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Arms trade exploiting EU loopholes on weapon exports - Mary Lou McDonald

30 September, 2004

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has called upon the Dutch Presidency of the EU, to 'revise immediately the EU Code of Conduct on arms export' after the publication of a report by a coalition of NGOs entitled 'Taking Control: The Case for a More Effective EU Code of Conduct' which concluded that European arms suppliers had used loopholes in the Code of Conduct to export arms to human rights abusing regimes such as Burma.

A coalition of 55 European NGOs including Amnesty International said that their research had shown that the EU Code of Conduct on the export of arms and military equipment had been breached, due to ambiguous wording within the Code of Conduct.

Speaking from Brussels, Ms McDonald said:

"I am calling upon the Dutch Presidency of the EU as a matter of urgency, to immediately revise the EU Code of Conduct on arms export. The research conducted by NGOs throughout the European Union have revealed that the present Code of Conduct contains loopholes, allowing arms manufacturers to export weaponry and component parts to some of the most undemocratic regimes in the world.

"These latest revelations bring the debate about the international arms trade back into sharp focus. The 26 Counties have been complicit in the arms trade. Since 1997, the 26-Counties has exported €240 million of military goods and €23.7 billion of dual-use goods (which have both military and civilian applications), including technology used by the French and US nuclear programmes. Ireland exported over €2.5 billion worth of military and dual-use goods in 2003 alone.

"One of the major recommendations in the report calls for the publication of an annual report by EU member states showing exactly where exports have been made. Sinn Féin believes this will enhance transparency and place pressure upon member states from exporting deadly components and weaponry to internationally discredited regimes. Sinn Féin supports such a measure.

"Sinn Féin is also calling upon the Irish government to support an International Arms Trade Treaty to prevent arms exports to destinations where they are likely to be used to commit grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. There is also an onus on the Irish government to raise this latest matter with the Dutch Presidency, to ensure the strengthening of the EU Code of Conduct on the export of arms and component parts." ENDS

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