Text Only | Disarmament Diplomacy | Disarmament Documentation | ACRONYM Reports
Back to the Acronym home page
British Policy
South Asia
About Acronym

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 19, October 1997

UK Labour Party Conference:
Speech by Foreign Secretary

'Britain's new approach to the world,' Speech by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 2 October


"...with a new Labour Government, Britain is now leading the drive to ban landmines. In my first week as Foreign Secretary I flew to Paris and Bonn and got agreement from their Governments that we would work together to secure a treaty to ban the export, import or production of landmines. Two weeks ago in Oslo we approved that treaty. Approved it without qualification, without reservation.

Thousands of children across the world have lost a limb for life because of a minute of play in which they ran onto a landmine. Let's stop it now. Let's ban the trade in all such landmines. ...

Britain is, again, leading by cleaning up the arms trade. The Scott Report revealed ministers who did not worry about what Saddam Hussein might do with his military machine, but who were terrified that you might find out they were helping to build it. And, you know, he never paid the bills. That was another lesson of the Scott Inquiry. Brutal, megalomaniac dictators tend not to pay their invoices on time.

We fought the election on the commitment that we would not give any more licences for arms exports that would conspire with conflict or abet repression. We have carried out that commitment. We have put in place tougher criteria that are biting and are delivering our policies. Britain has one of the largest arms industries in Europe. We have a duty to the four hundred thousand people who work in our defence industries to preserve their jobs. We have a duty, both as a Government with a commitment to the British economy, and as a Labour movement which includes the unions who represent those workers.

With that duty, though, comes a responsibility. As one of the world's four largest arms exporters, we must ensure proper regulation of the arms trade, not just in Britain, but in the world. When I announced our new criteria for export licences, the Prime Minister of France, Lionel Jospin, welcomed them and said he saw only 'advantages in supporting the proposals of my friend to moralise the arms trade'. I can now tell Conference that I have followed up that welcome by inviting France to join Britain in proposing a European Code of Conduct to regulate the arms trade."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

Return to top of page

Return to List of Contents

Return to Acronym Main Page