Stop selling weapons of war

As one of the world's largest arms fairs opens in London, Quakers in Britain are among faith communities urging the UK government to stop selling weapons of war. In an Open Letter published today in The Guardian they call on the government to put ethics at the heart of foreign policy and trading relations.

Crowd of people sitting in the road with banners
Protesters peacefully blocking an entrance to Defence and Security Equipment International. Image: Michael Preston for © Quakers in Britain

People of many faiths have joined a week of protests against DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International) which brings together arms dealers and military delegations. They have blocked roads to hinder the set-up of DSEI which runs to Friday 13 September. See the letter in The Guardian or below.

Full text of the letter


The sponsorship of this industry compromises our ability to develop peaceful, just, ecologically sustainable and equitable societies

- Faith communities


"The Defence Security Exhibition International (DSEI) arms fair opens in London today (10 September). The UK government has a track record of exporting arms to highly repressive regimes. Out of the 67 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 & 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 sponsorship 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."

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain
Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference
Bishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
Revd Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church of Scotland Church and Society Council
Revd David Mayne, Moderator of the Baptist Union Council
Revd Nigel Uden, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church