Air cargo companies dirty: SIPRI


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says some air cargo companies that deliver humanitarian aid are also delivering illicit weapons.

In a media statement released this morning, the respected industry watchdog adds air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilising arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations.

In a report, due for release today, SIPRI charges that 90% of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used by major UN agencies, EU and NATO member states, defence contractors and some of the world‘s leading NGOs to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment.

In some cases, air cargo companies are delivering both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones. (A pre-publication version of SIPRI policy paper 24, “Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows” can be downloaded here.)

SIPRI adds that the report shows how air cargo carriers involved in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations have also transported a range of other conflict-sensitive goods such as cocaine, diamonds, coltan and other precious minerals.

The report also outlines some EU-centred solutions which can change the behaviour of some companies and put others out of business. According to Hugh Griffiths, one of the report‘s co-authors, “the problems have been recognised by the EU, now it is a question of selecting from the available options and coming together as a community with coordinated measures.”

The report presents a range of inexpensive options which could be adopted to tackle the problems:

·         UN agencies, governments, defence contractors and NGOs could make humanitarian aid and peacekeeping contracts conditional by requiring air cargo carriers to adhere to an ethical transportation code of conduct.

·         The EU could utilise its existing air safety regulations to put companies involved in arms trafficking or destabilising commodity flows out of business.

·         The EU could provide specialised training for its civilian and military peacekeepers to better identify suspect air cargo carriers operating in Africa and Eastern Europe.

“A coordinated response by the EU and the humanitarian aid community could require companies to choose between transporting arms or aid to conflict zones while air safety enforcement could put hard core arms dealers out of business,` says Mark Bromley, the report`s other co-author.