Britain should cut back on arms sales

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On PM Gordon Brown's announcement that the Defence Export Services Orgamnsiation (DESO), which promotes UK arms overseas, will close in its current form:

“A more detailed statement on the future trajectory of Britain’s involvement in military exports is needed to make sense of this move”, commented Simon Barrow of the think tank Ekklesia, which works on alternatives to armed interventions and promotes conflict transformation.

He added: “The UK is a leading arms exporter. It can and should play a role in radically lessening dependence, both military and economic, on the trade; and prioritizing policies of restraint based on global agreement, human rights promotion, poverty elimination and the reduction of conflict. Arms sales should be seen as a foreign policy issue, not as a hidden component of a general trade policy – which could be the danger of this move.”

“In principle, however, the churches and those working for conflict resolution and peace will welcome the end of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) and the culture of collusion with militaristic thinking and aggressive promotion of arms sales that it represented,” commented Barrow.

Britain's churches have taken a variety of stands against the arms trade and for an ethical UK foreign policy - with Christian peace activists pushing for disinvestment in the arms sector.