Belgium may be a small country but it occupies an important place in the global arms trade. According to SIPRI, from 1998 to 2007, Belgium was twentieth in the list of top arms exporters. A handful of Belgian companies, like FN Herstal in Wallonia and Barco in Flanders, are currently world leaders in the market for certain types of arms and related technologies.
In parallel, however, Belgium has on several occasions in the past been a decisive pioneer in improving arms control and monitoring mechanisms. Belgium was the first country to recognise the binding nature of the EU code of conduct on arms exports by incorporating it into domestic legislation in 2003. Belgium also played a leading role in the adoption of the 1995 Ottawa treaty banning landmines, and more recently in the adoption of the 2008 Oslo treaty banning cluster bombs.
GRIP continually monitors Belgium’s policy on the manufacture, trade and ownership of arms, with particular involvement and paying particular attention to changes in Belgian legislation in these fields.
UN Photo / Paulo Filgueiras Belgium's Foreign Minister addresses Small Arms Review Conference Belgium's Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht addresses the Small Arms Review Conference. The Conference discusses the elimination of illegal small arms in order to save more lives, and will run from 26 June until 7 July 2006 at UN Headquarters in New York.
Wikimedia Commons Pistolet mitrailleur semi-automatique FN P90 produit par FN HERSTAL, aux mains d'un Garde national chypriote. Photo prise durant un défilé à Larnaca.
Weapons sales in 1993 - 2008
Reports from the Belgian federal government and the governments of the regions to their parliaments on application of the 5 August 1991 Law, amended by the 25 and 26 March 2003 Laws, on the import, export, transit and fight against the trafficking of weapons, munitions, material designed solely for military use or for maintaining order, and related technology.
Federal (SPF Economy)
Region of Wallonia
Region of Flanders
Region of Brussels-Capital
Until 2002, reports from the federal government covered total sales for Belgium. Since powers were devolved to the regions in 2003, SPF-Economy reports only cover sales for which the federal government retained responsibility (mainly related to the army).
Industry: master piece in the struggle against illegal trafficking of dual use items (Mehdi Mekdour)
The illegal exports of dual use items pose a major risk to the struggle against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Faced with this danger, public authorities have adopted new policies, progressively paying more attention to the role of exporting companies. In particular the latter are requested to become more aware of their duties in matter of illegal exports of dual use items. Their commitments take the shape of “internal compliance programmes” initiated by some companies. Belgian companies also need to comply with this new dynamic.
The arms trade treaty. Challenges for 2012 (Virginie Moreau)
Illegal trafficking and irresponsible arms transfers are a threat to peace and security. Their consequences are often measured in terms of human losses and development in many parts of the world. Yet so far there is still no international instrument to regulate the international transfers of conventional weapons.
Through combined efforts of civil society and some governments, the need to address this lack of global common standards has gradually become selfevident for States. In December 2006 the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to initiate a process in order to lead to the development of an international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Five years later, the process is close to be fulfilled. An international UN Conference will be held in July 2012 to negotiate and, in principle, adopt a Treaty.
This report provides an overview of this historical process and examines in particular the work of the Preparatory Committee of the international Conference, which met three times between July 2011 and July 2012. This report attempts to identify key issues for the final round of negotiations on an ATT in July 2012.