Global Policy Forum

UN Security Council Will Not Impose Strict Restrictions on Arms Deals

Readings From A Political Duo-ble
October 6, 2007

In an Amnesty International press release dated 1 October 2007, UN must impose arms embargo on Myanmar, the human rights organisation urges the "United Nations Security Council to impose a comprehensive and mandatory arms embargo on Myanmar. It also calls on the country's principal arms suppliers — in particular China and India, but also Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and ASEAN nations — to suspend all arms supplies to the military Junta."

While this call to arms embargo should be applauded, the likelihood of that happening is slim considering that China and Russia, two of the permanent member in the UN Security Council, are themselves involved in providing military equipment to the Burmese military regime. Even though the EU and United States have imposed arms embargo on the regime, and that the United Kingdom and the United States are themselves permanent members in the UN Security Council, they are unlikely to favour this option as it may open up precedents which may require them to stop the profitable sales of arms the next time a dictator starts killing its innocent civilians.

Moreover, all the permanent nation members within the UN Security Council are profiting lucratively from the sales and transfer of weapons to other countries. According to Wiki on Arms Industry, with information provided by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the top 5 largest arms exporters are US, Russia, Germany, France and UK. In the SIPRI 2007 yearbook, summary of Chapter 10, International Arms Transfer, "The USA and Russia were the largest suppliers in the five-year period 2002–2006, each accounting for around 30 per cent of global deliveries." It also claims that, "China and India remained the largest arms exporters in the world." More chillingly, the summary stated that, "Transparency in arms transfers, which in the 1990s saw significant improvement, with more and better national export reports, has remained stagnant in the past few years."

According to an AL Jazeera report, US ‘biggest global arms dealer' dated 1 October 2007, the country cornered "nearly 42 per cent of the arms market". The Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations report concluded that US arms deal is worth $16.9bn, a $3.4bn increase over 2005. Russia comes at second place boosing its worldwide arms sales "by $1.2bn, ending 2006 in second place with 21.6 per cent of the market". The report however does not take into consideration the "illegal weapons transfers, worth an estimated $10bn."The profits from arms deals means that the UN Security Council is highly unlikely to implement measures to reduce global arms or strictly restrict arms sales.

More Information on the UN Security Council
More General Analysis on Small Arms and Light Weapons
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