2nd Oct 2023

EU arms embargo under threat from Myanmar sale

The EU arms embargo on Myanmar could be undermined by the planned sale of an Indian attack helicopter to the military regime in Rangoon, according to NGOs Amnesty International and Saferworld.

The Indian manufactured Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) was developed in association with Eurocopter Deutschland from Germany. It contains rocket launchers from Belgium; rockets, guns and engines from France; brake systems from Italy; fuel tanks and gearboxes from the UK and self-protection equipment from a Swedish company.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Myanmar is under the rule of a military junta that has a record of serious human rights violations (Photo: Xianzi Tan)

"Should this transfer go ahead, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK could be undermining an EU arms embargo on Myanmar in place since 1988," said the reports launched on Monday (16 July), adding that it "highlights the urgent need for stricter EU arms controls."

Myanmar, also known as Burma, is under the rule of a military junta that has a record of serious human rights violations, which the UN has described as widespread and systematic. Such abuses include summary executions, torture, and the recruitment of child soldiers.

"The EU embargo explicitly states that no military equipment should be supplied, either directly or indirectly, for use in Myanmar - what's the point in having an arms embargo if it is not going to be implemented or enforced?" said Roy Isbister of Saferworld, which works to prevent armed violence.

The EU currently has arms embargos in place against Myanmar, China, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The US also has an arms ban against Myanmar but India has no such ban against Rangoon.

In a letter to Portugal, the current holder of the EU presidency, Amnesty International has asked the EU to initiate immediate consultations with the Indian government to prevent the arms transfer.

The London-based NGO also calls on the EU member states to discontinue all future production co-operation with India that might lead to transfers of embargoed equipment to Burma if indeed the plans are going ahead.

The loophole of the EU arms embargo is in the member states themselves, the report explained. Some EU capitals have no legally-binding requirement not to re-export the weapons or technology being supplied.

"Greater attention has to be given to the end-use agreements and the re-export of components from EU member states. Otherwise, these states could find themselves indirectly propping up a brutal regime which they themselves have condemned and whose violations have amounted to crimes against humanity," said Helen Hughes from Amnesty International in a statement.


Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war

While Belarus has not sent its own troops to fight Russia's war in Ukraine, the Minsk dictatorship has been heavily involved. As a result, Belarus must be punished for its involvement — what can the world do to sanction Belarus?

Latest News

  1. Slovak's 'illiberal' Fico victory boosts Orban, but faces checks
  2. European Political Community and key media vote This WEEK
  3. Is the ECB sabotaging Europe's Green Deal?
  4. The realists vs idealists Brussels battle on Ukraine's EU accession
  5. EU women promised new dawn under anti-violence pact
  6. Three steps EU can take to halt Azerbaijan's mafia-style bullying
  7. Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war
  8. Added-value for Russia diamond ban, as G7 and EU prepare sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  2. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us