The U.K. government this week announced tougher controls on trading and transporting arms, as part of its response to public input on U.K. Strategic Export Controls.
The effort builds on the recent move to add sting sticks to the list of torture equipment and the the U.K.’s decision to work within the European Union to introduce a new torture end use control which will make the export of any equipment believed to be for use in torture licensable and therefore give the government the power to refuse it.
Business Minister Malcolm Wicks said: "The irresponsible and illegal trade in sensitive weapons can have unspeakable consequences–destroying families and disrupting the efforts to combat poverty."
Legislation will be implemented Oct. 1 to: Create a new three-category trade controls structure, retaining the strictest controls on goods that are inherently undesirable– Category A–and introducing a new Category B to control extra-territorial trading in other goods that are internationally agreed to be of heightened concern. Additionally, extra- territorial trade controls will be extended to apply to any U.K. person anywhere in the world on cluster munitions by placing these in Category A, and on small arms and Man Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADs) by placing these in Category B. And, a wider range of activities related to the trading of non-military explosive goods to embargoed destinations under control.
In addition, April 6, 2009, further steps will be taken To: Move light weapons into Category B of the new trade controls, to control trading by any U.K. person anywhere in the world, and move Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Long Range Missiles (LRMs) into this category. Also, additional controls will be introduced on transport in the highest risk circumstances. Adjustments will be made to adjust the scope of current exemptions for goods that pass through the U.K. in transit and transhipment, by removing exemptions for all highly sensitive–Category A–goods and removing exemptions for destinations of concern for Category B goods.
The government will also negotiate an enhanced "EU Military End Use Control" where licences will be required for export of any non-controlled goods from the EU when the exporter knows they are intended for use by the military, police or security forces in listed destinations and there is a clear risk that the goods might be used for internal repression, breaches of human rights, or against U.K. forces or those of allies.
The additional response is part of the government’s post implementation review of new U.K. controls introduced in 2004. As well as changes to the U.K. controls, work will be taken forward in parallel to negotiate stronger torture and military end use controls across the EU.