Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has committed to an ethical events policy for the city after a major arms fair due to be held in Liverpool was cancelled.
The Electronic Warfare Europe arms fair was set to take place at the Exhibition Centre in November, which is 100% owned by the city council. Organisers linked the cancellation to Covid-19, but were already faced with a strong local campaign against it.
CAAT activists in Scotland discovered the secretive Liverpool arms fair at the beginning of the year and contacted groups across the Liverpool region, who built a strong local campaign. Using the experience gained opposing the UDT 2018 arms fair in Glasgow, activists in Scotland worked in solidarity with the Liverpool Against the Arms Fair group, putting together research and information on the specifics of the event and the companies attending.
The local campaign had gained national support from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, CND, Stop the War, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the BDS National Committee and was preparing for a big day of action before Electronic Warfare was cancelled.
The city is now set to follow Glasgow into adopting an ethical events policy for future events, which campaigners hope will effectively bar arms fairs from taking place in the city. Glasgow City Council committed to implementing an ethical events policy due to pressure from activists in the city after the 2018 UDT event went ahead at the council owned SEC.
The commitment to a change in policy was made by Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson in a tweet, following a video by Liverpool comedian Alexei Sayle who said he was ‘astonished’ to discover that an arms fair was being hosted in a Council owned-venue.
The event would have brought many of the world’s biggest arms companies together with military buyers from around the world. Previous events have been attended by delegations representing repressive regimes accused of human rights violations.
Since the cancellation, over 40,000 emails have been sent to Liverpool City Council cabinet, calling on them to implement a robust and stringent ethical events policy to ensure such an event will never take place in a council-owned venue again.
Liverpool Against the Electronic Arms Fair chair Martin Dobson insisted Mayor Anderson’s commitment must be to ‘an unequivocal ethical policy developed with local people and organisations and implemented without delay’.
‘Our broad-based campaign has achieved a lot in a short amount of time but it will all be for nothing if we have this situation again in a couple of years.
‘We need the Mayor and the whole of the Council to draw up a watertight ethical policy with the ACC that will see arms fairs banned from the City Council owned buildings in the future.”
Following his commitment, the mayor is expected to meet with representatives of Liverpool Against the Electronic Arms Fair to map a time frame for the implementation of a new policy.