lady Warsi to resign, calling the way in which the UK approaches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “morally indefensible”.

It’s difficult to imagine a country with as much colonial and capitalist history as Great Britain to function without exporting arms, but it’s a future that we must actively pursue. President of the Global Security Institute Jonathan Granoff says that first world powers need to “face the very real, indisputable, twenty-first century reality that our security is interminably intertwined with everyone else’s who shares our planet”. Compassion is a doing word. It cannot be an elementary idea tossed around a coffeehouse table but it must be a true and legislative action.


The UK has a bold opportunity to foster compassionate growth and turn it into decisive aid. The Conflict Pool [CP] is a funding mechanism for non-military conflict resolution and conflict prevention. The flexibility of the CP and its ability to respond quickly to escalating events makes it very effective in potentially hostile and unpredictable environments. Harnessing the power of the Conflict Pool would allow the UK to drop its inhumane and barbaric arms traditions for more peaceful and more effective solutions.

The UK governments alienation of compassionate peacebuilding has led to expensive nuclear hoarding programmes such as Trident. The UK has adopted a Cold War approach to military peacebuilding based on the imminent threat of nuclear devastation that no longer exists. This way of acting is abhorrently expensive with Trident nuclear missile costs reaching over £130 billion. Not only does the arms race cost a gross amount of money it is also utterly backwards thinking. It’s important to foster a nuanced and pragmatic approach that would allow the UK to blossom as a globally compassionate and humanist nation.

The Conflict Pool acknowledges that different countries have different problems that could escalate to conflict. We have seen success in different countries such as Sierra Leone, Yemen and Pakistan. The conflict pool has facilitated dialogues between the governments. In Yemen it has helped dissolve some of the tribal and ethnic conflicts that have happened between the groups that operate in that country. It has also worked hard to deliver an effective policing regarding the proliferation between small arms.

The Conflict Pool should be regarded as an opportunity to shift the focus of security from military security to non-military peacebuilding. Military peace building is simply not sustainable. Acting compassionately would allow the UK to ascend as a refreshed world power- one that exports peace, not arms.

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