Arms Transfers Codes of Conduct

Nongovernmental organizations developed the concept of an arms transfers "Code of Conduct" - or strict set of arms export criteria - in the early 1990s as a way to provide weapons exporters with a responsible post Cold War framework for arms export decisions. A Code of Conduct would prevent states from exporting weapons or providing military aid to countries that are engaged in internal repression, external aggression, regional arms races, or otherwise abusive use of weaponry. 

Proponents of a Code of Conduct have made significant progress over the years. The Code has gained acceptance among some of the biggest arms exporters and within the broader international community. In 1995, a group of Nobel Peace Laureates, led by former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, proposed a comprehensive International Code of Conduct. In 1998, the European Union became the first group of states to accept a regional Code of Conduct.

A U.S. Code of Conduct bill has been introduced in successive sessions of Congress since 1993. In 1999, Congress passed the International Code of Conduct Act, requiring the administration to pursue a multilateral agreement on uniform, strict export standards. At the December 2000 US-EU Summit, the US and EU agreed to work together on this type of agreement.

More information is available on the following Codes:

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