Assessing the European control of small arms exports in the light of the EU's promotion of the democracy and human rights: reality vs. rethoric

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trinchieri, Luca
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According to its unique commitment in the field of human rights, the EU has recently developed an important framework in order to avoid exports of arms that are likely to be used in violating human rights, of which the main instrument is criterion 2 of the 1998 Code of Conduct on Arms Exports. Yet, European countries are among the biggest producers and exporters of arms, including of small arms and light weapons. The question, therefore, is how the EU deals with this delicate equilibrium. Has the Code had an impact in curbing the export of small arms to countries which violate human rights? To what extent do the small arms export policies of member states reflect the EU normative concern for human rights and democracy? Through the analysis of the exports from Belgium, Germany and Italy to thirteen countries selected on the basis of their very low human rights records, this thesis concludes that criterion 2 of the Code has not been effective, and explains this by referring to the lack of coordination between arms export controls and other EUs policies and by the prevalence of other factors, e.g. commercial and strategic interests, over human rights concerns.
Second semester University: University of Hamburg
arms control, human rights, European Union