• Elsevier and the arms trade
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  • Elsevier, please get out of the arms trade


    Good news: Elsevier to leave the arms trade business!
    On 2007 June 1 Reed Elsevier announced that they will pull out of the arms trade and will no longer organise arms fairs around the world.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
        - Dwight Eisenhower

    Reed Elsevier is the publisher of Nuclear Physics B, Physics Letters B, and Physics Reports. They also publish a whole slew of academic journals in other fields.

    Since 2003, Elsevier has gotten into a new business: organizing arms fairs, through their subsidiaries Spearhead Exhibitions and Reed Exhibitions. Arms fairs are trade shows for weapons manufacturers, where they show off their latest wares and arrange sales to governments from around the world. Elsevier now runs a number of arms fairs in several countries around the world, including the world's largest, the DSEi arms fair held every two years in London. The DSEi fair in September 2005 was criticized for offering cluster bombs for sale despite a sales ban and advertising illegal stun guns and leg irons, which were banned for export in Britain because of their potential to be used for torture. Even the legal sales, like missile technology, depleted uranium shells, and the small arms which are responsible for the majority of civilian deaths in war (and killed 500,000 people in 2004) are, at best, of questionable morality.

    Elsevier's involvement in the arms trade became more widely known in September 2005 when The Lancet (another Elsevier journal) published an editorial [free registration required] calling for Reed Elsevier to cut its ties with the arms trade. The Lancet's argument is based on the showcasing of particularly harmful military technologies such as cluster bombs, which, while legal, create "de-facto minefields" which "do not discriminate between military targets and civilian populations", in diametric opposition to the principles of public-health practice and the policies of intergovernmental agencies. Further, The Lancet fears being tainted by Elsevier's promotion of the "selling process" of arms, because the arms industry draws vital investment away from health and infrastructure budgets of poor nations: "in 2004, 59% of arms sales were to developing countries, at a total cost to their economies of US$22 billion".