Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2010): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2008, Quarterly Reports for 2009, licensing policy and review of export control legislation - Committees on Arms Export Controls Contents

7  The EU and the international perspective


114. The focus of the Committees this session has been on progress towards an international Arms Trade Treaty. We have also followed up our previous inquiries on exports of arms to China, Sri Lanka and Israel. The NGOs raised with us the subject of interpretation of Criterion 8 of the consolidated EU and National Criteria. We report on the evidence we have received so far.

Progress towards an international Arms Trade Treaty

115. We have previously commended the Government's support for an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)[181] and during this parliamentary session we have continued to monitor the progress of negotiations. The Foreign Secretary wrote to the Chairman of the Committees on 16 October 2009 and 23 November 2009 to update the Committees on the FCO's work towards an ATT.[182] On 30 October, the UN First Committee voted in favour of the draft resolution and timetable to negotiate the treaty, with 153 states voting in favour, 19 abstentions and only Zimbabwe voting against. It was agreed that there will be a series of Preparatory Committees (PrepComs) in 2010 and 2011, with the final Diplomatic Conference in 2012.[183] At the PrepComs member states will debate proposals for actual treaty text.

116. The UN General Assembly voted on the ATT Resolution on 2 December. 151 states voted in favour of the resolution to negotiate a "strong and robust" Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). This transformed the First Committee Resolution into a General Assembly Resolution.[184] 20 countries abstained, one more than during the First Committee in October, with Bolivia changing its "yes" vote to abstain.[185] Zimbabwe remained the only "no" vote. Ivan Lewis MP, Minister of State for the FCO, emphasised the significance of this resolution:

    I think that this is a potentially historic step forward and is something that I think we can be proud of, that the British Parliament, the British Government, has promoted and pushed for. The situation is that the UN has now approved the Arms Trade Treaty resolution. That, for the first time, sets out a clear timetable for negotiation of a treaty. [...] I think it is important to note—and this is very significant—that the United States supported the ATT resolution and all of our contacts with the Americans, all of our discussions with them, demonstrate that they are fully committed now to working to achieve the treaty.[186]

117. While progress has clearly been made in the last year, there remain several concerns regarding the agreement of the Arms Trade Treaty that were highlighted to us in evidence to the Committees. Both industry and NGOs feared that finding a consensus would prove difficult.[187] Katherine Nightingale from Oxfam GB commented:

    I think it would be very hard and a very hard job for the UK to lead on to get a strong and robust treaty that has the consensus of 192 Member States of the United Nations, partly for the very reasons that we know, that there are already a substantial number of abstainers that may have concerns and that, although you might have 153, a phenomenal majority of states within the United Nations in favour of the treaty, in many respects those 153 states may not get the kind of treaty they want because of the few and, indeed, possibly because of one.[188]

Oliver Sprague of Amnesty UK warned that previous attempts to achieve consensus on arms issues had failed:

    An overwhelming striving to achieve consensus led to the collapse of the 2006 Review Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons and you could say that the marking and tracing agreement was significantly weakened because there was an overwhelming sense of a striving for consensus and the progressive governments folded far too easily on their red lines, and the minority of sceptical governments were much, much tougher.[189]

118. The Minister recognised that building consensus would be challenging, but believed that "consensus" did not mean unanimity:

    [...] at the Diplomatic Conference that will take place towards the end of the process, prior to the UN General Assembly vote in 2012, the objective is to ensure that meeting ends with all of the countries agreeing on a consensus. That may mean the vast majority of countries vote yes and a very tiny number abstain. We know that Zimbabwe, as ever, under this leadership, decided to vote against. Of course, we hope that by 2012, even they may be in a rather different position. I think the important point to make, though, is the final ratifying decision-making body is the UN General Assembly. [...] at that body a majority, particularly a significant majority, for a treaty is sufficient.[190]

119. While he noted that any majority would be sufficient for the motion to be passed, and that Zimbabwe alone could not veto the treaty, he stated that "for it to have credibility, authority and legitimacy, I think you would want an overwhelming majority".[191] He also acknowledged that there was work to be done to convince abstaining states such as China, Pakistan, India and Russia,[192] echoing the comments of the Brinley Salzman of EGAD, who told the Committees that the UK had a "hearts and minds campaign to try and launch with the abstaining nations".[193]

