The Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) have scrutinised in unprecedented detail the Government’s latest (2010) Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls, the Government’s quarterly information on individual export licence approvals and refusals, and the Government’s policies and performance on arms export controls and on arms control generally.
The report ‘Scrutiny of Arms Exports (2012)’ the Committees conclude that the Government’s review of its policies and practices on arms exports following the Arab Spring should not have been carried out merely as “an internal review” and should instead have been the subject of public consultation in accordance with the Government’s stated policy of transparency on arms exports. The Committees further conclude that whilst the Government’s introduction of a new licence suspension mechanism is welcome, this is not sufficient to ensure that arms exported from the UK are not used for internal repression overseas because in many, if not most, cases the arms will have left the UK before suspension occurs.
The Chairman of the Committees and a member of the Top Level Group, Sir John Stanley said:
“This is a ground breaking Report in the depth and detail of the Committees on Arms Export Controls’ scrutiny of the Government’s policies on arms exports. The Foreign Secretary in his Oral evidence to the Committee confirmed that the British Government’s policy on arms exports and internal repression was as follows:
The long-standing British position is clear: We will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression.
Read the full report here.