US arms sales to get HR review under Biden

DM Monitoring

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden’s administration unveiled on Thursday a long-awaited overhaul of arms export policy with increased emphasis on human rights, backing off a Trump-era policy of giving more weight to commercial concerns.
The new Commercial Arms Transfer (CAT) policy covers a review of security assistance, government-to-government weapons transfers, and licensed commercial sales of US-origin military equipment and services overseen by the State Department as well as the Defence and Commerce departments, including firearms commonly available in the United States.
Defence companies and activists scrutinise such policies for insight into the administration’s posture as it balances the commercial interests of exporters like Lockheed Martin Co and Raytheon Technologies against the country’s stated commitment to human rights.
One change is how the CAT policy addresses the possibility that arms from the United States could be used for major human rights violations, State Department officials said.

Under the new policy, a weapons transfer will not be approved if the State Department assesses the arms “more like-ly than not” will be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, breaches of the Geneva conven-tions, or serious violations of international law.

Previous CAT policy had said such transfers would not be authorised only when Washington had “actual knowledge” that the arms would be used in such actions.

“We are looking at a policy of prevention when there is a risk of violation of human rights,” one official said. The policy also allows deals to be canceled if rights violations are documented after they are announced. The officials declined to specify countries or past deals that the new policy might affect.