Major Dutch arms exports to conflict zones, authoritarian regimes

Amsterdam, 20 February 2009

The Netherlands remains one the world’s leading arms exporting countries and continues to sell to conflict areas and undemocratic regimes. In 2007, major export licenses were granted for destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, Oman and Pakistan. As a transport hub, the Netherlands is also playing an important role in the transit of arms to countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Indonesia and Israel, according to the “Analysis of Dutch arms export licenses 2007” of the the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade that is published in an English translation today.
Compared to many other countries, the Dutch government has a highly transparent way of reporting on Dutch military exports, although important improvements can still be made. The “Analysis of Dutch arms Export licenses 2007” surveys the most significant transfers based on rough data of export- and transit licences for so-called strategic goods as published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Dutch parliament.
Apart from a very large order from the navy of Oman, the Dutch defence industry has  also received a remarkable order from Pakistan for night vision equipment worth 20 million Euro. In the light of the war in Afghanistan in which Dutch troops participate, the Dutch government considers highly volatile Pakistan an acceptable arms export destination. At the same time, an equally large amount of military equipment has been sold to archrival India.
A large section of the ‘Analysis’ is dedicated to the importance of transit of arms through the Netherlands. When sent from EU or NATO countries there is hardly any control, although many allied countries maintain very different arms export standards in comparison with the Netherlands.
A remarkable sector of arms transit, namely logistical support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are responsible for the rise in transit notifications. Apparently, the American military is increasingly using private carriers, including Dutch companies.