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Response to Parliamentary Committee report on Arms Export Controls

Today, the UK Government responded to the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls Annual report.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Commenting on this, Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said:

“The Government takes its export responsibilities very seriously, and operates one of the most rigorous arms export control regimes in the world.

“The period covered by this report was one of profound global change, in particular in the Middle East, which tested our export controls. We believe they met this challenge.

“The year also saw important progress towards a global Arms Trade Treaty, with the UK continuing its leading role in the UN process. Although a Treaty was not adopted at the Conference in July, significant progress was made on a strong Treaty text. We will now work with ATT supporters to finalise work on the Treaty at a final conference in early 2013.

“Whilst the Government agrees with many of the recommendations and conclusions in the CAEC’s Report, there are also areas where we disagree. In particular:

  • We reject the Committee’s assertion that the Government somehow ‘put at risk’ the UK’s leading role in the drafting and negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Although a Treaty was not signed in New York, no delegation worked harder than the UK to deliver a robust treaty and we are continuing to work with partners to find a way to agree an effective way forward.

  • We also strongly disagree with the Committee’s conclusions around the revocation of export licences during the Arab Spring.

As we make clear in today’s Response revoking licences is not a failure of our export licensing system, nor does it imply that the initial decisions were wrong, given the circumstances prevailing at the time they were taken. This is the licensing system working, not failing, by reflecting new circumstances quickly. And of course, it is worth reiterating that there is no corroborated evidence to suggest that UK-supplied equipment was used for internal repression during the Arab Spring. Despite these areas of disagreement, however, the Government welcomes the Committee’s Annual Report and the vital role it plays in scrutinising Government policy.”

Published 12 October 2012