Applying Sustainable Development to Arms Transfer Decisions: Practical Guide

Publication date: 23 April 2009

Every day, governments around the world give authorization for the export and transfer of weapons. These decisions affect the lives of millions of people. In some cases, these transfers undermine development, by fuelling conflict and armed violence, threatening peacebuilding efforts, or when they involve excessive unaccountable spending. Such spending can divert vital funds from public services such as education and health care, and when such spending takes place without accountability and transparency, it can aggravate corruption. The purpose of this document is to assist states to apply sustainable development standards when making decisions regarding international arms transfers through the application of a clear and consistent procedure.  It outlines:

  • The legal basis and international standards for development criteria related to international arms transfers;
  • What development criteria should contain to enable effective decision-making on international arms transfers; and
  • Guidelines to assist national licensing authorities and other government officials apply development criteria to decisions about international arms transfers, including a set of relevant questions to consider when forming a judgement.