We strongly support the United Nations in its efforts to secure an Arms Trade Treaty that will regulate the sale of small arms internationally and are working with the British government to that end. And we were the principal driver in setting up the task force which led to the European Common Industry Standards that seek to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in the Industry.
Defence companies have signed the MOD’s Sustainable Procurement Charter and we are developing methods ranging from greener paint to greener radars to improve our environmental footprint. Closer to home, we contribute to our local areas – supporting community projects with funding, time and expertise. The UK Defence Industry recognises that companies with clear standards outperform those without them – and attract more young talent.
The defence industry is aware that the outward perception of the defence industry is not one entirely positive, but this is a perception that we are working hard to correct.
The industry has developed a set of Common Industry Standards, which have been adopted by every national trade association in Europe as the benchmark for business conduct. The industry is also a major part of the Anti-Corruption Forum which meets regularly and involves Government and NGOs as well as industry.
There is also a lot of work in the industry going into creating a set of global industry standards, rather than Europe alone. Preliminary discussions between American and European trade associations begun in 2008 and will continue through 2009.
As an industry we take ethics incredibly seriously and have a long backed the Government’s calls for a new Global Arms Trade Treaty. Indeed, we have played an important role in convincing some other countries that were originally sceptical about an ATT to engage in the discussions and continue to make the case for a Treaty in countries where opposition remains.
You may ask why the defence industry is seeking increased regulation of our activities. The reasons are simple – the economic costs are such that corruption is a barrier to fair competition and growth within a company and the wider economy. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that globally US$1 trillion is lost in bribes each year. The defence industry in the UK is also mindful of the instability, conflict and human suffering that irresponsible exports can cause.
In terms of business practice, there are industry-led initiatives such as the 21st century supply chains (SC21) which are designed to accelerate the competitiveness of the aerospace & defence industry by raising the performance of its supply chains. Since the launch of the programme at the Farnborough Airshow in 2006, SC21 has been endorsed by the prime movers in the UK aerospace & defence industry, and recently, by the UK Ministry of Defence. To date there are over 450 business committed to achieving a revised working culture that includes focusing on quality improvement, development & performance as well as relationships to improve efficiency, remove duplication and lower overheads and costs in the supply chain.