LONDON — Against the objections of the United Nations, this week the United States and the United Kingdom together helped arm the world’s child soldiers.
Tuesday through Friday this week, the British capital played host to the world’s largest arms fair, Defence and Security Equipment International, where global arms vendors — many from the U.S. — sell their wares to world governments seeking to upgrade their arsenals. The event was expected to draw 32,000 visitors from 60 countries, including multiple nations that make use of child soldiers in violation of international law.
According to a report from The Guardian, of the 23 nations known by the United Nations to use child soldiers, the U.K. sold arms to 19 of them during the past five years.
“[B]etween June 2010 and March 2015 the government approved military licences worth more than £735m to countries blacklisted by the UN committee responsible for protecting the rights of the child,” wrote Mark Townsend, the home affairs editor for The Guardian, on Saturday.
And, of those 23 nations, five countries received an invitation to this year’s DSEI: Angola, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kazakhstan and Thailand.
Yet the use of child soldiers isn’t the only offense committed by these countries’ governments, Townsend noted. Human rights are deteriorating rapidly in Azerbaijan, and the European Union recently demanded that its government end a crackdown on aid workers. Egypt has also been the source of an increasing number human rights concerns, especially since the 2013 military coup by the U.S. backed al-Sisi military.
Additionally, Townsend reported that three countries that attended the fair — Colombia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — are on the U.K. Foreign Office’s list of “countries of concern” due to their human rights’ records.
DSEI reportedly also barred Amnesty International’s U.K. experts from entering the fair:
— AmnestyUK Media Team (@NewsFromAmnesty) September 17, 2015
Outside the fair, activists gathered to protest the war criminals in their city:
— Kobane (@IT_For_RojAva) September 12, 2015
Last month, Andrew Smith, an activist from Campaign Against Arms Trade, one of the groups planning to organize against DSEI, told MintPress News that the weapons sold at this arm fair have a devastating effect on people worldwide:
“Arms companies profit from war and conflict across the globe and must be opposed wherever they are. Companies like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin might operate from the West, but their real impact is felt on the ground in countries like Gaza and Yemen. The arms companies and the governments that support them need to be confronted with the devastating consequences of their actions.”
Watch “UK Selling Weapons to Countries That Use Child Soldiers” from TheLipTV:
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