Supplementary memorandum submitted by
END-USE, MONITORING MECHANISMS AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
THE LESSONS FROM BELGIUM, SWEDEN AND GERMANY
The purpose of this briefing is to provide additional
evidence on end-use controls and prior parliamentary scrutiny
of arms export applications. It supplements the oral evidence
provided by Paul Eavis (Executive Director, Saferworld) to the
Trade and Industry Committee on Tuesday, 10 November.
End-use certification and monitoring requirements
currently vary significantly across the EU. This presents the
danger and unscrupulous companies will seek to establish themselves
in countries which are perceived as having the weakest controls.
Furthermore, importing Governments may also seek to purchase controlled
goods from those EU Member States which are viewed as having weak
controls. There is, therefore, a pressing need for the EU and
partner governments to agree on, and adopt, best practice in the
field of end-use certification and monitoring. Five examples of
such best practice are cited here (and further details can be
found in the annexe to this paper):
In Belgium and Germany, end-use certificates
to sensitive destinations require an explicit assurance from the
importing Government/company that they will not re-export the
equipment without the prior consent of the Belgian/German government;
Post-export follow-up checks are
also made in Germany and Belgium to ensure that the equipment
has not been diverted. In Belgium, for example, three months after
the goods are exported, the government requires proof that the
goods were delivered including details of the transit routes and
Both Germany and Sweden have computerised
export data collection systems with many, innovative tracking
and monitoring features. In contrast, in the UK each government
department (MoD, DTI, Customs and FCO) has produced its own IT
solution, but there is no means of cross-checking databases and
the Trade and Industry Select Committee recommended in 1996, that
the DTI, FCO and MoD "allow mutual access to their computerised
information relating to export licensing and that the DTI's export
licensing database be developed for the benefit of all three departments";
In Germany, a military "catch-all"
clause for exports to sensitive destinations effectively requires
companies to ensure that all proposed exports to these destinations
are for civilian use only. In the UK and elsewhere in the EU,
the catch-all applies to exports in relation to weapons of mass
In Germany, exporting companies are
required by law to appoint a "Person Responsible for Exports"
and obtain a certificate of reliability from the Federal Export
Office. The named company officialwho must be a person
at executive board or managing director levelis also responsible
for assessing end-use, and can later be held accountable for any
The UK Government White Paper on Strategic Export
Controls put forward a number of arguments against parliamentary
scrutiny of individual licence applications. The main arguments
are, first, the prior parliamentary scrutiny of individual licence
applications would slow down the decision-making process, and
second, that the publication of individual applications would
mean identifying individual companies and lead to a loss of competitiveness.
In Sweden, however, a system of confidential prior parliamentary
scrutiny of sensitive export licences has been in operation since
the mid 1980s. During that time, no commercially sensitive information
has to our knowledge ever been revealed to the public and there
are no appreciable delays in the licensing process overall given
the selective and limited nature of the cases referred.
An Advisory Board on Exports of Military Equipment
was first established by the Swedish Parliament in the mid 1980s.
In February 1996 the structure of the Board was reformed and broadened,
and it was re-named the Export Control Council to coincide with
the formation of a new independent licensing body, the National
Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP). The Council has 10 political
appointees (with representation from all the major political parties),
and is chaired by the Inspector-General of Military Equipment
(as the head of the ISP).
The Export Control Council meets about once
a month to discuss sensitive arms export licence applications
before final approval is given. The Council is not consulted on
a complete list of all planned exports as the important cases
would be lost in a potential information overload situation. Rather,
the Council is consulted on the interpretation of national guidelines
in borderline cases; most export licensing decisions are thus
handled by the ISP on the basis of previous rulings by the Council.
The Council can request more details on any of the licence applications
it is shown and, where there are concerns, it can raise objections
to the granting of individual licences. While these objections
are not legally binding on the government, it has never gone ahead
with the licensing of exports to which the Council has objected.
Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
MoD also participate at the Council meetings, with the former
presenting assessments of the recipient countries, and the latter
providing a defence policy viewpoint. In addition to these regular
meetings, Council members also receive continuous reports on all
export decisions, thereby giving them a complete insight into
the way in which their national arms export control system functions.
The lesson from the Swedish experience is that
proper parliamentary oversight of export licensing policy will
only be achieved through prior parliamentary scrutiny of sensitive
licences. It is also interesting to note that a UK Parliamentary
committee to scrutinise the work of the intelligence services
already exists without any apparent danger to national security.