FAO NEWSDESKS - 19th July 2002
Annual report shows doubling in UK arms sales to Israel and Pakistan
Today the Strategic Exports Annual Report 2001 has been released by the Foreign and Commonwealth office (www.fco.gov.uk). The report is the official record of licenses granted for arms exports for the January - December 2001 period.
Since 1997 the Labour government has done more than any of its predecessors in making the role the UK plays in the global arms trade more transparent, and therefore, politically accountable. Moreover, the government showed courage and moral leadership in banning the export of torture equipment and landmines since taking office.
However, the 2001 Annual Report still shows that UK arms are actively sold to areas of grave conflict, poverty and human rights abuses. This is not just a concern to many members of the UK public, but breaks internal Labour Party policy on arms sales and official national and EU rules (for text of both see end of press release).
Richard Bingley, Media Co-ordinator for Campaign Against Arms Trade said:
"For any other business £5bn of orders last year and an export market of 130 countries would be classed as a success. Surely its the exact opposite when we are talking about selling weapons."
"Shipping arms to around 130 countries may be good for British arms companies financially, but its a nightmare for the rest of us ethically, as we try to create an image of being a force for good in the world."
"If we ship arms to two-thirds of the world's countries, it is inevitable that some will end up in the hands of brutal governments, profligate ministers in poverty-ravaged states or those who pose a threat to our own troops and peacekeepers in the future".
1) How many countries have the UK sold arms to in 2001? Approx. 128, not including
those that received cryptographic or de-mining equipment.
2) Noticeable countries: India - (£62.5m - down just £2m from 2000), Pakistan (£14m, up from £6m in 2000), Israel (£22.5m, up from £12.5m in 2000).
3) Which recipients have bad human rights records: Turkey (up from £34m in 2000 to £179m in 2001), Saudi Arabia (up from £13m in 2000 to £20.5m in 2001, Indonesia (up from £2m to £15.5m in 2001).
Labour Policy (source: internal PLP Briefing 24 June, 2002)
"Britain has one of, if not the, most responsible and transparent arms export licensing system in the World. We consider all relevant export licence applications on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria. The criteria includes a specific reference to the clear risk that the exports might be used for internal repression, external aggression or which would prolong or provoke armed conflict or aggravate existing tensions or conflicts in the country of final destination."
EU Code of Conduct
Criterion Two: "Respect for human rights in the country of final destination."
Criterion Three: "Member states will not allow exports which would provoke or prolong armed conflicts . . . "
Criterion Four: "Preservation of regional peace, security and stability."
For further information please contact Richard Bingley on
+44-(0)-20 7281 0297 or 07947 230426
Or download the report from the FCO site.