The Forum on the Arms Trade is a network of civil society experts and a point of contact for strengthening public efforts to address the humanitarian, economic and other implications of arms transfers, security assistance, and weapons use. Managed from Washington DC, the Forum provides a venue for bringing its community's wide-ranging expertise together to amplify and strengthen its work, while also offering government and media members a one-stop resource for the latest information, analysis, and best contacts. Forum-listed experts are located around the world and work on diverse topics including human rights, development, arms control, humanitarian disarmament, cybersecurity, arms and the environment, anti-corruption, and related fields.
"Emergency" U.S. Sale to Saudi Arabia and UAE
UPDATED: On July 29, an effort by the Senate to override President Trump's vetoes earned a majority but did not succeed in securing a 2/3 majority. Votes: SJRes 36 (45-40), SJRes 37 (45-39), SJRes38 (46-41).
On July 17, the House passed SJ Res 36, 37, 38 (see list), related to precision-guided munitions and blocking the issuance of export licenses. On July 24, President Trump vetoed the resolutions.
On July 11, the House added the Lieu amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act by a 246 to 180 vote, which prohibits funds from being used to transfer any defense articles or services to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates under the emergency authority of the Arms Export Control Act that circumvents congressional review. On July 12, the House passed the full NDAA by a vote of 220 to 197.
In the Senate votes June 20, SJ Res 36 and SJ Res 38 each passed by a vote of 53-45 and the remaining 20 resolutions passed en bloc 51-45 (see list).
On May 24, Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed that "I made a determination pursuant to section 36 of the Arms Export Control Act and directed the Department to complete immediately the formal notification of 22 pending arms transfers to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia totaling approximately $8.1 billion to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defense capacity." On June 5, a bipartisan group of Senators announced they would introduce 22 resolutions to block these sales. On June 12, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on this issue, as did the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 10.
We will be updating this page as this story develops, featuring comments by Forum-listed experts.
Press Briefing - Firearms Export Reform - March 5
Audio and additional information available here from briefing with Representatives Torres and McGovern and other experts on March 5.
UK Court Decision
On June 20, the UK Court of Appeal found that UK decisions to sell arms to Saudi Arabia were done improperly, instructing the government to review decisions. See also UK response on June 25, indicating the government would not grant new licenses as it reviews/implements the decision. Statements and analysis from organizations with Forum-listed experts are below (June 20):
Congressional Arms Trade Measures 2019
Tracking select legislation related to arms trade, security assistance, and military support. See resource page.
U.S. Conventional Arms Transfer Policy
Revised implementation fact sheet released on Nov 8 by the U.S. Department of State. Find it on our updated resource page.
Highlighting publications in which Forum-listed experts were involved. Inclusion on the Forum on the Arms Trade expert list does not indicate agreement with or endorsement of the opinions of others.
Doug Weir, "How Yemen’s conflict destroyed its waste management system," Conflict and Environment Observatory, August 1, 2019.
Wim Zwijnenburg, "Iranian Oil Spills on Syria’s Shores: A Brief OSINT Overview of an Environmental Incident," Bellingcat, July 31, 2019.
William Hartung, "Economics Shouldn't Determine U.S.-Saudi Arms Sales," Forbes, July 30, 2019.
Mark Bromley+, "Measuring illicit arms and financial flows: Improving the assessment of Sustainable Development Goal 16," SIPRI, July 2019.
William Hartung+, "US Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: The Corporate Connection," Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy, July 29, 2019
Iain Overton, "Conflict reporting: are injuries no longer news?" OpenDemocracy, July 29, 2019
William Hartung, "Trump’s Saudi Arms Vetoes, Deconstructed," LobeLog, July 26, 2019.
Dan Mahanty+, "Niger: A Bulwark against Further Instability in West Africa," CSIS Briefs, July 24, 2019.
John Lindsay-Poland, "The U.S. Is Flooding the World With Guns. Congress Can Stop That," Foreign Policy in Focus, July 22, 2019.
Rob Muggah+, "Building the Bridge: SDG 16 // Commentary on Arms Control To Reduce Violence, Prevent Conflict and Advance Sustainable Development," UNIDIR, July 2019.
Radhya al-Mutawakel+, "Withering Life: The Human Rights Situation in Yemen 2018," Mwatana for Human Rights, July 2019.
William Hartung, "Merger Mania: The Military-Industrial Complex on Steroids" TomDispatch, July 16, 2019.
Christina Arabia, "Disappearing Transparency in U.S. Arms Trade," Lawfare, July 15, 2019.
Jeff Abramson +, “Saudi Arms Sales Hit Hurdles in U.S., UK,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2019.
Anna Stavriankis, “See no evil: How the UK government tries not to know about bombing civilians in Yemen,” Middle East Eye, June 27, 2019.
Roy Isbister,"'Nothing to see here': UK's response to court ruling on arms sales to Saudi Arabia raises doubts about its willingness to fix problems," Saferworld (blog), June 26, 2019.
Seth Binder + "President Trump's Third Foreign Affairs Budget," Project on Middle East Democracy, June 2019.
Alejandro Sanchez, "Peru and China sign new agreement for military donations," Jane's Defence Weekly, June 26, 2019.
William Hartung, "Do U.S. Defense Firms Really Need Arms Exports?" Forbes, June 24, 2019.
Anna Stavrianakis, “British arms sales to Saudi Arabia deemed unlawful, but now the hard work begins,” The Guardian, June 22, 2019.
Iain Overton, "The UK’s arming of the Saudis is unlawful, but will a Brexiteering government care?" Open Democracy, June 20, 2019.
