An arms transfer cycle consists of three stages: authorization of the transfer, physical transfer and finally use of exported weapons including a possible re-transfer. Therefore, a complete and effective control mechanism should take into account these three phases.
Currently, in most transfers, no control is carried out after an export of military material. Many European States consider that their responsibility ends with a strong assessment of arms export’s risks at time of authorization. However, risks of diversion occur essentially during the second and third stages of the transfer.
Whereas one notes a worldwide increase in conventional weapons orders and that Europe plays an important role in these transfers, the EU members States must develop post-export control mechanisms in order to check the arrival at destination and the end-use of exported items in conformity with the declared use. Carrying out physical inspections in addition to the paperwork provided at the authorization stage, and monitoring the use when deemed necessary would allow cross-checking of information in order to prevent a possible diversion and act proactively when the latter occurs.
This report draws up already existing practices on arms transfers control in Belgium and in Europe, and in particular of post-export controls. It also sets out a number of steps that States could take to reinforce the current system and gives recommendations to better regulate the different stages of the arms transfer cycle.