Dr. Angelika Brinkmann and Edelgard Bulmahn
We are experiencing the transformation of the post-war confrontation between
East and West into structures of cooperation but also of newly growing conflicts.
Thus, the problem of arms transfer has increasingly received the global attention
that it deserves, both politically and publicly.
Related to the question of the UN Register, officially titled 'UN Register of Conventional Arms', is the problem of transparency in arms transfer. For many years the UN solely dealt with nuclear disarmament. It was only in 1985 that the General Assembly decided by consensus to include 'Conventional Disarmament' in its agenda. In order to discuss the problems related to the register a short paragraph on the issue of transparency of arms transfer will follow.
Over the last 20 years, efforts to build confidence through concrete and militarily significant measures have played an important and constructive role in the development of the situation in Europe. Starting from that principle, negotiated cooperation should become the key for efforts to reduce mistrust and miscalculation especially in the field of arms transfers of military production and it should help to distinguish action which is permitted from action which is illegal and therefore needs to be curtailed; most important, it should underline the readiness of participants to accept a common interest in, and enhance the perception of a common responsibility for creating security and stability. Undoubtedly, to achieve this kind of transparency in the field of arms transfers is a difficult, extremely complex task: it will have to aspire to global validity, covering producers and buyers alike; should not in itself produce dramatic results, but nonetheless assist self-restraint and make more far-reaching and amibitious negotiations and constraints possible. It should be able to partially cover illegal trade which needs to be banned.
The quantitative dimensions of transfers of conventional and other armaments worry the international community. Arms transfer mostly introduce an element of destabilization into international relations which adds to an ongoing arms race in the Third World. This is even more important because arms transfers are mostly handled under secretive circumstances. There are two different types of transfers: those which happen with public knowledge among allies or quasi-allied countries and the rest which escape public knowledge and are a cause of concern because they reflect, one way or another, on the maintenance of peace.
Arms transfer regulations will have to deal with delicate aspects of sovereignty arising from its connection with foreign policy, that is, defense matters. The right to provide for one's own security without foreign interference is carefully guarded by each state. It seems difficult to convince members of an organization based on the sovereignty and equality of States that some kind of agreed international regulation in this and other fields is the best way to safeguard true sovereignty on a global basis. The overall goal of course should be to create a general atmosphere of confidence among nations. In most cases, a certain amount of dependency is a consequence for the recipient country of an arms transfer relationship. Interestingly enough, these countries seem to consider that dependency resulting from their sovereign decision is acceptable, while they are reluctant to accept dependency resulting from a general system of restriction and control.
In the United Nations, the problem of arms transfers has mostly been dealt within the framework of the general problem of disarmament and is closely connected with its other, more difficult aspects. Until recently, the international situation has not been very favourable for consistent progress in the field of conventional armaments. There is of course a connection between arms transfers and arms production; an attempt to provide a solution for the problem of arms transfer has to take into account the economic-industrial component. If we are talking about transparency, it should be decided what should be made transparent. The optimum would be a broad definition including technology transfers and services. A framework for such an agreement should encompass regulations for the practical implementation of transparency measures. These measures need not become an obstacle to an agreement, even without a limited definition of 'transparency'.
If one looks at 'illicit' or 'illegal' transfers it is very difficult to assess properly what is permitted and for whom. Both those definitions would not be of much help because several states have internal regulations governing arms movements, and transfers violating them are illegal in the internal jurisdiction of those states. They can be and often are brought before the courts. On the other hand, very few similar rules exist in international law. This makes it especially difficult to control the black or grey arms market which is so destablizing.
The impact of arms transfers is particularly serious. One always has to distinguish between the trade between industrialized countries, which is also part of the talk of general disarmament, and those transfers which take place between the industrialized producer and the (mostly) Third World recipient which belong more in the general arena of global security. Arms transfers play an important role as an instrument of foreign and security policy and are a highly important political issue for both suppliers and recipients.
All significant suppliers have a policy on arms transfers or some kind of regulative procedure. Most of them have regulations, because at one point a government may have to justify certain actions before parliamentary bodies. Regarding the foreign policy aspect, arms transfers need to be co-ordinated to the general interest of the supplier and possibly his allies; also there may be an interest in supporting arms control objectives through export policies which restrain arms transfers or prevent transfers that could disturb stability and peace in certain zones or regions. Equally important are economic considerations: the national economy will benefit from arms transfers, that is, have a more positive balance of payments and maybe even lower rates of unemployment. Some side benefits may include lower military R&D expenditures. A great part of arms transfers – at least the ones known to the public – is accompanied by grant transfers, that is, it is subsidized by the supplier.
