Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saying No to Weapons Export

Way to go South African dock workers! A Chinese ship docked at a South African port encountered problems when it tried to offload its shipment of weapons destined for Zimbabwe. While there is currently no UN or AU embargo on shipping weapons to Zimbabwe, public interest groups are concerned about the use of those weapons in the political turmoil that is Zimbabwe today. So, dock workers refused to offload the ship, and it had to leave. The ship had on board, three million rounds for AK-47s, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades and several thousand mortar rounds. Just what is a country, with no economy, doing, in importing such weapons? And what is China doing, exporting such weapons to such an unstable country?

The Arms industry is huge. The economics of dealing in death just makes for good business. It's startling however, when you start digging into the flow of cash for weapons. The top 20 arms exporters in the world include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Yes, the body whose "primary responsibility, under the [UN] Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security," supplies the arms to conflicts around the world. Canada is just as guilty as the five permanent members. We rank number 12, and export $10-25MM in small arms. Those very weapons that are handy in ethnic and religious conflicts in developing nations; those very weapons that are light and easy to carry and use by children who supply the bodies in some of those armed conflicts.

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