Reed Elsevier to exit the defence exhibitions sector

“Reed Elsevier announced today that it is to exit the defence exhibitions sector. This portfolio of five shows is part of Reed Elsevier’s global Business division and represents around 0.5% of group annual turnover. ”

aka. We won!

Update Reed press release

Reed Elsevier CEO Crispin Davis:

“Our defence shows are quality businesses which have performed well in recent years. Nonetheless, it has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement in the defence exhibitions business.

“We have listened closely to these concerns and this has led us to conclude that the defence shows are no longer compatible with Reed Elsevier’s position as a leading publisher of scientific, medical, legal and business content.”

Update 2: Lancet editorial on this

Update 3: Coverage in the Times and the Guardian

20 replies on “Reed Elsevier to exit the defence exhibitions sector”

That rarest taste – victory.

And in case the motives were unclear, they actually say, “it has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement in the defence exhibitions business.”

Huge congratulations to all involved.

I couldn’t agree more, congratulations to all involved, and to Tom for spearheading and maintaining the campaign. Well done!

Awesome! I remember you saying something like, ‘it occurs to me that I’m in a position where I can do something about this.’ That was, what, three years ago? Started something, kept on pushing, for years. Yay!

Well done, you’ve stopped these arms fairs from ever happening again!Well, OK, you’ve stopped a publicly-listed company from running them, so they’re now going to be organised by some private company owned by another private company owned by a collection of private companies in Saudi Arabia. So, in fact, nothing at all will change. It’ll just be out of the spotlight of UK academics, and we can all sleep easy knowing that, can’t we!

So cynical Matt! You seem to be saying that progress isn’t possible, so this bit of progress isn’t any use anyway.

It was always going to be like this, no one thought they were going to stop the arms fairs by stopping Elsevier running them. What we have done, though, is demonstrate that running arms fairs isn’t acceptable for an academic/medical publisher, we’ve reinforced the view that, in themsevles, arms fairs are illegitimate business and (fringe benefit) we’ve shown that publc pressure can make a difference. We’ve probably also made it easier to campaign against the new owners of Reed Expo and decreased the value of that business – reducing the profit to be made from having links with the arms trade.

Now is not the time to lament, or to celebrate, now is the time to organise!

In other news, see Reed positioning itself for the sale:

well said tom! It is easy to criticise and do nothing. I wish more people acted rather than sitting in front of their computers putting down the efforts of others! Just think of the awareness that this campaign has raised – i think it’s incredible for all of those academics to make it clear that they don’t want to be involved in the arms trade, even if there is still a lot more to do. wonderful!

I can not believe it… I guess it’s only a little victory, but it makes me feel hopeful. May be possible to build another World.

Thanks and congratulations!

that’s cool, well done for sticking at it

(I’m unnerved that another ‘Neil’ has already commented, I’m *pretty* sure it wasn’t me . . .)

Perhaps congratulations are due to Reed/Elsevier as well. Since Reed is run as an entirely separate business, linking it to Elsevier’s business does not demonstrate an appreciation for how business is constructed. However, it was pressure from Elsevier that convinced Reed to drop their involvement. It should be noted the return to Reed from this business was a very small fraction of their overall business revenue. This made the decision to withdraw easier. In short, Reed will not be damaged by the decision.

It is possible these conventions will now move to another country. Anyone who understands the arms trade will appreciate how this in fact makes it more likely these arms will end up in the wrong hands. The English government regulated these sales from beneath British law. They were able to do this, working with Reed, because these events were held in England. Once they move to another country, all bets are off as to what laws will apply to regulate the convention and purchases.

The day might be coming soon when those so enthusiastic over Reed’s decision might regret it–provided the dissemination of arms is the real issue. Moving these conventions out from under British law could mean easier access and wider distribution of cluster bombs, land mines and other weapons. Reed worked closely with the British government, who requested these converntions be operated by Reed to maintain strict regulations. Those celebrating the decisoin might want to hold on until a new locatoin and a new company are selected. The results might not be promising.

As to what’s next, I suggest you begin to look into the relationship between major universities, research funds and the defense industry. Is there a university out there who can say they turn down government contracts based on similar considerations, let alone an academic who would turn down substantial funding provided by defense department contracts? Is it common for universities to refuse such funding? Which schools accept the most funding? How is this related to weapons development?

Spot on, Bob. I’m not suprised that you’ve received no replies to your post, though. Now that Elsevier are no longer involved, you won’t get any interest in this issue coming from UK academics. The campaign is over as far as they are concerned, even though these arms fairs will carry on – probably with much less scrutiny than before.

And your suggestion about looking into their own universities’ relationships with the arms trade, and refusing funding? Well, I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

Actually, academics are still interested in the arms trade. Witness the recent successful academics and scholars blockade of Faslane Nuclear Base

See also the clean investment campaign that CAAT have launched

If Bob hasn’t received any relies it is probably because he made a comment on an old post on what is, i’m afraid to say, a minor provincial blog!

You’ll have to forgive my weariness but it feels to me like, when campaigning, there are lots of people who shout “it won’t happen” and then when it does happen there are others who shout “it won’t do any good”. Many of the points you’ve made on this thread might be valid, but since it is easy to be critical, but harder to be correct, i’d be more impressed if you could offer positive suggestions about something to do, rather than point out problems.

(Disclaimer: I’m a Reed Elsevier employee, but I don’t speak for Reed Elsevier, LexisNexis, Santa Claus, or anyone else. I came here because I was curious if R-E still had an arms-trade role; I’m glad they don’t.)

Some of the comments here remind me of the little girl on the beach who finds a whole school of stranded fish and starts to throw them back in the ocean one by one. “Come on,” says her mother. “There are too many; you can’t help.”

“I helped this one”, says the little girl, throwing back another fish.

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