For some supplier states arms exports are an integral part of foreign policy and the economic benefits are relevant but not so great compared to the political objectives aimed at through arms transfers. Sometimes arms transfers can foster the military capabilities of allied states and strengthen their ability to pursue certain, common political, military and security objectives.With regard to an armed conflict, arms transfers may be regarded as a politically less costly alternative to direct involvement.
For the receiving country the overall interest lies in its sovereignty, national security and autonomy, since these are its basic political concerns. A possible recipient may not always find himself on the receiving end of a deal (for example, the failed trade between Germany and Taiwan of two submarines; Germany cancelled the deal fearing complications in its relations with China. One may wonder what would have happened had Taiwan ordered 10 instead of 2 subs). There will be more focus on a recipient if the arms he purchased are actually used in a military conflict. Here, a prime example is the Falklands war where France had been a supplier to Argentina and then had to help its NATO partner, the United Kingdom to handle some of the French weaponry.
1. Battle tanks. A tracked or wheeled self-propelled armoured fighting vehicle with high cross-country mobility and a high level of self protection, weighing at least 16.5 tonnes unladen, with a high muzzle-velocity direct-fire main gun of at least 75 millimetres calibre.
2.Armoured combat vehicles. A tracked or self-propelled vehicle, with armoured protection and cross-country capability, either a) designed and equipped to transport a squad of four or more infantrymen or b) armed with an integral or organic weapon of at least 20mm calibre or anti-tank missile launcher.
3.Large-calibreartillery system. A gun/howitzer artillery piece combining
the characteristics of a gun and a howitzer, mortar or multiple-launch rocket
system, capable of engaging surface targets by delivering primarily indirect
fire with a calibre of 100mm and above.
4.Combat aircraft. A fixed-wing or variable geometry aircraft armed and equipped to engage targets by employing guided missiles, unguided rockets, bombs, guns, cannons, or other weapons of destruction.
5.Attack helicopters. A rotary-wing aircraft equipped to employ anti-armour, air-to-ground, or air-to-air guided weapons and equipped with an integrated fire control and aiming system for these weapons.
6.Warships.A vessel or a submarine with a standard displacement of 850 tonnes or above, armed or equipped for military use.
7.Missile or missile system. A guided rocket, ballistic or cruise missile capable of delivering a payload to a range of at least 25km, or a vehicle apparatus or device designed or modified for launching such munitions.
The conventional arms register was established effectively by 1 January, 1992 and will be kept at the New York Headquarters. Each member state is requested to provide data on an annual basis by 30th April each year with regard to import into and export from their territory in the previous calendar year. Arms exports and imports means, in the present formulation, all forms of arms transfers in terms of grant, credit, barter or cash. The first registration has to take place by 30 April, 1993.
Thus far information has been received from the following 23 countries:
Australia. In 1991 Australia did not import any weapon systems in the categories specified in the Register. One guided missile frigate, HMAS Melbourne, was commissioned during 1991.
Belgium. Regarding the control of final destination Belgium states that an Interministerial Economic Commission keeps a list of the arms and munitions which require a licence for their export and transit. The list encompasses four categories: hunting and sporting weapons, defensive weapons, weapons of war, explosives and toxicological substances for military use. The list contains four different categories of countries: members of the Atlantic Alliance, countries accorded the same treatment, those under a multilateral or unilateral embargo, and those with which Belgium does not have diplomatic relations.
Brazil. Controlled products fall under three separate categories.The first category deals with manufacture, trade, industrial application and transport. Import and export licences must be issued for these products. These are: all firearms, including spare parts and accessories; all ammunition used in firearms; all explosives and accessories, and gunpowder; missile and rocket propellants; missile and rockets, including spare parts and components; artillery ammunition, including parts and components; chemical warefare agents; chemical precursors essential to the manufacture of chemical warfare agents; armoured and combat vehicles; miscellaneous articles with military applications. Chemical products occasionally used in industry but not deemed essential to the manufacture of chemical warfare agents or explosives fall into the second category. Products in this category are subject to the same type of control as those of the first with the exception of import of export controls. The third category contains chemical products with broad industrial application not deemed essential to the manufacture of chemical warefare agents of explosives; they are subject only to manufacturing controls. There are export controls regarding the company, the inspection of the manufacturer, transportation of the product to the point of shipment and shipment of the product. The issuance of export licences is made conditional on clearance by the government authorities of the export agent, the final user and the type and quantity of the merchandise. The issuance of import licences is made conditional on clearance by the government of the import agent, origin of the product quantity and end-use of the product.
