Do Arms Trade Protestors Have A Point?
According to the Amnesty International website, there are more trade restrictions on the international trade of bananas than there are on the trade of weaponry. This to me seems very […]
According to the Amnesty International website, there are more trade restrictions on the international trade of bananas than there are on the trade of weaponry. This to me seems very odd. If we’re more focused on who’s allowed to buy and sell bananas than guns, I can’t help but feel that maybe something has gone a bit wrong somewhere.
I’m going to start by saying that I’m not against the arms trade entirely. There’s no denying that it is a massive chunk of the economy. The biggest exporter of armaments, the USA (no prizes for guessing that one), for example, sold over 170 billion dollars worth of arms last year alone. I think that the problem with the arms trade rests in the way it does business. The biggest exporters of armaments are, as a rule, the big economic powers.
The US, France, UK, Russia and China usually make up the top five arms exporters. It seems a tad ironic that these countries are also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security. These countries are supposed to be preventing conflicts around the world, yet most of the arms that they sell go to third world countries, where the weapons are used to kill thousands of people every day.
The problem is that the arms trade has so few rules and regulations. The main exporters have no idea who they are selling the weapons to, and in many cases probably don’t really care. Weapons are frequently sold to un-democratic countries and countries known to be harbouring terrorists. Members of the UN Security Council are consistently debating about conflicts in developing countries with massive death tolls, yet they’re the ones putting guns in these people’s hands. Between 1998 and 2001, the US, UK and France earned more from arms sales in developing countries than they gave in aid. Is this really the right attitude?
Several organizations, such as Amnesty International and Oxfam, are now calling for an Arms Trade Treaty. This idea is rapidly gaining support within the United Nations and amongst the public, and I think that it is definitely a good idea. An Arms Trade Treaty would look to prevent arms trade if the weapons would potentially be used for terrorism, to violate people’s human rights, commit crimes against humanity, be diverted from their stated recipient, affect regional security or impair socio-economic development. It would also introduce much stricter enforcement of these laws to prevent the exploitation of loopholes, as is commonly done now.
The sale of arms to developing countries seriously hinders their economic growth and the rate at which a population gets out of poverty. In my opinion, it is extremely unfair for the most powerful countries in the world to make a profit by restricting the growth of the poorest, and by doing this they are also wasting the massive amount of money they give these countries in aid every year. By introducing a strict Arms Trade Treaty, we can ensure that arms are traded fairly and securely, and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
Disagree and think that the world is better off with the arms trade? Check out the counter argument here.