HC Deb 11 January 2000 vol 342 cc133-4W
Mr. Gapes

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the results of the 1999 Assessment of the Wassenaar Arrangement and the role played by the UK. [104575]

Mr. Vaz

The 1999 Assessment of the operation of the Wassenaar Arrangement was concluded at the Arrangement's annual Plenary in Vienna on 1–3 December. The agreed public statement on the Plenary is available on the Arrangement's website (www wassenaar.org).

We welcome the decision by Participating States to expand the scope of their reporting on their transfers of certain types of conventional arms. As a result, arms pillar reporting requirements in the Wassenaar Arrangement will now for the first time extend beyond those in the UN Registrar of Conventional Arms. We also welcome the Plenary's decisions to structure the information exchange on the basis of global and regional views—as a result of a proposal by the UK—and to mandate the introduction of a secure electronic information system. These steps will greatly increase the value and accessibility of information exchanged by Participating States.

Despite these positive developments, we regret that proposals to include other types of arms in the reporting requirements, including small arms and light weapons, warships of 150–750 metric tonnes displacement and missiles of less than 25km range, were not agreed due to opposition from a small minority of Participating States. We also regret that the Plenary did not agree that Participating States should provide details of decisions to refuse the transfer of military equipment, or details of end-users in all denial notifications for dual-use goods. We continue to believe that these improvements would significantly enhance the ability of Participating States to identify potentially destabilising transfers or accumulation of conventional arms and dual-use goods.

Throughout the course of the 1999 Assessment, most of which was taken forward in the Arrangement's General Working Group under UK chairmanship, the UK has been at the forefront of efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Wassenaar Arrangement. In particular we co-sponsored and lobbied in support of proposals for a substantive increase in arms pillar transparency. We will continue this year to work for the further expansion of reporting requirements, to include in particular transfers of small arms and light weapons. We will also consider the scope for expanding our existing commitment to volunteer details of our transfers of certain types of conventional arms which are not covered by the mandatory reporting requirements.