War on Want in G20 City protest

31 March 2009 - 1:00am

Dead bird signals end of Canary Wharf system

Iraqi Civil Society Conference: final thoughts and outcomes

31 March 2009 - 12:00am

After over a week of meetings, the Iraqi Civil Society Conference came to a close. All of the participants have agreed that the conference represents a vital contribution to the strengthening of Iraqi civil society and building co-operation between these groups and international NGOs and activists.

For some Iraqis this was the first time that they were able to come together in a safe place to develop strategies for promoting non-violence and defending human rights in their country. For some international participants, who came from a range of countries including the UK, the US, Canada, Italy, France, India and the Phillipines, the conference was a rare opportunity to meet with Iraqis who have been active in opposing occupation and dictatorship.

There are several positive outcomes and actions to be followed up in the coming months. The key actions that came out of the conference can be found in the  final report, drawn up by a working committee of Iraqi and international participants. War on Want is proud to have played a key role in organising and participating in the event, and looks forward to continuing its work in building a vibrant and active civil society in Iraq.



Britain sells £27 million arms to Israel

30 March 2009 - 1:00am


Monday, 30 March 2009

Global day of action for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to mark Palestine Land Day, the annual commemoration of the 1976 Israeli killing of Palestinians in Galilee during a protest over land being snatched.

Calls to UK government to stop arming Israel

Revelations that in the first nine months of last year Britain licensed the sale of military equipment to Israel worth £27 million today brought a call for the UK government to stop arming Israel.

The call, from the charity War on Want, step up pressure over Israel's occupation to mark a global day of action for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This initiative follows Israel's attack on Gaza which killed more than 1400 Palestinians, with children under 15 a third of the victims.

The admission that the UK government authorised lucrative trade in military equipment to Israel came in recent days from Lord Malloch-Brown, the British Foreign Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown, was answering questions from the crossbench peer Lord Hylton.

War on Want is calling for the British government to establish a two-way arms embargo on Israel.

Ruth Tanner, campaigns and policy director at War on Want, said: "Despite continued human rights abuses against the Palestinian people, the UK government licenses millions of pounds' worth of military equipment to Israel every year. By selling arms to Israel the UK is giving direct material support for Israel's aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions."

War on Want says that over the last 60 years Israel has defied UN resolutions, international law and global outrage over its treatment of the Palestinian people. The continuing occupation has destroyed any semblance of a Palestinian economy.

Today 70 per cent of Palestinians live in crushing poverty and more than half rely on food aid to survive. And the international community has largely ignored UN law over Israel's crimes. Instead the British government among others has rewarded Israeli aggression with financial, military and diplomatic support.

Known export licences approved from Britain to Israel in 2008 include components for: combat aircraft, electronic warfare equipment, helmet mounted display equipment, military aero-engines, naval radars, surface-to-air missiles and equipment for the use of weapon sights and military communication. A significant number of UK components are used for missile triggering systems for Apaches and Head-Up Displays for F-16s and Israel has used F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache combat helicopters to bomb Lebanese and Palestinian towns and villages.

The British government has repeatedly admitted it does not accept Israeli assurances that British arms will not be deployed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Yet it continues to license such arms sales regardless.

In evidence to the parliamentary Quadripartite Committee in 2006, Foreign Office minister Kim Howells reaffirmed that it was government policy not to allow export of equipment or components which could be "deployed aggressively" in Palestinian territory, but then acknowledged that "almost any piece of equipment, I suppose, could be used aggressively".

War on Want says that since aircraft and tanks for which UK companies make components are regularly and obviously used aggressively against Palestinians, the government's practice appears to make its own export standards meaningless.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Link to the latest briefing from the coalition Stop Arming Israel which includes War on Want can be found here

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Iraqi Civil Society Conference: Day 6

30 March 2009 - 1:00am

After several days of workshops and discussions on key challenges facing Iraqis and their suggested responses, participants have come up with some concrete actions for cooperation, both at national and international level. International participants, who joined the conference three days after the Iraqis first arrived, included NGOs and activists from the USA, Norway, Japan, Italy, Britain and other parts of Europe, as well as from Arab countries such as Lebanon.


