New treaty must avoid leaving ‘dangerous loophole’
The prospective new international Arms Trade Treaty must regulate the sale of parts and components being used to maintain or manufacture deadly weapons and military equipment, according to a new report by Oxfam.
The international agency says keeping this area of arms trade out of the Treaty would be “a dangerous loophole”. The current lack of regulation of the trade in parts and components – worth nearly $10 billion between 2008 and 2011 – allows irresponsible users to circumvent arms embargoes and violate international humanitarian and human rights law.
Arms Trade Treaty to be negotiated in July
The report, “Piecing it All Together”, has been published ahead of Arms Trade Treaty negotiations in July in New York, where diplomats from around the world will gather to negotiate a new global agreement to regulate the trade of arms and ammunition.
Oxfam says the new treaty must take into account the reality of how today’s globalized arms industry operates, where parts and components for everything from battleships to machine guns are manufactured in different places around the world and then assembled somewhere else.
There are real concerns that the regulation of parts and components may be omitted from the final treaty and several countries including India, Egypt, and Vietnam, are calling for the sale of component parts not to be included in the final treaty text.
Arms are often sold in pieces
Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control, Anna Macdonald, said: “Many tanks, aircraft carriers and guns are sold in pieces – just like bookshelves from a furniture store – with no questions asked about how they are going to be used. Buyers can then either put together the pieces themselves, or pay someone else to do the job. That system must end – buying a tank should not be the same as buying a bookcase.
“If the sale of parts and components was excluded from the scope of the Arms Trade Treaty, then it would create a loophole large enough to sail an aircraft carrier through. This cannot be allowed to happen.”
One example of a piece of ready-to-assemble military equipment highlighted in the report is the K8 Trainer Aircraft. Between 2005 and 2006, Zimbabwe purchased 12 of these aircraft, which contained parts from the UK (ejector seats), US (cockpit instrumentation panels), and Ukraine (turbofan engines). The aircraft’s plans had been based on joint Pakistani-Chinese designs and the actual models were built in China.
Oxfam says proper regulation of the sale of parts and components should not require the sale of every nut, bolt or spring to be tightly monitored; however, it will mean greater regulation of the parts and components specifically designed, manufactured or modified for military purposes, and which are critical to functioning weapons and their ammunition.
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Notes to editors
Today, Wednesday June 27, is a dedicated global day of action, organized by the Control Arms coalition, with events taking place in key capitals around the world to highlight the need for a robust treaty to be agreed in New York next month.
In London, campaigners, as part of the coalition, will drive an Abbot gun tank around the city centre, dropping off urgent appeals to key embassies and high commissions.
Zahra Akkerhuys on +44 (0)1865 472498 or +44 (0) 7525 901932