Campaigners praise Reed Elsevier's decision to ditch arms fairs

By staff writers
June 5, 2007

Campaigners have welcomed the news that leading academic publisher Reed Elsevier will no longer organise arms fairs.

The decision follows a high-profile campaign co-ordinated by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and supported by academics and medics who write for Reed's journals.

Reed has declared its intention of withdrawing from the arms fair business by the second half of 2007.

Anna Jones, who has co-ordinated CAAT's campaign on Reed's arms fairs, said: "CAAT is delighted with this decision. We applaud the board of Reed Elsevier for recognising the concerns of its stakeholders. The decision shows that the arms trade is an abhorrent activity and that it has no place within a reputable business."

In April academics, medics and students demonstrated outside the Annual General Meeting of Reed Elsevier in London, urging the company to end its arms fairs.

Demonstrators included Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal and Chief Executive of United Healthcare Europe.

Reed Elsevier is best known for its academic and medical publications but runs arms fairs through its subsidiary company, Reed Exhibitions.

The move to end the arms fairs follows weeks of increasing criticism of Reed from groups including the Royal College of Physicians, the editorial board of The Lancet and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust sold all its shares in Reed Elsevier, worth nearly £2 million in February after three years of critical engagement with the company concerning its role in the arms trade.

In March, 138 academics published an open letter calling for Reed to end its arms fairs. Later that month a similar call was made by the Royal College of Physicians and the editorial board of The Lancet, which is published by Reed Elsevier.

Reed's chief executive Crispin Davis said that "it has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement."

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade.

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