Reed Elsevier and the arms trade

Reed Elsevier is a publishing company with an arms trade problem. While the bulk of their business is in scientific, medical and educational publishing, they also - through their subsidiaries Reed Exhibitions and Spearhead Exhibitions - organise arms fairs around the world. These include events in Brazil, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Singapore, and in the UK, one of largest arms fairs in the world, DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment International), which is held bi-annually in London Docklands (next due September 2007).

The $1 trillion global trade in arms and military goods undermines human rights, fuels conflicts and causes huge civilian suffering. Arms fairs are a key part of the global arms trade, and allow arms companies to promote weapons to countries involved in, or on the brink of conflict, as well as those with terrible human rights records. DSEi's 2005 official invitees included buyers' delegations from 7 countries on the UK Foreign Office's list of the 20 most serious human rights abusing regimes, countries like Colombia, China and Indonesia. Reed Elsevier do not make public the full list of invitees to their arms fairs. Reed Elsevier arms fairs have featured cluster bombs, depleted uranium munitions and torture equipment. Perhaps the most harmful and most familiar kind of equipment on sale at Elsevier arms fairs is small arms, the rifles and other hand weapons which, according to the UN, are responsible for 500,000 fatalities each year.

When you hear reports of soldiers firing on crowds of civilians, or see footage from war-zones of child soldiers toting AK-47s, ask yourself "where did those guns come from?". The answer will involve the global arms trade, which is underpinned by the system of international arms fairs - arms fairs exactly like those run by Reed Elsevier.

Promoting the sale of arms is utterly contradictory to the academic, medical and educational publishing side of Reed Elsevier's business, undermining the very ideals of individual health, prosperity, free expression, peace and community which motivate much work in those areas.

Reed Elsevier is a signatory to UN Global Compact, a global corporate responsibility standard. Their own mission statement says they would like to play 'a positive role in our local and global communities' (2003's Reed Elsevier Cares programme). Arms fairs make up only 0.5% of Reed Elsevier's total business (according to Gerard Van de Aast, global CEO for Reed Business) yet stand in total contradiction to these expressions of responsibility.

The support of academics, educators and health professionals is vital to Reed Elsevier. We are the ones who write the papers that fill their journals. We review them, we edit them and then personally, or institutionally via our libraries, we buy them. Our unions and learned societies choose which publisher to deal with to publish their journals. Our pension schemes invest in their shares. If we make clear to Elsevier that their involvement with the arms trade is not acceptable, they will have to change.

If you are a lecturer, researcher or postgraduate student please click below to sign the petition.

Sign the petition!

Let other's know about Reed Elsevier's involvement in the arms trade. Suggested text for an email:

The academic and medical publisher Reed Elsevier is involved in organising international arms fairs. More information and a petition here:

If you are a lecturer, researcher or postgraduate student please click below to sign the petition. To find out more, scroll down

Sign the petition!