Date: Fri, 15 Nov 96 11:00:24 JST
From: Masahiko Aoki 
Subject: [aml:2453] CAMPAIGNERS HAMMER ON ARMS INDUSTRY DOORS
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Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 14:23:33 -0500
X-Sender: disenber@mail.cdi.org
To: armtrade@cdi.org
From: David Isenberg 
Subject: CAMPAIGNERS HAMMER ON ARMS INDUSTRY DOORS

 
The material that follows has been provided by Gemini News Service 


CAMPAIGNERS HAMMER ON ARMS INDUSTRY DOORS

Campaigners pressing for curbs on the $22 billion a year global arms market
have been heartened by a British jury's decision to acquit four women who
admitted damaging a jet fighter destined for Indonesia. But hopes for a code
of conduct for weapon sales, reports Gemini News Service, are still a long
way off.

By Tony Seskus,
2 August 1996,
London 


When four women walked free from a British court despite admitting damaging
a fighter jet destined for Indonesia, weapons exporters were shocked - and
so was a leading anti-arms group.

"Obviously our concerns are very different from manufacturers, but we both
have them," says Andrew Mclean of the anti-arms group Saferworld. "It was
the right decision, but it isn't necessarily great news for our movement."

Citing British and international legislation against genocide, the women
argued they were justified in sneaking into a British Aerospace plant and
battering the jet with hammers on the grounds that they were "using
reasonable force to prevent a crime" - the repression of the people of East
Timor, thousands of whom have been killed since Indonesia invaded the former
Portuguese colony in 1975.

The jury agreed, and human rights activists and church groups heralded the
decision as a rare example of the "higher cause" outweighing the usual
considerations of criminal law.

The arms industry fears the acquittal of the women will pave the way for
attacks on other manufacturers' plants. "There's a precedent there I think
should be closely looked at closely," says John Marrit of
Aerostrucures-Hanble, a company that helps build British Aerospace technology.

If the weapons manufacturers' response was predictable, Saferworld's was not. 

Mclean's group agrees with the jury's decision - the group wants curbs on
arms exports to countries with poor human rights records, regions of
instability, military aggressors and dictatorships - but worries the case
will make their movement look "radical - an image they are trying to shed.

It is the same dilemma that has led the environmental group Greenpeace to
downplay its traditional headline-capturing stunts and instead focus on
boardroom negotiations with companies and on producing innovative ideas to
deal with pollution. It is vital to work with industry on finding solutions,
says the organisation, because confrontation often simply causes companies
to take up entrenched positions.

Similarly, Saferworld is trying to build a "responsible" image that will
allow it to work with governments and the arms industry. They worry the jet
damage will marginalise the movement. 

"I think we have to be careful," counsels Mclean. "The kind of people
[company executives] we're trying to shift on the issue are going to be very
frustrated by the decision and in some ways it will make it easier for them
to dismiss the movement as a radical, left-wing, subversive campaign, "We're
trying to make it a much more mainstream thing and build consensus behind it."

Saferworld's tactic is to convince European governments and arms
manufacturers to curb production on economic rather than on moral grounds.
It quotes a 1995 government report which says the weapons market will shrink
by 20 per cent over the next five years, and that profits are shrinking as
other countries - especially those in Asia - manufacture weapons at cheaper
prices. 

Saferworld says the industry must diversify before the market collapses.
"We're not against the industry, but I think it's clear that its future will
be quite grim unless it makes changes," McLean says.

A report by another by another British organisation, Campaign Against Arms
Trade (CAAT), says the only reason the industry is still in business is
because of massive subsidies. 

"The claim that military exports create jobs for British workers is
nonsense," says Susan Brown of CAAT. "While the government pumps over Åv1
billion into military export industries every year, over 1,000 jobs are
being lost in the same industry every month. Just think what Åv1 billion
annual investment could do if it were put into expanding rather than
contracting sectors of the economy."

Arms control campaigners in the United States - who in July lost a Senate
attempt to introduce an arms trade code of conduct - also use the
"boomerang" argument: "Irresponsible arms exports boomerang back on the US,"
warns Republican Senator Mark Hatfield, sponsor of the Code of Conduct Bill.
"In the last four foreign engagements - Iraq. Somalia. Panama. and Haiti -
American troops have faced weapons supplied by American manufacturers."

Britain's World Development Movement (WDM) and other development lobby are
pressing for arms deals by countries of the European Union to be covered by
a legally binding code of conduct.

They support a range of measures including public disclosure of all deals,
mechanisms to monitor how arms are used, and restrictions on sales to
countries violating human rights.

At an international level, former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace
Prize winner Dr Oscar Arias Sanchez is trying to get a code accepted by the
United Nations.

WDM's Ivan Nutbrown says the British jet damage acquittal "shows public
opinion is changing and that people can make a difference."

He admits the code campaigners have not even started discussions with arms
manufacturers, and says the priority is to build up political momentum in
order to pressure companies into talks.

Campaigners are up against a powerful, secretive, competitive industry that
cultivates high level political links; governments desperate for foreign
exchange; and the argument by the companies and governments alike, that "if
we don't sell them weapons someone else will."

Marrit puts the case urbanely but firmly: "We operate within the
international market place and by so doing there are 'nice-to-do's' and
need-to-do's' and obviously we follow the latter. There are other things
that occupy our attention in the real market place."


About the Author: TONY SESKUS is a Canadian journalist on a fellowship with
Gemini News Service.
Copyright: News-Scan International Ltd (1996) 2/8 
Gemini News Service Home Page 


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        ê¬ñÿâÎïF
        Masahiko Aoki
E-mail:btree@osk.threewebnet.or.jp
Nifty-serve:BYP03111
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