How should the United States exercise responsibility in arms deals with Saudi Arabia and other states that fail to adequately guard against civilian casualties in conflict?
The United States concluded arms agreements worth $66.3 billion in 2011, representing more than three-quarters of the total value of such agreements worldwide, according to a recently released report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Edward J. Laurance is a professor of international policy studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He was a consultant to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (1992-1994), the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms (1996-1997), and the UN program of action on small arms (2000-2001) and currently serves as an expert for the UN project developing international standards to control small arms. He is author of The International Arms Trade (1992).
In 1991, in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, the international community sought to tighten controls on the conventional arms trade. Today, as Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi uses imported military equipment against opponents of his regime, the 1991 efforts and their mixed results deserve renewed attention.
Volume 1, Number 29
The initial 30-day clock for Congress to review the $60 billion U.S.-Saudi arms deal expires next week. Although some members of Congress have promised to fight it, lawmakers will have little time to muster a joint resolution of disapproval required to stop it at this stage, should they want to do so. Nonetheless, the unprecedented size of this deal warrants Congressional hearings and greater oversight.
By Paul Holtom and Mark Bromley - There is disagreement on which goods and activities are part of the arms trade, and reporting is uneven. Nevertheless, available data illustrate the need for stronger controls.
After increasing to record levels in 2007, transfers of major weapons systems as well as small arms and light weapons dropped in 2008, according to voluntary reports submitted to the United Nations’ conventional arms registry.