Campaign Strides at UCL and Newcastle University

February 27, 2017

Students at both University College London (UCL) and Newcastle University have pushed their campaigns for arms trade divestment forwards through motions of support at their students unions.

Disarm UCL, which re-formed only recently, managed to get a motion passed unanimously in their student union. The motion calls for UCL to cut research and consultancy ties with companies which arm authoritarian regimes and who’s weapons have been used in alleged human rights abuses. Achieving support from the student body is a fantastic first step in their renewed campaigning. In 2009 UCL divested from an arms company called Cobham after a strongly supported student-led divestment campaign.

“UCL has developed robust connections with a number of major arms firms implicated in human rights abuses, such as BAE Systems with their arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a country currently involved in targeting a range of civilian infrastructure in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. The connections seriously compromise UCL’s ethical credibility.”

An extract from the speech given to support the motion by a spokesperson of Disarm UCL

Their next big milestone will be a panel discussion on March 10th with speakers from War on Want, Campaign Against Arms Trade, and Disarm UCL on how anti-arms trade activism can be effective on campus.

Newcastle University students have focused their arms trade divestment campaign around the 50th year anniversary of Newcastle University awarding Martin Luther King an honorary degree. In the ceremony, which occurred only a few months before his death, he gave an impromptu speech decrying the three ills of society “war, poverty and racism”.

Despite celebrating MLK’s work on these three issues, it was revealed last year that Newcastle University invests over £500,000 in the arms trade. Their motion called for Newcastle University Student Union (NUSU) to support student activists in raising the hypocrisy of celebrating MLK’s legacy while investing in the arms trade. The student union president has been mandated to raise this at all appropriate meetings and events.

* NUSU believes Newcastle University claims to share MLK values of civil rights and social justice.

* NUSU believes that the arms trade has devastating and destabilising effects worldwide; sustaining conflicts and fuelling human rights abuses as well as diverting resources from health and education in some of the world’s most impoverished regions.

* NUSU believes the university’s investments in the arms trade is at odds with the values and objectives of the university.

* NUSU believes that the university by its actions in indirectly a sponsor of conflict by investing in such organizations has compromised its claim to be an institution for promoting societal good.

* NUSU believes that the University’s role contributing to human development is paramount to profit making.

Extract from the NUSU motion supporting the anti-arms trade divestment campaign

Demilitarise King’s has also been looking at garnering support through motions; they’ve submitted a motion through to the first stage to be debated at NUS conference pledging support for demilitarise campaigns across the country. Keep your eyes peeled for updates!

Check our resources page for student union motion templates and other resources to support campaigning on your campus.


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