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The Price Of Life The Arms Trade Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2430 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The price of a child’s life is less than the price of a bullet, the world today is divided into: countries that make the weapon, countries that sell the weapon, and countries that buy the weapons to kill their people or to kill people of other countries.

The Arms Trade is a real problem and I will discuss it in the next paper explaining its causes, methods, and its effects on the whole world.

Every weapon that is made in this world, every gun invented, every bullet made is a waste of sweat, genius, and hope of a better life. It is like stealing food from the hunger, warmth from the cold, and life from the human beings.

Arms trade has become a significant cause of abusing human rights; In fact weapons are traded for reasons of security, protection, and self-defense, nevertheless, they may sometimes be misused if they fall into the wrong hands and when that happens, weapons will certainly have a negative effect on development, peace, and any improvement in any aspect of life.

The arms trade value has reached forty five billions of American Dollars in 2006, obviously that number or less would be needed to improve primary education in all the countries of the world, and may also be used to cure many diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and HIV, and it would certainly improve the lives of more than one hundred million poor families around the world.

Arms trade has many forms, it may be governmental or non-governmental, and it may be local, national or international.

The real problem is that some governments may actually spend more money on military than health care, infrastructure, and development.

Another problem is that up till now there are no international guarantees that those arms will not be misused, however, on the other hand there are some individuals and organizations nowadays that are working very hard to raise awareness and are doing their best to put controls on arms trade.

In that paper I will briefly discuss trading of small and conventional light weapons including guns, machine guns, rifles, tanks, and even helicopters and some cruisers. and the reason I chose this topic is because I knew that there is a thousand people that are killed every day by arms, and that there are more than eight millions of firearms that are made every year, those numbers are really scary, and that was what made be curious to know what are the reasons beyond arms trading, who are the real criminals that support and produce those arms, what are the expected consequences in the near future, and finally what are their impact on the development of the world.

Review of literature

Who produces them, who exports them, and who imports them?

USA President D. Eisenhower (1953) has said that each launched battle cruiser and each fired rocket is a theft from the poor people that suffer from starvation and cold because they find nothing to eat nor to wear; The arms trade is not only concerned about the spent money, it is also a waste of sweat of the workers, the brains of the scientists and the dreams of the children, life cannot be good under the cloud of wars, and the humanity will be hung from the iron cross.

He also stated that arms trade is the main reason of abusing the human rights because some governments may pay more money on military developments than on social expenditure because in those changing times each nation needs to ensure its power and its security as well.

Why are arms exported and why are they imported?

Matt Schroeder and Guy Lamb (2006) have stated that whether in Africa or anywhere else the arms trade is a global issue that comes to Africa from the major countries that produce arms, and that trade is against any step of development in that continent.

According to the Vatican in their statement to the UN (1976), the arms trade can kill people even if the weapons were not used at all, because the money that is spent in that trade make people die from disease, cold, and hunger.

The trade of arms in Africa

According to Jeremy Hobbs, Head of Oxfam International (2009), the development goals of the new millennium are basically targeting the preservation and protection of the human lives, nevertheless, many nations have failed to achieve those goals and the main reason of their failure is the uncontrolled trade of arms.

Matt Schroeder and Guy Lamb (2005) explained that insecurity of people in Africa is caused by the arms trade, and they also said that armed conflicts are the real enemy of development and the cause of starvation and poverty.

Intra-state and inter-state conflicts

Kaldor and Mary (1999) in their book “New and Old Wars” have discussed the difference between the conflicts after the Cold War and the wars before it.

They stated that wars nowadays are in fact violent conflicts between the neighboring states and are not like old wars, however, they cause a lot of damage; those conflicts are a mixture of abusing human rights, organized crimes, and wars.

On the other hand, Collier and Paul (2003) have said in their book “Breaking the Conflict Trap: Civil War and Development Policy” that intra-state or inter-state conflicts are definitely against the development.

The authors state that those conflicts have horrible consequences on the civilians and especially the young children. Those conflicts have a negative impact on the children mentally and physically. The authors also stated that those conflicts arise mostly in the low-income poor nations.



I used case study approach to explain the causes of arms trade in Africa and the effects of that trade on the people and the development of the continent.


The arms producing countries

The arms exporter countries

The arms importer countries


I used books, newspaper, magazines and past researches to collect my data in order to find the real causes of the conflicts in Africa and to show the horrible effects that were caused by such conflicts


The arms producing and the arms exporting countries are providing the African arms importing nations using the conflicts in Africa for many purposes but in the end the most important result of that trade is the death of people, the hunger, and the ignorance.


Who produces them, who exports them, and who imports them?

Developed western countries have many large arms companies that produce most of those arms or outsource arms components production to different companies throughout the world.

Boeing(USA), Lockhead Martin(USA), BAE Systems(UK), Northrop Grumman(USA), Raytheon(USA), General Dynamics(USA), EADS(West Europe), L-3 Communications(USA), Finmeccanica(Italy), and Thales(France) were considered the largest ten arms producing companies in the world in the year 2006.

The largest arms exporters throughout the world are the USA, Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom; However, the USA is still the largest exporter that supplies the world with 32 per cent of the arms trade, about 15 per cent goes to South Korea, more than 13 per cent goes to Israel, and about 11 per cent is to the UAE; On the other hand Russia supplies 25 per cent while the European countries together supplies about 31 per cent and considered as the second largest suppliers after the USA.

