Global Affairs Canada provides $450,352.00 to CADSI, UN Special Rapporteurs note arms companies have human rights obligations

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Protest outside the CADSI office in Ottawa on February 13, 2024.

The website of the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada shows that the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) has received $450,352.00 from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) over the past two years.

That same Lobbying Commissioner website notes that the role of CADSI is “to convince government officials to maintain and/or improve global market access for Canadian firms in a way that respects Canada’s export controls.”

Citing those export controls, namely the Export and Import Permits Act, three Toronto-based legal scholars argue that “because the ICJ [International Court of Justice] found a serious risk of genocide in Gaza, continuing to export arms to Israel would be illegal.”

CADSI, as “the national voice” representing arms companies in Canada has not publicly commented on the calls for a ceasefire, the International Court of Justice ruling that it is “plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide” in Gaza, or the obligations of companies vis-à-vis the Genocide Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Who does CADSI represent?

CADSI describes itself as “the bridge between government and industry.” Among the companies CADSI represents: BAE Systems, Bell Textron, Boeing, Colt, Elbit Systems, General Dynamics, L3 Harris, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Rheinmetall among others.

Photo: Protest at Lockheed Martin plant in Ottawa, November 10, 2023.

The Oakland, California-based American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Action Center on Corporate Accountability has noted that these same companies that CADSI represents are profiting from Israel’s 2023-2024 attacks on Gaza.

These companies are among the most profitable weapons companies in the world.

For example, Lockheed Martin’s gross profit for the twelve months ending September 30, 2023, was $8.486 billion. General Dynamics’ gross profit for that same period was $6.580 billion.

CADSI membership for companies with 500+ employees is $10,600. a year. The fee for “small” companies with 5-99 employees is $2,650. a year.

It’s unclear why a lobby group that represents “700+” companies, including billion-dollar transnational corporations, needs a public subsidy to undertake its work.

“No follow-up” by the CCC

The Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) is also a member of CADSI. The CCC says as “the only Canadian agency that offers international contracting expertise, we have facilitated the delivery of billions in Canadian products and services to national, state, and municipal governments around the world using G2G contracts.”

Photo: Canadian Commercial Corporation​, 350 Albert Street, Suite 700, Ottawa.

Notably, journalist David Pugliese has previously reported in the National Post: “The Canadian Commercial Corporation acknowledges it conducts no follow-up to ensure exported Canadian-built equipment isn’t being used to abuse human rights.”

The CCC is listed as an exhibitor at CANSEC 2024 at Booths 225/M18/M17.

The CANSEC weapons show

CADSI organizes CANSEC, “Canada’s leading defence, security & emerging technology event”.

CADSI further notes: “CANSEC has always been a great success, and CANSEC 2024 will once again showcase leading-edge technologies, products and services for land-based, naval, aerospace and joint forces military units.”

Video: “Made in Israel, tested in Palestine.” The Israeli weapons company Elbit Systems, which is a CADSI member, will be an exhibitor at CANSEC this year (Booth 1421).

This year’s CANSEC will take place on May 29-30 at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

Notably, while Global Affairs Canada: Trade Commissioner Service was listed last month as an exhibitor at CANSEC, at Booth 225-S, they can no longer be found on the current listing.

The Global Affairs Canada logo, however, still remains on the CADSI website as a “partner” for its presence at the Eurosatory arms show in Paris (happening in June 2024) and the DSEI UK arms show in London (September 2025).

Arms companies have obligations

A recent statement on the need to stop weapons exports to Israel signed by United Nations Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and working group members highlights: “Arms companies contributing to the production and transfer of arms to Israel and businesses investing in those companies bear their own responsibility to respect human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. They have not publicly demonstrated the heightened human rights due diligence required of them and accordingly risk complicity in violations.”

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights includes: “The responsibility to respect human rights is a global standard of expected conduct for all business enterprises wherever they operate. It exists independently of States’ abilities and/or willingness to fulfil their own human rights obligations, and does not diminish those obligations. And it exists over and above compliance with national laws and regulations protecting human rights.”

Amnesty International explains: “In relation to the defence sector, this means companies must assess and address human rights risks and abuses arising in all aspects of their business, including how clients such as national armies and police forces use their weaponry and related services. …Major industry players including Airbus, BAE Systems and Raytheon [all CADSI members] are not undertaking adequate human rights due diligence which could prevent their products from being used in potential human rights violations and war crimes.”

Significantly for CADSI, the CANSEC list of exhibitors still includes “Israel Representatives” at Booth M7 and Elbit Systems at Booth 1421 at the EY Centre where there will be “600+ VIPS, generals, top military & government officials”, “50+ international delegations”, and “74% of [the 12,000+] attendees have purchasing power”.

We continue to follow this.

For more on the planned mobilization against the CANSEC arms show on May 29-30 this year, see this World Beyond War Canada webpage.

Photo: Protest at CANSEC 2023.

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