UK: Campaigners broadly welcome report on UK arms legislation

UK Working Group on Arms Press Release

The UK Working Group on Arms (1) today welcomes the Quadripartite Committee’s report which warns that UK legislation is struggling to deal with an increasingly globalised defence industry (2).

Roy Isbister, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Saferworld said:

“The select committee has highlighted a number of areas in urgent need of attention. If the UK is to have an effective system of export controls, the Government must take the Committee’s recommendations seriously as part of their current review of arms export legislation.”

Oliver Sprague, Programme Director Arms Control, Amnesty International UK said:

“Today’s report by the Select Committee should serve as a wake-up call to the Government. The UK urgently needs to strengthen its own arms controls to stop equipment being used to facilitate acts of torture or other human rights abuses. The current official review of UK export controls offers the ideal opportunity to significantly tighten controls.”

The report, however, is weak on the negative impact that the UK’s arms exports could have on developing countries.

said Simon Gray, Arms Policy Adviser at Oxfam said:

"The Quad committee have missed an opportunity to ensure that the UK's arms exports do not negatively impact on the sustainable development of developing countries. During the review of the Export Control Act 2002, we will be calling for sustainable development to be given more of a profile in the assessments made by government on arms exports.”

The UK Working Group on Arms broadly endorses the recommendations of the Quadripartite Committee, which say:

  • UK persons or companies should not be able to arrange (broker) any arms supplies from one third country to another without express permission from the Government, no matter where those persons or the arms are located.

The UK Government continues to resist repeated calls to honour this commitment as first set out in the Labour Party 2001 manifesto commitment.

  • All UK persons or companies who want to engage in brokering activities should first be required to register with the UK Government
  • No equipment exported from the UK under licence could be re-exported without the permission of the UK Government
  • Overseas subsidiaries of UK companies should be subject to any relevant arms embargo that the UK is signed up to

Notes to Editors

(1) For the purpose of this press release, the UK Working Group on Arms includes Saferworld, Amnesty International and Oxfam.

(2) Saferworld is an international NGO working to increase human security and prevent armed violence.

  • Find out more about our Control Arms Campaign

View latest press releases