Campaigners with a Stop Arming Saudi banner outside the Royal Courts of Justice, another holds a sign saying Saudi Arabia Stop Bombing Yemen. They all appear happy and are raising their fists in the air.

Our successes

We're up against powerful interests but, by working together, our action can make a difference. From the streets to the Courts read more about how we're challenging the arms trade.

Last updated: 31/03/2020

We’re stopping arms sales

UK arms sales support war and repression around the world. We’re campaigning to stop this.

Stop Arming Saudi legal action

Right now, CAAT is taking legal action to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. Bombing by the Saudi-led coalition has targeted schools and hospitals, food supplies, weddings and funerals – and UK weapons are playing a central role. UK rules should prohibit exports in such circumstances, but the government refuses to stop the sales.

In 2019 the Court of Appeal ruled in CAAT’s favour, finding government decisions to allow arms sales were  ‘irrational and therefore unlawful’. The government was ordered to retake all decisions to export arms to Saudi Arabia in accordance with the law and to stop issuing new arms export licences to Saudi Arabia.

  • As a result of our action, hundreds of millions of pounds of arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition were put on hold.

'Irrational and therefore unlawful'

After the Court of Appeal's judgment, hundreds of millions of pounds of arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition were put on hold.

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But the government has done all it can to keep the arms sales flowing. In July it once again began allowing arms exports for the war. So our action continues – until we stop these sales once and for all.

Stopping the Shipment

In 2013, we worked with Bahraini and South Korean activists to challenge South Korean authorities who planned to export a massive 1.6 million rounds of tear gas to Bahrain’s human-rights abusing rulers. (Bahrain’s population was only 1.3 million).

  • Our advocacy, protest and online pressure paid off when South Korea’s arms export licensing agency announced it would stop tear gas exports to the Bahraini dictatorship. 
"Protesters holding the flag of Bahrain outside the South Korean embassy in London

Halting the shipment of 1.6 million tear gas rounds

CAAT protested outside the South Korean Embassy in London in coordination with allies from Bahrain and South Korea. South Korea's government said that the decision to Stop the Shipment was due to political instability and pressure from international rights groups

CAAT works with human rights defenders from around the world, while doing everything we can to resist the arms trade here in the UK.

Disrupting deals

Arms fairs are the oil in the machinery of the arms trade: they are where buyers meet sellers, and deals are made. From these events misery and destruction is spread around the world. And, wherever they operate, CAAT is organising to challenge them.

The DSEI arms fair takes place in London every two years – CAAT supports action to expose its operation and shut it down.

Stopping the set-up

In recent years the DSEI arms fair in London has faced an entire week of action before it even starts, with different groups blockading deliveries from entering the fair every day.

  • In 2019 the London Mayor and local council spoke out against the event taking place in London.
  • In 2015 eight activists on trial for blocking the set up of DSEI were found not guilty after the judge ruled that the activists were acting to prevent a greater crime. He said the court heard compelling evidence that arms sales at DSEI were for repression and human rights abuse.
  • In 2007  a high-profile campaign, coordinated by CAAT, persuaded DSEI’s previous owner Reed Elsevier to pull out of the international arms fair business. The campaign highlighted the incompatibility of Reed’s involvement in the arms trade and their position as the number one publisher of medical and science journals and other publications.

CAAT is also supporting local action to resist arms fairs around the UK.

  • Local action has now driven UK weapons fair DPRTE out of three cities: Bristol, Cardiff, and, in 2019, Birmingham.
  • CAAT supported campaigners across Scotland to shut down the Undersea Defence Technology arms fair in Glasgow. The campaign persuaded  Glasgow Council to promise that it would never host another arms fair.
  • In September 2020, Liverpool’s Mayor also committed to an ethical events charter, after protests against the scheduled Electronic Arms Fair

And we’re working internationally, Our protest in the UK has helped inspire resistance around the world, and we’re proud to have supported action against arms fair from South Korea to the Czech Republic.

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Glasgow Sank UDT!

The Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) arms fair took place at SEC Glasgow at the end of June. It was met by a large, boisterous protest, which made it very clear that weapons trading should not be happening in Glasgow, or anywhere! As a result, Glasgow Council took the decision to no longer support arms fairs.


“We are everywhere”

Activists in Seoul have drawn on some of the actions we had organised at DSEI - and improved them! South Korean activists even used some of the same slogans so that if any arms dealers who had been at DSEI also went to Seoul, they would know that “we are everywhere”.

Protesters with a megaphone and Stop Arming Saudi palacrd outside the arms dealers' dinner

Success! Arms fair chased out of Birmingham!

The DPRTE arms fair was moved to Birmingham after energetic protest and objections from locals drove it out of Cardiff ... now the threat of protest in Birmingham has forced the event to move before it even opens!

Making the arms trade unacceptable in public life

The arms trade holds its events in prestigious locations and sponsors cultural events in an attempt to normalise its business and improve its reputation. Our action shows there’s nothing acceptable about this deadly trade.

  • In 2018 arms company BAE Systems was forced to withdraw as a ‘primary partner’ for the Great Exhibition of the North after artists, musicians, and others spoke out against the sponsorship.

Also in 2018, an inspiring group of artists and designers actually withdrew their work from an exhibition at the Design Museum after it hosted an evening event for a major arms manufacturer, Leonardo.

By being on your walls in the context of the Leonardo event, our work takes on a new meaning: of complicity in the arms trade. This is completely unacceptable to us.

Nope to Arms

Artists and designers removed their work from the Design Museum in protest after it hosted an evening event for a major arms manufacturer, Leonardo, in July 2018.

  • In 2012 we won our Disarm the Gallery campaign, persuading the National Gallery to end its association with the arms trade. For six years it had regularly hosted arms dealers and their clients in one of the most prestigious venues in the UK. The contract was ended one year early and just weeks before the next protest was planned.
  • In 2013 Guildford Cathedral cancelled an arms dealers’ dinner after lobbying from CAAT
  • In 2014 London’s Natural History Museum turned down a booking for an arms trader’s dinner following our protests.
  • In January 2014:  the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson was pushed into cancelling his speaking engagement at the annual defence dinner following a complaint from CAAT
  • In 2015, after a sustained campaign by the CAAT Edinburgh group, the Edinburgh Science Festival dropped arms company Selex as a sponsor.

And divesting…

  • In 2014 Comic Relief announced it will never again invest in arms manufacturers following our campaigning. Campaigning by students also persuaded Edinburgh University to end its investment in Ultra Electronics, a drone manufacturer.
  • In 2001, after a campaign by the CAAT Christian Network, the Church of England redefined its investment criteria and confirmed it would no longer invest in arms companies.

Exposing the arms trade

We’re exposing the companies that profit from war and how the government enables their deadly work.

  • In 2015, we revealed the names of more than 40 MPs, including government Ministers attending to a £246 per head dinner with the UK’s arms industry. CAAT activists were also there to challenge the event in person…

An uninvited guest

When arms dealers and government ministers gathered for an expensive dinner, the opening speaker had an unexpected message.

Opening up data

  • In 2012 CAAT’s export licence browser transformed the accessibility of the data on UK arms export licences, enabling easy public access to previously impenetrable information so we can better hold the government to account.

On its website, CAAT provides a sophisticated interactive resource which allows users easily to interrogate and search the Database

Report of Parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls , 2016

  • In 2016, CAAT lifted the lid on the shadowy world of political influence with the launch of the Political Influence Browser, which contains records of thousands of meetings arms & security companies, military and Government. It also exposes the ‘revolving door’, which shows how many Government officials form relationships with the arms industry and then go on to work in the arms industry itself.

In the news

Over recent years there have been dozens of important news stories that have come from CAAT’s investigations in tandem with the national media. These include

 

In 2012 CAAT was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the Alternative Nobel Prize, for innovative and effective campaigning against the global arms trade.

 

CAAT would not exist without its supporters. Each new supporter helps us strengthen our call for an end to the international arms trade.

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