Bulgaria. The Government has undertaken steps with regard to its export control policy, concerning transfers of nuclear-related dual-use material, equipment and related technology, as well as in relation to the export of nuclear material and certain categories of equipment and other material, as provided for in the IAEA regulations. The specifics of the regulations are as follows: general provisions; general trading licences; specific transactions licences; import and export controls; denial or revocation of licences; submission of information; verification by competent authorities; transitional and final clauses. These regulations refer to the following categories of armaments and technologies: armaments, military technics and ammunition; military technical equipment and spare parts; servicing of military equipment and products; materials, components, kits and equipment for manufacturing of military and special products; transfer of defence production technology; explosives, arms and ammunition controlled by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (that is, hunting arms and other small armaments, and their respective ammunition).
Canada. Canada controls the export of military items to: countries that pose a threat to Canada and its allies; countries involved in or under imminent threat of hostilities; countries unde nuclear United Nations Security Council sanctions. Canada controls exports and imports with the help of the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA). The main features of EIPA are as follows: an export control list (ECL) which lists controlled goods and technologies subject to export permits, and an area control list (ACL). Those listed are: Croatia, Haiti, Libya, South Africa, and Yugoslavia. The ECL divides into eight groups of goods and technologies. Those goods and /or technologies are subject to export permits for all countries, except in most cases where the final destination are the United States; the exception being goods in categories 3 and 5 which have to have a permit including the USA. The groups are: 1) Industrial List (COCOM); 2) Munitions List (COCOM); 3) Atomic Energy List (COCOM); 4) Nuclear Non-Proliferation List (Zangger and Nuclear Suppliers Group); 5) Miscellaneous (non-strategic goods); 6) Missile Technology Control Regime; 7) Chemical and Biological Weapons NonProliferation (Australia Group); 8) Chemicals for the production of illicit drugs (Chemical Action Task Force).
Chad. In May 1992 the Chadian government provided the following
information. The Chadian defence forces do not have any weapons whose use
of which in war is prohibited, nor do they have asphyxiating, toxic or gases,
or bacteriological methods of warfare prohibited by international conventions
in force. The forces use only conventional weaponry authorized by the United
Nations for use in war and armed conflict.The weapons in question are:MAS
36; AKM;SIG; FAL; M14; 12.7mm Machine-gun;AA-52 Machine-gun; Bazooka (Russian
and Chinese); 14.5mm, 20mm and 23mm DCA; 60 and 81mm Mortar; 120mm cannon;
French-type AML; PC7 reconnaissance aircraft.
In August 1992 the government submitted some additional information. Since gaining independence in 1960, France, the former colonial power has been the main supplier of armaments. According to this note Chad has never imported arms on an official basis because they have been supplied by friendly countries, either in return for remuneration or free of charge. After the coup d'etat in 1975 Chad was also able to buy weapons and combat vehicles from the Soviet Union. During the 1980s various weaponry was acquired. Since December 1990, Chad has not officially imported arms but sold a few Albatross aircraft wrecks (no recipient given) taken from the Libyans in 1987.
Colombia. There are different criteria for arms imports: purchase of arms using national budget resources or domestic funds in national currency; arms purchases with public resources; purchase of armaments with internal dollar resources; arms for the military industry. End-use certificates are supposedly drawn up on prenumbered security paper and sent to the respective branches of the armed forces and to INDUMIL (Military Industry). All of the units involved are responsible for their safe-keeping.
Czechoslovakia. New bills regarding arms import and export policies, legislation and administrative procedures, both as regards authorization of arms transfers and prevention of illicit transfer have been prepared by competent bodies of both the Czech and the Slovak Republics.
France. A special interministerial commission has to offer opinions and the Prime Minister has to give his prior approval of commercial initiatives by an exporter, the survey of a potential market, the making of an offer and then negotiation and signing of a contract or accepting an order. The Government is not required by law to justify the withdrawal of prior approval or an export permit that has already been issued.
