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TitleDeveloping a Mechanism to Prevent Illicit Brokering in Small Arms and Light Weapons
LanguageEnglish
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UNIDIR/2006/23

Developing a Mechanism
to Prevent Illicit Brokering

in Small Arms and Light Weapons

Scope and Implications

UNIDIR
United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

Geneva, Switzerland

New York and Geneva, 2006

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2. the delivery of military goods poses any threat to peace or may
otherwise cause destabilisation in the region;

3. the country of final destination supports, facilitates or encourages
terrorism or international crime;

4. military goods may be used for any other purpose than to satisfy
justified requirements of defence and security in the country of
destination.49

The internal system of control is also intended to “define tasks of individual
authorities in the organization, job descriptions as regards basic tasks related
to control and management of trade, framework of co-operation between
the natural or legal person and state administration in this area, as well as
rules and procedures of employee recruitment, data archiving, internal
controls, and completion of orders”.50

While the majority of national systems apply to nationals and permanent
residents, in a few cases the provisions controlling brokering activities also
apply to foreigners and temporary residents. In Switzerland, for example,
anyone that wishes to broker from Swiss territory weapons destined to a
foreign state, and that does not possess any production premises in
Switzerland, needs authorization from the relevant Swiss governmental
agency, regardless of the broker’s nationality or country of residence.51

However, Swiss officials suggested that the practical implementation of such
controls on foreign persons may be challenging because they are difficult to
monitor.52 Indeed, in the period between 1998 and 2004, no foreign
company or individual operating in Switzerland applied for a brokering
license even if, as acknowledged by these officials, such activities “probably
took place”.53 In addition, because the Swiss system does not extend to
activities conducted by nationals and residents abroad, it leaves open an
easily exploitable loophole.

Similarly, Estonian controls apply to the provision of services, including
brokering, “from Estonia to a foreign country or to a foreign recipient of
services regardless of the residence of the service provider who is a natural
person or seat of the service provider who is a legal person [emphasis added]
or through the business activity of an Estonian service provider in a foreign
country.”54

In terms of the license application process, state laws or regulations usually
specify the types of documents that must be submitted along with the

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application. At a minimum, such documents are intended to prove the
nature and establishment of the applying person, as well as to specify the
type and quantity of the military and security items or weapons of the
intended brokerage deal. A few national systems also require
documentation attesting the end-use or end-user of the intended deal,
through the submission of an end-use(r) certificate, import certificate or
equivalent. For example, agents applying for an individual brokering license
in the Czech Republic must submit, in addition to details on the applicant’s
business and of the weapons to be transferred, “the name of the state from
which the military equipment is to be imported or to which it is to be
exported, or with which the military equipment abroad is to be handled,
even if it is not transported via the Czech Republic”.55 Information must
also be submitted concerning the purpose of the transfer, as well as the
name and place of the end-user. The application must be supported by the
following documents:

• a draft contract or a signed contract with a precise specification of
the military equipment and its amount;

• a document on its final use; [and]
• at the Ministry’s request [any] other documents enabling a proper

assessment of the case … .56

In Latvia, the transit of weapons is subject to a license by the Control
Committee of Strategic Goods, even when conducted wholly outside
Latvian territory (which effectively covers third-country brokering
activities).57 In order to apply for a transit license, individuals or companies
must submit, together with the application, a description of the transited
goods, a copy of the contract, as well as an import certificate or equivalent
document issued by the country of destination or the confirmation of the
final use of the relevant goods.58

The decision-making process

Within each country, one state agency is usually the main organ responsible
for examining brokering license applications and granting (or refusing) the
related authorizations. Existing agencies in this respect are located in a
variety of national ministries, typically the ministries of foreign affairs,
economy or trade. It is, however, common for these agencies to consult
with other government ministries or departments before a decision is taken
on a license application. In these cases, in other words, decisions are taken

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ACRONYMS

ANC Armée nationale congolaise
APEC Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
AUC Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defence

Forces of Colombia)
CARICOM Caribbean Community
CASA United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms
CDIU Dutch Central Department for Import and Export Licenses
CICAD Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission
CPA US Coalition Provisional Authority
DDA United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs
DoD US Department of Defense
DRC The Democratic Republic of the Congo
DVC delivery verification certificate
EAW European Arrest Warrant
ECOWAS Economic Community of West African States
EU European Union
EUC end-user/end-use certificate
FIOD-ECD Dutch Fiscal and Economic Investigation Services
GGE Group of Governmental Experts
GRIP Groupe de recherche et d’information sur la paix et la

sécurité
IATA International Air Transport Association
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
ICC International Criminal Court
IIC international import certificate
Interpol International Criminal Police Organization
LURD Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy
MANPADS man-portable air defence system
MEICO Military Export Import Company of Albania
MERCOSUR Southern Common Market
MIBA Société Minière de Bakwanga
OAS Organization of American States
OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
OSI Open Society Initiative

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OTC Oriental Timber Company
PoA Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the

Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its
Aspects

RCD Rally for Congolese Democracy
RECSA Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons
RUF Revolutionary United Front
SADC Southern African Development Community
SALW small arms and light weapons
SEESAC South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the

Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons
UN United Nations
UNICOI United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on arms

flows to the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide
UNIDIR United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
UNITA União Nacional Para a Independência Total de Angola

(National Union for the Total Independence of Angola)
WCO World Customs Organization

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