War And Peace (But Mainly War)

‘Hypocrisy’ is defined by the dictionary as 'a situation in which someone pretends to believe something that they do not really believe, or that is the opposite of what they do or say at another time.'

It's a good definition.

I'm more inclined however, to define it as 'the UK’s response to the current conflict in Yemen.' 

It's hypocrisy because whilst the UK Government calls for global peace, its military spending per capita and as a percentage of national income is already about 40% above the European average.

It's hypocrisy because whilst the UK Government allocates at least 50% of its development spending to conflict-affected states and regions, more than 50% of its arms exports are now sold to countries in these same regions.

It's hypocrisy because the UK Government presents itself as the dove of peace carrying the olive branch, whereas it in fact carries guns and bombs to war-torn countries.

The entire situation is reminiscent to me of firefighter arson (also known as hero syndrome). The UK provides the tools to set a fire, only to come along and claim the moral high ground when they then try to put it out.

This hypocrisy is something that Christian Aid has actively condemned. I agree with Karol Balfe, the head of From Violence to Peace, when she said:

“The UK’s complicity in the war in Yemen is unacceptable. It is unthinkable that at the same time as providing assistance to UN agencies working in the world’s worst man-made humanitarian crisis, arms sales from the UK to Saudi Arabia – which are fuelling the Yemen conflict – have increased by two thirds since 2016 and now account for nearly half of Britain’s major arms exports. No other arms exporter comes close to this dependence on the Gulf market.”

We are not alone in holding this view. A ComRes survey commissioned by Christian Aid found that 61% of the British public think the UK Government should stop selling military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

The UK Government can’t have it both ways.

As such, we need to call on the government to commit to three things:

  1. The UK Government should stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, and other states which are violating international law, in breach of its own international commitments including those to regulate the arms trade.
  2. The UK Government, along with other governments across the globe, should commit to significantly more spending on peace and less on militarisation.
  3. While the UK Government has, in many ways, led global efforts to respond to conflict, it needs a clearer vision of peacebuilding, putting those living in conflict, particularly local peace actors, at the heart of its approach.