Germany. Since 1989, in the aftermath of the Rabta and Iraqui project incidents Germany has been tightening its foreign trade legislation and new administrative requirements are being practised. Under the War Weapons Control Act, participation by Germans both at home and abroad in the development and manufacture of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons (exception: NATO nuclear weapon strategy) is proscribed. The necessary steps have been taken to improve the monitoring and enforcement of these provisions, especially to facilitate access to available information by the authorities and the exchange of data between them. An authorization requirement for dangerous 'dual-use' goods has been introduced, such as flow-forming machines with which missiles and artillery tubes can be built, for trailers designed for transport of tanks and for helicopters. The number of chemical precursors subject to controls has been raised to 50 in order to stop proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. In addition to the control of goods, the Federal Government has also imposed an authorization requirement on technology transfer and on services to missile and arms projects abroad.
Greece. In case of export to a member State of NATO, the
exporter should submit a formal request to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs,
National Defence and National Economy. It should include a full description
of the product, its quantity and price, destination, port and customs of exit,
and the name of the office involved with the agreement. The end-user certificate
should be attached to the request submitted to the Ministry of National Defence.
In case of transit of conventional arms, munitions and explosives through Greek territory, the transport company is required to submit a formal request to the ministries of National Economy, National Defence and Public Order.
Guyana. Since 1984 Guyana has neither imported nor exported arms. Its inventory of military equipment encompasses: weapons, primarily small arms, which were inherited from the UK upon gaining independence; weapons which were acquired in 1985 and 1986 to enhance the defence of its territory; the majority of these weapons being of Eastern European manufacture. Guyana as yet does not have import and export policies yet, but the following considerations are taken into account for prospective regulations: external and internal threats; national security contingencies; equipment necessary for the implementation of such contingencies within the context of affordability; procurement through authorized and internationally creditable suppliers; appropriate documentation, including bills of lading and end-user certificates. Sale of obsolete equipment will be based on an examination of tenders submitted by interested parties. The creditworthiness of the interested party and the legitimacy of the transaction will be guaranted.
Honduras. The Government has undertaken steps to reduce the strength of its armed forces. Several units have been transformed into 'green' battalions to conserve forests and mountains, while other units are engaged in agriculture, poultry farming, pig-breeding and stock-raising.
Italy. In 1990, Italy established a new and complex political-administrative control system on exports, imports and transit of armament material, including dual-use equipment prevailingly employed for military purposes. Regarding weapons of mass destruction the law forbids the manufacturing, import, export and transit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, as well as research designed for their production. As export controls for conventional armaments the following criteria have been established: coherence with international commitments (UN, EC, NATO); fight against terrorism; maintenance of friendly relations with other countries; repression of illicit arms trade. More explicitly, another law prohibits sales of arms: to countries engaged in armed conflicts not consistent with Article 51 of the UN Charter; in case of embargoes; to countries recognized as responsible for violating international conventions on human rights.
Lithuania. The acquisition, trade, storage, transportation, and usage of arms in Lithuania is regulated by the Penal Code and the Administrative Code of Lithuania, as well as by governmental regulations and instructions. An import-export control system needs to be established. The military of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, now under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation, was a problem in that it refused to let its tranfers of property across the border be controlled.
Netherlands. Arms exports must be consistent with the foreign
and security policy of the Netherlands. Besides exports to allies the Government
also recognizes that non-aligned nations have a legitimate need for defence
procurement. Before June 1991, the political assessment of arms exports took
place after evaluation of the following criteria: the human rights situation;
the existence of an area of potential conflict; the existence of international
embargoes. Also the preservation of regional peace, security and stability
and the national security of the member state, as well as that of friendly
and allied countries, is of importance.
Regarding end-use certificates the following procedures are in effect: for sales involving government authorieties a copy of the sales conract suffices as ean end-use certificate. Regarding sales to private companies a distinction is made between exports to NATO and non-NATO countries. With respect to private companies in NATO countries an international impirt certificate (ICC) issued by the authorities of the importer, is acceptable. ICCs are also accepted if issued by those non-NATO participating in COCOM, for example Australia and Japan, and by the so-called cooperating countries in the framework of COCOM. In case of sales to private companies in non-NATO countries an end-use statement, duly certified, is required. The Netherlands do not apply re-export licence procedures. Once the licence is granted and the goods have been exported, on the basis of adequate end-use documents, a future re-export becomes the responsibility of the importing country's export control authorities. Should it happen that goods have reached another destination than originally indicated, the Economic Investigation Agency will start an investigation which might lead to prosecution. Regarding the prevention of illicit transfers it is important to mention that the Netherlands do not control stocks of arms. The quantity of arms imported into the Netherlands or placed in bonded warehouses can be ascertained if the Netherlands authorities have issued a port certificate at the request of the authorities of the exporting country.
