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2022 Report and onwards

2022 for SFW was a period of consolidation but the third quarter was a time of great change

Our two French staff, guided and led by Holly Spencer worked on publicity through social media, podcasts, press and building our resources and research .base. We worked with Shadow World and corruption tracker in the UK. By the time the staff left at the end of September due to a funding crisis we had a strong library of related material in French and English. We continued to work in both languages and our steering committee which,, brought in others who had worked in the field of peace building , both civilian and military.


Our main access to change hearts and minds happens at Eurosatory Arms Fair in June every two years(this cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic). The first trimester was spent preparing our campaign which linked arms industry and military (MIC) emissions to the climate emergency and demanding transparency about this. We were aided in our research by Scientists for Global responsibility. We updated our Military and climate information and built a campaign which alongside social media output included postcards in English and French to hand out at the gates to Eurosatory and another to hand out at Public events. This is always an opportunity for publicity, contact with those going into the arms fair and the press. However in 2022 our presence during Eurosatory evolved differently.

Eurosatory Arms fair at Villepinte usually has many protesters on the first couple of days but by midweek we Quakers are normally the only ones there. We quietly hand our educational material in the form of postcards and meet the press and it is a great opportunity to make direct contact with those working in the arms trade and with the press reporting on it.

We notified the authorities on our intention to be at the gates of Eurosatory throughout the week with a maximum of 10 people along with Movement de la Paix. On arrival there was much security presence; we could not be here, nor there, In fact there was nowhere we could stand. Eventually we got through to the local prefecture of police who told us yes, we could be there but on the other side of the road where no one even glances. We learnt the next day that the prefecture of the Ile de France, the whole of Paris, who is very close to Macron, had banned everything including the handing out of leaflets at metro stations in an extensive area around the arms fair for the whole week.

This is shocking in France and very rarely happens — the right to demonstrate is particularly strong in France. In France a group does not ask for permission to demonstrate but Informs the prefecture of the intention, time place, action etc., and the approval is very rarely denied. We presume that our messages of the risks and alternatives to the arms industry had been noted and was unwelcome. We can count this a real success, nevertheless we managed to have extensive interviews with a Dutch documentary maker and a reporter from the Dutch equivalent of the Times ( who followed up with an interview with Dutch Quakers and another article). We held a press Conference alongside Movement de la Paix which resulted in articles in L’ Humanité and la Reporterre. Our aim over the last two years was to bring the activists in France who are involved in associated campaigns, particularly the climate activists to engage with the debate on militarisation and it’s extensive effects on the climate. We were particularly pleased that Friends of the Earth France shared our campaign and there was a reach of 61K during our campaign.

The indignation of the French about being denied the right to protest resulted in a twitter storm of 53,000 impressions and 5,600 visits to our profile as opposed to our normal 3 – 6,000 impressions.

We also held a public event with panels from our exhibition and educational material in the centre of Paris at the Place de la Republique during the week of Eurosatory which could still go ahead.

 At La Base in Paris, which is a lively centre of associations with bar and café, we held a slide and Q&A event presentation about arms sales in France and Eurosatory.

Rethinking security

The week before Eurosatory alongside MIR (IFOR) and Church and Peace we held a conference on rethinking security, the German version of rethinking security presented their approach, This was enthusiastically received by about 70 participants. We consider that France is ready to launch it’s own rethinking security and we would like to be strongly implicated in this and this is what 2023 brings.

Other events

At the beginning of 2022 we produced two podcasts on the European Union with ENAAT (French only).podcast

The exhibition Sans Arms Citoyen.ne.s, which was shown twice in 2022, was presented in Strasbourg in a Mennonite church and a public space the week before Eurosatory.
In September we displayed the exhibition in an office situation for two NGOs. We had further enquiries to host the exhibition for 2023 , Jeuness solidaire and Foutez nous la Paix

We presented our work at the Mennonite International Conference in association with Church and Peace, at the EMES conference in Paris and to the Assemblé de France.

Our main access to the public was through social media on Instagram, Tick-tock, Facebook and particularly Twitter. We were posting weekly on all platforms in two languages while we had young staff to do this. In 2022 we printed our what is security brochure in English (see below) We have many copies left of our publications as we were unable to distribute them as expected at Eurosatory. We would like to find outlets for these publications in 2023.

A noteable success

A notable success of being noticed enough to be mentioned by all but name by the French government that is the third highest exporter of arms in the world. Françoise Dumas, president de la commission de la défense nationale et des forces armées (Assemblée nationale) during the event Quelle politique d'exportation de défense pour la France ? (15-12-2021) at the ÉCOLE MILITAIRE commented in her conclusion
“Without falling for conspiracy theories certain organisations that denigrate the French operations/arms business are simply directly or indirectly funded by foreign agents so there is little probability that seek to defend French interests”. **

NB Our colleagues at Movement de la Paix, Amnesty International and OBSARM who also speak out against the arms trade are not funded by “foreign actors”.

Our Resources on the subjects were catalogued and themed on air-table for ease of access to the public. This task was completed in September. We updated the website in 2022.

Since visits to our exhibition we have seen other NGO’s and magazines focus on the arms trade and the requests for speaking have also increased. However due to our funding crisis we have had to release our staff which was very costly due to the highly protective labour laws.

comment about foreign financed NGOs
**(18 mins 40 secs into Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-MC1IACe_M 

• « Eurosatory : qui peut stopper les ventes d’armes ? » dans la revue Silence!, n°510, Mai 2022
• « Exportation d’armes françaises :Opacité, risques de corruption et pantouflage » dans Alternatives Non-Violentes 2022/2 (N° 203), Juin 2022
• « Salon mondial des ventes d'armements d'Eurosatory. Non à l’économie de guerre », tribune publiée dans l’Humanité en juin 2022
• « Antimilitarisme. Les associations pacifistes redoutent la bombe climatique », publié dans l’Humanité en juin 2022
• « Le salon mondial de l’armement en plein « greenwashing » », publié dans Reporterre en juin 2022

We received two requests for interviews, one for a French television documentary and a radio program who found us through our website and briefing papers.

In the last two quarters of 2022 we spent most of our energies sorting out the legal and financial implications of not having funds to pay the French staff. This was a very heavy process both in timing, precise proceedures and finance. (an additional 9,000€ in charges on top of normal redundancy).


We have closed the office in Paris and reduced our expenses to suit our situation. A few volunteers have come forward but we are in a period of reflection before we apply for other grants. We are disappointed that there is no funding in France for change of society and understand why other associations, unless part of international NGO’s or have many hundreds of members have only one staff. Despite much research we have not found any funds for social change in France or substantial private donors. We end the year with about 3000 € in the bank and no debts. We regret not having the funds to continue as we were, but we will always take change as an opportunity.

Situation today and towards the future.

We have taken a breath, reflected on our way forward: although the arms industry is one of the major influences on violent conflict and increasing militarisation we see a strong need to present alternatives, particularly in France. Our current consideration is Rethinking security France and presenting peace tools and technologies. We had suggested an inclusive approach last year and are now driving the facilitation of this movement with MIR (IFOR) and other groups.

Headquarters : Centre Quaker International
114 rue de Vaugirard
75006 Paris
Association loi de 1901 No. W751238358


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