Memorandum from the Campaign Against Arms
Trade (30 November 2000)
1. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT)
is delighted that the Defence Committee is holding this Inquiry
and hopes that it will call as witnesses members of the Government
and representatives from the military companies to elicit answers
to the many questions raised by the Framework Agreement Concerning
Measures to Facilitate the Restructuring and Operation of the
European Defence Industry. Much of CAAT's submission is in the
form of questions to which, at the time of writing, the answers
had not yet been received from Government.
2. CAAT is opposed to all military exports,
but recognises that, despite its negative effects on human rights,
security and the economy, the arms trade will not end overnight.
As an interim measure, therefore, CAAT is seeking an export licensing
policy with an emphasis on restraint, especially on exports to
governments which violate human rights or to countries in areas
of conflict and regions of tension.
3. CAAT is also pressing for greater transparency
with regards to the arms trade, believing it is essential that
there is informed public and parliamentary debate on an issue
which can have profound consequences for peace and justice in
the world and for the economy of the UK.
"A SECRET TREATY"
4. The preparation of the Framework Agreement
following the July 1998 Letter of Intent signed by the Defence
Ministries of the France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the
UK seems to have been conducted virtually without publicity and
certainly without parliamentary or public discussion.
5. The Annual Report on strategic Export
Controls 1999, published on 21 July 2000, mentions that the Framework
Agreement will be "signed shortly". Just a week later
6. This secrecy contrasts with the welcome
opportunities given by governments to make suggestions for, and
comment on, changes to the Strategic Export Control regulations;
a Defence Diversification Agency; and the Export Credits Guarantee
Department. There is shortly to be a Green Paper on Mercenaries.
The European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports was preceded by Ministerial
speeches. In all these instances the Government proactively consulted
with a range of interested parties including parliament, non-governmental
organisations and military manufacturers.
7. The closed nature of the negotiations
for the Framework Agreement alarms CAAT as it appears to be at
odds with the UK government's commitment to greater transparency.
CAAT would be interested to learn what consultation did take place
and with whom, both within the UK and by the partner governments.
In particular, CAAT wonders whether the military companies were
consulted and what role, if any, they might have played in drafting
the Framework Agreement.
8. As the Framework Agreement does not require
domestic legislation, the Government has followed the customary
ratification procedure, but this is itself less than transparent.
The Framework Agreement was published and laid before Parliament
on 1 November 2000, seemingly without publicity. After 21 sitting
days the Secretary of State could have formally ratified it without
9. CAAT wonders whether there would have
been any discussion about the Framework Agreement at all had CAAT
and other non-governmental organisations not drawn it to the attention
of your Committee and other parliamentarians. Did the Government
keep your Committee informed whilst negotiations for the Framework
Agreement were taking place?
10. CAAT believes that, in future, full
consultation with all interested parties should take place before
a government agrees a treaty.
11. The UK government supports "legitimate
defence exports and a strong UK Defence Industry" (Annual
Report on Strategic Export Controls 1999) believing that such
an industry "is vitally important to our technological base,
and to Britain's wider industrial health" (letter from Baroness
12. However, there is growing evidence that
arms exports are not good for the UK economy and it might well
be that reorienting resources and Government spending from military
industry to civil goods and projects might well be beneficial
to the country as a whole.
13. It may go beyond the scope of this Inquiry,
but one question which, therefore, needs to be asked is what is
the role of the military in the 21st Century. Who is the enemy?
If the role of European armed forces is seen as intervention in
support of human rights why is a treaty needed to enable the production
of advanced fighter aircraft? CAAT feels that governments internationally
may be being persuaded by military companies to adopt policies
which will maintain their shareholder's profits, but which might
have an adverse effect on peace and justice.
14. CAAT would be interested to understand
the balance of motivation for the Framework Agreement between
the perceived need for European military industry to collaborate
to produce equipment for the participating countries, as against
that to simplify the procedure for exports beyond Europe.
15. It is unclear to CAAT how a project
becomes a "Co-operative Armament Programme" (CAP). Who
makes the decision that it is one? Does the term cover every project
which crosses national boundaries even when the facilities between
which equipment is transferred belong to the same company?
16. Will any projects currently in existence
retrospectively become CAPs?
17. Will a list of CAPs be made available
to parliament and the public?
