Report of
Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC)
Launch Meeting 7 May 2002

The ARC campaign was launched in the House of Commons on 7th May with Jeremy Corbyn MP in the chair.

Karl Miller, our Secretary and an initiator of this campaign, highlighted the enormous waste involved in armaments. Some of the poorest countries spend as much as 30% of their resources on buying weapons. Why not spend more effort on reducing the demand for the obscenely overblown arms trade? Shouldn’t governments, especially the governments of the major powers, honour Article 26 of the Charter of the UN, whose intention was to spend the least amount of human resources on armaments?

Kate Hudson, Chair of London CND, pointed out the environmental dangers of nuclear weapons, - besides the continuing threat it poses due to its proliferation. For example, the cancer rate in Plymouth, (where the refitting of the nuclear subs is taking place) is 20% higher than average.

Helen Hughes, UNA Disarmament Officer, listed many examples of the excessive nature of arms procurement. One of these was the South Africa, which is spending 4 times as much on armaments as on housing!

Liz Hutchins, NUS and Student CND, drew our attention to the hypocrisy of the arms system. While currently our government spends 33 billion on armaments it was deemed necessary to save 700 million on students grants.

Martin Hogbin, Co-ordinator of CAAT, gave a very lively exposition of the arms trade. He questioned whether the "defence" industry should be renamed the "offensive" industry. He lamented the discrepancy between the Labour Manifesto - anti-arms trade, ethical foreign policy, etc - and the reality, that most arms exports are going to countries high on the Amnesty list.

In the discussion one speaker from Nigeria pointed out that the illegal arms influx to Africa is, in many ways, destroying that continent. Another speaker thought that specific weapons, not just landmines, should be banned. Some people questioned the need for another group, such as ARC, to address issues relating to the arms trade, - though it was pointed out that ARC is concentrating on the importance that governments should observe Article 26 of the Charter which, so far, no other group has attempted to do.

It was agreed that a committee would be formed to develop and to carry forward the aims of ARC.

Stephen Cheleda

Declaration from the inaugural meeting of the Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC) Campaign on Tuesday 7th May 2002
(Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, UK)

This Meeting calls upon HM Government to pursue with greater vigour the implementation of Article 26 of the United Nations Charter in the Security Council which calls for

"the establishment of an effective system to regulate armaments …"
"… to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources".

We believe that during the first 50 years of the UN the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China, have flooded the world with weapons. Despite Article 26 little has been done to end this obscene trade.

Every member of the UN General Assembly should demand that the pledge made in Article 26 is now honoured.

Action for UN Renewal: Launch of the Arms Reduction Coalition (ARC)