Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2011): UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2009, Quarterly Reports for 2010, licensing policy and review of export control legislation - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

8  Sustainable development—Criterion 8

104. Criterion 8 of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria as set out in Annex 1 to this report is:

    The compatibility of the arms exports with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should achieve their legitimate needs of security and defence with the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources.

105. Our predecessor Committees considered how Criterion 8 of the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria was being applied by the UK Government when licence applications were being assessed, and the inconsistencies between different EU states' applications.[165] A seminar on the application of Criterion 8 within the EU was held in Brussels on 24 November 2010, hosted by the Dutch government.[166] The FCO Minister. Mr Alistair Burt, told us the seminar had been successful in its objective of sharing best practice amongst member states:

    It was recognised that the criterion is one of the most difficult and complex of all the criteria to apply, and it was agreed that we would benefit from further discussion on the issue, particularly to ensure uniformity of applications. We will be returning to the issue.[167]

Regarding the UK's low use of Criterion 8, the FCO Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, said:

    ... our experience is that, in applications to the United Kingdom, a number of cases where ultimately criterion 8 might be applied are stopped from getting that far because, in the discussions taken forward, it becomes clear that a licence is not going to be issued. Accordingly, we rarely have to apply criterion 8 as the final decision maker.[168]

106. According to Oxfam, Pakistan's estimated combined budget for health, social protection and the environment for 2010-11 is €77 million, while the EU arms exports to Pakistan in 2008 were €685 million.[169] This example is presented as one case of how arms exports can affect the Government spending priorities of a developing country. We asked the FCO Minister, Mr Alistair Burt, about this. He responded:

    Your concern about the potential risk of these exports, bearing in mind the development needs of the country, are very real and we share them. That is why the criteria are there, but there are also other factors to consider. In highlighting Pakistan, we are discussing a country with so many difficult issues, including security and protection. That is just an example of how difficult it can actually be.[170]

107. We conclude that deciding whether to approve arms exports to developing countries in relation to Criterion 8 can be difficult given that other policy considerations may need to be taken into account. However, we recommend that in its response to this report, the Government provides a full statement of the methodology it uses in relation to Criterion 8 in deciding whether or not a specific arms export licence should be approved.

165   CAEC, Scrutiny of Arms Export Controls (2010), Session 2009-10, HC 202  Back

166   Oxfam and DFID provided us with copies of their presentations.  Back

167   Q 126 Back

168   Q 127 Back

169   Oxfam in November 2010 at an EU Seminar: Back

170   Q 131 Back

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Prepared 5 April 2011