Letter: DSEI and Britain’s obligation under the arms trade treaty

Dr Rosemary Field

To Philip Dunne MP

Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) 

Email: [email protected]

Re: DSEI 15-18 September 2015

I am writing to you on behalf of the Nuclear Weapons Group of Medact, the UK affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Members of this group have just returned to UK from a meeting in Belgrade of European IPPNW. We heard detailed accounts of the devastating health impact of depleted uranium used in the Balkans and Iraq both on civilians and military personnel; effects include cancers, congenital malformation, kidney failure and mental health problems. Medical colleagues from Ukraine described first-hand the desperate humanitarian situation in that country resulting from the war. We saw refugees camping by the Belgrade railway station and discussed the roots of this crisis – desperate people fleeing from regions of prolonged armed conflict.

We are horrified that the UK continues to host DSEI, ‘the world leading defence and security exhibition’ with an expected 30,000 attendees from over 100 countries. We understand that you are due to attend the exhibition but would ask you to pause for one moment to consider the purpose and effect of the equipment being promoted and traded – more deaths, more trauma, more suffering, and more nations whose future will blighted by the terrible effects war.

Bearing in mind that civilians, particularly women and children, account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict, we respectfully seek your views on how you justify the UK’s continuing promotion of this deadly trade in arms.

With reference to the Arms Trade Treaty which came into force in December 2014, please would you provide information on the measures Britain is taking to prevent diversion of arms exported from this country, in order to fulfil Britain’s obligations under this treaty?

Yours sincerely

Dr Rosemary Field

On behalf of the Nuclear Weapons Group, Medact

Copy of letter to the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence