A strategy for human rights abusing countries

memo** UPDATED with 2014 data **

“You’re very naughty, and we’re worried”, says the Foreign Office.

“Here’s some high tech military stuff for you to use”, says the Department of Innovation, Business and Skills (BIS).

Every year the Foreign Office wags its finger at the world by drawing up a list of ‘countries of concern‘. The list includes those countries where human rights abuses are ‘severe’ or threaten UK interests or could have wider repercussions in the region.

Back home we have decided to abolish human rights, but the list is useful so that we can lecture others (selectively), topple governments, or train and arm militias who will topple governments on our behalf. Or, as the list-makers would put it, to ‘build democracy’ around the world.

Then every year, or several times a year, another wing of government reviews requests from companies which manufacture death machines and want to send their products off around the globe. You might have thought that death machines in countries of concern were not the most effective way to build democracy. That’s not the view of BIS.

Here’s the list of naughty countries round the world. The UK isn’t one of them, nor is the USA.

Countries of Concern

Afghanistan Belarus Burma Central African Republic
China Colombia Congo Cuba
Eritrea Iran Iraq Israel and the OPT
Libya North Korea Pakistan Russia
Saudi Arabia Somalia South Sudan Sri Lanka
Sudan Syria Turkmenistan Uzbekistan
Vietnam Yemen Zimbabwe

And now here’s the same list, red highlighted where BIS has thought them worthy of receiving weapons export licences1. The 7 which are listed at the end (in lighter red) are those that the Parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls believes should also be a ‘country of concern’.

Note that even the 5 – white shaded – countries which weren’t allocated military export licences in 2014 still received ‘dual-use’ licences. 

Countries of Concern: export licences

Afghanistan Belarus Burma Central African Republic
China Colombia Congo Cuba
Eritrea2 Iran Iraq Israel and the OPT  
Libya North Korea Pakistan Russia
Saudi Arabia Somalia South Sudan Sri Lanka
Sudan Syria Turkmenistan Uzbekistan
Vietnam Yemen Zimbabwe Argentina
Bahrain Egypt Hong Kong Qatar
Tunisia Ukraine

It’s as if the FO passed the list of naughty countries to the BIS, and the BIS decided they should try to make sure we were sending weapons to them all.

Notes:
1. Data from CAAT’s web application
2. Eritrea is the only red-shaded country which received a military export licence not in 2014, but in 2013

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