Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Saferworld to the Strategic Export Controls Committees: Issues of concern in UK arms export policy


  Saferworld welcomed the Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2000 as the most detailed annual report on arms exports which the Government has published, but questioned a number of potential exports of concern. The question marks over these sales highlight the need for more detailed information to be included in the annual report—something that the Government has announced it will not do for the next three years—and for the introduction of prior parliamentary scrutiny of arms exports, as proposed by four select committees—an idea that the Government rejected in the Report Stage of the Export Control Bill in November 2001. Saferworld urges the Government to rethink these decisions.


More information than before but greater transparency still needed

  The report covers all controlled goods licensed during the year 2000 and gives some information on weapons exported from the UK over the same period. For the first time, the Government has included information on the quantities of small arms licensed for sale under Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) and of actual exports of major conventional weapons systems. This is a welcome move and confirms the report as the most detailed in Europe. However, it is still not possible to fully assess the implementation of the Government's export policy because information on the value of each licence, the end-user in the recipient country, and details of export licences refused are not published. The lack of detail on end-users is a major problem as there is a big difference between exports of small arms to a repressive police force in a developing country and to wardens in a game park.

Questions raised about the use of Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs)

  In recent years the Government has lightened the administrative burden on both Government and business through the increasing use of open licences in cases where the sales are believed to be relatively uncontroversial. Yet some exports which are recorded under OIELs do give rise to concern. For example, OIELs were issued for components for combat helicopter to Algeria, for general-purpose machine guns to Israel, and for components for combat aircraft and combat helicopter to both Peru and Zambia. It is also noteworthy that a large number of OIELs have been issued for small arms. Although these are for the most part to NATO and other closely allied states, no data on quantities is available, which undermines the move towards greater transparency in quantities of small arms exports given under SIELs. The Government should provide more information on OIELs in order to reassure observers that they are not being used to undermine the export control regime.

Reporting under the Framework Agreement

  Concerns have been raised that, unless specific steps are taken, the entry into force of the Framework Agreement could undermine HMG's commitment to transparency. The Framework Agreement establishes simplified licensing procedures for the transfer of controlled parts and components between six EU Member States[2] in order to facilitate their entering into the joint production of military equipment. Accordingly, since the responsibility for issuing export licences lies with the authorities where the finished product emerges, there is a danger that arms containing UK-manufactured components could be exported to sensitive destinations from other EU Member States without the knowledge of the UK parliament or public.

  In order to ensure that HMG's commitment to transparency is upheld under the Framework Agreement, all exports of jointly produced goods, regardless of the country of final export, should be recorded in subsequent Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls.

Reporting post-Export Control Bill—Intangible transfers, technical assistance and trade in controlled goods

  Upon becoming law, the new Export Control Bill will provide for the licensing of types of transaction, such as those involving the transfer of intangible technologies and arms brokering deals which fall outside the current export control regime. It is therefore essential that the format of the Annual Report is updated to take account of these changes.

  Of most concern is likely to be the trade in controlled goods, commonly referred to as arms brokering and trafficking. The Annual Report must be developed to carry information relating to the licensing of arms brokering deals by HMG. This information should include comprehensive details of the source, the transit route and the end-user of the arms in any licensed brokering transaction as well as a description of the arms, and information on quantity and value.

Information on circumstances where the Government facilitates weapons purchases by others

  The Annual Report should also set out, in a systematic fashion, comprehensive information relating to government-to-government transfer of arms. In circumstances where the government has not directly supplied arms itself, but instead has financed or otherwise facilitated the transfer of arms to an entity outside the UK, details of these arrangements should also be made clear in the Annual Report. Recent press reports suggested that HMG may have played a role in facilitating the transfer of arms to the Northern Alliance. However, a recent parliamentary question failed to shed any light on the matter.



  Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if the Government have (a) transferred and (b) approved the transfer of controlled goods to (i) the Northern Alliance, (ii) its component factions and (iii) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan since 11 September; [18215]

    (2)  what plans the Government have to facilitate the delivery of controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in or around Afghanistan; [18220]

    (3)  what plans the Government have to transfer controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan; [18216]

    (4)  if the Government have facilitated the delivery of controlled goods to (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan since 11 September; [18217]

    (5)  what plans the Government have to fund weapons purchases by (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan; [18226]

    (6)  if the Government have funded weapons purchases by (a) the Northern Alliance, (b) its component factions and (c) other non-state actors operating in Afghanistan since 11 September. [18221]

  Mr. Bradshaw: I have been asked to reply.

