Questionable arms exports up

Canadian arms exports to countries in conflict or known for human violations are on the increase, an analysis by the Canadian Press shows (Mike Blanchfield, “Canada exporting arms to countries with dicey human rights records,” Canadian Press, 8 December 2013):

Bahrain, Algeria and Iraq, countries with dubious human rights records or a history of violent internal conflict, have recently become new buyers of Canadian-made guns and ammunition, an analysis of federal government data shows.

The analysis by The Canadian Press found that Canadian exports to those countries swelled by 100 per cent from 2011 to 2012, the most recent figures publicly available.

During the same time period, exports of Canadian weapons also increased to Pakistan (98 per cent), Mexico (93 per cent) and Egypt (83 per cent), where, respectively, al-Qaeda terrorists, a deadly government war on drug cartels and seismic political upheaval have sparked violence.

Though Canada’s arms trade is legal and regulated, analysts say the increases raise questions about the government’s foreign policy commitment to human rights, and its regulatory regime for arms exports.

“Diversification is a principle of business in this globalized economy. As we see western militaries decrease their defence budgets, military industries will be looking for new markets,” said Walter Dorn, the chair of international affairs studies at the Canadian Forces College.

“The danger is that the almighty dollar may become the predominant motivator in trade deals and therefore weapons are more easily shipped.”

The analysis examined 10 years of Industry Canada data on a class of exports that is made up of military weapons, guns and ammunition, along with howitzers, mortars, flame throwers, grenades and torpedoes. It does not include other big military equipment such as vehicles, aircraft and other advanced technology, which balloons Canada’s overall arms trade into the billions of dollars.

Photo credit: DND

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