Campaign of the Month: CAAT's campaign against Arms Fairs


Arms Fairs are the trade exhibitions for military industry which are an integral and important part of the international arms trade. They happen all over the world, from Paris to Jakarta and provide arms companies with a forum for marketing their goods and services, and an opportunity to discuss collaboration on military projects. Britain's two main fairs (though there are others), take place on alternate years and are Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) and Farnborough International, which focuses on aerospace. Arms Fairs allow the weapons manufacturers an opportunity to promote their products to regimes in conflict, those with terrible human rights records, or without adequate resources. For all the reasons that CAAT opposes the arms trade, we oppose the presence of arms fairs.

International Arms Fairs

Defence Systems and Equipment International and Farnborough are just two stops in a constant global circuit of arms fairs. Most happen biennially, and over the course of two years there are more than thirty major arms fairs and numerous minor ones. They vary from 'tri-service' arms fairs (which exhibit weaponry and equipment for land, sea and air armed forces), to aerospace exhibitions, naval exhibitions and other specialist fairs. Of dedicated military events, DSEi is possibly the world's largest, with only France's Eurosatory to compete with in terms of size and importance. However, some of the bigger aerospace exhibitions such as Farnborough International and the Paris Airshow boast more exhibitors due to the additional presence of civilian aerospace companies.

For a list of arms fairs around the world go to:

The UK Arms Fairs


Defence Systems and Equipment International is one of the world's biggest arms fairs and has been held in the ExCel centre in East London's Docklands since 1999. Organised by Reed Elsevier through its subsidiary Spearhead Ltd, and supported extensively by the British government's Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), DSEi competes with France's Eurosatory to be Europe's most important place to deal in military equipment.


Farnborough International sells itself to the public as an airshow and family day out. Many visitors don't realise that the public days are preceeded by a full trade exhibition for aerospace and military products. It is organised by the UK's Society of British Aerospace Companies with international invitations managed by DESO.

Take action against Arms Fairs

There are many ways in which you can help in the campaign to stop arms fairs - from writing letters to taking part in non-violent direct action. Here are a few ideas.

Write a letter

Spread the word about the negative impact of arms fairs to make it harder for decision-makers to support them. You might want to write to your local newspaper or MP, using some of the main arguments which we think are important.

Take local action

A range of other groups are taking action to try to stop arms fairs.

East London Against the Arms Fair (ELAAF) holds regular musical protests outside the ExCel centre as part of a campaign to persuade other groups not to hold events at the venue until the DSEi arms fairs have been cancelled. They are also lobbying decision-makers and working with local people to get the arms fair out of Newham. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at the Garden Café (7 Cundy Road, London E16 3DJ).

Disarm DSEi is co-ordinating a week of action and resistance to the DSEi arms fair. They are also facilitating monthly pickets and calling for email blockades of Spearhead Exhibitions, who organise DSEi and other arms fairs.

Local CAAT groups are involved in anti-arms fair campaigning, including against Helitech in Cambridgeshire. Contact the office to find your nearest local group.

Put pressure on the organisers of the fairs.

More information at:

Programmes & Projects

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