  The Government are involved in military operations in self-defence against international terrorists within Afghanistan. Information and plans about these operations are extremely sensitive, and it would not be in the public interest for them to be disclosed. In my opinion, exemptions 1(a) and (b) (Defence, Security and International Relations) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information apply here.


Internal conflict or repression

  Saferworld is concerned over exports of military equipment to Angola, potentially repressive equipment to Colombia, and small arms to Sri Lanka—all of which are engaged in protracted internal conflicts. Large amounts of small arms have also been licensed to Nepal and the Philippines who are facing insurgencies. It is questionable whether these exports are in keeping with the criteria that arms exports will not be licensed "which would provoke or prolong armed conflicts or existing tensions or conflicts".

  Angola — components for military bridge, military trailers, military utility vehicles.

  Colombia — stun grenades, smoke hand grenades, military communications equipment.

  Nepal — 335 small arms (including 320 semi-automatic pistols) and body armour.

  Philippines — 400 semi-automatic pistols.

  Sri Lanka — 75 sub-machine guns and four semi-automatic pistols, armoured all-wheel drive vehicles, components for heavy machine gun and for armoured fighting vehicle.

  Saferworld is concerned about the following arms exports to countries with poor human rights records. It is questionable whether these are in keeping with the criterion that exports will be not licensed ``if there is a clear risk that the proposed equipment might be used for internal repression''.

  Bahrain — 171 small arms (including 150 submachine guns, assault rifles, shotguns, semi-automatic pistols).

  Indonesia — components for combat aircraft and combat helicopters.

  Kenya — small arms ammunition, stun grenades, body armour.

  Mexico — anti-riot shields, small arms ammunition.

  Turkey — body armour, small arms ammunition and small calibre artillery ammunition.

  Saudi Arabia — body armour, crowd control ammunition, small arms ammunition.

  Zambia — 400 sub-machine guns, 400 semi-automatic pistols, grenade launchers.

Regional conflict or instability

  Saferworld is concerned about the following exports to countries in regions of conflict or instability. Parliament should examine the implementation of the criterion that export licences will not be issued "if there is a clear risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country or to assert by force a territorial claim". The UK is exporting equipment with a potentially offensive use to India and Pakistan (in dispute over Kashmir), Israel and Lebanon (in high tension in the Middle East), and Morocco (in dispute over Western Sahara).

  India — components and technology for combat aircraft and combat helicopters, components and technology for surface-to-air missiles.

  Israel — demolition charges, general purpose machine guns, rifles, small arms ammunition and components for small calibre artillery ammunition, components for air-to-surface missile, armoured fighting vehicle, armoured personnel carrier, combat aircraft, combat helicopter and tank.

  Lebanon — 233 shotguns, 30 general purpose machine guns.

  Morocco — 175 small arms (including assault rifles, rifles, revolvers, sub-machine guns and shotguns) all on temporary export licences.

  Pakistan — components for combat helicopter, 171 shotguns, military communications equipment.


  Saferworld raises questions of the following exports to countries where there may be a risk of diversion to other destinations. Saferworld calls for careful examination of the implementation of the criterion that ``the existence of a risk that the equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions''.

  Hong Kong — 24 small arms (a range of pistols, rifles and revolvers including 15 sub-machine guns), a range of crowd control equipment including ammunition, CS hand grenades and tear gas. Hong Kong is now part of mainland China which is under an EU arms embargo.

  Jordan — 102 small arms (including 53 sub-machine guns and 42 assault rifles), components for combat aircraft and large calibre artillery ammunition. Jordan was named as a conduit for arms to Iraq in the Scott Report.

  Paraguay — 100 sub-machine guns plus components and technology. Paraguay has been named as a major trans-shipment route of small arms to the illicit market in Brazil.

  Singapore — 3,342 sub-machine guns, 744 rifles, 301 semi-automatic pistols, two sniper rifles, small arms ammunition, components for combat aircraft and armoured personnel carriers. In the BMARC case, British naval cannon sold to Singapore ended up in Iran.

December 2001

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