Philippines. Requests for authority to export defence/military items shall be submitted dirctly to the Export Committee for processing. All applications to import, or requests for authority to purchase from abroad, any firearms, ammunition, explosives or explosives ingredients by a government office, national or local (except the Armed Forces) government officer or employee, licensed dealer/manufacturer or any private individual shall be submitted to the Philippine National Police. Possible buyers include: private individuals, registered gun clubs, licensed private security agencies, licensed dealers/manufacturers, government officials and employees, civilian government offices/agencies, Philippine National Police units and units of the Armed Forces.
Portugal. As yet there is no systematic legislation to control export of equipment, products and technologies contrary to Portugal's defence or strategic interests. Certain decrees already exist. The present legislation applies to the following: domestic production of war material and munitions ordered by foreign countries; export or re-export of war material and munitions; import of raw materials and other goods for production, by domestic companies of war material munitions and military equipment ordered by the Armed Forces or by the other military and militarized forces in Portugal. 'Armament Industry' means the whole complex of activities whose objective is the industrial research, planning, testing, manufacturing and repair of materials and equipment intended exclusively for military purposes. These are: armoured vehicles for military use; light war weapons; cannons, mortars and rocket launchers; ammunition for war weapons; land mines, shells and hand-grenades; missiles and torpedoes; gunpowder and military explosives; fighter planes and combat helicopters; warships.
Senegal. Senegal imports its armaments through military cooperation by signing military agreements with countries and it is trying to stop illicit arms trafficking via its defence forces. Regulation on purchases or procurement of arms and military equipment are more connected to defence and security needs than to national production.
Sweden. There are two prohibitons in Sweden: one concerns the manufacture of military equipment in Sweden without permission from the Government; the other deals with exports of military equipment from Sweden without permission from the Government. At present there are efforts under way to link them together in a single act provisions concerning control in respect of the manufacture of military equipment and of the exportation of such equipment. With respect to its exports of military equipment and related matters the Swedish Government publishes a yearly report to Parliament which is also available to the UN.
Turkey. Concerning export, upon the application of the exporting firm th the Ministry of National Defence, the opinion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the General Staff is sought in order to determine as to whether there exist political or military objections to the export in question. Regarding indirect exports, the exporting firm has to fulfil the conditon of the delivery of the end-user certificate by the ultimate recipient State as evidence of the fact that the country shown as the ultimate buyer is informed of this transaction. If the recipient requests sample material from the exporter for trial or demonstration purposes, the recipient provides the end-user certificate or an official import permit.
United Arab Emirates. They regard this as a step to promote peace and security at regional and intenational levels. The armed forces have weapons for self-defence to protect the national unity and sovereignty of the State. Laws entirely prohibit any illicit transfer of weapons and do not permit any unofficial agents to import, export or deal in arms. Furthermore, the State strictly and rigorously controls any illicit transfer of or trafficking in arms.
UK. There are two orders in effect: the Import of Goods (Control) order of 1954; the Export of Goods (Control) order of 1991. Arms are only imported for use by the armed forces and the police. It is general policy to support the sale of British defence and security interests. All proposed arms exports are considered on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, India,Peru,
Spain and Uruguay later joined by Bolivia and China, on 1 November, 1991,
submitted a draft resolution called 'The transfer of high technology with
military application'. The representative of Brazil referred to remarks made
by the Secretary-General in his 1991 report to the General Assembly regarding
"a formula for cooperation involving greater willingness by the industrialzed
countries to meet the needs of developing countries for science and technology
for peaceful purposes, coupled with genuine openness among recipients about
their end-use." On 6 December 1991, the General Assembly adopted without
a vote a text (as resolution 46/38D) on 'The transfer of high technology with
military application'. It wishes to seek universally acceptable international
norms or guidelines to regulate such transfer and asks the Disarmament Commission
to look into all relevant aspects of the question of the transfer of high
technology with military application in its 1992 session, and to seek to conclude
its work on this matter in its 1993 session. It especially invites all Member
States to make available to the Secretary-General pertinent information and
documents on this subject, taking into account arrangements, laws and regulations
related to international transfers of high technology with military applications,
as appropriate. It is with respect to this that Argentina has decreed as a
general rule that it will not authorize export of materials, equipment, technology,
technical assistance and/or services connected with the conversion and enrichment
of uranium, the reprocessing of fuel, the production of heavy water and the
manufacture of plutonium.
