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NGO raps Finland for arms exports to Arab countries

Finland needs to revisit its policy of exporting arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, says a group of security researchers. On Monday, the peace and security NGO Safer Globe released its 2014 review of Finnish arms exports, which found that the arms trade is being conducted with countries known to engage in human rights abuses.

Patria AMV 8x8
Armoured personnel carriers manufactured by Finnish contractor Patria are among this country's top defence exports. Image: Patria

According to Safer Globe’s latest report, the majority of Finland’s arms exports in 2014 went to Sweden. However the next biggest buyers on the list were Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The independent research network questioned Finnish arms sales to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, pointing out that weapons such as mortars had been exported to the region.

"Has there been sufficient consideration given to which regions weapons are being sent to, has there been adequate risk analysis about whether or not arms are being traded onwards and whether those destinations are conflict-prone," queried researcher Johannes Lehtinen.

The report pointed out that weapons exports always have the tacit consent of the buyer nations, adding that it is likely that the trade with Arab countries will continue.

"It could well be that exports to the Middle East, especially to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will continue, because of the strong trading ties," Lehtinen remarked.

Armoured personnel carriers and mortars account for the bulk of products exported by Finland’s defence industry.

Finland’s munitions exports were valued at 223 million euros in 2014, roughly the same as in the previous year.

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