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From: Under Secretary General Ortiz

The Global Reported Arms Trade – The UN Register of Conventional Arms

The Global Reported Arms Trade

The UN Register of Conventional Arms

Germany  – 2012

Germany consistently pursues a restrictive export control policy both as regards armaments and dual-use goods intended for military purposes. This policy is based on Article 26 of the Basic Law (constitution) obliging the state to control war weapons at all stages from manufacture to marketing. This constitutional obligation is given statutory form through the War Weapons Control Act, the Foreign Trade and Payments Act and the Foreign Trade and Payments Regulation. To underline its political will to pursue a restrictive arms export policy and render transparent the way this policy is administered, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany has, on January 19, 2000, adopted a thoroughly revised version of the Political Principles Governing the Export of War Weapons and Other Military Equipment, the full text of which appears as annex below. The restrictive arms export policy of the Federal Republic of Germany means in essence that war weapons may in principle only be exported to EU and NATO countries or countries which by special decision have been granted equivalent status. Deliveries to other countries are only permitted in exceptional and precisely defined circumstances. A key factor in deciding whether to grant an export license are conditions within the recipient country, in particular the human rights situation. Furthermore, deliveries must not contribute to exacerbating existing tensions. Finally, special attention is being paid to ascertaining the definitive end-use in the country of destination. At the end of the eighties intensified efforts by a number of countries to acquire equipment for the development and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems resulted in the extensive reform and further tightening-up of the German arms export control regime, notably concerning dual-use goods. The Federal Government is committed to harmonizing arms export control policy both at the European Union and at the international level. Thes common basis of European arms export control has been made legally binding on December 8, 2008, when the European Council adopted a Common Position containing eight common criteria for arms exports and procedure rules for the cooperation of EU member states in this field.. The EU regulations on export controls for dual-use goods (EC Regulation 428/2009 of 05 May 2009) have contributed to greater harmonization in this field. The Federal Republic of Germany is actively involved in the various international control regimes to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems (Nuclear Suppliers Group, Australia Group, Missile Technology Control Regime). With the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technology which was set up in 1996 with the collaboration of the Federal Republic of Germany, a comprehensive, general exchange of information among participating governments has been agreed and a gap in the existing control system closed. This regime, too, is designed to harmonize arms export regulations and procedures. Germany has been very actively involved in the negotiations on the Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 2 April 2013. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany signed the Arms Trade Treaty at its opening for signature at the UN on 3 June 2013. Preparations for ratification by Germany during the course of 2013 are underway.
Referring to UNGA Resolution 66/39 “Transparency in Armaments”, in particular to the operative paragraph 5 (a): “5. Reaffirms its decision, with a view to further development of the Register, to keep the scope of and participation in the Register under review and, to that end: (a) Recalls its request to Member States to provide the Secretary-General with their views on the continuing operation of the Register and its further development and on transparency measures related to weapons of mass destruction;” Germany would like to make the following comments: The UN Register of Conventional Arms has proved to be one of the few and effective global transparency measures. Germany strongly supports this instrument and has regularly reported to the Secretary General. Germany has also encouraged states to report in a comprehensive manner, including on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Germany believes that the inclusion of reporting on Small Arms and Light Weapons as a mandatory category of the UN Register would enhance in a substantive way the usefulness of this instrument. In many parts of the world, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are the main factor of instability, often exceeding heavy weaponry as a stability challenge. In particular in Africa, it is small arms rather than heavy weaponry fueling regional as well as internal conflicts. The Groups of Governmental Experts that convened according to UNGA Resolutions 57/75, 60/226 and 63/69 and 66/39 in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013 respectively all debated on the possibility to include SALW into the register. With the adoption of a universal treaty on the global trade in arms (Arms Trade Treaty – ATT), the register will serve as a reference at the moment of the entry into force of this treaty. As the ATT includes in its scope small arms and light weapons, including small arms and light weapons in the register as well seems even more pertinent. Germany is concerned about the declining number of reports submitted to the Secretary General since the beginning of last decade. Germany believes that a renewed effort should be made to strengthen the universal use of this instrument of transparency and trust building, including by submitting “NIL” reports. In this context, Germany welcomes the new online reporting mechanism established by UNODA. In view of the dynamic technological progress and the resulting changes regarding shape, operation and nature of conventional weapons, Germany regards it as essential to allow for a flexible and proper evolution of the Register. Due to the recommendations of the respective Groups of Governmental Experts, the Register was developed further since its existence. However, Germany believes that technology has evolved even faster in this period, allowing for the emergence of new weaponry, potent enough to have an impact on overall military effectiveness, but without being properly reflected in the Register. Therefore, we believe that it is time for a more fundamental debate on the nature of the categories, in particular with regard to a further technological acceleration in the future.

© 2013 United Nations

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