Controversial weapons

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Is your business transparent about engagement with the defence industry/arms trade?

EXCELLENT Answers

No EXCELLENT answers have been published for this question.

GOOD Answers

No GOOD answers have been published for this question.

OKAY Answers

No OKAY answers have been published for this question.

POOR Answers

No POOR answers have been published for this question.

This Scorecard is due to be updated in 2018

It is generally accepted that sovereign nations have the right to self-defence. The manufacture of and trade in armaments is, for the most part, highly regulated, but it is an extremely complex business mixed with global politics and international law. However, there is also illegitimate and criminal trade (the volumes of which are difficult to estimate) between illegal arms dealers, insurgents, terrorists and criminal groups.

International Conventions seek to restrict the proliferation of certain weapons and completely ban several others. Most nations have legislation and enforcement regimes in place to control access to arms and the export of weapons. The UK government, for example, has published a 'Strategic Export Control List' identifying those goods and materials that require a license to be sold abroad. Nonetheless, the international trade in arms is contentious. In particular, observers raise questions concerning which governments or groups receive defence equipment, the flouting of international conventions, the sale of ‘dual use’ technology, and the illegal trade in arms.

The defence industry is likely to benefit from political support, government subsidies and diplomatic assistance as it is often seen to be core to the political and economic interests of the state. Defence sector businesses are often large employers and may make significant investments in research and development with subsequent civilian benefits. For example, military innovation has had a powerful impact on scientific research and it has developed novel technology in areas such as computer sciences and medicine.

Throughout the world, states’ military and police forces are supplied with combat equipment (vehicles, vessels, aircraft, guns, ammunition), spare parts, components and software by businesses. However, ambiguity as to what is and what is not military equipment serves to make precise definitions of the defence sector problematic. Many items, e.g. telecommunication or electronic equipment, can be used for both civil and military applications, so called 'dual use'. Definitions of appropriate use and export controls rely on governmental decisions.

Campaigning groups cite a general lack of transparency in and around the arms trade as a significant impediment to identifying legitimate from illegitimate activity. Despite the formal and legal processes that exist, campaigners claim there is no real transparency in respect of arms transfers, even within the major weapons exporting countries (e.g. the USA, Russia, Germany, France, China, UK and Italy). According to Saferworld’s Arms Transfer Reporting Database, only two-thirds of EU member states (18 of 27) are meeting their legal obligation to produce national reports on their 'exports of military technology and equipment'.

While officially sanctioned trade dominates, illicit trading, particularly in small arms and light weapons, also occurs. This is concentrated in areas afflicted by armed conflict, violence, and organised crime, where the demand for illicit weapons is highest and a black market can flourish. More human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other weapon. Accurate figures for the number of small arms and light weapons currently in circulation, across the globe, are difficult to compile.

A nation’s desire to maintain or build up a military force has a variety of social implications. A 2011 UNESCO report found that 21 developing countries were spending more on defence than on primary schools. If these countries cut their defence spending by 10%, they could put an additional 9.5 million children into school. Further, armed conflict and high military spending shrinks a country’s economy and impedes socio-economic development. Critics of the arms trade argue that selling any defence equipment to countries in conflict, to areas under tension or prone to conflict incites or prolongs violence. Despite the existing conventions and regulations, they claim that sales to regimes that abuse human rights can facilitate repression and convey a message of approval from the international community.

The 2013 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) seeks to regulate the international import, export and transfer of conventional weapons and to reduce the illegal trade in small arms. It will prohibit trade if it violates an arms embargo or promotes genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Nations exporting conventional weapons will be obliged to evaluate whether the weapons would be used to violate human rights and humanitarian laws or be used by terrorists, organised crime or for corrupt practices.

Other issues that cause particular public concern regarding the arms trade include:

  • Biological weapons
  • Chemical weapons
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Landmines
  • Child soldiers
  • Cluster bombs
  • Drone warfare
  • Cyber warfare.

Some are already covered by binding international conventions, others are newly emerging and are still outside any agreed regime for control and use. This question provides the opportunity for businesses to explain any form of involvement or engagement they may have.

Defence sector

For the purposes of this question the 'defence sector' is considered in three parts. Firstly, the manufacture of 'armaments' (i.e. weapons, military technology and equipment or their components, including 'dual use' items) and the provision of associated research and development, training and maintenance services. Secondly trade, i.e. the sale and movement of armaments. Thirdly promotion, i.e. activities for promoting manufacture or trade of armaments, e.g. through arms fairs.

