21 July 2010


States are failing to adequately control the transport of weapons around the world leading to serious human rights violations, according to Amnesty International in a recently published report.

The report highlights how transport companies registered in the UK, USA, China, France and the Russian Federation – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – are able to move conventional weapons and munitions to countries where they could be used to commit human rights violations and war crimes.

Examples highlighted in the report include deliveries of cluster munitions and their components on ships registered in the UK and managed by UK and German shipping companies, that were transported from South Korea to Pakistan between March 2008 and February 2010 for use by the country’s army.

These deliveries took place despite the UK and Germany having committed to comprehensively ban the transfer and use of cluster munitions.

Another example cited in the report is of machine gun/anti-aircraft gun parts from Bulgaria flown on a regular scheduled Air France passenger flight from Sofia to Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris, in September 2008. The shipment was then flown to Nairobi with the final destination listed in the transport documents as Kigali, Rwanda.

There was a clear risk that machine gun/anti-aircraft gun parts procured by the Rwandan government might be diverted. Such weapons were used in the fighting taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 220,000 people have been displaced and serious violations of human rights were perpetrated. The Bulgarian, French and Kenyan governments, which permitted the export and transit of the arms shipment through their territories, failed to stop the transfer.

The report was launched in New York as the first round of UN deliberations on the content of the proposed international Arms Trade Treaty resumed.

The full report is available for download from the Amnesty website.

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