Arms Brokering Controls and how they are implemented in the European Union

The fight against illegal arms transfers requires regulation and an effective monitoring of arms brokers. Their business primarily consists of facilitating and arranging transactions in exchange for compensation or material recompense. Indeed some of them manage to circumvent existing controls by exploiting different national regulations or conducting their activities from countries where controls are weak or non-existent.

In 2003 the EU member states took an important initiative by setting a harmonized system of control of arms brokers. With the adoption of a European Common Position they introduced controls on brokering activities taking place on their territories. Yet, six years later, all EU member states still have no legislation on arms brokering, while others need to adapt their national legislation to EU standards. Furthermore this European instrument reflects minimum standards which currently appear insufficient to effectively fight against ill disposed brokers.

This report reviews the extent to which EU member states implement the Common Position on arms brokering and suggests some improvements for a better control on brokering activities and an effective fight against illegal arms transfers. One section of the report also considers a major gap in the national regulations: extraterritorial controls on brokering activities. Finally, the report presents the case study of the Belgian legislation on arms brokering.

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