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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 26, May 1998

EU Agrees Arms Exports Code

In Brussels on 25 May, the 15 Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) agreed a Code of Conduct for Arms Exports, scheduled for formal adoption in June - see next issue for Code text and further details.

The Code lays down criteria designed to ensure arms are not exported to States with a reprehensible record on human rights or possibly aggressive intentions towards other States. However, the Code does not stipulate a mandatory ban on such sales, as a number of States, such as Ireland, had hoped for. Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews told reporters on 25 May that he was "genuinely upset" at this feature of the Code. "We see this as a beginning," he added: "It has to be built on and improved." UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook defended the Code as it stood, insisting: "The agreement today is a real achievement. It is not toothless." Reports suggested that the UK - holders of the EU Presidency - and France were the two States most strongly opposed to the Code incorporating any legally-binding requirements.

Report: EU Adopts Arms Export Code, Associated Press, 25 May.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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