120. Giving oral evidence to the Committees in December, the NGOs reiterated past concerns on as to whether adequate time would be given to negotiations at the preparatory stage: there would be four weeks of preparatory meetings in 2010 and 2011, followed by the four week conference in 2012. Mr Roy Isbister of Saferworld compared this timescale with that of the Convention on Organised Crime (11 weeks over two years) and the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (17 weeks over three years), which he believed attempted to achieve comparable agreements. He noted that such a tight deadline would demand greater resources to achieve a desirable outcome.[194] However, the Minister believed that the time allowed would be sufficient:

    In my view, four weeks for formal engagement and negotiation at that level is more than enough. You have to remember that most of the business is done outside of those formal meetings.[195]

121. The NGOs also expressed concerns that discussions in the UN had been led by diplomats, rather than arms transfer control experts, which had resulted in some participants of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on the ATT this year not properly understanding the issues being discussed.[196] The Minister stressed that there would be access to such experts for the Conference, and acknowledged that "we cannot proceed and be successful with this without that expertise as part of the team".[197] In a letter to the Committees dated 8 February, the Minister confirmed that representatives from NGOs and industry would be an important part of the UK team:

    During a recent meeting with NGOs and Industry we agreed to establish two separate working groups on ATT which will include officials, NGOs and industry representatives: one would focus on technical ATT issues and the other on strategic aspects of an ATT. The first technical meeting has already taken place and a second meeting will take place in the last two weeks of February. The next strategy meeting will take place towards the end of this month.[198]

122. We repeat our previous conclusion that the Government is to be commended for its continuing commitment to an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and we recommend again that the Government continue to seek an ATT that is as strong as possible. We conclude that while consensus should be sought and strived for, a very small minority of dissenting States should not be allowed to endanger such an important international treaty. We further recommend that the Government ensure that the UK negotiating team has sufficient resources and expertise to meet the tight timetable for agreeing the Treaty for the Diplomatic Conference in 2012.

EU Arms Embargo on China

123. China has been subject to an EU arms embargo since 1989. The embargo was adopted by the European Council on 27 June 1989 in the form of a European Council Declaration in response to the events in Tiananmen Square in June 1989.[199] The embargo is not legally binding, as it was adopted prior to the creation of the EU's Common Foreign Security Policy (CFSP). The USA also maintains an arms embargo on China. However, while its legal status remains unclear, the embargo has considerable moral and political weight, and is considered an important symbol of the EU's position in relation to China's human rights record.

124. In our first Joint Report of Session 2007-08 we noted that, despite the embargo, the quarterly reports indicated that the value of standard individual exports licences (SIELs) issued for exports to China increased from £85 million in 2006 to £227 million in 2007.[200] The Campaign Against Arms Trade noted that according to the Export Control Organisation, licences were issued for the export to China of military and dual use goods to the value of £214 million in 2008 and £278 million for the first two quarters in 2009. The licences include airborne and ground based radar, military aerospace components, range finders, surveillance equipment, laser sighting and targeting equipment, military electronics, communications and navigation equipment.[201]

125. We have previously raised the question of whether, in practice, the embargo has any economic or commercial effect on China. In evidence to us in June 2008, the Government said that:

The EU embargo on China was imposed after the Chinese suppression of the Tiananmen square pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 and its scope covers lethal weapons that could be used for internal repression. It is important to note that it is not a "full scope" embargo. The export of some controlled goods to China was always envisaged and thus, increases in the volume of exports for controlled goods that are not covered by the terms of the embargo should not be seen as a barometer of the effectiveness of the embargo.[202]

126. In oral evidence to us in January 2010, the Minister of State for the FCO said that in "practical terms" the effect on China was "minimal", but added that "in political terms it is quite a significant issue [...] It casts aspersions on China's honour, if you like". He added "they [China] really do not like it and they really want it to change".[203]

127. We have previously concluded that the British Government and the EU should maintain their arms embargo on China.[204] We also asked that the Government should provide us with updates on its assessment of the human rights situation in China and of the adequacy of the current arms embargo in place.[205] In its Response to our 2009 Report, the Government stated that while the EU Council of Ministers had concluded that the arms embargo on China should remain in place, it would "be kept under regular review":

