Flimsy Controls Fail To Prevent EU Countries Selling Arms To Human Rights Abusers
EU arms controls are not strong enough to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands, a coalition of 55 European
NGOs warned today. They said there were major loopholes in the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which must be
strengthened without delay.
The call comes as the NGOs launch a report called ‘Taking Control: The Case for a More Effective EU Code of Conduct’
(Full report online at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacHFnabaqpAbb0hPub/
"The EU Code is a first step, but clearly it is not meeting its objective of ensuring responsible export controls across
Europe. EU states are still supplying arms to countries that abuse human rights and suffer internal instability," said
Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
"The EU talks a good game, but the fact is that its member states are still exporting defense equipment when they
shouldn’t. This report sets out what needs to happen to prevent these abuses." said Henry Smith of Saferworld.
Between 1994 & 2001 the EU exported nearly US $ 10 billion of arms to developing countries: approximately one third of all the arms
deliveries made to these countries. New research by the Control Arms campaign has highlighted a number of recent cases
that show how EU arms export controls are being bypassed to allow European arms and components to end up in the hands of
human rights abusers. These include:
• German engines bypass EU embargoes to China and Myanmar/Burma : The German government’s export control system has not
prevented Deutz AG diesel engines from being incorporated into Armoured Personnel Carriers in countries which are
themselves subject to an EU arms embargo (China) or which have subsequently exported the vehicles to an embargoed
destination (Ukraine to Myanmar/Burma).
• EU components in helicopters in Nepal: India manufactures attack helicopters in close cooperation with the French
company Eurocopter. India has subsequently exported helicopters to Nepal, despite the misuse of helicopters against
civilians and insurgents by Nepalese security forces. Components or subsystems from other EU countries have also been
supplied for these helicopters.
• Production of Austrian military small arms shifted to Malaysia: Austrian gun maker Steyr-Mannlincher has signed an
agreement with the Malaysian government to manufacture its military weapons. Malaysia has aggressive export plans for
these arms which would not be subject to the EU Code.
These cases demonstrate that despite the adoption of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports in 1998, export controls
across the EU still contain many weaknesses and loopholes. A review of the Code, now underway, is due to be completed
under the Dutch Presidency of the EU, but the NGOs say that there does not appear to be the political will to implement
the changes needed to make a difference.
"For far too long the EU Code of Conduct has failed to stop arms from going where they shouldn’t be allowed. This new
research illustrates the urgent need for the EU to control its arms trade in a responsible manner. Every year we see
hundreds of thousands of people killed by arms. Europe should be a model for the rest of the world to follow", said
Justin Forsyth, Director of Policy at Oxfam.
The NGOs recommend strengthening the Code to include:
• Tightening the Code criteria: The present ambiguous wording of the Code criteria allows for widely differing
interpretation by Member States. Tighter language would help prevent member states from making irresponsible export
• Regulating licensed production overseas (LPO): All LPO agreements involving EU companies should be subjected, in their
entirety, to export licensing procedures.
• Applying the Code to weapons components: The Code must be rigorously applied to the export of components and sub
systems as well as complete weapons.
• Strengthening arms embargoes: EU arms and components must be prevented from finding their way to embargoed
destinations, either directly or through third countries.
• Ensuring all EU members publish annual reports on arms exports: Enhanced transparency of EU arms export decisions
would reduce the likelihood of member states exporting irresponsibly. All member states should produce public annual
The Control Arms campaign, which uncovered these cases, is arguing for a legally binding International Arms Trade
Treaty. Strengthening the EU Code of Conduct would represent a major step towards this goal.
The Arms Trade is out of control. Worldwide arms are fuelling conflict, poverty, and human rights abuses. Visit Control
Arms web site at http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacHFnabaqpBbb0hPub/
Case Study: German engines bypass EU embargoes to China and Myanmar/Burma http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacHFnabaqpCbb0hPub/
Case Study: EU components in helicopters in Nepal http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacHFnabaqpDbb0hPub/
Case Study: Production of Austrian military small arms shifted to Malaysia http://amnesty-news.c.topica.com/maacHFnabaqpEbb0hPub/