29 June 2010

NCACC reports reveal unethical arms trading

On 29 June 2010 the South African History Archive and the Ceasefire Campaign held a joint press conference at the Ceasefire premises in Johannesburg. The conference was convened to launch the public release of several years of reports of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) given to SAHA and Ceasefire in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA).

'Our   children need peace, not bullets', SAHA Poster Collection, AL2446_0178Since 2006, SAHA and Ceasefire have worked collaboratively to try and make public these reports, which should have in fact always been freely available. Years of resistance and bureaucratic stalling by government, coupled by an irregular and uncertain administration of the NCACC, meant that the two organisations had to persevere through a long battle which eventually led to an out of court settlement.

The information that was released has now been collated into a spreadsheet that reveals both the usefulness of PAIA, but also suggests that an unethical stance is being taken by the South African government generally in terms of their arms exports. Significant amounts of exports to such countries as Columbia and Pakistan, with very questionable human rights and arms control records, seriously bring into question the nature of the decision-making being taken by the NCACC. To investigate this further, the public can now openly access the spreadsheet created by Rob Thomson of Ceasefire or read the brief analysis he constructed around that data. A copy of SAHA's press statement is also available here.

The information reveals that that the NCACC seems to have been contravening the legislative guidelines set out for them in terms of section 15 of the NCACC Act, which is the Act tasked with empowering all of the NCACC's actions. This raises the question: if they seem to be deviating from the Act itself, how exactly are they regulating their decision-making on such a crucial issue? In light of this revelation that the reports seem to be raising more questions than answers, SAHA and Ceasefire have already begun the process of seeking out more information about how the decision-making is actually being guided in practice through the procedures of PAIA.