    The embargo is defined by most major European exporters to cover lethal weapons only, preventing the sale and export of weapons; ammunition; military aircraft and helicopters; vessels of war; armoured fighting vehicles; and any equipment that might be used for internal repression from EU member states to China. The EU Common Position on "Common Rules Governing Control of Exports of Military Technology and Equipment" is the EU's primary means of controlling arms sales to all destinations, including China, and covers the types of equipment and materials that fall outside the scope of the arms embargo.[206]

128. In relation to the human rights situation in China, the Government stated that while there has been some progress on social and economic rights, there has been little improvement on civil and political rights. There was no sign that China intended to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), abolish its systems of administrative detention or provide transparent statistics on the use of the death penalty. The Government stated that it continued to have regular dialogue with China on human rights issues. It has also allocated over £1 million to human rights projects over the current CSR period (2009-2011).[207] In November 2009, Members of the Committees met informally a Chinese delegation of arms trade experts, including Chinese Government officials, academics and representatives from think tanks, to discuss the UK system of arms controls. The delegation was arranged by Saferworld as part of a Government-sponsored project.

129. We were told on 27 January 2010 by the FCO that there were no plans, at either UK or EU level, to hold a formal review of the embargo at present.[208] In general terms the arms embargo on China has been under review since 2003. In 2004 the European Council concluded that:

    It is looking forward to further progress in all areas of the relationship as referred to in the EU-China Joint Statement, in particular, the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In this context the European Council reaffirmed the political will to continue to work towards lifting the arms embargo. It invited the next Presidency to finalise the well-advanced work in order to allow for a decision. It underlined that the result of any decision should not be an increase of arms exports from EU Member States to China, neither in quantitative nor qualitative terms. In this regard the European Council recalled the importance of the criteria of the Code of Conduct on arms exports, in particular criteria regarding human rights, stability and security in the region and the national security of friendly and allied countries.[209]

130. The Minister of State for the FCO told us that he was "not aware" of a review within the EU of the arms embargo at this stage.[210]

131. However, following a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 26 January 2010, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, said that the Spain was "weighing the pros and cons" of lifting the arms embargo.[211] While France has been a vocal supporter of ending the ban, other EU Member States, including the United Kingdom, have traditionally indicated that China's record on human rights did not merit an end to the EU embargo. The Minister confirmed that the Government are currently undertaking a review of Chinese progress on human rights, due to be published in March 2010. He emphasised, however, that this was a UK review, not an EU review, and that the review "does not link at all to the embargo".[212]

132. We conclude that the arms embargo against China is of political importance in that it provides a strong message in relation to the inadequate protection and promotion of human rights in China. We recommend that the arms embargo against China continues to be maintained whilst its human rights performance remains so poor.


133. In our last Report, in response to the escalating violence in Gaza, we focused on arms exports to Israel. In parallel, the Foreign Affairs Committee reported on these issues in its Report into Global Security: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.[213]

134. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has identified over recent years that the UK Government has licensed arms exports worth between £10 million and £30 million a year for export directly to Israel. During 2008, licences for goods worth over £27.5 million were approved. In addition, the UK has supplied components for incorporation in weapons exported to Israel by US suppliers.[214] The UK, however, provides less than 1% of all arms exported to Israel.[215]

135. The UK Government's policy is that UK arms exports to Israel should not be used in the Occupied Territories.[216] In our 2009 Report, we focused on the technical issues relating to whether or not components supplied under licence from the UK (particularly incorporated in products assembled in a third intermediary country) were used by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead which began on 27 December 2008.[217]

136. Bill Rammell MP, then Minister of State, FCO, told us in April 2009, that the Government had not authorised any exports relating to F-16s, helicopters or armoured personnel carriers for Israel, including for incorporation in a third country, since the conflict in Lebanon in 2006, and that "all of these export decisions were in accordance with the criteria on that information that we had available at the time".[218] In a memorandum to the Committees, the FCO outlined instances where licences were refused for the supply of components for F16s for use by the Israeli Air Force on the basis of Criteria 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the consolidated criteria.[219] Ian Pearson MP, then Minister at BERR, told us that: "Israel regularly features in three destinations with the highest number of refusals" and that the Government continues "to assess such applications on a case-by-case basis".[220]

