Who is Responsible in the International Arms Trade? Measuring Human Rights Concerns in Arms Transfers

In: Global Responsibility to Protect

This paper proposes an index to measure the extent to which governments authorise arms transfers to places in which human rights are violated. Levels of democracy in the purchasing country are used as a proxy for that country’s degree of respect for human rights. The paper then applies this index to test whether Robin Cook’s ‘ethical dimension’ in foreign policy was applied to British arms transfers, and concludes that this was indeed the case, although its legacy did not survive to the end of Tony Blair’s government. This index should be useful for academics, civil society groups, government departments and international organisations working with human rights or arms transfers.