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".