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New report exposes arms exports from UK and other G8 nations fuelling poverty and human rights abuses

G8 weapons have been exported to countries including Sudan, Burma (Burma), the Republic of Congo, Colombia and the Philippines.

The report makes a clear case for the G8 to support UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s call, supported by 10 other countries, for an international Arms Treaty.

G8 member states are undermining their commitments to poverty reduction, stability and human rights with irresponsible arms exports to some of the world's poorest and most conflict-ridden countries, according to the Control Arms Campaign (Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA – the International Action Network on Small Arms).

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said:

"Each year hundreds of thousands of people are killed, tortured, raped and displaced through the misuse of arms. How can G8 commitments to end poverty and injustice be taken seriously if some of the very same governments are undermining peace and stability by deliberately approving arms transfers to repressive regimes, regions of extreme conflict or countries who can ill-afford them?"

Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam said:

"This research shows that, as well as the G8 being responsible for more than 80% of the world’s arms exports, they persist in selling weapons that oppress the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. G8 Foreign Ministers meeting this week must back the Arms Treaty and agree a swift process to make it happen,"

The report The G8: Global arms exporters – Failing to prevent irresponsible arms transfers exposes a series of loopholes and weaknesses in arms export controls common across many G8 countries:

  • UK: From Jan 2003 to June 2004 the UK licensed arms exports to countries with serious human rights concerns, including Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel and Indonesia 1. The UK has also increasingly used "open licences" that allow companies to make multiple shipments without adequate scrutiny
  • Canada: Military exports to countries involved in armed conflict or human rights abuse including light armoured vehicles and helicopters to Saudi Arabia and aircraft engines and handguns to the Philippines
  • France: Exports in the UN category of "Bombs, grenades, ammunition, mines and other" to countries subject to European Union arms embargoes such as Burma (Burma) and Sudan
  • Germany: The use of German components in military equipment destined for countries involved in serious human rights violations such as German engines incorporated into military vehicles that have ended up in Burma (Burma
  • Italy: A loophole in Italian law allowing large quantities of so-called "civilian firearms" to be exported to countries suffering gross human rights violations such as Colombia, the Republic of Congo, and China
  • Russia: Exports of heavy weaponry including combat aircraft to states whose forces have committed abuses such as Ethiopia, Algeria, and Uganda
  • United States: Substantial US military aid to states carrying out persistent human rights violations including Pakistan, Nepal and Israel
  • Japan: exports of small arms and light weapons to countries with poor human rights records such as the Philippines

The examples included in the report show why a tough and enforceable Arms Treaty is urgently needed.

It should be international, legally-binding and based on international law - especially human rights and humanitarian law - because these universal standards if observed, would save lives, prevent suffering and protect livelihoods.

Rebecca Peters, Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) said:

"n view of the massive loss of life and destruction of property and livelihoods fuelled by irresponsible arms transfers, the G8 must turn rhetoric into reality and push for negotiations to start on an Arms Treaty by 2006. To do anything less would be a disgraceful betrayal of the millions of men, Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights who live in fear of armed violence every day."


The Control Arms campaign was launched by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) in October 2003.

It aims to reduce arms proliferation and misuse and to convince governments to introduce a binding Arms treaty.


1. Source: Saferworld audit of UK arms exports

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