Government called on to ban arms sales to authoritarian regimes

By staff writers
14 Sep 2011

MPs from the six main parties in parliament are calling for an end to the sale of weapons and military equipment to all authoritarian regimes.

An Early Day motion, signed initially by MPs from the Green, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dem and Conservative parties, has been tabled to coincide with the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) exhibition taking place in London this week - and the huge protests against it.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, the primary sponsor of the EDM, declared: "In the week of the DSEi arms trade fair, it's clearer than ever that at the heart of the UK's foreign policy is a serious moral conflict between the Government's promotion of military exports and its stated desire to help protect human rights overseas."

She continued: "David Cameron positioned himself at the forefront of the effort to support the Libyan uprising. Yet, last year, the UK issued over £200 million worth of equipment requiring export licences to the country, providing Colonel Gaddafi with resources including tear gas, crowd control equipment, and ammunition for wall and door-breaching projectile launchers."

Ms Lucas continued: "If we are truly committed to upholding human rights in the region, then we must urgently review our role in the international arms trade - and stop selling arms to repressive regimes."

"We cannot continue to arm dictators who abuse their own citizens and then try to claim the moral high ground when addressing the conflicts that those same arms have helped to perpetuate. This EDM therefore calls upon the Government to take the logical step of ending the export of military equipment to all authoritarian regimes worldwide," she said.

Constituents across the country are being urged by anti-arms trade campaigners to encourage their Westminster MP to sign the EDM.

EDM 2166 - Arms Trade

Caroline Lucas (Green)
Ann Clwyd (Labour)
Eilidh Whiteford (SNP)
Jonathan Edwards (Plaid Cymru)
Martin Horwood (Liberal Democrat)
Gary Streeter (Conservative)

"That this House notes that the arms export "priority markets" for the UK Trade and Investment's Defence and Security Organisation in 2010/11 included Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; further notes that, with the exception of Libya, these sales efforts continue; is concerned by the inherent conflict between the Government's promotion of military exports and its stated desire to help protect human rights overseas; and therefore calls on the Government to end the export of military equipment to all authoritarian regimes."

[Ekk/3]

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