This latter resolution seems to have an even greater impact and importance than the one on transparency of conventional arms. The globalization of technology and the prevention of technological proliferation of highly destabelizing weapons and related technologies, and also scientific and technological cooperation to this effect needs to be supported with a national policy on research development and technology assessment. In the new era of international relations the traditional definition of 'national security' is becoming more and more inadequate. A more comprehensive concept, including economic well-being, ecological and cultural security is needed A more just distribution of resources, especially with respect to technologies, is needed. The international climate should be such that it will favour the use of technology for the benefit and advancement of all. For developing countries the need for access to technology is particularly acute.
Some technological areas are:
Materials technology: this looks like the most 'natural' dual-purpose technology of all. Most programmes are driven by 'civil' requirements and the question remains whether, e.g., Stealth technologies will have a destabilizing effect. In any case, joint ventures and cooperative research prgrammes can help to prevent one-sided developments.
Information Technology: information systems means more than the coupling of computers. Spread of these technologies is very uneven throughout the world with the industrialized countries being at the top. Eventually the information being processed is vital knowledge which means that the collection, dissemination, exchange and transfer of information has to be arranged in a way that the participation of all States is guaranteed.
Biotechnology: genetic engineering as one part of biotechnology is a very controversial technology in some countries like Germany. Both have several criteria in common: transparency at research and development stages is very sketchy and the fear of misuse is widespread. The obvious potentials in some areas, like medicine, need not necessarily outhweigh some of the down-side applications in others, like agriculture.
The concept of an international arms register and the control of arms transfer is not new. From 1925 to 1938 the League of Nations ran a statistical yearbook on arms imports and exports base on official national statistics.
With the conventional arms register, a first step towards transparency in
armaments has been taken, but there is still some room for scepticism. The
register presents an opportunity to governments to prove to the public that
action on the issue has been taken. The concept of transparancy seems to run
counter to both the interests of producers and recipients. The risk of deception
seems to be rather low because there are other means of information once it
comes to the question of who owns what kind of armaments. Furthermore, the
register is built on trust; verification procedures have not yet been established.
With the cutting of defence expenditures and the need to reorganize defence
industries, commercially sensitive data might be withheld.
It is remarkable that most of the producing countries seem to have very strict export rules and yet, in the case of Germany for instance, a lot of misuse has undoubtedly happened. This may lead to the conclusion that everything looks fine on paper; it is true that end-use certificates can be and have been falsified and that there are probably not enough means of surveillance. Also, a register is less concrete than limitations arrived at by a treaty. The UN Register deals with the legislative side of the transfer process, not its quantitative aspects which are also of importance as regards regional stability and threats. The register needs to facilitate the monitoring capabilities of parliaments and control of government policies. On the other hand, most of the possible recipients have regulations that state 'national security' or 'defence' as one objective for importing arms. There have been over the years some publications which give quite accurate surveys on armaments in several countries, among them the Military Balance published by IISS, the SIPRI yearbook, and surveys from the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. So, one big achievement of the register is its confidence-building aspect and the principle of full disclosure of arms trading. On the surface, the register appears to call for a degree of trust and international cooperation that has yet to be accomplished. It remains to be seen whether an arms register can serve as an effective early warning system against arms build-up in certain regions. Transparency could have an inhibiting effect, causing the biggest suppliers and nastiest recipients to want to keep their transactions a secret. If achieved, the UN Register could present comprehensive and comparable data but it seems unlikely to be of any value to governmental intelligence agencies. The ultimate problem or the UN Register to solve is prevention of arms transfer to troubled (or any other ) regions and the reduction of military expenditures in the countries of the recipients.
What is actually needed to curb proliferation of armaments is a just distribution of resources. Arms trade and export represent the one connection between the just distribution of resources among all states and the problems of conversion of military production and R&D in producing countries and de-industrialization in Third World countries. It is commonly understood that technological change is political insofar as it is omnipresent and concerns everyone in society; and therefore political questions as to technology appear at every corner. This linkage is especially obvious once it comes to arms control questions. The approval or non-approval of a fighter plane and its deployment, or the access to and acquisition of information technology, and the effects on national security and foreign relations, demonstrate the importance of technolgy in today's world. Military planning has always been an ambiguous process. Decisions on the size and structure of forces have been nurtured by a variety of influences and were sometimes mere guesswork. So, with the UN making a first step, much needs to be done, especially in the area of transfer of high technologies.