The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has launched a new information system to prevent arms and drug traffickers from accessing significant humanitarian aid and peacekeeping funds.
The pioneering information portal, EthicalCargo.org provides the humanitarian aid and peacekeeping communities with the world’s first internet clearing house dedicated to transforming the way air cargo and maritime companies behave in conflict zones. It will also profile fragile states where trade in weapons, narcotics and illicit precious minerals is a deadly and highly profitable business.
SIPRI observes United Nations agencies, European Union and NATO member states, defence contractors and leading humanitarian NGOs have all widely used companies involved in destabilising commodity transfers such as weapons, narcotics or other conflict-sensitive goods to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and other equipment.
An earlier report by SIPRI shows that more than 90% of the air cargo carriers identified in arms trafficking-related reports between 2004 and 2009 had also been used for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations. In some cases, air cargo companies delivered both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones.
To reduce this problem EthicalCargo.org provides a “one stop shop” for the humanitarian and peacekeeping communities with an emergency 24 hour hotline, a database, model codes of conduct, best practices and contract negotiation techniques. SIPRI says EthicalCargo.org uses an alert system to highlight other dangers which pose a threat such as poor air safety records. The latter have resulted in frequent crashes of aircraft involved in arms trafficking or international aid and peacekeeping missions.
“Many of the problems associated with arms and narcotics traffickers’ involvement in humanitarian aid and peace-keeping logistics has been due to a lack of awareness,” says SIPRI’s Hugh Griffiths. “This will stop if the humanitarian aid and peacekeeping communities come together to adopt conflict sensitive logistics programmes and insist on higher standards from air transport providers during contact negotiations. The significant sums of money available for such contracts will encourage companies to adopt effective ethical transportation policies in order to increase their market share.
“We have to recognize that the delivery of humanitarian aid in conflict zones is difficult at the best of times,” adds Griffiths. “EthicalCargo.org does not recommend banning companies, the emphasis here is on promoting an awareness of the risks and on transforming company behaviour through adherence to existing UN, EU and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines, criteria and best practices.”
* EthicalCargo.org is a dedicated web-based information clearinghouse administered by SIPRI through funds provided by the Swedish International Development & Cooperation Agency (SIDA) with the support of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. EthicalCargo.org is part of SIPRI’s Countering Illicit Trafficking – Mechanism Assessment Project (CIT-MAP). CIT-MAP focuses on non-state actors and transport networks associated with destabilizing commodity flows that may negatively impact on global peace and security. For access the dedicated information portal at www.ethicalcargo.org, contact [email protected]