Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Clarion call for resistance to the arms trade

This blog has been following developments around the arms fair DSEi very closely. We reported on Reed Elsevier's divestment of DSEi last year. Reed took their decision due to pressure from academics, health professionals, authors and others.

In the last couple of months, Clarion events have taken over the organisation of DSEi. Clarion are organisers of many different events, but the one that caught my eye is The Baby Show.

Of course all this means that the campaign must begin all over again. Below is correspondence on the matter which I've initiated in the last couple of weeks.

Please feel free to write to Clarion yourself! You can get email addresses from the Clarion website, or use the form on the CAAT website (both of which are linked above).


Sent on 20 June 2008 to Lee Masters, organiser of The Baby Shows:

Dear Mr Masters,

My partner is expecting a baby so I am very aware of preparing for the
birth. I have seen advertisements for The Baby Shows in a number of
places.

Unfortunately I have also seen recent headlines to the effect that the
organiser of the Baby Shows is now also organising arms fairs. Can you
confirm that this is the case? I understand that Clarion have recently
bought the rights to organise the DSEi arms fair, the biggest arms fair in
the world.

I am horrified to think that Clarion thinks that organising these two
events would be considered acceptable. One event purports to help parents
prepare to bring children into the world, the other markets machines that
usher human beings out of this world. And in the most violent (and
premature) way.

In past months I have read a series of excoriating articles about DSEi
that outlined what a mockery the system of safe guards on arms trading has
been. Representatives of the most oppressive regimes in the world have
been invited to talk with producers of some of the most hideous hardware
in the world (including parts for cluster bombs and torture equipment).

The fact of the matter is that the arms trade is the most reprehensible
possible trade for Clarion to be involved in. Let me state categorically
that under no circumstances will I attend or support Clarion-run events in
any way, so long as Clarion maintains this connection with the arms trade.

I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter. I am
writing to you as the organiser of the Baby Shows but please let me know
of others within Clarion to whom I should also address my concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Received on 28 June from Julian Graves, of Clarion Events.

Dear ***

Lee Masters has passed me your email regarding Clarion Events’ recent
acquisition of DSEi. Clarion Events is the largest independent event
organiser in the UK and a highly successful, professional, award winning
company. We have been creating leading brands and world-class business and
networking environments globally across a wide variety of sectors for more
than 30 years and I can confirm we have added defence and security to our
portfolio.

Defence and security is a legitimate business and we will apply the same
very high standards, rigour, experience and skill to organising events in
this sector as we do in all of our others.

The events we have acquired serve only the legitimate defence and security
industry and both exhibitors and visitors must adhere to the highest
regulatory scrutiny. We insist that exhibitors must comply with and exceed
the requirements of UK and international law.

Your letter refers to ‘parts for cluster munitions and torture equipment’
being on display at DSEi. I would like to reassure you that cluster
munitions and torture equipment, and parts or services relating to such
equipment, are banned from DSEi.

All our exhibitors are contractually required to ensure that all equipment,
services, documentation and any other forms of promotion comply with UK, EU
and international law. Appropriate action has been and will continue to be
taken against any exhibitors who fail to meet these requirements.

Thank you again for your letter.

Yours sincerely,



Julian Graves

c.c Lee Masters,

Sent on 1 July 2008 to Lee Masters and Julian Graves, of Clarion Events

Dear Julian and Lee,

Thank you for your reply. As employees of Clarion Events it is of course
incumbent upon you to advocate for the policies and activities of Clarion;
nonetheless you have not put my mind at rest.

Let me briefly address a couple of things that you mentioned in your email:

> Defence and security is a legitimate business and we will apply the same
> very high standards, rigour, experience and skill to organising events in
> this sector as we do in all of our others.

Whilst you refer to DSEi within the remit of "defence and security", I
prefer the (more accurate) term of the "arms trade". And, yes, it is true
that the arms trade is legal. This does not however make it moral.

According to the law of this country, Clarion Events is free to organise
DSEi and other arms fairs. You should be aware though that I, and many
other citizens of this country, view this as a reprehensible activity,
whether it is legal or not.

> The events we have acquired serve only the legitimate defence and
> security industry and both exhibitors and visitors must adhere to the
highest
> regulatory scrutiny. We insist that exhibitors must comply with and
> exceed the requirements of UK and international law.

These are the same phrases that employees of Reed-Elsevier used to
reassure me when I wrote to them regarding their organisation of DSEi.
Subsequent to their reassurances scandals broke in the press involving the
sale of parts for cluster munitions, torture equipment, and invitations
extended to people like the Sudanese defence minister!

You assure me that such things won't happen again. I can only take you at
your word but, frankly, I am not convinced. I very much doubt that you as
an individual will be responsible for foul play at DSEi but inevitably,
when the arms trade is involved, the rules will be bent.

But over and above nit-picking about individual rules being broken or not,
there is a deeper issue: I truly believe that DSEi and the other arms
fairs which Clarion has added to its portfolio, will increase human
anguish and suffering on a massive scale. People will die because Clarion
sees fit to bring together arms dealers with people who would use those
arms on fellow human beings. Is this really a transaction that Clarion
should be involved in? As an individual, do you not have any qualms about
the horror these arms fairs will cause?

Yours sincerely,
***

1 comment:

Fiona said...

Hi

Keep up the good work
I have heard that Bounty have withdrawn from the Baby show as a result of campaigning.

Next one to focus on is Top Gear Live, and the BBC, who are workin g with Clarion.