“Conflict is not inevitable”

Fabian Hamilton is the shadow minister for peace and disarmament, the first post of its kind in UK parliament. Appointed in October by Jeremy Corbyn, we ask Hamilton how he will tackle his brief to reduce violence, war and conflict

“We need to see a wider picture if we are ever to resolve the conflicts that blight the lives of so many people – especially the weakest and most vulnerable,” says Fabian Hamilton. He is the UK’s shadow minister for peace and disarmament, the first post of its kind in UK parliament.

The MP for Leeds North East was appointed to the role in October by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said he wanted the UK to become a world leader in peacemaking and disarmament.

“It was a real surprise to be offered the position,” says Hamilton, an MP for nearly 20 years. “Conflicts are affecting millions of people worldwide who have simply become victims. Victims of corrupt warlords, evil ideologies which care nothing for human life, or greedy armed gangs fed by anyone willing to supply them with powerful weapons. But too often our elected representatives only want to focus on the needs of the people they represent.”

Hamilton says he feels a responsibility to remind Whitehall that “conflict is not inevitable”.

“All wars eventually end around a peace table with treaties and agreements, but conflict not only destroys property, it destroys or – at best – damages lives. If we value life, we should demonstrate our commitment by trying to prevent conflict before it starts and resolve our differences and disputes through discourse and communication.”

Hamilton was appointed a year after the UN Security Council held a debate on how best to stem the illicit flow of small arms around the world. With more deaths in Africa caused by small arms than by AIDS and Malaria combined alone each year, he wants to halt access to these “tools of death”. Hamilton also counts multilateral nuclear disarmament and the pursuit of peace treaties among his key priorities.

“If the current government is not prepared to engage with multilateral talks on reducing and banning nuclear weapons, then we certainly should,” he says.

“I see signs that we have all had enough and I hope that as more women become national leaders, and as people begin to make their anger at the violence clear to leaders, we can start the process of ending conflict as the norm for the resolution of our disputes. I will do my best to play a very small part in that movement.”

Image: Russ London