137. As reported in our last Report, the Foreign Secretary made a Written Ministerial Statement on 21 April, in which he said that the F-16s and Apache helicopters used by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead "almost certainly" contained British-supplied components incorporated in this way.[221] The Government stated it would take the conflict in Gaza into account in assessing all future licence applications. We previously concluded that it was correct for the Government to assess licences to Israel on a case-by-case basis, and asked that the Government inform the Committees of the outcome of its review of extant licences relating to Israel and whether the revocation of licences has implications for the UK's defence relationships with the USA or Israel or the operational capabilities of the UK's armed forces.[222]

138. The Government wrote to the Committees in July 2009 with an update on the review of 182 extant licences to Israel. It decided to revoke five licences for equipment to the Israeli Navy.[223] It stated that there was no evidence that the decision to revoke those licences has had any impact on the UK's defence relationship with either the USA or Israel.[224]

139. Despite the commitment to review export licences on a case by case basis and in the light of the conflict in Gaza, CAAT stated that it was virtually impossible to guarantee that any military equipment supplied to the Israeli government will not be used in the Occupied Territories. It concluded that "the only effective action would be the immediate imposition of embargo on arms and components going to Israel, whether directly or through incorporation into weaponry produced in third countries".[225]

140. In evidence to the Committees in January 2010, the Minister of State, FCO stated clearly that there would "not be any arms embargo against Israel" as the UK Government were "firmly of the view that Israel faces real threats".[226] However, he added that Israel was subject to the same review process as any other state in conflict situations, so as well as case by case consideration, there was also a review in the post conflict context.[227] When pressed as to the nature of that review process, he said that post Operation Cast Lead, there was evidence in terms of specific actions taken during that Operation, which would be taken into account when considering applications on a case by case basis.[228] He added that the whole point of the review process was to look at the lessons learned from a particular conflict and to use those lessons as an additional safeguard to the consolidated criteria.[229]

141. We repeat our conclusion that it is regrettable that arms exports to Israel were almost certainly used in Operation Cast Lead. This is in direct contravention to the UK Government's policy that UK arms exports to Israel should not be used in the Occupied Territories. We further conclude that the revoking of five UK arms exports licences to Israel since Cast Lead is welcome, but that broader lessons must be learned from the post conflict review to ensure that UK arms exports to Israel are not used in the Occupied Territories in future.

142. We recommend that the Government, in its Response to this Report, set out clearly the longer term lessons learnt post Operation Cast Lead and how they will impact in practice on the issuing of future licences for arms exports to Israel.

Sri Lanka

143. In our last Report, following the escalation of hostilities in Sri Lanka, we examined licences for arms exports to that country. In April 2009, Bill Rammell MP, then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told us that the FCO's judgment was that an embargo, or the threat of one, was not the best vehicle for trying to secure a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. The Minister told us that few licences had been granted for exports to Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2007 which he cited as evidence of procedures being effective.[230] In our 2009 Report, we noted that in the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009, 34 licences were issued for export to Sri Lanka, and said that we would be keeping a keen eye on all future exports.[231] We subsequently concluded that it was appropriate for the Government to assess licences to Sri Lanka on a case-by-case basis, but we recommended that the Government review all extant licences to Sri Lanka and provide the Committees with an assessment of what UK supplied weapons, ammunition, parts and components were used by the Sri Lankan armed forces against the Tamil Tigers.[232]

144. Ivan Lewis MP, Minister of State, FCO wrote to us in October 2009 with details of the outcome of the FCO review of extant licences to Sri Lanka. The Government revoked a number of extant export licences "in the light of changed circumstances"; these were for replacement components for military utility helicopters and military telecommunications equipment.[233] The Minister also referred to media speculation that certain licences approved in September 2006 had been in breach of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Control Criteria. These licences had been for armoured vehicles, machine gun components and semi-automatic pistols. The Government stated that these licences had been approved whilst a ceasefire was in place and were not in breach of the Criteria.[234] The Government stressed that it only issued licences for Sri Lanka that would not provoke or prolong the conflict or be used for internal repression.

