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The Government believes that support for human rights is wholly compatible with a responsible defence industry.
All arms export licences are examined rigorously on a case -by-case basis under the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria. These criteria reflect an EU Common Position and thus ensure consistency across the EU in the control of exports of t he military technology and equipment listed in the EU Common Military List.
All export licence applications are considered against the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the destination country, including a consideration of any serious violations of international humanitarian law . If we believe there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression, we will not issue a licence. We take account of the nature of the equipment, the record of the end user, and how similar equipment has been used in the past. We consult a number of other actors and sources of information, both inside and outside the Government, including reports from international and local NGOs and media reports, to reach a balanced view.
Once approved, export licences are kept under review and every licence is scrutinised in light of changing facts on the ground. We have a cross Whitehall mechanism in place to revoke licences swiftly if a significant change in prevailing conditions means that i t would be against the Criteria for the licence to remain in force. In 2010, the UK demonstrated that it continues to place human rights considerations at the heart of the export licensing process. Between 1 January and 30 September, 18 export licences w ere refused under Criterion 2, which prevents the export of equipment when there is a clear risk of its use for internal repression, either exclusively or jointly with another criterion. Case studies based on actual export licence applications are publish ed in the Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. These demonstrate how human rights, among other criteria, are factored into assessments and provide an
insight into how the Government assesses licence applications on a case -bycase basis. For example, an export licence for the supply of armoured vehicles to the Yemeni Ministry of Defence was considered early in 2010. Following reports in 2010 that violations of human rights had occurred in Yemen, and our concern that the items specified in the licenc e application might be used for internal repression (Criterion 2) or aggravate existing tensions in Yemen (Criterion 3), the licence was refused.
UK export controls also apply to small arms and light weapons, the use of which can destroy livelihoods, displace entire communities and hamper social and economic development.