UK’s involvement in weapons of war opposes peace say Church leaders

arms fair protestors news bannerThe leaders of six national Churches, including the United Reformed Church, have written to The Guardian about the Defence Security Exhibition International (DSEI) arms fair which opens in London today (10 September).

The Church leaders, from the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodists, and the Quakers, believe that the UK’s involvement in the promotion of weapons of war is in complete opposition to the building of peaceful, just and ecologically sustainable societies.

In the letter, the leaders say: “The UK government has a track record of exporting arms to highly repressive regimes. Out of the 68 states that have received an official UK government invitation to the arms fair, 19 are in armed conflict and 14 are authoritarian regimes as categorised by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Democracy Index. 

“Even the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s own assessment identifies eight of the invited countries as having a particularly poor record on human rights. The UK government appears exceedingly reluctant to allow ethics to curb its ambition to develop sales opportunities for the UK’s arms industry. 

“The UK government has even invited Saudi Arabia to the DSEI arms fair despite the recent Appeal Court ruling that has resulted in the suspension of arms sales to that country. The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen has caused immense suffering and, according to UN investigators, the targeting of civilian areas may amount to war crimes.

“The Appeal Court decision must prompt a root and branch re-evaluation of the UK’s dangerous promotion of the weapons of war. The encouragement of this industry compromises our ability to develop peaceful, just, ecologically sustainable and equitable societies. As representatives of faith communities committed to these aims, we believe that they should be at the heart of UK foreign policy and of our trading relations.”

The letter was published in today’s edition of The Guardian.

The Revd Dr Kevin Snyman has produced a film which shows Christian protestors expressing their faith at one of the Stop the Arms Fair demonstrations.