145. In a Westminster Hall debate on strategic arms exports on 5 November 2009, further clarification was sought from Ian Lucas MP, the Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, as to whether the UK-supplied helicopters or their components, or telecoms equipment or its components, supplied under the licences subsequently revoked, were used by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the conflict with the Tamil Tigers. In his written response of 31 December 2009 to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in follow-up to the Westminster Hall debate, the Minister confirmed that all licences, dating back to 2004 had been reviewed and the Government had not supplied any helicopters or airframes to the Sri Lankan Air Force. The Minister stated that the UK had supplied helicopter components for transport helicopters to Sri Lanka and that these components had been safety, maintenance or countermeasure related. He added that: "due to the lack of access and information surrounding the final stages of the conflict collection information on how helicopters were used in the conflict has been challenging" and that based on the information available "we can say the helicopters were used for medical evacuation, logistical support, re-supply and ad hoc search and rescue operations and to transport VIPs including foreign delegations up to the northern region. They were used to much lesser extent moving troops themselves to forward areas […]".[235]

146. The Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform confirmed that the Sri Lankan armed forces have been supplied with UK military communications for a number of years. However, again due to lack of information, he indicated that it was not "possible to confirm the extent to which communications equipment was used in the conflict, so we cannot state categorically that it was not". He concluded that due to this uncertainty and the escalation of the conflict, the licence for military communications equipment was refused and all extant licences of a similar nature were revoked.

147. In response to the question as to why the licences for military helicopters and telecoms equipment were revoked, the Minister responded that it was "standard practice" to review extant licences to determine whether a different decision would be reached in the light of the change in circumstances in Sri Lanka. He noted that the final offensive raised "grave concerns" for human rights and on review, the thresholds under Criterion 2 and 3 may have been reached. The licences were subsequently revoked. Export licences granted in February and September 2006 for semi-automatic pistols, armoured vehicles and machine gun components had expired before the conflict began.[236]

148. In evidence to us in January 2010, the Minister of State for the FCO said that the Government had been concerned about the Sri Lankan situation "for quite a long period of time",[237] and, as such have been "very cautious".[238] Although the evidence and information from Sri Lanka was "very patchy",[239] The Minister explained that the nine licences revoked during July and August 2009, were a consequence of the review undertaken by the Government, and an example of lessons learnt following consideration of the conflict situation in Sri Lanka.[240] Mr David Hall, Deputy Head, Counter Proliferation Department, FCO, confirmed that the evidence of what has happened in the past was taken into account in the risk assessments that are made in the future.[241]

149. In our last Report we accepted the Government's policy of assessing licence applications on a case by case basis as appropriate as the criteria are transparent and the Government has been forthcoming in providing us with the necessary information in a regular and timely fashion.[242] However, we raised the issue of the difficulties in assessing how exported arms might be used by a destination country at a future date, particularly if the political situation at the time of the licence application appears stable.[243] The revocation of licences post conflict in both Israel and Sri Lanka does raise again the question about the robustness and adequacy of the criteria in conflict situations or in countries where peace is fragile. The Minister of State for the FCO told us that:

    [...] if there is a weakness or a flaw in the criteria we apply to Israel and to the other countries, then that is the debate that we should have. If the Committee feels that our system of case by case review in the aftermath of a conflict is insufficiently robust, then I think the debate needs to be about whether the criteria and the review process need to be changed.[244]

150. We conclude that the review and subsequent revocation of nine extant licences for exports to Sri Lanka is to be welcomed. We further conclude that the Government should take a longer term view about unstable countries, and further appraisal is required where the peace is fragile. UK arms exports have ended up in places that were contrary to UK policy in the case of Israel, and in the case of Sri Lanka, arms were exported during ceasefire periods, which, in retrospect was regrettable. While we do not question the criteria or the goodwill of those who apply the criteria, it is the outcome of where weapons end up and the use that is made of them that is important.

151. We recommend, that in order to minimize the risks of UK arms exports ending up in places contrary to UK policy, and to maximise the benefit of lessons learned, that the Government review the efficacy of the criteria in assessing the suitability of exports to less stable countries and regions.

