Dáil Éireann - Volume 557 - 13 November, 2002
Written Answers. - Arms Trade.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
86. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the rise in US arms sales to developing countries; and if he will argue for the arms industry to scale back arms sales if there is to be hope of ending terrorism and war. [21608/02]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Ireland's approach to the export of arms to all countries is guided by our undertakings at EU level, our political commitments at UN level and our pursuit of development goals, including human rights and democratisation. I agree with the Deputy that the scaling back of arms sales could contribute to a reduction in tensions both regionally and globally, with consequent advantages for economic and social development. The regulation of arms exports is a matter for national authorities, subject to internationally agreed restrictions such as arms embargoes sanctioned by the United Nations. I call on all governments to take full account of the impact of arms proliferation in regulating arms exports.
Ireland participated in establishing an EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports which was adopted by the EU General Affairs Council in June 1998. The code lists the criteria to be taken into account when deciding on whether to allow an export of military goods. One of these criteria provides that member states should look at the level of expenditure of the recipient country on arms relative to their social expenditure, to ensure that the proposed export would not seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country. Ireland also supports efforts both within the European Union and elsewhere to achieve progress in the area of arms brokering.
Ireland participates in export control groups such as the Wassenaar Arrangement, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group and the  Missile Technology Control Regime. These groups seek to control the export of technologies which may have military applications in order to prevent the proliferation of arms and related technologies. The US is a member of all these groups.
In July of 2001, the UN Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons in all its aspects took place in New York. Ireland played an active role in this conference and worked with European Union partners to achieve the strongest possible outcome. This conference was the first major step in addressing the problem of small arms proliferation and represented a formal recognition by the member states of the United Nations of the effects of the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons on civilian populations. The major issues dealt with by the conference were export criteria and controls, tracing and marking of weapons and regulation of brokers. The programme of action, agreed by consensus, contains politically binding commitments on these issues at national, regional and international level. It also establishes a framework for follow-up action, including provision for a review conference to be held in 2006.
Ireland will continue to use its voice and influence in these and other fora to underline our commitment to development co-operation and the related need to curb the export of arms which could undermine social and regional stability and damage economic development.
Dáil Éireann 557 Written Answers. Arms Trade.