Issue 11 - Article 12

Code of Conduct on Arms Exports

May 1, 1998
Koenraad Van Brabant, RRN

On May 20th, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Saferworld, BASIC, Christian Aid, the World Development Movement and hundreds of partner organisations across Europe, held a Day of Action to urge EU governments to agree on a tough, effective Code of Conduct on arms exports. The action came on the eve of further talks by EU ministers on the content of a proposed Code. NGOs believe the initiative is vital, but are concerned that the current proposal falls short of its stated objective of “setting high common standards governing arms exports”.

EU countries account for 40% of the world arms market and questionable deals have always been justified by the tired argument “if we don’t sell, someone else will”. European weapons are being exported to regions of conflict, repressive regimes and human rights abusers. Many go to developing countries that spend more of their scant resources on defence than on health and education. Effective international controls, therefore, are long overdue.

The Code of Conduct, which will be launched at the end of the UK Presidency of the EU in June, is a positive step towards controlling arms exports but the agreement will need strengthening and reviewing over the coming months if it is to have a real impact.

For information on Saferworld, an independent research group promoting practical steps to help prevent armed conflict, the Code of Conduct, or other arms trade issues, contact:

Megan Ciotti
Media Officer
3rd Floor, 34 Alfred Place


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