Sources of information about arms trade - summary of workshop

War Resisters International / World without War
Stopping the War Bussiness seminar Seoul 2015 – Workshop by Wendela de Vries

General

A global general overview of all arms trade does not exist. Sources are often incomplete. Databases do not cover all deals or all kind of arms. Information is in general only available after a contract is closed. This makes it difficult for campaigners to prevent specific sales.

As an introduction on how arms trade works, the No-Nonsense Guide to the Arms Trade by Nicholas Gilby is very readable and still available.

Individual sources

In many countries, the government publishes an annual report on arms export. In the EU this is even compulsory.

Arms companies and arms fairs have websites to promote their products

More information can sometimes be obtained through parliamentary questions, journalist investigations, Freedom of Information procedures, questions at shareholders meetings and scrutinizing pictures of war and violence.

For the recognition and tracing back of arms being used, Omega Foundation can be of great help.

* http://www.omegaresearchfoundation.org/

Online sources

The UN invites governments to report their arms transfers as a trust-building and conflict-preventing method. Participation in the UN register is voluntary.

* www.un.org/disarmament/convarms/Register/

Under the Common Position on transfer of military technology and equipment EU countries are obliged to report on their arms export licenses and transactions to the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS reports these figures annually.

www.eeas.europa.eu/non-proliferation-and-disarmament/arms-export-control/index_en.htm

NGO

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute runs a global arms transfer database. Often cited, reliable resource. Only complete weapon systems, no components.

www.sipri.org/research/armaments/transfers

To make EU arms export figures more visible and accessible the European Network Against Arms Trade runs an arms export browser based on EEAS figures. Good for quick overviews.

www.enaat.org/export/licence.en.html

Military magazines

Media, notably military media, publish on arms transfers, tenders and the use of arms. Two examples of online magazines:

The US military weekly Defense News also has a free online edition

www.defensenews.com

The British-based military magazine Jane's Defense Weekly also has a free online edition.

www.janes.com

Small arms

Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers NISAT database on small arms!!br0ken!!

* http://nisat.prio.org/

Financing the arms trade

Campaigning against arms trade investors is popular because there is a direct consumer relation. Research possibilities differ from country to country, depending on transparency of investment figures. Campaigning for transparency and an ethical investment policy might be a first step.

A good publicity tool is linking an arms company in which investments are made to an actual arms deal or the use of weapons by that company. Some countries have online databases where consumers can check their bank/fund/company against several ethical topics. See for example http://eerlijkegeldwijzer.nl/bankwijzer/

Some years ago Belgian activists opened a mock 'dirty bank' which openly promoted high profits based on arms trade, air pollution and child labour companies. In the one day of its existence it managed to get a lot of public attention.

Investors in arms industry

Banks
Pension funds
Insurance companies
Governments, town councils, churches and other public bodies.

Financing the deals

Banks
Export Credit Agencies
Governments