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Nations using child soldiers are invited to British arms fair

Development Policy

Nations using child soldiers are invited to British arms fair

Ethiopian child soldiers, Omo Valley.


Britain is continuing to defy the UN by selling arms to countries where child soldiers are routinely used or where youngsters are targeted in war zones.

Before the world’s largest arms and security fair, which starts in London tomorrow (15 September), the government is ignoring UN requests that it “expressly prohibit” such sales.

New figures reveal that of the 23 countries listed by the UN for grave violations against children or where child soldiers are used, the UK sold military equipment to 19 during the past five years. They also reveal that between June 2010 and March 2015 the government approved military licences worth more than £735m to countries blacklisted by the UN committee responsible for protecting the rights of the child.

Fresh concerns over the government’s relationship with the British arms industry are compounded by the confirmation that several regimes condemned for their record on human rights received an official invitation to the Defence and Security Equipment International Exhibition exhibition in London’s Docklands.