Alejandro Sanchez, "Moldova-US relations and the National Guard’s State Partnership Programme," Defence IQ, June 19, 2019.
Iain Overton, "Why the Landmine Legacy of Princess Diana needs to address a 21st Century Reality," Byline Times, June 18, 2019.
Nils Duquet, “Q&A:What is the impact of the internet on illicit weapon markets in Europe?” Flemish Peace Institute, June 13, 2019.
Wim Zwijnenburg, "Inclusive Protection of Civilians During Conflicts: Making a Case for the Environment," New Security Beat, June 12, 2019.
Rachel Stohl+, "An 'Emergency' Arms Deal: Will Congress Acquiesce in Another Blow to Its Authority?" Just Security, June 6, 2019.
Scott Paul, "End the arms sales, end the suffering," Oxfam's Politics of Poverty blog, June 6, 2019.
Frank Slijper+, "Controversial Arms Trade and investments of Dutch banks," Fair Bank Guide, June 6, 2019.
John Lindsay-Poland+, "Fact Sheet on U.S. Weapons Sales to Honduras," Stop US Arms to Mexico, June 4, 2019.
Wim Zwijnenburg, "Torching And Extortion: OSINT Analysis Of Burning Agriculture In Iraq," Bellingcat, June 3, 2019.
William Hartung, "Trump's 'Emergency' Sale to Saudi Arabia Must Not Stand," LobeLog, May 24, 2019.
Doug Weir, "The weaponisation of environmental information in the era of fake news," Conflict and Environment Observatory, May 16, 2019.
William Hartung, "It's Time To Stop Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia," LobeLog, May 15, 2019.
Kate Kizer, "Are you there McMaster? It's me, the American people." Inkstick, May 14, 2019.
Doug Weir, "A hazardous oil tanker has become a bargaining chip in the Yemen conflict," Conflict and Environment Observatory, May 16, 2019.
Frank Slijper+, "State of AI: Artificial intelligence, the military and increasingly autonomous weapons," PAX, released May 2019.
Seth Binder+, "The case for arms embargoes against uncooperative regimes," War on the Rocks, May 10, 2019.
Rachel Stohl+, "Leaving the Arms Trade Treaty would be another shot in America's foot," DefenseNews, May 10,
Rachel Stohl, "Trump Unsigns the Arms Trade Treaty: How Did We Get Here?" War on the Rocks, May 3,
View the full list of recent and past publications featuring Forum on the Arms Trade-listed experts.
High School Debate '19-20
Check our resource page designed to help U.S. high school debate participants in the current national series focused on the arms trade.
Resource Page - Int'l Trade of Firearms & Ammunition: Move to Commerce Control
On July 11, the House added an amendment (#10) to the NDAA, which would block these changes, by a vote of 225 to 205. On July 12, the House passed the full NDAA by a vote of 220 to 197.
On February 4, 2019, Congress was notified of final rules to transfer of some items on US Munitions List (USML) categories I-III to the Commerce Control List (CCL), starting a 30-day review period. Legislation to block the change has now been introduced in both the Senate and the House and a hold placed delaying its implementation. A hearing on this topic is was held Tuesday, March 26, in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. On May 14, more than 100 organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the changes.
The proposed rule was published on May 24 and closed for public comment on July 9, 2018. See resource for concerns expressed and more information.
New FMS notifications: August 7 - South Korea $800 million for multi-mission helicopters July 29 - South Korea $950 million for support to RQ-4 Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft Egypt $544 million for ship support Canada $44 million for radio syems July 26 - India $670 million for C-17 support Pakistan $125 million for F-16 support Thailand $175 million for 60 Stryker infantry carriers July 12 - Greece $600 million for 7 MH-60R helicopters Germany $401 million for 50 PAC-3 missiles July 8 - Taiwan $2 billion for Abrams tanks and $223.56 million for Stinger missiles June 28 - Germany (via NATO) $122.86 million for missiles June 27 - Morocco $250.4 million for F-16 sustainment May 31 -- Bulgaria $1.673 billion for F-16s and supplies May 24 "emergency" notifications-- Saudi Arabia $1.8 billion for $800 million for aircraft support, and $136 million for air surveillance system support United Arab Emirates $900 million for 24000+ precision rounds, $102 million for 300+ Javelin missiles, $100 million for Marine training of presidential guard and $80 million for unmanned air vehicles May 16 - South Korea $313.9 million for SM-2 Block III B missiles Japan $317 million for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) Canada $387 million for lightweight torpedoes May 9 - Qatar $3.0 billion for Apache helicopters May 3 - Bahrain $2.478 billion for Patriot missile systems and $750 million for weapons/bombs for F-16s, United Arab Emirates $2.728 billion for Patriot missile systems Czech Republic $800 million for 12 Black Hawk helicopters and $205 million for 4 AH-1Z attack helicopters see resource
Yemen War Powers Resolutions
UPDATED: Senate voted, but did not reach 2/3 majority to override veto (May 2). House approves Yemen War Powers resolution (the version from the Senate) on April 4, and President Trump issued a veto on April 16. On March 13, the Senate passed their version of the resolution, S. J. Res 7. On February 13, 2019, the House passed H.J. Res 37 "Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress." See resource.
US "Unsigns" Arms Trade Treaty
On April 26, 2019, President Trump told the audience at an National Rifle Association conference that he is directing the Senate to return the Arms Trade Treaty to him and that the United States will be revoking the effect of its signature to it. See experts comments and related resources.
"Arms Trade FAQ" videos
See transcripts and more details here.
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