Dutch arms trade policies May 2009 – May 2010

Overviews and analyses of the Dutch arms export, defense industry and national arms export policy, written on behalf of the European Network Against Arms Trade meeting in Amsterdam May 2010

Also read the press release on major Dutch arms exports to conflict zones, authoritarian regimes in 2009

Over the past twelve months we have worked on many outreach activities, research projects and papers, of which the main ones are highlighted below.

Overview and summary of research reports:
Wapenwedloop in Zuid-Amerika [Arms race in South America], March 2010
This report appeared shortly after SIPRI presented their latest arms export information. With Chile as one of the top-customers of Dutch arms exports we put that in the wider perspective of an emerging arms race in the region.
Nederlandse patrouilleschepen voor Nigeriaans leger [Dutch patrol ships for the
Nigerian armed forces]
, February 2010 This factsheet deals with a recent sale that is said to be used for the protection of oil installations.
Marktplaats voor moordhandel. Militaire beurzen en de Nederlandse wapenlobby
[Market place for deadly trade. Military fairs and the Dutch arms lobby
], November 2009 This report provides a unique overview of Dutch arms fairs and conferences, as well as Dutch business participation in arms fairs abroad – with or without governmental support.
Potentially powerful – The European Defence Agency at five years, May 2009 This critical review of five years EDA was presented at a conference n globalisation and militarism at the University of Sussex. An Op-Ed was published by a number of EU news websites.
Analysis of Dutch arms export licences 2008 [appeared both in Dutch and English], November 2009 The Netherlands’ arms export figures reached record heights in 2008: 1,26 billion Euros. The value of Dutch arms exports has also increased in the longer term, from approximately 500 million Euros at the turn of the century to an average of over one billion Euros since 2003. All indications show that this high level will be maintained in the coming years. The single largest
2008 permit, worth 278 million Euros, was for the export of two corvettes, built by De Schelde, to Indonesia. Indonesia was the second largest arms export destination in 2008, at a total of 316 million Euros. This development partner of our government has been the fourth largest customer of the Dutch arms trade for the past decade, after the U.S., Germany and Greece, worth a total of 655 million Euros. Smaller in value but nevertheless significant is that despite the explosive situation in Pakistan, the country was allowed to purchase 4 million Euros worth
of Dutch equipment to give F-16 fighter planes a ‘midlife update’. In 2009, Pakistani F-16s bombed the Waziristan region in an attempt to gain control over the area, causing over 100,000 civilians to flee. The Netherlands is also a major transit hub for weapons. Remarkable weapons shipments via Schiphol airport and Rotterdam harbour included:
– On the eve of the war with Russia, 8.2 million firearm cartridges were flown from the U.S. to Georgia via Schiphol airport.
– A military helicopter and 20,000 guns were transported from Czech Republic over Dutch soil to Sri Lanka, which soon after launched a devastating attack against Tamil rebels.
– Hundreds of U.S. arms shipments from or on their way to Iraq or Afghanistan pass through Schiphol.

Apart from these reports, we contributed extensive arms industry research to two NGO campaigns on investments by banks and pension funds. The first evaluates banks on a number of ethical and environmental issues, including ‘controversial arms’ and is led by the Dutch branches of OXFAM, Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth, plus FNV, the largest Dutch trade union. Especially ING bank was targeted for their controversial businesses. The other campaign was the Cluster Munition Coalition led disinvestment campaign, specifically targeting financial institutions for their financial involvement in cluster munition producing
companies. Earlier this year we also wrote ten arms trade cases, mostly from a development point of view, for Oxfam GB. Part of these will be used for an upcoming international publication.

We have participated in a very high number of events over the past year both in the Netherlands and abroad, including a meeting of the War Resisters International in Ahmadabad, India; a press conference in Dublin for the NO campaign on the eve of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty; and the annual EU COARM-NGO meeting in Brussels. Three lectures were given at Dutch universities, as well as a number of contributions to local NGO network meetings, e.g. from the Women for Peace and the Humanist Peace Council. Last but not least, a lot of energy has been put in the organisation of this weekend. In 2009 we appeared in 44 press articles, eight radio and four TV programmes.