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Exposing the Shadow World of the Global Arms Trade

How can we end the death, destruction and corruption?

Tyee Staff 31 Oct

Andrew Feinstein served under Nelson Mandela as an ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa for over seven years — until he resigned in 2001 to protest the ANC’s refusal to launch an independent inquiry into a multi-billion dollar arms deal tainted by allegations of high level corruption.

Feinstein has now pulled back the curtain on the secretive world of the global arms trade as the executive director of Corruption Watch, an NGO that exposes the impact of bribery and corruption on democracy, governance and development.

“The reality is that the corruption in the global arms trade is not the consequence of a couple bad apples, a couple of rotten people,” Feinstein says. “It’s actually built into the structure, the very DNA of the trade, and it’s built into the economics and the pricing.”

In his critically acclaimed book The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, Feinstein reveals the corruption and malfeasance at the heart of the global arms business, both formal and illicit. “Huge deals, very few people making the deals, worth lots of money,” he explains. “All of that takes place behind a veil of national security imposed secrecy, and the consequence of that is an incredibly fertile ground for massive corruption.”

On Nov. 7 in Vancouver, Feinstein will speak at the Wall Exchange lecture where he will draw back the curtain on the shadow world of the weapons trade. In addition to the death and destruction caused by its products and the massive costs of the world’s defence spending, the lack of properly enforced regulation and control makes the occurrence of unintended consequences inevitable. This results in the very weapons sold by many Western governments being used against their own citizens. Nowhere is this more evident than in the so-called “War on Terror,” in which suspect intelligence and fluctuating alliances with non-state groups and countries such as Saudi Arabia undermine our security.

“The legal and illegal weapons trade are effectively merged,” Feinstein says. “If one has, as our governments and companies would have us believe, on the one hand the legal, formal trade, and the other extreme of the continuum, the black, illicit trade, the reality is all of the trade takes place in the middle, in the grey area what I describe as the shadow world.”

Feinstein was named amongst the 100 most influential people in the world working in armed violence reduction. Along with two colleagues, he was voted South Africa’s anti-corruption hero of 2014.

For more information, visit the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

The details

What: The Wall Exchange lecture
When: Tuesday, Nov. 7
Where: The Vogue Theatre at 918 Granville St. Tickets are free but must be reserved online here.  [Tyee]

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