The UK Is Among the World's Largest Suppliers of Weapons -- and Is Making Arms Boycotts Illegal
Despite human rights abuses, the UK continues to sell arms to Israel and crack down on dissent.
Date Written: 28/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20584
Through 'open' trade conventions such as the Security & Policing (S&P) exhibition and closed events such as the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) fair, the UK allows local and international companies to showcase some of the world's most lethal weapons.
In February this year, the UK doubled down on this position when it announced plans to make it unlawful for local councils, National Health Service (NHS) Trusts, public bodies and certain university student unions to boycott, divest from or sanction an industry or state "other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government."
The boycott law builds on consistent efforts by the Department for Communities and Local Government to bar publicly funded bodies from boycotting countries, or tenders from suppliers based in other countries, on ethical grounds. This affects procurement fund policies for purchasing goods and services, as numerous public bodies have ethical procurement policies preventing them from investing in or buying specific kinds of products. It also affects how these bodies invest in pension pots, where funds are merged into "pooled funds" or "wealth funds". Government ministers have warned that penalties for breaching this law will be "severe."