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BAE Systems: UK's Largest Arms Company Under Fire For Israel Ties

17.04.2024 13:42

New report by London based Action on Armed Violence reveals BAE Systems’ relations with countries accused of abuses, corruption Clear evidence of BAE Systems’ arms trade with Israel, says Iain Overton, executive director of AOAV Israeli political lobbyists ‘managed to get Israel taken off’...

A new report by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based non-governmental organization, has shed new light on the extensive global reach of BAE Systems, the UK's largest arms manufacturer.

The report, titled 'How BAE Systems Helped Arm Half the World,' underscores concern regarding the company's sales of weapons to countries accused of human rights abuses and corruption.

An area of particular scrutiny in the report is BAE Systems' ties with Israel.

The report highlights the firm's role in a consortium supplying F-35 fighter jets to Israel, which have been used in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip that has now killed nearly 34,000 Palestinians and injured almost 77,000.

Given the Arms Trade Treaty's prohibition on sale of arms to nations with a high likelihood of human rights abuses, BAE Systems' dealings with Israel raise serious concerns about compliance with international law.

Iain Overton, executive director of AOAV, pointed out that there is clear evidence of BAE System's dealings with Israel.

"BAE Systems' engagement in Israel at the moment is either direct, as we know that BAE Systems sells howitzers … but we also know that they're part of a consortium that is supplying the F-35 fighter jets to Israel," Overton told Anadolu.

"These weapons have clearly been used in instances that external groups have claimed are anything from direct violation of international humanitarian law all the way through to even allegations of genocide."

He called for further investigation into the company's F-35 deal with Israel, while also stressing the need for greater accountability of arms manufacturers and governmental bodies involved in the arms trade.

"It strikes me that this is not only in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty, but could be up for debate further down the line if Israel is actually found guilty of genocide, in which case it opens up a very different legal framing," he underlined.

Political influence

Overton questioned the reasons for Israel's omission from the UK's list of countries with human rights concerns, suggesting potential political influence in the decision-making process.

He said Israeli political lobbyists in the UK "basically managed to get Israel taken off" the list.

"This was last year … (and) it hasn't been reported by anybody. But I think it's one of the most shocking things I've witnessed … The UK just gently omitted a country that is now probably the most condemned country in the world for human rights abuses," he underlined.

Overton emphasized the need for a deeper investigation into the matter and the potential implications.

"I've mentioned it to every single journalist, defense correspondent I meet, and for some reason, they're just not interested," he lamented.

Key findings

The AOAV report revealed the extent of BAE Systems' involvement around the world – 93 countries or 48% of all UN member states.

This includes explicit trading ties with 81 countries, representing 41% of the world.

Additionally, the report highlights more ambiguous connections with 12 countries, primarily identified through media coverage of arms deals from 2013 to 2023.

"Of all the countries demonstrating evidence of having a definite relationship with BAE Systems over the past decade, over half (55%) score lower than 50/100 on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI)," according to the report.

The report found that almost all of the world's top 40 nations with the highest military expenditure are clients of BAE Systems.

It further reveals disturbing trends regarding the use of BAE Systems' weaponry in conflict zones.

At least "29 of the 81 confirmed countries that BAE Systems have helped arm in the last decade have used explosive weapons that have reportedly harmed civilians since 2013," the report said.

The civilian casualty count in these incidents is over 44,000, including more than 24,000 deaths, it added, citing data from media reports. -

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