the global arms trade & UN number crunching
Countries of Concern identified by the Foreign Office for human rights abuses = 20
Number of these Countries of Concern to which the UK still exports arms = 19
Number Crunching in Private Eye (No. 1185) this week
The Foreign Office list of human rights abusers includes China, Cuba, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Iran, Myanmar, DR Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkmenistan (see the official FCO report). Not entirely unexpected – except for the fact that we still sell them arms. Private Eye’s scary stats have spurred me to doing a bit of number crunching of my own. Bit geeky perhaps, and i’m certainly not claiming any authority in commenting on the full significance of it all (most of it is gleaned from Wiki and the CIA World Fact Book – so who knows how reliable it all is).
UN Security Council – PERMANENT MEMBERS
Due to the quirks of history, the following countries are the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. They each have the power of veto.
- Russian Federation
The other 10 are voted on from member countries for 2 year terms.
World’s Biggest ARMS PRODUCERS
Below are the national shares of arms sales of the SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing companies in the world (excluding China), in 2004.
|Country||% of world arms sales|
When you place this alongside the next chart, there are perhaps few surprises:
World’s Biggest ARMS SPENDERS
|Rank||Country||Military expenditures, USD||Date of information|
|5||People’s Republic of China||41,000,000,000||2005 est.|
Info and Stats taken from Wikipedia
Well, fancy that…
It is quite intriguing to compare these lists to those who are on the UN Security Council, and those who seek a permanent place in the reforms that will no doubt come about at some point. The aspirants are: Brazil, Germany, India & Japan, and each is backing the others’ claims.
- red = UN security council permanent members
- blue = countries seeking permanent seats
So the question is, can we ever trust the motivations and agenda of the permanent members (even, or perhaps especially, when the number is increased)? Will /can they do anything other than to protect the vested interests of their Arms industries, considering how much the respective economies depend on them? After all, the British firm BAE Systems alone had a revenue in 2006 of £14,000,000,000 – which is more than the current account balance for the entire country of Brazil (according to the CIA World Fact Book)
It all seems to be a question of the big boys on the block protecting their own corners and not letting any of the little boys in to play the games they themselves play. Presumably this is one of the reasons for the UNANIMOUS passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1737 which called for sanctions on Iran for developing its own nuclear programme. I’m certainly not in favour of an Iranian bomb – but it is certainly intriguing given that Russia, China, the US were in agreement and that the current council membership includes the Muslim countries of Indonesia and Qatar. But not a surprise given that the following countries are known to have nuclear weapons themselves:
|Warheads active/total||Year of first tests|
|United States||5,735/9,960||1945 (“Trinity”)|
|United Kingdom||200||1952 (“Hurricane”)|
|France||350||1960 (“Gerboise Bleue”)|
Well, well, well – isn’t it rather interesting that the nuclear big 5 just so happen to be the countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Fancy that. Surely some coincidence…
Info and Stats taken from Wikipedia