Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex A

  13 Dec 2001 : Column: 975W

Arms Exports

  Roger Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what implications the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on terrorism have for the policy of Her Majesty's Government in respect of arms exports. [23348]

  Mr. Straw: By United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373(2001) the Security Council inter alia calls upon member states both to eliminate "the supply of weapons to terrorists" (paragraph 2(a)) and to

    "co-operate, particularly through bilateral and multilateral arrangements and agreements, to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and take action against the perpetrators of such attacks" (paragraph 3(c)).

  I have therefore reviewed the Government's policy in respect of arms exports in light of this resolution. In view of the Government's strong continued commitment to human rights, regional stability, and the campaign against terrorism, and taking account of the fact that our human rights obligations are not affected by the adoption of the resolution, I believe there is no need to amend the consolidated criteria in order for us to comply fully with the terms of the resolution. My detailed conclusions are as follows:

  (1)  Export licensing decisions are taken on a case by case basis against all of the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, as set out on 26 October 2000, Official Report, column 200W, in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time. The last paragraph of the preamble to the consolidated criteria states that:

    "An export licence will not be issued if the arguments for doing so are outweighed by the need to comply with the UK's international obligations and commitments, by concern that the goods might be used for internal repression or international aggression, by risks to regional stability or by other considerations as described in these criteria".

  (2)  Criterion two of the consolidated criteria includes the statement that HMG:

    "considers that in some cases the use of force by a Government within its own borders, for example to preserve law and order against terrorists or other criminals, is legitimate and does not constitute internal repression, as long as force is used in accordance with the international human rights standards described above".

  (3)  In judging individual applications, the Government will take account of the terms of UNSCR 1373(2001) and will continue to pay attention to this passage in criterion two, within the discretion provided by the consolidated criteria.

  (4)  The consolidated criteria already state that, when considering export licence applications, the Government will take account of the record of the buyer country with regard to

    "its support or encouragement of terrorism and international organised crime"

  (criterion six (a)) and that

    "the Government will pay particular attention to the need to avoid diversion of UK exports to terrorist organisations".

  (criterion seven). This makes clear our commitment to preventing arms exported from the UK from falling into the hands of terrorists.

  (5)  We are taking additional steps to strengthen our export controls. The Export Control Bill currently going through Parliament gives the Government a number of new powers which will help to improve our ability to prohibit the transfer of arms or related technology to terrorists, including new powers to control the transfer of technology by intangible means and trafficking and brokering in arms. We are aiming to sign the UN Firearms Protocol soon and will encourage others to do so, and have proposed bringing forward analysis of the OSEC's information exchange on the marking of small arms. These steps will help us to keep small arms out of terrorists' hands by helping us to trace weapons flows and to combat the illicit manufacture and trafficking in firearms.

  (6)  Finally, the new Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill includes clauses to close the gaps in our present legislation relating to chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to prevent the use, production, possession or participation in unauthorised transfers of these materials.

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