Arms transfers to Israel in violation with policy

Military trade Philips irresponsible business behaviour

Press Release

April 1, 2004

Campagne tegen Wapenhandel
(Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade)

Electronics multinational Philips likes to be known for its ethical and sustainable business behaviour. Research by the Campagne tegen Wapenhandel ( reveals though that Philips does not care about arms trade to Israel. At its website the company says that it sells parts of the F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache attack helicopter to NATO countries and Israel.1) The deliveries stem from Philips involvement in so-called offset agreements.

Especially Apaches are frequently used by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) for attacks on Palestinian targets and alleged terrorists. Attacks that often cause many civilian casualties. Last week religious leader Sheik Yassin was also assassinated by a Hellfire missile fired from an Apache.2) Exporting components for such weapon systems to Israel is more than cynical for a company that claims to attach high value to ethical business principles.3)

Arms exports to Israel violate government policies. Former Foreign Affairs minister De Hoop Scheffer said in November 2003 that the Netherlands does not allow transfers of military goods to Israel. Most offsets related exports go first to their main contractor in the United States, where assembly takes place. De Hoop Scheffer claimed that in many cases the final destination of such exports was not known in advance and the Dutch would therefore follow US arms export policies in those cases.4) To give an idea: in the year 2001 exports of components for the Apache attack helicopter were altogether worth 87 million euro, in almost all cases their formal destination was the US, while it is clear that these components are also used for third countries. As long as Dutch companies claim that they don’t know in advance what final destination their US bound exports have, the government routinely issues an export licence. Philips’ openness on its deliveries to the Israel show that companies mostly do know for which country they produce their F-16 or Apache parts.

With its export policy the Netherlands severely violates European and Dutch guidelines for arms transfers. The EU Code of Conduct stays that member states should not issues licences in certain situations, like armed conflict and internal repression (see below). That Apache exports to Israel should not be allowed is without doubt.

Campagne tegen Wapenhandel therefore calls for an end to these arms transfers.

  • We urge Philips to stop exporting parts of weapon systems that are used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, either through direct deliveries or via the US.
  • We call for a standard end-user certificate for offsets-related exports to the US, to enable proper controls following EU arms export criteria.
  • We ask shareholders of Philips to demand a true ethical business policy.
  • We urge consumers to protest against Philips’ involvement in military production of arms that are used for human rights violations and extra-juridical assassinations.

    For more information, you can contact Martin Broek, telephone: + 31 (0)6 29146084

  4. Compensatieleveringen Nederland VS 2001.html
  5. AO201103.pdf

Relevant criteria of the EU Code of Conduct on arms exports:

  • Member States will not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression (criterium 2a);
  • Member States will not allow exports which would provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions orconflicts in the country of final destination. (crit. 3);
  • Member States will not issue an export licence if there is a clear risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country or to assert by force a territorial claim. EU Member States will also take into account, inter alia, whether the equipment would be likely to be used other than for the legitimate national securityand defence of the recipient; and the need not to affect adversely regional stability in any significant way (crit. 4);
  • Member States will take into account inter alia the record of the buyer country with regard to its compliance with its international commitments, in particular on the non-use of force, including under international humanitarian law applicable to international and non-international conflicts; and its commitment to non-proliferation and other areas of arms control and disarmament, in particular the signature, ratification and implementation of relevant arms control and disarmament conventions (crit. 6).