Sustainable Development

152. The Common Position 2008/944/CFSP defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment was adopted on 8 December 2008 and applies to all exports by EU Member States of military technology or equipment included in the EU Common Military List, and to dual use items specified in Article 6 of the Common Position.[245] Criterion 8 of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria is:

    Compatibility of the exports of the military technology or equipment with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should meet their legitimate security and defence needs with the least diversion of human and economic resources for armaments. [246]

    The UK Government has stated that:

    [I]t will take into account, in the light of information from relevant sources such as United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, IMF and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reports, whether the proposed export would seriously undermine the economy or seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country.[247]

153. In its written evidence to us the UK Working group on Arms (UKWG) raised the issue of how Criterion 8 is applied by the UK Government when assessing licence applications. The UKWG believed that the Government should ensure that it is:

    [...] including a full assessment of the risk of unaccountable spending as well as corruption as part of their arms export controls and application of Criterion 8. This assessment should take place on a case-by-case basis but should also consider the cumulative impact of a series of transfers and should not be restricted to only least developed countries.[248]

    [...] under the current policy, arms transfers may be approved that do not involve accountable and transparent defence procurement procedures in the importing country, or because the true costs of the transfer are not clear, and are therefore at risk of draining resources without being accountable to the parliament or citizens of the recipient country.[249]

154. UKWG cited the examples of Turkey and South Africa where the negative impact of arms transfer costs could be seen on these countries' attempts to achieve poverty reduction and development goals.[250] In its supplementary memorandum, Oxfam GB provided the additional examples of Indonesia and Nigeria. It also cited India as an example of a country which had taken major steps to tackle corruption in its arms procurement processes.[251]

155. In addition, UKWG noted that certain EU Member States were looking again at how they apply criteria, including the criterion on Sustainable Development, in a clear and consistent way. UKWG believes that the UK Government should seek to encourage strategies within the EU for universal, clear and consistent application of Criterion 8, and should spearhead discussions on how to assess the risk of corruption as part of that assessment.[252]

156. Katherine Nightingale, Policy Adviser on Arms and Development at Oxfam GB, when giving evidence to us about the consistency of application of Criterion 8 by EU countries, stated that there was a "lack of clear, consistent application of [the] criteria."[253] Some Member States were using Criterion 8 for other purposes than that which it defined and had used the Criterion for a range of denials and other States had never used the Criterion at all. The UK has only denied one application under Criterion 8 in the last 9 years.[254] Ms Nightingale said that some States used the EU guidelines, the practical guide and the EU Code of Conduct, while other states did not use these but used their own national controls.[255] In its supplementary memorandum to the Committees, Oxfam GB provided information on how other EU Member States applied Criterion 8.[256]

157. The Minister of State for the FCO, agreed in evidence that "some other member States [...] have more Criterion 8 refusals than we do".[257] Since 2006, there have been 68 refusals among EU Member States using Criterion 8 on its own or with other Criteria (63 by France, 3 by Germany and 1 by the Netherlands in 2007, and 1 by Bulgaria in 2009). In 2009 DFID examined 219 licence applications, but did not reject any against Criterion 8.[258] The Minister told us that France is the other EU Member State that routinely takes into account Criterion 8 considerations into their assessment of export licence application.[259]

158. The Minister said that even though standard criteria existed the application of those criteria can vary. There may be good reasons for the variation in application, such as legal systems and statutory regimes. The Minister also noted that there may be different capacity in Member States in making judgments and decisions. He said that regular EU meetings take place where attempts are made to co-ordinate and to get "maximum synergy in terms of decision-making", but there would be no guarantee of complete consistency.[260] When pressed further on the subject of consistency of application he said that "there is a lot of work being done to try and get maximum consistency and to get Criterion 8 taken incredibly seriously."[261]

159. The Minister wrote to us after the evidence session on the issue of consistency of application of the Consolidated Criteria in general. He stated that the Common Position allows EU Member States to operate more restrictive national policies should they choose to do so and therefore refuse a licence when the Common Position would otherwise allow Member States to issue a licence.[262] Perceived inconsistencies in the interpretation of the Common Position by Member States are pursued through COARM (the EU Working Group in Brussels responsible for the implementation of the Code of Conduct) or bilaterally with the relevant Member States. The Minister believed that the User's Guide on the Code of Conduct and the consultation process between Member States on export licence applications that have been denied has helped to reduce the number of such inconsistencies. The Minister stated that the Government would give more thought to "how the consultation mechanism could be used more proactively to encourage greater convergence between EU Member States".[263] Officials would also discuss with Dutch, French and German counterparts other ways in which the Governments could raise awareness and use of Criterion 8 amongst EU Member States, and the Government would report back to the Committees on this.

160. We conclude that in its Response to this Report the Government should provide our successor Committees with the result of discussions on the use of Criterion 8 amongst EU Member States.