18. How will exports made under the Global
Project Licences be recorded in the UK Annual Reports on Strategic
19. It is not immediately clear how the
Framework Agreement interacts with the standard licensing procedure.
For instance, in a letter to CAAT dated 6 November, Foreign Office
Minister Peter Hain MP says that a Global Project Licence will
stop companies "from having to make many separate licence
applications to transfer the same product to the same permitted
destinations". CAAT understood that Open Individual Export
Licences did this and wonders how GPLs differ from OIELs.
20. What checks will be made to ensure that
goods exported under GPLs are incorporated in the relevant Co-operative
Armament Programme and not otherwise?
21. The Framework Agreement says that the
permitted export destination lists will be based not only on the
EU Code of Conduct but also on the need for the "preservation
of a strong and competitive European defence industrial base".
CAAT is concerned that the interests of military companies, particularly
the larger ones with substantial lobbying resources, will prevail
when decisions are made.
22. This disquiet is heightened by Peter
Hain's letter which says the lists "represent declarations
of interest in potential export opportunities by the companies
involved". From this it seems that the permitted export destinations
will be a "wish list" of the arms companies; hardly
a position CAAT expected would be taken by a Government promoting
a "responsible arms trade".
23. Who will be agreeing the permitted export
destinations list? Will it be defence ministers or, as with export
licensing currently, Trade and Industry ministers? Which ministers
would be involved in the decision to remove a country from the
24. There are fears that the countries with
smaller military industries, or more restrictive export policies,
will be overruled when the permitted export lists are agreed.
For instance, the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS),
one of CAAT's partners in the European Network Against Arms Trade,
fears that the Framework agreement will undermine Sweden's export
policy and allow exports to destinations which have previously
been closed to Swedish exporters.
25. Research by SPAS shows that Sweden's
five partner countries licence the export of military equipment
to Colombia, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all countries
to which Sweden currently prohibits sales. Furthermore, whilst
the UK and France are willing to export weapons to Indonesia,
Kenya, China and Sri Lanka; Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden do
not allow exports to one or more of these. SPAS does not believe
that Sweden will be able to convince its partner countries to
exclude these nine export destinations from the permitted export
lists. Rather, Sweden will have to adjust its export policy to
those of its partners. Given the dominance of French and UK companies,
the same is likely to be true of the other government's with more
26. Article 13, 3 (b), makes provision for
the removal of a permitted Export destination should it be felt
that the country was an inappropriate recipient under the EU Code.
Again, concern remains that if there is no consensus, the decision
will depend on the percentage contribution to a project a country
27. Would export of the final product to
a non-party country on the permitted list be "fast-tracked"
through the export licensing process in any way?
28. Peter Hain's letter says that the permitted
lists "will not function as export licences: exporters will
still have to apply for these from the country from which the
export is taking place". However, military production has
a long time-frame and the companies will obviously want certainty
over future export destinations when working on a Co-operative
Armament Programme. CAAT finds it difficult to envisage any circumstances
in which an export licence would not be granted to a non-party
country on the permitted list and would be interested to know
whether the Government can.
29. As it seems most unlikely that an export
licence would be refused to a country on the permitted list, CAAT
is extremely concerned that the lists of permitted export destinations
is to be kept secret. This reverses the progress towards transparency
that has been made since the Gulf War in 1991, and in particular
since the election of the Labour government in 1997.
30. How does the system envisaged by the
Framework Agreement inter-relate with EU Code denials?
31. Many non-government organisations, including
CAAT, are hoping that the Government will introduce tough end-use
controls in its, hopefully shortly forthcoming, new export licensing
legislation. The Framework Agreement makes such controls even
more essential. Records must be kept, and randomly verified, to
ensure that no exports are diverted.
32. In May 2000 the United States adopted
its Defence Trade Security Initiative to enhance cross-border
armaments co-operation. This includes an International Traffic
in Arms regulation which would allow the UK to obtain military
equipment from the US without an export licence once the UK has
shown that its standards of export control, industrial security,
intelligence and law enforcement reach US standards. What impact
does the Government believe this will have on the UK's military
industry and exports? How does it interact with the Framework
33. The Letter of Intent envisaged a series
of detailed agreements. Which agreements are in the process of
negotiation and what is the timetable for them?