India and China are considered to be the largest importers from 2004 till 2008; the UAE took the third place in that period after being the sixteenth from 1999 till 2003.

In general the Middle East imports 18 per cent and Southern America imports about 11 per cent taking into consideration that Chile is its largest importer; on the other hand Asian countries import 37 per cent and European countries import 24 per cent.

The surprising fact is that the largest importers are the least that can afford arms trade; Developing nations comprised about 71.7 per cent of all arms imports from 1999-2006, in the year 2006 the developing nation spent more than 29 billion American Dollars in arms trade, however, many African countries have increased arms importation from 2004 till 2008 such as Morocco, Chad, and Algeria

Morocco for example is ranked as the 126th on the UNDP’s Human Development Index for 2007/2008; about 14 per cent of its population lives on two million dollars per day, and about 17 per cent cannot live proper or healthy lives, nevertheless, the country spends about fifty million American Dollars to import conventional weapons in just one year.

Why are arms exported and why are they imported?

Weapons are exported for:

Money and profits.

To help the exporter country to fund and develop new arms researches.

To influence over and control specific areas that are important strategically to the exporter country.

To support and help some countries to gain security and defend their selves.

On the other hand weapons are imported to:

Face external or even internal threats and to repress rebels.

Global and regional arms races

Countries that cannot produce their own arms because the lack of a large capital, specialists, and the needed equipments.

The trade of arms in Africa

In Africa violent conflicts are endless, and because of that continued violence it would be easy to suggest that that violence has to be supported continuously with weapons transfers.

If you realized that there are 2 million American Dollars that are spent every minute on arms meanwhile 30 children also die each passing minute from a preventable disease, you would understand what a miserable life we live; Billions of dollars were spent in Africa to buy weapons while hospitals and schools suffered from poverty and lack of proper equipments, and that what made Prof. K. Dickson say that if weapons were food, nobody would be hungry in Africa.

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Many individuals, communities and organizations called for peace in Africa, and they asked to state rules to govern the transfer of arms in Africa, however, not even a slight change has occurred, and that is because some countries such as Ukraine, Bulgaria, and China have known that there are many clients in Africa that need them to be supplied with arms.

In October 1991 the UN Security Council made a declaration on Guidelines for arms transfer in order to control it, however, it is really funny if you realized that China which is a UN Security Council permanent member is at the same time the largest arms supplier to the government of El Khartoum that were once used with South Sudan and nowadays in Darfur.

Weapons that were transferred from China to El Khartoum to support it in national security are used also in the wars between the sponsored militia (Janjaweed) with Central Africa Republic and Chad; Ukraine and Bulgaria, on the other hand, are selling their huge stockpiles of the World War II arms to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia which are already suffering from starvation and poverty.

Intra-state and inter-state conflicts

Aggressive disputes within states have no presence but by name, and the reason behind them is mainly to protect the boundary veracity of the concerned states. Following the termination of the Cold War, aggressive disputes within states have focused repeatedly on the important features of disputes.

On the other hand, the excessive accessibility to fire weapons is among the major risks to the security of people in small towns. The great quantities of weapons that are available and traded around small towns are assembled outside of the African continent except for a small proportion.

Due to the small size of weapons and their long lasting quality, they can be easily hidden anywhere. Some of the transfers are large and organized systematically. The incredibly unwatched and unsecure borderlines of countries make it easier to smuggle across small weapons, either by simply walking across or by loading them on a truck. Specialists from the United Nations checking out weapon ban contravention in Somalia have reported the arrival of weapons to Somali armed forces loaded on Ethiopian truck fleets.


Many countries have entered the Arms trade race recently, the race is against humanity, peace and the simplest human rights.

Arms are exported for many reasons, every exporter country has a different reason for the arms trade, and however, they are all sharing in killing the human and spreading of fear and terror.

The USA for example exports arms to show its strength and sometimes they exports certain arms to test them and see their effects in a live experiment; China on the other hand export arms for oil and energy, and the eastern European countries export them for money.

There are no serious rules that ban arms trade, and the reason is that the countries that export arms are also the countries that put the rules.

Millions of people are killed because of arms trade, and in Africa inter and intra conflicts are a great example of abusing human rights.

In the end I would like to state some facts:

There are one thousand people are killed every day by arms and 8 million firearms are made every year.

Arms trade during the 90s resulted in killing 5,000,000 people and caused the escape of 50,000,000 people from their homes

South Africa pays about 530,000,000$ every year on arms deals, while the whole population of south Africa need 425,000,000$ for water services.

Arms trade has many effects such as:

On the society:

People will turn to crime, and corruption will spread.

On Health

Increased medical costs due to injuries and deaths, malnutrition, and spread of diseases

On environment

Destroyed environment, and decreased agriculture production.

On individual and family

Damaged families, deaths, injuries, madness, psychiatric disorders, and rape of women

On economy

Economical disturbance, decreased production, and increased prices and taxes

In the end I would like to mention that there must be new international rules that control arms trade, and we must find solutions for the fighting countries to save the humanity all around the world.


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