Global Initiative on War Profiteers

One of the main pillars that supports war and militarism is economics. It is in war times when war related corporations make their big killings.

In Africa this becomes very clear, where governments that are "promoting peace" for the region at the same time are facilitating the trade of small arms and the exploitation of natural resources

Illegal small arms pose a major threat to public safety throughout central and east Africa, encouraging crime while fuelling and prolonging conflict. Small arms and light weapons such as assault rifles are especially suited to the irregular warfare that is still widespread in the region because they are cheap, easy to use, widely available and durable. Bladed weapons like machetes have also been widely used in conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi.

Millions of lives have already been lost in the region, and the supply of arms to both governments and rebel groups continues to grow.

In 2000, ten countries signed the Nairobi Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons and in 2002 the East Africa Police Chiefs Committee was formed. The Committee has set up a programme to register and classify firearms. However, ongoing instability presents major challenges for these and other initiatives.

The top three small arms exporters during 2006 were: the United States US$533m; Russia US$130m and China US$100m (Sources: CRS, SIPRI and UN website)

The Control Arms Campaign estimates that there are over 600 million items of small arms in circulation, and that over 1135 companies based in more than 98 different countries are manufacturing small arms as well as their various components and ammunition. Worldwide, an average of over 500,000 deaths are caused by the use of small arms every year, approximately one death per minute.

The exploitation of natural resources especially of minerals in Africa is also a way of profiteering from war. In many cases these exploitations bring displacement and fuel local conflicts as it happens for example in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

War Resisters' International is developing a Global Initiative Against War Profiteers, with the aim to coordinate and support local campaigns against war profiteers at an international level.

WRI office: info@wri-irg.org.