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21st April 2015

Arms Trade: the Foreign Office Responds

At the end of last year, Peace Hub ’embargoed’ a giant arms export license and members of the public signed a petition calling for an arms embargo to Egypt and other  countries where UK arms could be used for repression.

Now the Foriegn Office has responded – with some steps in the right direction, and some room for improvement.

FO letterheadThe good news is that the UK recognises that arms sold around the world could be used for human rights abuses, and agrees in principle that exports of this nature should not be allowed.

In relation to Egypt (which was the focus of our theme) restrictions have been increased: instead of refusing export licences to Egypt where there is a “clear risk that goods might be used for internal repression”, licenses are now refused for any goods that “might be used for internal repression.”  This might seem like a minor change, but by no longer having to prove a ‘clear risk’ it is easier for the Foriegn Office to err on the side of caution, and not allow exports that could be used against peaceful protesters in Egypt.

The not-so-good news is that the Foriegn Office has stopped short of a full embargo on arms to Egypt.  Their response makes clear that they are making these decisions in-line with judgements from the European Union: so the campiagn to control arms exports may need to move to the European level next.

For more details, read the full response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Arms Export Policy Deparment, or see the criteria which the UK uses as guidance for issuing licenses (the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.)

There are plently of ways to keep taking action to resist the arms trade, and you can always pop into Peace Hub for a friendly chat about how to get involved.

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