Brown faces crisis march attack

27 March 2009 - 2:59pm


Saturday, 28 March 2009

Put People First national demonstration on the global financial crisis before the G20 summit in London on 2 April

‘Free market greed hits millions'

Campaigners will demonstrate in London tomorrow (Saturday, 28 March) against British prime minister Gordon Brown's blueprint for the G20 summit which will cost millions of people their jobs and condemn hundreds of millions more to poverty.

They will call for a radical transformation of the economic system in the Put People First demonstration organised by development organisations, trade unions and environmental, women's and faith groups.

The charity War on Want accuses Brown of planning to push for more of the same free market policies that have already cost millions of jobs.

War on Want condemns Brown for continuing to defend the failed system of open markets and light-touch regulation and says that financial institutions cannot be trusted to deliver outcomes in the public interest.

War on Want Executive Director John Hilary: "The G20 is hell bent on preserving the system that has caused this economic meltdown. Thousands of protestors will call for a new system based on principles of public good not corporate power.

"Gordon Brown's free market fundamentalism will condemn millions more people to despair. The people of the world demand and deserve better."

The charity says Brown's call for a swift conclusion of the Doha trade round puts 7.5 million workers at risk in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia and Uruguay, and millions more in other rich and poor countries.

It cites growing unemployment as the International Labour Organisation forecasts over 50 million more people worldwide could lose their jobs by the end of this year, and 200 million workers fall into extreme poverty. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that by next year jobless numbers in rich nations could rise by eight million to 42 million.

Unemployment in the UK has exceeded two million for the first time since 1997 after the biggest rise, 138,400, since records began in 1971, with some economists predicting the figure will reach 3.3 million late next year or early 2011.

War on Want is pressing Britain to end its support for the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund, which it says leave poor countries without a voice and seek to exploit the current turmoil by winning greater powers.

The charity also demands that Brown closes down UK tax havens which, it claims, play a leading part in developing countries losing an estimated £250 billion a year - money which could meet the UN anti-poverty goals several times over. Tax dodging and capital flight costs Africa an estimated £75 billion each year - five times what the continent receives in aid.

Many of the world's tax havens are British - overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands or Crown Dependencies such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

War on Want says the City of London acts as the nerve centre for these tax havens and supports an army of pinstriped lawyers and accountants devoted to helping companies dodge tax.


  • John Hilary is available for interview
  • Protestors will assemble from 11.00 am GMT on Saturday (28 March 2009) at Victoria Embankment, London SW1. The march, which starts at 12.00 noon, will pass Brown's home in Downing Street en route to a rally from 2.30-4.30 pm in Hyde Park.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728


Early thoughts from the conference

26 March 2009 - 3:45pm

Despite a long journey here the participants have been very active and were able to work in groups to identify their expectations of the conference, which were communicated this morning in a plenary session.


Africatastrophe: Millions of jobs traded away

26 March 2009 - 12:57pm

» Original article at The Tribune

Dave Tucker describes the devastating impact that neo-liberal policies have had on employment throughout the world - particularly the poorest parts of it.

Brown G20 plan ‘will destroy jobs'

25 March 2009 - 12:01am

Millions face free trade axe - report

Millions of people will lose their jobs in developing countries and millions more in Europe under free trade plans to be promoted by British prime minister Gordon Brown next month at the G20 summit of the world's leading economies.

This warning comes today from the charity War on Want in the first-ever report to calculate the numbers of jobs lost globally in the wake of trade liberalisation and to analyse the impact of free trade on employment.

It comes at a time when global unemployment is already rising fast, with the International Labour Organisation forecasting over 50 million more people worldwide could lose their jobs by the end of this year, and 200 million workers fall into extreme poverty. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says that by next year jobless numbers in rich nations could rise by eight million to 42 million. And last week British unemployment rose above two million for the first time since 1997.

