FAO Newsdesks - 9th July 2001
CAAT Concerned Government Lacks 'Credibility' at UN Arms Conference
CAAT is concerned that the UK minister attending the United Nations Small Arms Conference (which starts today), will have her credibility undermined by today's second reading of the UK's Export Control Bill. Richard Bingley of CAAT said:
"The UN desperately needs weapons controls to be rigorous and implemented by member states around the globe because the availability of arms such as rifles, mortars and machine guns persistently unhinge UN development work and attempts at conflict resolution."
However, the UK Export Bill, so far, fails to address the immediate concerns shared by the UN towards the unaccountable transfers of military equipment around the world. Firstly, monitoring of exports of UK's licensed production abroad is explicitly omitted from the Bill.* Secondly, controls to check the 'end use' of the UK's military exports are not being introduced.
New Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw participated in a "symbolic arms destruction event" for the media on 3rd July. CAAT welcome Mr Bradshaw promoting the importance of the UN Conference.
CAAT's spokesman added:
"Nevertheless, we are fearful that unless substantial transfer controls are instituted by the UK government in its own Bill, then other positive actions that might come from the UN Conference - such as the mandatory marking of weapons at the point of manufacture - will be implemented in vain. Weapons will still continue to fall into areas of conflict and human rights abuse, marked or not."
THE UK is a key participant at the UN Conference. The UK supplies 20-25% of all legally traded arms and military equipment, making it the world's second largest arms supplier after the United States.
For further information on the Export Control Bill and UN Conference please contact Richard Bingley on +44-(0)-20 7281 0297 or 07947 230426.
*Military production licensed abroad by UK companies, often in countries with relaxed export laws. For example, Heckler & Koch gun production in Turkey is a subsidiary of UK's BAE Systems plc.