The Moral Responsibility for Arms Trade

Global arms trade is booming and has become a lucrative business.

By Blerim Mustafa
GENEVA, Aug 8 2019 – “I don’t want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster.” 1

These were the words of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 22 May 1940 when he learned of individuals profiting because of the booming arms trade industry during the Second World War. Seven decades down the line, President Roosevelt’s warning against the rise of the military-industrial complex and war profiteers is more relevant than ever and a telling testimony that for many in safe places war means profit. But, should the pursuit of economic profit be allowed to supplant ethical considerations, especially when weapons often end up in the hands of terrorists, human rights violators and criminal governments?

There is no doubt that the global arms market remains a lucrative business. Arms trade raises numerous ethical issues both for the exporting and for the importing country. War profiteers operate with scant concern for ethical and moral considerations, being guided by the search for power or profit for their corporations. Those who produce and sell arms have been called “merchants of death.” 2 HH Pope Francis said it was hypocritical to speak of peace while fuelling the arms trade, which only serves the commercial interests of the arms industry. 3 It is of course the inalienable right of States to exercise their right to self-defence as stipulated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and to maintain independent military strength to deal with periodic armed conflict or threats that may emerge. Experience shows that arms exporters fuel conflict and create an atmosphere not at all conducive to peace and development in the world. A business model the feeds on armed conflict, violence and instability must be banned in the 21st century.

According to recent statistics from the Stockholm Peace Institute, arms sales of the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies totalled USD 398.2 billion in 2017. 4 That is more than the nominal cumulative GDPs of South Africa, Denmark, Singapore, Egypt, Algeria and Malaysia, a group of countries which is home to more than 200 million people. Since 2002, annual arms sales have surged 44% and are expected to continue growing in the years to come. 5 In other words, international arms trade is “big business” and a vector for economic growth in some countries, reminiscent of John Maynard Keynes’ vision of ‘Military Keynesianism’.

In the Middle East, the irregular and black-market arms trade – estimated at USD 10 billion a year – have weaponised extremism and fuelled instability. Disturbing images of civilian infrastructure being bombed and destroyed by extremist groups are telling testimonies that the flow of arms and weapons continues to exacerbate violent conflict in the Arab region. This is particularly the case in Syria, Libya and Iraq where the supply of weapons to the warring sides has prolonged the fighting and adversely affected the civilization population. The rebuilding of societies affected by armed conflict and violence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is estimated at USD 250 billion. A price tag that the next generations in the MENA region will have to repay for decades to come.

In this connection, world civil society must take action to curb future arms proliferation in regions prone to armed conflict and violence. Governments and arms traders must commit to respecting and to fulfilling the provisions set forth in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights of the United Nations. 6 The aim should be to identify, prevent and mitigate as the case may be, the human rights-related risks of business activities in conflict-affected areas. Civilians should not have to bear the brunt, as they do now, of the devastating consequences of military conflict. The greed involved in the arms trade must be kept in check.

As foreseen in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the promotion of just, peaceful and inclusive societies rests on the ability of world society to promote a climate conducive to peace and sustainable development. According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, the countries that are furthest from achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are in, or emerging from, armed conflict and violence. The best investment to peace and prosperity therefore rests on the ability of decision-makers and governments to curb arms trade, prohibit economic gains from war, armed conflict and human suffering and instead commit to rally for a world where peace and justice prevails. The simple motto for all should be “disarmament for development”. What is most needed is a conversion strategy that will gradually transform war economies into sustainable peace economies. 7

1 https://www.thenation.com/article/war-profiteering/
2 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/1934-07-01/merchants-death
3 https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/06/03/pope-franciss-prayer-stop-merchants-death/
4 https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/2018-12/fs_arms_industry_2017_0.pdf
5 Ibid
6 https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/GuidingprinciplesBusinesshr_eN.pdf
7 See 2014 report to the Human Rights Council by the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/27/51

Blerim Mustafa, Project and communications officer, the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue. Postgraduate researcher (Ph.D. candidate) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Leicester (UK).

Sol-Gel Announces Pricing of Public Offering of Ordinary Shares

NESS ZIONA, Israel, Aug. 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Sol–Gel Technologies, Ltd. (Nasdaq: SLGL) ("Sol–Gel" or the "Company"), a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases, today announced the pricing of its underwritten public offering for a total number of 1,250,000 ordinary shares at a public offering price of $8.00 per ordinary share. All of the ordinary shares are being offered by Sol–Gel.

Gross proceeds from the sale of the ordinary shares, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and other offering expenses, are expected to be approximately $10.0 million. The offering is expected to close on or about August 12, 2019, subject to customary closing conditions. The Company has also granted the underwriters a 30–day option to purchase up to an additional 187,500 ordinary shares at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions.

Jefferies LLC is acting as sole book–running manager for the offering.

The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for pre–commercialization activities for Epsolay and TWIN and the remainder for working capital and other general corporate purposes.

The offering is being made only by means of a prospectus. A shelf registration statement was previously filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") and declared effective by the SEC on April 12, 2019. A prospectus supplement and accompanying prospectus relating to the offering have been filed with the SEC and are available on the SEC's website located at www.sec.gov. Before you invest, you should read the prospectus supplement and accompanying prospectus and other documents the Company has filed with the SEC for more complete information about the Company and this offering. Copies of the prospectus supplement and the accompanying prospectus relating to the offering may be obtained on the SEC's website located at www.sec.gov or by contacting Jefferies LLC, Attention: Equity Syndicate Prospectus Department, 520 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022, telephone: 1–877–547–6340 or by emailing Prospectus_Department@jefferies.com.

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy the securities described herein, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

About Sol–Gel Technologies

Sol–Gel is a clinical–stage dermatology company focused on identifying, developing and commercializing branded and generic topical drug products for the treatment of skin diseases. Sol–Gel's current product candidate pipeline consists of late–stage branded product candidates that leverage its proprietary, silica–based microencapsulation technology platform, and several generic product candidates across multiple indications.

Forward–Looking Statements

This press release contains "forward–looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained in this press release that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward–looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward–looking statements by terminology such as "believe," "may," "estimate," "continue," "anticipate," "intend," "should," "plan," "expect," "predict," "potential," or the negative of these terms or other similar expressions. These statements are based on information currently available to the Company or the Company's current beliefs and expectations, including the Company's statements regarding the completion, timing and size of the offering of ordinary shares, and the use of proceeds therefrom, which are subject to risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks and uncertainties related to market conditions and the satisfaction of closing conditions related to the offering. The inclusion of forward–looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by the Company that any of its plans will be achieved. Actual results may differ from those set forth in this release due to the risks and uncertainties inherent in the Company's business and other risks described in the Company's filings with the SEC. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward–looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, and except as required by law, the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly any forward–looking statements after the date of this press release to conform these statements to changes in the Company's expectations or events or circumstances occurring after the date hereof. Further information regarding these and other risks is included under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company's periodic reports filed with the SEC, including the Company's Annual Report on Form 20–F filed with the SEC on March 21, 2019 and other reports filed with the SEC which are available from the SEC's website (www.sec.gov). All forward–looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement. This caution is made under the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

For further information:
Sol–Gel Contact: U.S. Investor Contact: Media Contact:
Gilad Mamlok Chiara Russo Stephanie Bukantz
Chief Financial Officer Solebury Trout Chamberlain Healthcare PR
+972–8–9313433 +1–617–221–9197 +973–477–1814
crusso@soleburytrout.com Stephanie.bukantz@syneoshealth.com

Source: Sol–Gel Technologies Ltd.