29 mandatory arms embargoes in place: SIPRI


There were 29 mandatory multilateral arms embargoes in force last year, directed at a total of 16 targets, including governments, non-governmental forces and a transnational network. The United Nations imposed 12 of these embargoes, the European Union (EU) imposed 16 and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed one.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its latest yearbook, released yesterday the UN Security Council imposed no new arms embargo in 2010, but it did widen its arms embargo on Iran. One UN arms embargo, on Sierra Leone, was lifted.

The demilitarisation thinktank says in a summary of the chapter ten of the 16 EU embargoes were straightforward implementations of UN arms embargoes. In addition, two EU arms embargoes differed from UN embargoes in their scope or coverage and four did not have UN counterparts. During 2010, the EU imposed one new embargo, implementing the UN embargo on Eritrea imposed in December 2009, and lifted its embargo on Sierra Leone, which had been an implementation of a UN embargo.

ECOWAS’s single embargo was the only other embargo imposed by a multilateral organisation during 2010, SIPRI said. Significant violations of the UN embargoes on Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, North Korea and Somalia were reported in 2010. The international debate and associated activity regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have moved on from the traditional focus on controlling exports to encompass a wider range of activities, including the control of transit, transshipment, financing and brokering.

This reflects the evolving nature of procurement for WMD programmes and the need to adopt new legal concepts and enforcement tools to counter the threat that a state or nonstate actor will obtain or develop WMD, SIPRI said. Accordingly, to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions and wider trade control norms, countries have started to enhance and expand domestic, regional and international capacity-building efforts and technical assistance. This applies in particular to Resolution 1540, which imposes binding obligations on all states to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery.

During 2010 the UN concluded a series of regional and sub-regional seminars to raise awareness and assist implementation. The EU responded to Resolution 1540’s requirements by adopting a revised regulation on dual-use items in 2009 which expands controls beyond exports to transit and brokering. In 2010 the EU began to broaden the geographic and thematic scope of its non-proliferation cooperation. Complementing the enhanced international cooperation are coercive measures designed to change the behaviours of states and non-state actors that are widely considered to pose threats to international security.

These include UN sanctions that seek to counter proliferation finance and interdict the movements of proliferation-related items. In the case of proliferation finance, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has proved itself to be a relatively effective vehicle for exploring the issue and developing
guidance on implementing countermeasures, SIPRI said.

Multilateral arms embargoes in force during 2010:

Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated individuals and entities

United Nations arms embargoes

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (NGF)
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Eritrea
  • Iran
  • Iraq (NGF)
  • North Korea
  • Lebanon (NGF)
  • Liberia (NGF)
  • Sierra Leone (NGF)
  • Somalia
  • Sudan (Darfur)
  • Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated individuals and entities*
  • China
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (NGF)*
  • Côte d’Ivoire*
  • Eritrea*
  • Guinea
  • Iran
  • Iraq (NGF)*
  • North Korea*
  • Lebanon (NGF)*
  • Liberia (NGF)*
  • Myanmar
  • Sierra Leone (NGF)*
  • Somalia (NGF)*
  • Sudan
  • Zimbabwe

ECOWAS arms embargoes

  • Guinea

NGF = non-governmental forces.
* = These 10 EU embargoes are implementations of UN embargoes. The other EU embargoes either
differ from equivalent UN embargoes or have no UN counterpart.