Now Brown's call to other G20 leaders to complete the Doha trade round puts 7.5 million workers at risk in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia and Uruguay, and millions more in other rich and poor countries, according to War on Want.

The new report - Trading Away Our Jobs - is launched three days before a national demonstration in the run-up to the G20 talks in London on 2 April.

War on Want Executive Director John Hilary said: "Our report exposes how trade liberalisation has thrown millions of people into grim poverty and threatens to devastate many further lives. Gordon Brown's free market fundamentalism will condemn millions to a bleak and jobless future. Instead of repeating the failed policies of the past, the prime minister and the other G20 leaders must put people first."

Following two decades of free market policies, 50 million more Africans are now trapped in poverty than in 1997.

Three in four workers in sub-Saharan Africa now face insecure employment as a result of three decades of neoliberal economics, with only a quarter in waged and salaried posts, according to the study. Four in five Zambian workers struggle to survive as street traders, 95 per cent of them earning only two dollars a day, and over three quarters less than a dollar a day.

Zambian tailor Matthews Nkhoma says of big foreign exporters: "Instead of bringing raw materials, they bring finished goods at a cheaper price. We cannot compete and have really lost out."

Malawi's real wages in manufacturing plunged by 73 per cent between 1990 and 1995. Trade liberalisation in the 1980s and 1990s also brought huge job losses in Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Zimbabwe.

During the free trade 1990s, the jobless in Latin America soared from 7.6 million to 18.1 million, with unemployment rises in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Between the early 1990s and 2006, farming jobs in Mexico slumped from 8.1 million to around six million as a result of trade liberalisation. Now a third of all the region's workers face insecure employment.


Trading Away Our Jobs: How free trade threatens employment around the world can be downloaded here

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

Activists step up Iraq oil fight

25 March 2009 - 12:00am


Wednesday, 25 March-Tuesday, 31 March 2009
First-ever conference for Iraqi and international human rights campaigners

Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Demonstration over UK oil giant BP celebrating its centenary at the British Museum

Historic talks resist US, UK takeover

Campaigners will today intensify their battle against the US and Britain handing control over Iraq's oil to corporations in a landmark conference for the occupied country's civil society.

The Rome event will for the first time bring together Iraqi activists, trade unions, and women's and youth groups, with supporters from around the world, including Britain.

It will address the bid to stop the oil takeover and the struggle to replace occupation and violence with a peaceful democracy which ensures Iraqi control over land and resources.

The talks will come in the run-up to a demonstration next Wednesday as the UK oil giant BP - one of the companies which aim to win control over Iraq's oil - celebrates its centenary at the British Museum.

Elsewhere in London on the same day, protesters will mark the sixth anniversary of the war on Iraq as US president Barack Obama and other world leaders arrive for the G20 summit of the world's leading economies.

The UK anti-poverty charity War on Want will join forces with civil society organisations, including oil trade unions and human rights groups, to plan new initiatives at the conference to promote Iraqi sovereignty.

Gemma Houldey, international programmes officer at War on Want, said: "This ground-breaking event will take place at a vital point in Iraq's history. For decades oppression and dictatorship have silenced or weakened Iraqi civil society.

"Now, six years on from the fall of the Saddam regime, we are determined to strengthen our backing for the oil workers and other marginalised groups.

"The US and British government cannot be allowed to hand over Iraq's resources to swell multinationals' profits at ordinary people's expense."

Since 2005 the US and Britain have demanded new legislation to privatise control over Iraq's oil.

But, faced with strong opposition led by the Iraqi oil workers' trade union, achievement of that objective has been consistently delayed.

The Hands Off Iraqi Oil coalition, including War on Want, warns of greater conflict and hardship if the American and British governments succeed with pressure to drive through contracts.


The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative conference will take place at Velletri, near Rome.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728




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