Germany violated arms export regulations for decades

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Publish Date : 07/28/2020 19:05
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Germany has authorized and exported weapons and military equipment to be used in countries with human rights violations and ravaged by war. Wars, including the Yemen conflict, have been "fought with German weapons."

EU requires sales to consider human rights and peacekeeping. But German weapons end up in war zones. Germany has systematically violated arms export regulations for 30 years. According to the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Germany licenses and exports weapons of war and armaments to countries affected by war and crisis, to countries with human rights violations and to regions of tension.

Researchers have examined the consistency of German arms export policy since 1990, and the extent to which it meets the European Union’s 8 criteria for approving this type of transaction. These include “Respect for human rights and international humanitarian laws by the country of final destination”, e “Maintaining peace, security and stability in a region” –Topics that Germany has “Repeatedly violated”.

"German weapons are systematically appearing in war zones and in the hands of dictators," Greenpeace disarmament expert Alexander Lurz told French news agency AFP. "We urgently need a strict arms export law that prohibits exports to developing countries and puts an end to this deliberate, systematic undermining of export guidelines."

Between the “Wars fought with German weapons and serious human rights violations”, the report cites the 2014 student protests in Mexico, in which the police violently attacked and targeted protesters with G-36 assault rifles by the German company Heckler & Koch.

The study also said German-made weapons are being used in the war in Yemen. Only since 2019, Germany's government has approved arms exports worth over €1 billion to members of the Saudi-led coalition. "Germany's arms exports are driven largely by economic considerations and are not at all selective." Said Marius Bales, an arms expert with the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). Moreover, despite supporting an embargo, Germany has exported €330 million in weapons to countries involved in the war in Libya.


PRIF also said old stocks of the Bundeswehr armed forces and the former East Germany's National People's Army were partly transferred to countries that are neither EU nor NATO members. Since 1990, weapon exports to developing countries have been approved on a large scale.

The authors called for a legally binding and standardized arms export control law, "which must then also be legally enforced so that German arms exports do not end up in problematic developing countries." PRIF — one of Germany's largest peace research institutes — aims to analyze the causes of violent conflict around the world and share recommendations with policymakers. Declining to elaborate further on the study, a ministry of economics spokesman told AFP: "The federal government pursues a restrictive and responsible arms export policy."


"About half a million people are killed every year by firearms, and millions more are trapped in brutal conflicts fueled by reckless arms sales," said James Lynch, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International.  According to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Germany was the fourth arms exporter in the world during 2015 – 2019. The most important thing is to ask is where the war weapons go, and to which countries. "These sizable figures show that the entire export control system is simply not working," said Sevim Dagdelen, left party Bundestag member.




“ Germany violated arms export regulations for decades ”