Regulating Arms Brokering: Taking Stock and Moving Forward the United Nations Process

The problem of lacking or inconsistent regulations on arms brokering is painstakingly clear. Arms brokers are central in many illicit arms transfers, including transfers to conflict regions, embargoed actors, and serious human rights abusers. In the United Nations Programme of Action on SALW (UN PoA) of 2001, States specifically committed to develop adequate national legislation and common understandings on arms brokering. This report reviews progress made around the control of brokering.

It shows that a growing number of states have established legislation on arms brokering, or will do so. Comparing domestic norms and multilateral standards reveals that there is a large degree of convergence on key regulatory principles and measures, a good foundation for developing global minimal standards on brokering controls. The UNGA in October/November 2005 provides an opportunity for strengthening the international commitment to enhancing cooperation in combating illicit SALW brokering. Further efforts in this regard remain crucial, in particular in order to eliminate the loopholes and inconsistencies which allow brokering activities to take place with relative ease and impunity.

It is therefore urgent that the UN establish, at a minimum, a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Brokering, mandated to consider the feasibility of an international instrument and to identify the elements required for effective national brokering controls. The mandate should also consider controls on transportation and financial services related to arms brokering. Complementary standards on SALW control should also be developed in conformity with commitments undertaken with the UN PoA, including the development of minimal standards on end-user certificates and of adequate licensing to decide on arms exports and brokering activities.

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