One of the key weaknesses in controls on the international arms trade is the absence or penury of national regulations on arms broker-ing activities. At present, only about 16 coun-tries in the world are known to control the ac-tivities of those negotiating, arranging or oth-erwise facilitating arms transfers between buy-ers and sellers. Moreover, unscrupulous brokers have demonstrated their ability to circumvent existing controls by exploiting differences in national approaches, or by simply conducting their activities from another country with lax or no controls at all. This weak link in arms con-trol allows unscrupulous brokers to engage with impunity in undesirable or illicit activities such as arranging arms transfers to embargoed gov-ernments or non-state actors.
An important regional initiative to counter this phenomenon is the recently adopted EU Common Position on the Control of Arms Bro-kering. Under this instrument, EU member states have committed themselves to establish-ing a clear legal framework for brokering ac-tivities taking place within their territory. This means that over the coming months and years states member to the EU will join those seven EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Swe-den), which already have brokering controls in place. By creating common standards, the EU Common Position thus represents a significant step forward. However, there remain concerns that these standards still fall short of what is re-quired to effectively combat undesirable or il-licit brokering activities.
The first part of this report identifies key is-sues in this respect and suggests concrete meas-ures governments should consider when decid-ing on what controls they deem appropriate. Recommendations pertain to the establishment of controls on brokering-related activities such as arranging shipping or financial services and of controls on activities by brokers of EU na-tionality or residency when operating from abroad. Recommendations further address measures within the context of screening appli-cants for brokering licenses, of licensing bro-kering activities, of monitoring brokers’ activi-ties, and promoting further regional and interna-tional efforts to combat undesirable arms bro-kering. The second part of this report presents an overview of already existing or planned bro-kering controls in certain EU member states. The appendix to the report contains the EU Common Position on Arms Brokering.
The report concludes that despite the pro-gress presented by the EU Common Position, there are still shortcomings regarding the con-trols that would seem necessary for effectively combating unscrupulous brokers and their ac-tivities. Rather, what has emerged is an agree-ment on basic controls that governments may supplement and reinforce as they consider nec-essary. Where appropriate, governments of EU member states should therefore individually be encouraged to ensure that their national ap-proach fully addresses arms brokering. This would also facilitate possible future efforts on the level of the EU to further strengthen com-mon commitments. In turn, such further efforts to counter undesirable brokering will be re-quired to strengthen member states’ abilities to combat and prevent illicit arms transfers.