Arms transfers to Saudi Arabia, recent reports, spotlights + more
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Arms Trade News

December 2015

Featured in this year-end edition:
  • Critical Assessments - Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia re: Yemen
  • Recent Reports
  • Expert Spotlight: Jeff Abramson
  • Media Spotlight: Thomas Gibbons-Neff
  • Experts in Action
The Forum on the Arms Trade is an information clearing-house, forum, and point of contact for strengthening efforts to address the economic, humanitarian and security implications of legal, illicit, and illegal arms transfers, as well as related topics of security assistance and weapons use.
Critical Assessments - Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia re: Yemen

A December 11 legal opini
on (pdf) in the United Kingdom finds that the country violates the Arms Trade Treaty and other laws in providing arms to Saudi Arabia used in Yemen. Multiple groups are calling for a halt to arms authorizations. In the United States, Congressional leaders are for the first time utilizing a new authority to more closely track pre-delivery of weapons authorized in the most recent foreign military sales notification.

On October 20, the Forum on the Arms Trade and October 20 videoSecurity Assistance Monitor co-hosted the event "Crisis in Yemen - Humanitarian and Security Consequences of Military Support to the Region," featuring Forum-listed experts William Hartung (Center for International Policy, blog), Martin Butcher (Oxfam International), and Natalie Goldring (Georgetown University), with Tariq Riebl. Additional resources, including findings and comments, and video are available online.   
Recent reports*

On November 26, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines released Landmine Monitor 2015 and on September 3, the Cluster Munition Coalition launched Cluster Munition Monitor 2015, both edited by Jeff Abramson.

Control Arms released a report on the relevance of the Arms Trade Treaty to curbing the supply of weapons to wildlife poaching and
trafficking networks in East Africa, dated November 25 and authored by Matthew Bolton

On September 9, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) released
State, Foreign Operations, & Related Programs: Appropriations Bills, FY16, authored by Cole Bockenfeldwhich compares the draft FY16 House and Senate bills for the State and Foreign Operations budget, and provides a list of specific recommendations to appropriators on language to adopt in a final bill. 

During the First Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty (August 24-27):

* Reports were typically authored or co-authored by Forum on the Arms Trade-listed experts, unless detailed otherwise. Inclusion here does not indicate endorsement of or by the Forum nor the institutions cited. See more details.
Jeff Abramson
Expert Spotlight: Jeff Abramson

Jeff Abramson (link) manages the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC), and separately organizes the Forum on the Arms Trade. In the past few months, he was the final editor for both major publications Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 and Landmine Monitor 2015, which serve as the de facto monitoring regime for the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Abramson's comments related to these issues have been featured by Reuters, Deutsche Welle and others. Video of the UN launch of Landmine Monitor 2015, which Abramson moderated in late November, is available online.
Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Media Spotlight: Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Thomas Gibbons-Neff is a recent Georgetown University grad and a former enlisted Marine. Originally from Boston, Thomas now writes for the Washington Post. His work has appeared in a number of publications including The Atlantic and The New York Times. His recent reporting (link) has examined how weapons are impacting conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as in terrorist events in the United States and worldwide, often providing very human insights into global issues. (And sometimes just wonky, like this Star Wars post.)
When asked about his reporting, Gibbons-Neff said, "I think reporting on the arms trade and weapons proliferation is an important part of how we see the world. Wars are violent and terrible and the millions of small arms used in them are often overlooked and taken for granted. Accurate reporting on their proliferation is important because it serves as a reminder that small arms are the real weapons of mass destruction."
The "Media Spotlight" highlights journalists who are thoughtfully reporting on topics addressed by the Forum on the Arms Trade. Selection does not indicate agreement with or endorsement of the journalist's views, the Forum, or Forum-listed experts.
Experts in Action

"Experts in Action" features recent writings and media citations, as well as upcoming public presentations, by individuals listed as experts* by the Forum on the Arms Trade.

In October, Rachel Stohl (Stimson Center) and Paul Holtom (Coventry University, UK) launched a new online training program from the Arms Trade Treaty-Baseline Assessment Project (ATT-BAP). The training and guidance notes were developed to support government efforts in fulfilling ATT reporting requirements, particularly the completion of States’ initial reports on treaty implementation. (See also "Recent reports," above.)

In November, Stohl moderated a panel discussion on the State Department’s 2015 "To Walk the Earth in Safety" report and the breadth of the United States’ conventional weapons destruction programs. In January, Stohl and Stimson will host a movie screening and panel event on issues surrounding the international arms trade and arms brokering.
Stohl also wrote two articles on
the process (Stimson Center) of the first ATT Conference on States Parties and detailed the need for appropriate reporting templates (Security Assistance Monitor) to ensure that the treaty lives up to its potential and promotes greater transparency in the international arms trade. She has also published a number of articles on U.S. military assistance to governments known to use child soldiers (CNN), the growing potential of commercial drones (The Cipher Brief), and the United States continued lethal drone program (National Interest).

William Hartung (Center for International Policy) examined U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia (Real News Network) and mercenaries in Yemen (LobeLog), for which his research using Security Assistance Monitor has been widely quoted (including by Huffington Post and Prensa Latina). He commented on the cohesiveness of the Saudi-led coalition (VICE News) and discussed "The Numbers Behind U.S. aid to Israel" on World View with Jerome McDonnell (WBEZ- NPR Chicago). (See also "Critical assessments," above.)

Cole Bockenfeld (Project on Middle East Democracy) commented on U.S. involvement in Yemen (Huffington Post) and served as a panelist at a recent University of Pennsylvania Law symposium on "Democracy for Sale: Global Corruption, Elite Influence, and U.S. Foreign Policy." (See also "Recent reports," above.)

Colby Goodman (Security Assistance Monitor) has written on a wide range of topics, including the dangers in revised export control standards regarding private security companies (Foreign Policy), risks in military aid to presidential guards (LobeLog), and effectiveness of placing human rights conditions on defense exports (Security Assistance Monitor).

Alejandro Sanchez (Council on Hemispheric Affairs) authored recent analyses of the  Colombian navy (Center for International Maritime Security) and US-Argentinian relations (Blouin News). In January, he will be giving a talk to students from Miami University's Inside Washington Program.

Nils Duquet (Flemish Peace Institute) was interviewed on the illicit gun market in Europe and EU plans to tighten gun laws by tens of international media outlets, including
BBC World, Euronews, Reuters, Politico, LA Times, and The New Yorker.

In the aftermath of the November Paris attacks, Cédric Poitevin (Groupe de Recherche et d'Information sur la Paix et la Sécurité, GRIP) has been interviewed by several European and international media (The Wall Street Journal, Vocativ, and La Libre Belgique) on gun control within the EU and on the trends of arms trafficking in Europe. In December, he was interviewed by several Belgian media on Belgium arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

* Inclusion on the Forum on the Arms Trade expert list does not indicate agreement with or endorsement of the opinions of others. Institutional affiliation is indicated for identification purposes only. To learn more about being listed as an expert, see this FAQ.
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