Indirect involvement

'Indirect involvement' in the defence sector may include an organisation procuring services from, or providing services to, a business manufacturing, trading or promoting armaments or investing in or receiving funding from a business engaged in such activity.

Dual use

'Dual use' items are goods, software, technology and diagrams which can be used for both civil and military applications. This might encompass raw materials (e.g. chemicals), parts or components (e.g. batteries) or complete systems (e.g. lasers). Dual use items might also be used in the production or development of military goods, such as machine tools, chemical manufacturing equipment and computer hardware and software.

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

State all sector(s) and/or industries in which they operate

State their philosophy and values on engagement in the defence industry

Describe the practices and policies which guide their actions or involvement

Describe how they are operating in or involved with the defence sector (as defined above)

Confirm their policies extend to all subsidiaries and across all countries

Explain the policies and practices that ensure transparency

List all the countries in which it has subsidiaries/production facilities and explain the purpose of these

State that they are not involved directly or indirectly with the defence industry/arms trade

All Businesses MAY

Explain any ‘responsible’ policies they have with regard to the sector

State any conversations/communications that they have engaged in with campaign groups and government and mention the results of these engagements

Describe how they perform any due diligence

Mention any future intentions they have regarding this issue

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain why they do not or cannot answer YES to this question

All Businesses MAY

Provide any other relevant information

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Responsible arms policy

Examples of policies and practices which may support an EXCELLENT statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

In sector

  1. Statement of philosophy or values
  2. Does not supply to fragile states who have not ratified the non-proliferation of arms treaty/oppressive regimes
  3. Strategic approach in place to ensure transparency on arms across the supply chain
  4. Does not engage in aggressive sales policies.
  5. Cited as an exemplar in its sector
  6. Working in collaboration with international bodies on defence and arms control issues
  7. Consider the final end use and destination and ensure it does not contribute to violations of international law and human rights.

Supplier to sector

  1. Does not supply to fragile states who have not ratified the non-proliferation of arms treaty
  2. Does all it can to ensure transparency on arms trading up and down the supply chain
  3. Statement of how company practices are monitored and evaluated
  4. Conducts supply chain due diligence on clients to evaluate clients’ compliance with company’s standards for transparent arms trade.
  5. Cited as an exemplar in its sector
To receive a score of 'Good'

Fully transparent on its engagement in defence industry/arms trade

Examples of policies and practices which may support a GOOD statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

In sector

  1. Policy in place to ensure best practice and transparency
  2. Openly publish their practices and policies
  3. Ensure independent advisers used on foreign arms sales are properly vetted and their behaviour audited.
  4. Does not supply to fragile states.
  5. Statement of philosophy or values
  6. Accounts for possible ‘dual use’
  7. State how company practices are monitored and evaluated
  8. Regularly updating its policies to keep up to date with arms regulations
  9. Performs substantial due diligence on suppliers and clients.

Supplier to defence industry/arms trade

  1. Publish their practices and policies
  2. Does not supply to unstable nations or areas
  3. State how company practices are monitored and evaluated
  4. Accounts for possible ‘dual use’
  5. Performs substantial due diligence on clients.

Not in defence industry/arms trade

  1. Statement of philosophy or values
  2. Ensures no engagement with businesses or clients who are not transparent about involvement in arms and defence industry
  3. Attempts to ensure transparency on arms trading up and down the supply chain
  4. Performs substantial due diligence on suppliers and clients.
  5. Does not engage in business with companies who supply to unstable nations or areas
  6. Demonstrate that they are investigating whether they have any indirect involvement in the arms trade, e.g. account for possible ‘dual use’.
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Compliant with minimum legal regulation or not material to business

Examples of policies and practices which may support an OKAY statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

In sector or supplier to defence industry/arms trade

  1. Actions on arms trading remain within legislation and regulation, for example, the EU Code of Conducts on Arms Exports.
  2. State how company practices are monitored and evaluated

Not in defence industry/arms trade

  1. Statement of ‘no engagement’, according to sector
  2. Statement of philosophy or values
To receive a score of 'Poor'

The business acknowledges its actions in the defence industry/arms trade are below expectations

Examples of policies and practices which may support a POOR statement (not all must be observed, enough should be evidenced to give comfort that the statement is the best of the four for the business being scored):

  1. Statement of future intent to improve
  2. No evidence of due diligence in supply chain
  3. Lack of transparency in engagement in defence industry/arms trade