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Arms exports and human rights

The EU makes a difference on whether arms exports are governed by values or interests—but it could do more. From Socialeurope.

The war in Ukraine has drawn attention to the importance of a politics of prevention when it comes to trade in general and the arms trade in particular. This should take into account the records on human rights and democracy of governments’ commercial partners.

The European Union has long striven to strengthen control of arms exports, at the national and EU levels. In 1998 the Council of the EU approved a Code of Conduct on European Arms Exports, which became a Council Common Position a decade later.

Eight criteria thereby orient member states. The second particularly concerns respect for human rights in the country of final destination as well as respect, by that country, for international humanitarian law. Principles of responsibility, prevention and accountability are mentioned in the preamble and inspire the overall stance, enforced at the national level.

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