Quadripartite Select Committee Written Evidence

Supplementary memorandum from the Government


  1.   A number of countries, for example the United Arab Emirates, are leading global centres for the re-export of goods—where previously imported goods are exported without additional processing or alteration. It is possible for such countries to be used as procurement bases for other countries' weapons of mass destruction programmes? Is the government taking any action to reduce the possibility of re-exports being used for such purposes?

  We have a good export control dialogue with the UAE, where we discuss how controls might be improved. The EU has recently launched a two year Pilot Project promoting export control co-operation, and the UAE is one of 4 agreed partner countries for the project. Certainly such dialogue will continue to include advice on such issues, drawing on our own experience.

  2.   In its memorandum to this Committee the Government said that over time weaknesses in the full region-wide implementation and enforcement of the moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of light weapons adopted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) became apparent. What lessons have been learned from the weaknesses in the ECOWAS moratorium?

  The UK remains supportive of the ECOWAS moratorium and welcomed ECOWAS' decision to make it binding last year. The fact of the moratorium sends a strong positive signal that West African states want to act to tackle the problem of the uncontrolled flow of arms in the region. But ECOWAS member states need to do more to make sure that the moratorium is effectively implemented. We hope to see ECOWAS taking robust action with transit countries, and hope the newly reorganised ECOWAS Small Arms Unit will have more capacity to address implementation issues.

  The UK feels ECOWAS will have most positive impact on the problem if it concentrates at a practical level on building national capacity to deal with small arms, with a focus on the establishment of national small arms commissions. We are encouraging ECOWAS states to take forward action in the context of the UN Programme of Action Review Conference next month.

  3.   Should the arms trade treaty require UN member states to make the violation of a UN embargo a criminal offence?

  All current UN arms embargoes established through the adoption of UN Security Council resolutions are binding in international law. So all states have international obligations to uphold the provisions. National domestic legislation, which flows from those international obligations, is a matter for individual member states.

  4.   President Bush announced the Proliferation Security Initiative in May 2003. What has happened to it?

  PSI has rapidly developed over the past three years and has become a hallmark of strong non-proliferation credentials. More than 70 countries have indicated their support for PSI. A plenary meeting will be held in June and we hope to further increase the number of countries who support the Initiative. 11MG continues to provide full support to PSI. UK hosted a major PSI exercise in November 2005 involving 15 nations and is planning a maritime industry workshop in autumn 2006.

  PSI is fully consistent with national legal authorities and relevant international law and frameworks, as clarified in the PSI Statement of Interdiction Principles. UK legal authority mainly derives from the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA), but also the Biological Weapons Act (BWA), Chemical Weapons Act (CWA) and the Anti Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (ATCSA). If a state believes it does not have the legal authority to take part in a specific action it may decline to participate.

  5.   Has the UK expanded its legal authority to seize shipments by signing bilateral boarding agreements with countries to secure expedited processes for stopping and searching their ships at sea?

  The UK has not yet signed any bilateral boarding agreements, but we have several texts under negotiation. We have been examining the relevant domestic law in this area with a view to introducing legislation to give effect to the amendments to the Convention of Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea which were agreed by States Party at the Diplomatic Conference at the International Maritime Organisation in October 2005. We have therefore decided to delay signature of the bilateral agreements under negotiation until this process has been completed. We will then be in a position to move quickly to fmalise these bilateral boarding agreements.

  6.   Information in the quarterly reports on licences granted appears to group together information on licences granted for Military List goods with licences granted for dual-use items. Is it possible to separate these out to make it easier to identify licences granted for ML goods?

  We will need to look at the practicalities and resource implications of making a further change to the Report layouts. We will report back to the Quad once we have looked in to this.

  7.   Will the government consider including information on the reasons licences were refused, as is done in the annual reports published by the Netherlands and Germany?

  The reasons for refusal and revocation of SIELs are provided in the full Annual Report, within the Section II text as a table, listing the reasons and also the number of cases for each reason. Again, we would have to look at the practicalities and resource implications of providing this information quarterly.

  The reason for refusal is not stored electronically and is currently compiled manually.

  8.   The Government supplies an amount of information to this Committee on restricted and "in confidence" bases. How does the Government decide that an item can only be supplied under these markings?

  The information provided to the Quad on an "in confidence" basis contains information that is provided to the DTI's ECO in confidence as part of the license application process. To release that information publicly may be damaging either for commercial or security reasons.

  9.   In the EU Seventh Annual Report published in December 2005 a number of countries produced more detailed or comprehensive data than the UK. The number of states submitting data on the financial value of either licences granted or actual exports per destination, disaggregated by the 22 categories of the EU Military List, rose from 11 in the previous Report to 20 in the Seventh Annual Report. 14 of those countries submitted disaggregated data on both licences granted and actual exports while the rest only submitted data on export licences. Unlike previous years the UK Government did not submit data on the value of its export licences broken down by ML category. Why did the UK fail to submit this data?

  We understand that this point relates to the provision of data on Common Military List exports by Rating and value. The UK has always maintained that it is unable to do this because of the way in which the data is stored, and the difficulty in accurately extracting the information. Our current computer systems still do not allow for the information to be presented in the format requested by the EU. The only way currently to provide this information would be to manually check each Military List licence issued, which would not be possible within our current resources. The level of detail provided in the UK's Annual and Quarterly Reports is already greater than that provided in the EU Report, and is also more transparent.


  10.   Extending the list of banned items of torture to include sting sticks? True that EU Torture Reg means we have to do this on EU level and no longer under UK competence?

  With the introduction of the EC Torture Regulation, the EC has competence with regard to controls on exports in this area. Article 12 of the Regulation provides that the Commission shall be empowered to amend Annex II and III in accordance with the Committee procedure set out in Article 15. We will work with other EU member states to introduce additional equipment for control under the Regulation where appropriate and necessary.

  11.   Applying the extra-territorial controls to cover MANPADs.

  The Government has already responded on this matter in October 2004 in response to the Defence, Foreign Affairs, International Development and Trade and Industry Committees Strategic Export Controls: Annual Report 2002, Licensing Policy and Parliamentary Scrutiny report of 18 May 2004 (combined response to questions 53 and 54).

  12.   Exports (number of Refusals in the last year and how does this compare to previous years) to Saudi Arabia.

  In 2005, one SIEL was refused to Saudi Arabia. In 2004, one SIEL and three OIELs were refused. In 2003, one SIEL was refused. Information on the number of refusals to all destinations is available in the Quarterly Reports on strategic export controls.

June 2006

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