Global Initiative against War Profiteers: Funding Proposal

Introduction

War Resisters' International's new project the Global Initiative Against War Profiteers aims to coordinate and promote campaigns against war profiteers. It is inspired by Arundhati Roy's call at the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004 for the movement to focus on major corporations profiteering from the Iraq occupation. We see a need for campaigns to take place throughout the world, networking for greater effectiveness.

WRI is committed to resisting war and to promoting nonviolent action to remove the causes of war.

War profiteering has been a permanent feature of the military landscape. It is not just that the search for profits can foment war. Military rivalry has also gone hand in hand with industrial and technological mobilization for war, reaching new heights in the second half of the 20th century. Those who profit from war form a powerful lobby in favour of military expenditure and war preparations. To combat their influence requires identifying and exposing their activities and their interests and developing campaigns that oppose their activities. Through international cooperation, the Global Initiative Against War Profiteers will seek to develop forms of leverage against war profiteers.

The War Profiteers

There are many ways to profit from a war. Here we will focus on companies who gear their business strategy to profit from armed conflict.

The Global Initiative Against War Profiteers aims to strengthen campaigns against arms manufacturers, but also draw attention to other rapidly expanding forms of war profiteering.

The main arms manufactures these days are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics in the USA; and BAE Systems, Thales and EADS in Europe.

Less obvious, however, is the growing role of private contractors, reconstruction companies and banks.

Private companies providing services which were traditionally core army activities, in particular in security - such as technical systems, intelligence services and security personnel. In Iraq, foreign employees of private contractors outnumber every national military contingent, except that of the US itself. These are latter day mercenaries.

Reconstruction companies are hired to rebuild the countries, once the bombs have destroyed the infrastructure. Bechtel and Halliburton together with its subsidiary Kellog, Brown and Root have won the prize in Iraq. These contract also include the infrastructure for detention centres where the USA army hold prisoners.

Banks are also profiteering from armed conflict, through offering credit and through their own investments in the arms industry. Economic groups like French AXA have used money of their clients to invest in companies that manufacture cluster bombs and land mines.

What needs to be done?

Although Arundhati Roy suggested "we choose by some means two of the major corporations that are profiting from the destruction of Iraq....We could shut them down.", our processes of debate have led us in another direction. In the past companies that have been pressured into closing or selling off their military components have generally contrived to continue the activity - for instance by re-appearing as new company. Therefore the focus of the Global Initiative Against War Profiteers is to strengthen the collective capacity of the groups already working or interested in working against war profiteers.

The Global Initiative Against War Profiteers will not duplicate the work of other groups. Many countries already have bodies that carry out detailed research into their own war profiteers, and there also exist functioning networks like the European Network Against Arms Trade (ENAAT). In this project WRI plans to build on the existing work of its affiliates and other groups with whom we cooperate. We've started further collaboration with ENAAT through taking part of their conference "The financial factor: Campaigns against the role of Banks and Export Credit Agencies in financing arms trade" during the second weekend of May. At the same time they will play a key role in the work on war profiteers that is plan for WRI's International Conference "Globalising Nonviolence" in the end of July.

We are convinced that our initiative can add to the momentum of what exists -making connections otherwise missed, providing a forum for exchange on tactics and strategies, and sharpening common themes.

Most of the corporations that we are targeting are transnational corporations that are profiteering globally, therefore coordination is needed on a global level. Because of our global network WRI is in unique situation to do this.

Steps in the Initiative

We see our work, especially in the initial year, through the components of a nonviolent campaign.

  • Promote a common understanding and common identity; This includes developing and promoting an analysis regarding the role of war profiteers and clarify goals for stopping war profiteers. Unite groups via common slogan ("Stop War Profiteers. War Is a Crime Against Humanity") and symbol/logo.
  • Nonviolent Discipline and Training - Provide resources for nonviolent campaign building, including nonviolence training to support actions by the groups and a Handbook for Nonviolent Action.
  • Research - Through the website make research on war profiteers accessible to grassroots campaigns, along with information on how to research corporate connections.
  • Information - Produce a bi-monthly newsletter with news related to war profiteers and campaigns against them. Share case studies, help groups write up their own campaigns into case studies.
  • Education - One Broken Rifle (WRI printed newsletter that comes out four times a year) a year will be dedicated to war profiteer. Offer workshops on war profiteers at social movements gatherings such as at the different Social Forums.
  • Allies - Reach out beyond the WRI network to other groups and networks (i.e. Groups working internationally against the same company) opposing war profiteers.
  • Action - Support groups actions, coordinated shareholders activities, coordinate action days.

