This database evaluates the correspondence of over 170 countries altogether to eight criteria, which are based on those spelled out in the EU Common Position for Arms Exports. For each criterion, a country is classified as either “not critical”, “possibly critical” or “critical” with each classification indicating the respective degree of correspondence. By clicking on the criterion in the diagram you can view the different indicators, which were used to arrive at the final evaluation. An overview of the formulas employed for each criteria can be downloaded as a PDF document here.

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The EU Common Position for Arms Exports criteria are the following:

1. Respect for the international obligations and commitments of EU member states, in particular the sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council or the European Union, agreements on non-proliferation and other subjects, as well as other international obligations.

The first criterion refers to the international obligations of EU member states to enforce possible sanctions, particularly arms embargoes, of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the EU against the recipient of arms exports, be it a state or non-state actor. Furthermore, member states are urged to respect their commitments under formal agreements on arms export control, such as the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, as well as informal arrangements, such as the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

2. Respect for human rights in the country of final destination as well as respect by that country for international humanitarian law.

The second criterion requires member states to consider whether the military equipment to be exported might be used for human rights violations, for example the internal repression of popular opposition, or for serious violations of international humanitarian law. The User’s Guide to the EU Common Position spells out a list of indicators, which should be taken into account when assessing a country’s respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. These include, amongst others, the recipient’s ratification and “implementation record of relevant international and regional human rights instruments through national policy and practice” as well as “the political will to discuss domestic human rights abuses in a transparent manner”

3. Internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts.

The third criterion urges member states to restrict the export of military equipment if there is a danger that such material might provoke, prolong, aggravate or even escalate internal dynamics of violent conflict within the recipient country. The User’s Guide encourages a rather broad understanding of ‘armed conflict’, since it is defined as the use of arms between any two or more groups of individuals “based either on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, interpretation of historic events, differences in economic well-being or ownership of property, sexual orientation or other factors” (User’s Guide).

4. Preservation of regional peace, security and stability.

Whereas the third criterion refers to the possible use of exported military equipment in internal violent conflict, the fourth criterion seeks to restrict arms transfers “if there is a clear risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country” (User’s Guide) Importantly, however, this criterion does not intend to deny the export of arms for the purpose of self-defense on behalf of the recipient.

5. National security of the member states and of territories whose external relations are the responsibility of a Member State, as well as that of friendly and allied countries.

The fifth criterion aims at preventing arms exports that would adversely affect the national security of any EU Member State, ally, or friendly country. For example, it needs to be asked whether there is a risk that the arms export under consideration will be “diverted to a force or body which is hostile to the interests or forces of a Member State, friend or ally” (User’s Guide).

6. Behaviour of the recipient country with regard to the international community, as regards in particular its attitude to terrorism, the nature of its alliances and respect for international law.

Criterion six differs from criteria 2, 3, 4 and 5 to the extent that it does not focus on the specific nature of either the end-user or the equipment to be exported. Instead, it considers the more general attitude of the buyer country with regard to certain issues of international concern. As the User’s Guide points out: “In assessing whether an arms export license should be granted or not, Member States should consider the current and past record of the recipient country with regard to its attitude to terrorism and international organized crime, the nature of its alliances, its respect for international commitments and law, concerning in particular the non-use of force, International Humanitarian Law and WMD non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.”

7. Existence of a risk that the military technology or equipment will be diverted within the recipient country or re-exported under undesirable conditions.

The seventh criterion seeks to restrict arms exports if there is a considerable risk that the equipment might be diverted to a third-party recipient, either within or outside of the buyer country. In order to assess such risks it is, for example, necessary to review the capability of the recipient country to exert effective export controls, as well as its active membership in regional and international control regimes.

8. Compatibility of the exports of military technology or equipment with the technical and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should meet their legitimate security and defense needs with the least diversion for of human and economic resources for armaments.

Criterion eight refers to the risk of the proposed arms export negatively affecting sustainable development in the recipient country. It thus particularly applies to arms purchases of governments in developing countries. The User’s Guide specifies a number of questions, which might be posed in this regard. For example: is the military expenditure in the buyer country in line with its Poverty Reduction Strategy? Has military expenditure been increasing? How transparent is it? What is the recipient country’s level of military expenditure relative to its expenditure on health and education?