Letter: Chance to curb the arms bazaar

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The Independent Online
Sir: Jack Lang's call for the French government to follow Robin Cook's lead on an ethical approach to arms exports is significant ("French take up Cook's arms challenge", 13 August). The key to responsible control of the arms trade lies in international co-operation to defeat the argument "If we don't sell, someone else will."

A European code of conduct on weapons sales is coming closer to reality. France and Britain have long been the obstacles to such a move but the change of government on both sides of the Channel signals an historic opportunity.

The forthcoming British presidency of the EU (January-June 1998) provides the perfect time to take an initiative to establish a code that would help to prevent arms exports to countries that abuse human rights, regions of instability, military dictators and external aggressors. With the US Congress currently discussing similar legislation, there is a chance to restrain 80 per cent of the global arms bazaar. It should not be missed.

PAUL EAVIS

Executive Director

Saferworld

London WC1

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