181   HC (2008-09) 178, para 122 Back

182   Ev 31 and 32 Back

183   Ev 32 Back

184   United National Resolution A/RES/64/48, 64/48 The Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the General Assembly on 2 December 2009, Back

185   "On recommendation of First Committee, General Assembly adopts 54 texts, sets aside four weeks in 2012 to hammer out legally binding Arms Trade Treaty", United Nations General Assembly press release GA/10898, 2 December 2009  Back

186   Q 57 Back

187   Q 21 Back

188   Q 31 Back

189   Q 34 Back

190   Q 58 Back

191   Q 58 Back

192   Q 66 Back

193   Q 22 Back

194   Q 35 Back

195   Q 73 Back

196   Ev 40 Back

197   Q 75 Back

198   Ev 62 Back

199   "EU Arms and Dual Use Exports Policy and EU Embargo on China", EU Council Background Note CHINA/00, February 2005, Back

200   HC (2007-08) 254, para 141 Back

201   Ev 44 Back

202   HC (2007-08) 254, Ev 90 Back

203   Q 109 Back

204   HC (2007-08) 254, para 146 and HC (2008-09) 178, para 116 Back

205   HC (2008-09) 178, para 116 Back

206   Cm 7698, p 9 Back

207   Cm 7698, p 9-10  Back

208   Q 114, Ev 61 Back

209   Ev 61 Back

210   Q 110 Back

211   "EU Presidency reconsidering China arms embargo",, 27 January 2010 Back

212   Q 110 Back

213   Foreign Affairs Committee, Fifth Report of Session 2008-09, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, HC 261 Back

214   Ev 44 Back

215   Q 120 Back

216   HC Deb, 15 April 2002, col 720W, Departments of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry, Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report for 2000, Licensing Policy and Prior Parliamentary Scrutiny Response of the Secretaries of State for Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry, Cm 5629, October 2002, p 4, and First Joint Report from the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Committee of Session 2005-06, Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report for 2004, Quarterly Reports for 2005, Licensing Policy and Parliamentary Scrutiny, HC 873, Qq 269-280 Back

217   HC (2008-09) 178, paras 127-130 Back

218   HC (2008-09) 178, Qq 122, 126 Back

219   HC (2008-09) 178, Ev 108 Back

220   HC (2008-09) 178, Q 13 Back

221   HC Deb, 21 April 2009, col 8WS Back

222   HC (2008-09) 178, para 132 Back

223   Ev 29 Back

224   Cm 7698, p 11 Back

225   Ev 44 Back

226   Q 117 Back

227   Q 117 Back

228   Q 118 Back

229   Q 127 Back

230   HC (2008-09) 178, Qq 152-153 Back

231   HC (2008-09) 178, para 125 Back

232   HC (2008-09) 178, para 126 Back

233   Ev 30 Back

234   Ev 30-31 Back

235   Written evidence to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee from Ian Lucas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills [MISC 106], dated 31 December 2009, published on the Foreign Affairs Committee website, Back

236   Written evidence to the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee from Ian Lucas MP, 31 December 2009 Back

237   Q 126 Back

238   Ibid. Back

239   Ibid. Back

240   Q 128 Back

241   Q 136 Back

242   HC (2008-09) 178, para 126 Back

243   HC (2008-09) 178, para 125 Back

244   Q 123 Back

245   United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report 2008, p 69  Back

246   European Council, "Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment", Official Journal of the European Union, 13 December 2008, L335/99-103, Back

247   HC Deb, 26 October 2000, col 202W Back

248   Ev 42 Back

249   Ev 41 Back

250   Ev 41-42 Back

251   Ev 51-52 Back

252   Ev 42 Back

253   Q 47 Back

254   See HM Government's Strategic Export Controls Annual Reports 2000-2008, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2000, p 15, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2001, p 14, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2002, Cm 5819, p 14,United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2003, Cm 6173, p 15, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2004, Cm 6646, p 13,United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2005, Cm 6882, p 26, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2006, Annex of Data, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2007, Cm 7451, p 27, United Kingdom Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2008, Cm 7662, p 23, Back

255   Q 47 Back

256   Ev 46-50 Back

257   Q 104 Back

258   Ev 62 Back

259   Ev 62 Back

260   Q 104 Back

261   Q 105 Back

262   Ev 61 Back

263   Ev 62 Back

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