1st year outcome

  • Create a stable networking base for the initiative, realising the importance of local grassroots support.
  • Develop a common understanding and strategy in the network
  • Create resources on war profiteers for the network: Web newsletter. Section on how to do research on war profiteers in our main web page. Promote the use of our own Wiki for the network to develop, post and exchange their own resources.
  • An important initial step in the build up of the work against war profiteers will be WRI's International Conference "Globalising Nonviolence"

War Resisters' Internationals conference "Globalising Nonviolence" will take place in Germany, 23rd-27th of July 2006. It will bring together activists from all over the world in a 5-day conference on the issues of globalisation of militarism, economy and nonviolent activism.

Participants attend a theme group, where the same 15-30 people will meet every morning during the conference.

One of the theme groups will be on War Profiteers. The theme group will be an important opportunity to bring together WRI activists working in campaigns against war profiteers to strengthen our networking abilities and to further develop the Global Initiative Against War Profiteers.

The conveners for the Theme Group : Mich Crols from Forum Voor Vredesactie, Joanne Sheehan from War Resisters' League. We are also expecting participants from Red Juvenil de Medellin, Campaign Against Arms Trade in the UK. KEM-MOC from the Basque country as many other internationals and Germans groups.

  • Participation and promotion of the conferences "US Intervention and Military Expenditure" organised by Red Juvenil in Colombia and "Stopping Merchants of Death: A Strategic Conference for Grassroots Activists" host by War Resisters' League in the USA.
  • At the end of the first year, we will do a participatory evaluation with the campaigns involved, asking questions including Are we achieving our goals? Are we strengthening campaigning against war profiteers? Have we clarified our strategies? What other resources are needed? What are the next steps?

WRI's Capacity

WRI is primarily a global network of organisations, groups and individuals set up so that war resisters could support each other more effectively and to promote nonviolent action against militarism and the causes of war. WRI is an organisation in its own right as well. As both a network and organisation, we have history of performing these functions:

Initiating campaigns and actions projects; linking people together, by coordinating exchange of information and support face to face meetings. And supporting the work of local groups against war profiteers by providing resources on war profiteers and sharpening a common strategy.

A number of WRI affiliates are already carrying work against war profiteers, is necessary to make the links between them, especially between groups in countries where these companies are base with groups in countries where these companies worst activities are carried out.

These are some of the work that affiliates are carrying out on war profiteers:

WRI's Flemish section Forum voor Vredesactie is part of ENAAT[1] (European Network Against Arms Trade) which has coordinated the campaign "My Money Clear Conscience"[2] Campaign to target financial investors to arms traders.

The U.S. Section War Resister' League has a "Stop Merchants of Death Campaign"[3] that targets US war profiteers like Halliburton and works in counter-recruitment at the universities where these companies go to recruit new workers. They will host a national conference at the end of September "Stopping Merchants of Death: A Strategic Conference for Grassroots Activists".

Inspired by WRI, Affiliated group Red Juvenil de Medellin Colombia[4] has taken the war profiteers theme as their main theme for these year. They are putting together a report on US intervention and arms trades, which will also look at the companies that are war profiteers internationally and are present in Colombia as well as the companies that are profiteering from the Colombian conflict (i.e fumigation of the coca fields.) They are organising a Latin American conference for August to coordinate with other groups for further cooperation.

Other groups campaigning against war profiteers include KEM-MOC, the conscientious objection movement from the Basque country, whose campaign includes nonviolent direct actions against the BBVA bank, which has shares in Spanish arms manufactures. Aldermaston Women's Peace Campaign[5] are doing a shareholder campaign against Serco (part of the consortium that runs Aldermaston which is being expanded for Britain's new generation of nuclear weapon). Groups and members of our network have also taken actions against arms fairs including DSEi in London, AFCEA in Brussels and EuroSatory in Paris..

Coordination

The Initiative has different layers of coordination:

The Global Initiative Against War Profiteers falls under WRI's Nonviolence Programme, with Javier Garate as coordinator.

The Nonviolence Programme has a Coordination Committee that overseas all projects of the programme, including the work in war profiteers. Committee members include: Majken Sorensen, Howard Clark, Joanne Sheehan, Andreas Speck and Stellan Vinthagen.

WRI's war profiteers email list is where interested members of the network share information and discuss possible strategies. After the "Globalising Nonviolence Conference" in July we will merge the list into an active Working Group consisting of representatives of grassroots campaigns.

Notes

[1] http://www.enaat.org/
[2] http://www.netwerkvlaanderen.be/en/
[3] http://www.warresisters.org/smod/smod_hp.shtml
[4] http://redjuvenil.org
[5] http://www.aldermaston.net/campaigns/serco_campaign2004.php