Australia: Companies export arms to African nations suffering from instability and violence

Author: Christopher Knaus & Ben Doherty, The Guardian, Published on: 11 March 2020

"Australia sold weapons to Mali as UN warned violence creating 'humanitarian disaster'", 10 March 2020


...Australian weapons companies were given 31 permits last year to export weapons and military technology to a cluster of African nations suffering from instability and violence, including Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Mali, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The majority of exports went to Mali, which has been gripped by near-perpetual internal conflict for eight years.


Australia defends its exports by arguing every licence application is thoroughly assessed to ensure the end user will not breach human rights or other international obligations.

"This assessment includes consideration of whether there is an overriding risk that the exported items could be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law," a spokeswoman said last year.


One export permit was issued for weapons sales to Libya, where an ongoing civil war...has displaced an estimated 268,629 people....

Five export permits were issued for Somalia and four were issued for Sudan, where ongoing instability and violence in the West Darfur region has caused major displacement.

Save the Children Australia chief executive Paul Ronalds said arms exports to nations like Mali and Somalia must cease immediately. He said there was an urgent need for greater accountability and transparency on Australia's arms sales.


Oxfam Australia campaigns manager Conor Costello said the arms trade treaty, which Australia has ratified, does not allow the export of arms to places where there is a risk they could be used to commit or facilitate human rights abuses.


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