For this year's Report the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) have scrutinised in unprecedented detail the Government's latest (2010) Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls, the Government's quarterly information on individual export licence approvals and refusals, and the Government's policies and performance on arms export controls and on arms control generally.
The Committees have also given intensive scrutiny to the Government's review of the export of arms which might be used to facilitate internal repression, contrary to the Government's stated policy, in the Middle East and North Africa. The Committees have extended the same scrutiny to the "Countries of Concern" named in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2012 Report on Human Rights as detailed in paragraph 269 and Annex 7.
We conclude that the Government was right to accept the Chairman of the CAEC's representations on behalf of the Committees that to a substantial degree the Government's answers to the Committees' questions on the Government's Quarterly arms export reports could be declassified and thereby made available to Parliament and the wider public in this Report as from Q3 2010 for the first time.
On extra-territoriality, the Committees continue to conclude that there is no justification for allowing a UK person to conduct arms exports overseas that would be a criminal offence if carried out by any person within the UK.
The Committees recommend that the Government states whether it is still the UK Government's policy that it does not intend to prepare draft UK national legislation on torture end-use control and end-use control of goods used for capital punishment, and, if so, to explain why not.
The Committees conclude that the Government's commitments to introduce greater transparency into the export licensing system are welcome.
The Committees conclude that the Government's supervision of the "Defence and Security Equipment International" (DSEi) Exhibition in September 2011 to ensure strict adherence by the organising company Clarion Events of the terms and conditions of its Open Individual Trade Control Licence from the BIS was inadequate, as was the supervision by the company itself.
The Committees conclude that the Government's unqualified confirmation that if it becomes aware of corruption in arms deals it will take appropriate action under the provision of the Bribery Act 2010, regardless of whether there is a risk of diversion or re-export under Criteria 7, is welcome.
The Committees recommend that the Government sets out what steps it will take in relation to UK-based financial institutions who may be financing, directly or indirectly, or investing in manufacturers of cluster munitions. The Committees also conclude that the Government's decision to resist attempts to weaken the Convention on Cluster Munitions with draft Protocol 6 was welcome.
The Committees conclude that the Government has put at risk the UK's previously leading role in the drafting and negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty by failing to maintain continuity of FCO staff at a senior level with this responsibility. The Committees also conclude that the Government's commitment to achieving an Arms Trade Treaty with the broadest possible scope, including ammunition, is welcome.
The Committees conclude that, whilst the promotion of arms exports and the upholding of human rights are both legitimate Government policies, the Government would do well to acknowledge that there is an inherent conflict between strongly promoting arms exports to authoritarian regimes whilst strongly criticising their lack of human rights at the same time.
The Committees recommend that the Government sets out what changes it will make to UK export control legislation and procedures to prevent surveillance technology and equipment being exported from the UK to repressive regimes who may use this technology and equipment to suppress human rights.
The Committees conclude that the Foreign Secretary's statement to the Committees that there has been no change of policy on arms exports and internal repression by the present Government from that stated by the previous Government is welcome, the present Government's policy being: "The longstanding British position is clear: We will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression."
The Committees conclude that the Government's repeated use of the phrase "crowd control goods" in the context of its arms export review is misleading given that "crowd controls goods" are generally associated with non-lethal equipment. The Committees recommend that the Government discontinues the use of the phrase "crowd control goods" in this context, which as well as being misleading is also profoundly disrespectful to the thousands of unarmed civilians in the Arab Spring countries who have courageously demonstrated for human rights and fundamental freedoms and have put their lives at risk in doing so.
The Committees conclude that the Government's review of its policies and practices on arms exports following the Arab Spring should not have been carried out merely as "an internal review" and should instead have been the subject of public consultation in accordance with the Government's stated policy of transparency on arms exports. The Committees further conclude that whilst the Government's introduction of a new licence suspension mechanism is welcome, this is not sufficient to ensure that arms exported from the UK are not used for internal repression overseas because in many, if not most, cases the arms will have left the UK before suspension occurs.
The Committees conclude that whilst the Government's revocation of an unprecedented number of 158 arms export licences following the Arab Spring is welcome, the scale of the revocations is demonstrable evidence that the initial judgements to approve the applications were flawed. The Committees recommend that the Government should apply significantly more cautious judgements when considering arms export licence applications for goods to authoritarian regimes "which might be used to facilitate internal repression" in contravention of British Government policy.
The Committees recommend that the Government continues to monitor all extant licences for arms exports to authoritarian regimes worldwide which might be used to facilitate internal repression in contravention of British Government policy and to make public promptly any further revocations that it makes.
The Committees recommend that the Government states whether it remains satisfied that none of the
- 97 extant UK arms export licences to Bahrain
- 124 extant UK arms export licences to Egypt
- 24 extant UK arms export licences to Libya
- 288 extant UK arms export licences to Saudi Arabia
- 9 extant UK arms export licences to Syria
- 47 extant UK arms export licences to Tunisia
- 11 extant UK arms export licences to Yemen
now contravene the Government's stated policy that "The longstanding British position is clear: we will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression."
The Committees conclude that the Government's decision to tighten controls on the licensing of, and trade in (trafficking and broking), controlled goods and technology to military end users in Argentina is welcome. The Committees recommend that the Government states what steps it is taking to get the US Government, the Governments of EU Member States, and the Governments of other countries who export military goods, military technology and dual-use goods to Argentina to make the same change of policy as that announced by the British Government.
The Committees conclude that given the lack of clear progress on civil and political rights in China, the Government's support for the EU Arms Embargo on China to continue is welcome.
The Committees conclude that the Government's stated policy is to refuse arms export licences "which might be used to facilitate internal repression" and not merely to await internal repression becoming patently clear. The Committees therefore continue to recommend that the Government extends its arms export policy review from countries in the Middle East and North Africa to authoritarian regimes and countries of human rights concern worldwide.