Project History, Goals and Plans

Project Goals: Transparency, accountability and restraint in U.S. arms exports; elimination of taxpayer subsidies for weapons exports; broadening the coalition of citizens working to reform arms export policy; and increasing the level of pressure on policy makers to act for the public interest rather than the special interests of arms manufactures.

Project History: The Project was founded in 1991 by Lora Lumpe, who directed the project until August 1998. Under her leadership, the Project grew in size, scope, and stature, so that it is now recognized as one of the best sources of information and analysis on U.S. arms export policy. The ASMP is now administered by Matt Schroeder.

Since 1991, the FAS Arms Sales Monitoring Project has worked for transparency, accountability and deep reductions in global conventional weapons production and trade. Our aim is to prevent dangerous and wasteful military build-ups, and thereby reduce the likelihood of warfare and the lethality of warfare when it does occur. Reducing militarism—especially in the developing world—should also alleviate much of the justification for continued large U.S. military expenditures.

Given the United States' dominance of the arms market and of global military relations, our project focuses first and foremost on reforming U.S. export policy. Because other countries do produce and export arms, we encourage multilateral arms control/disarmament solutions to the problems posed by global weapons proliferation. However, we believe U.S. leadership is vital; the United States will not succeed in pressing other governments to limit their dangerous arms exports until it gets its own house in order.

For the past decade, we have reported and publicized the U.S. government's arms export policies and practices through the Arms Sales Monitor, media outreach, public speaking and reports and articles. In particular, we have sought to highlight the costs of the arms trade today—in terms of lives, dollars and security. Our objective was/is to get information out to interested journalists, activists and policy makers, so that many people can act on it, achieving much more than we alone can.

In addition to publication of the newsletter and our ongoing media work, our current foci include:

  • preventing industry and the Bush administration from weakening export control laws. To this end, we are working in coalition with like-minded organizations to oppose "war on terrorism"-related efforts to eliminate human rights restrictions and increase military aid for abusive and undemocratic regimes. The ASMP and the Center for Defense Information also completed a joint study entitled Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Debunking the Myths and Exposing the Risks of Arms Export Reform, which addresses many of the arguments advanced by the defense industry and their allies to justify their efforts to weaken export licensing requirements.

  • pushing for the drafting and implementation of an international Arms Trade Treaty, which would require signatories to refrain from providing weapons to countries that would use them to commit serious human rights violations, violate international humanitarian law, or engage in acts of aggression.

Through each of these initiatives, we are continuing our two-prong approach to reining in the global arms trade - strengthening domestic controls while working for the creation and ratification of international agreements that impose comparable restrictions on foreign exporters.

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