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.
Nate Smith+, "It's Time for Congress to Rein in US Arms Exports," Defense One, September 11, 2019.
A.Trevor Thrall, Caroline Dorminey+, The 2019 Arms Sales Risk Index," (update) The Cato Institute, September 10, 2019.
William Hartung, "Restore Controls over dangerous gun exports," The Hill, September 10, 2019.
Patrick Wilcken (contributor), "Outsourcing Responsibility: Human Rights in the Defense Sector," Amnesty International publication, September 9, 2019.
William Hartung, "Should Arms Makers Be Held Responsible for How Their Weapons Are Used?" Forbes, September 9, 2019.
Doug Weir, "Civilian science: the potential of participatory environmental monitoring in areas affected by armed conflicts," Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, September 6, 2019.
Shannon Dick, "The Arms Trade and Syria," Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, September 2, 2019.
Matthew Bolton+, “Local Peacebuilding in East Africa: The Role of Customary Norms and Institutions in Addressing Pastoralist Conflict in Kenya and Uganda,” Locally Led Peacebuilding: Global Case Studies (ed. Stacey Connaughton and Jessica Berns), September 2019.
Ray Acheson and Allison Pytlak, "Turning from the final report to implementation, let’s make the ATT a treaty that save lives," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 9, August 30, 2019; see also "News in brief" by Ray Acheson et al, ATT Monitor, Reaching Critical Will.
Ray Acheson, "A fight for the moral and political credibility of the ATT," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 8, August 30, 2019.
Allison Pytlak, "The Meaning of Implementation," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 7, August 29, 2019.
Ray Acheson, "Effective ATT Implementation means putting people above profits," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 6, August 29, 2019.
Alejandro Sanchez, “ZSQUARED Engineering develops new unmanned surface vehicle as demand for USVs grows,” Jane’s 360, August 28, 2019.
Alejandro Sanchez, “Chile buys Fibrotex’s camouflage systems,” Jane’s 360, August 28, 2019.
Ray Acheson, "Making sure the rhetoric matches the reality," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 5, August 27, 2019.
Allison Pytlak, "What will- and won't- be discussed at CSP5," ATT Monitor vol. 12, no. 4, August 26, 2019.
Verity Coyle+ (coordinator & editor), with drafts from Verity Coyle, Shannon Dick, Nicolas Marsh, Anna Stavrianakis, Rachel Stohl "ATT Monitor Report 2019," Control Arms Secretariat, August 26, 2019.
Ray Acheson, "While a few countries control the CCW, we risk losing control over weapons," vol. 7, no. 7, August 22, 2019; "This cannot be kicked down the road any further," vol 7., no. 6, August 21; see also "News in brief" by Allison Pytlak in both editions, CCW Report, Reaching Critical Will.
Mary Wareham, "Be bolder to prevent a future of killer robots," CCW Report, vol. 7, no. 5, Reaching Critical Will, August 20, 2019.
Rachel Stohl, "Understanding the Role of U.S. Industry in the Arms Trade Treaty," Stimson Center, August 20, 2019.
Frank Slijper, "Don't Be Evil? A Survey of the Tech Sector's Stance on Lethal Autonomous Weapons," PAX, August 19, 2019.
Iain Overton, "Out of sight: British press ignores the continuing horror in Afghanistan," politics.co.uk, August 15, 2019.
Kate Kizer, "The UAE’s Dominant Role in Trump-Era Foreign Policy," The American Prospect, August 2, 2019.
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.
Iain Overton, "Brexit Britain's Love Affair with its Navy is Rooted in a Foolish and Costly Obsession with the Past," Byline Times, July 29.
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
View the full list of recent and past publications featuring Forum on the Arms Trade-listed experts.
New FMS notifications: September 11 - Morocco $776 million for 2400+ TOW (anti-tank) missiles; $209 million for 6000+ bombs September 10 - Poland $6.5 billion for 32 F-35s August 27 - Japan $3.295 billion for SM-3 Block IIA missiles South Korea $72 million for torpedoes Hungary $500 million for air-to-air missiles Lithuania $170.8 million light tactical vehicles Denmark $200 million for Sonar and Sonobuoys August 20 - Taiwan $8 billion for F-16 aircraft 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 see resource
U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan
After months of anticipation, on August 20, 2019, the Trump administration formally notified Congress of the possible sale of 66 F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan for $8 billion, drawing greater attention to U.S.-Taiwan arms sales, especially as U.S.-China trade talks appeared to be faltering. See resource page.
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.
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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