To-Do List

The best thing Norway and Sweden can do to perpetuate the positive trend and improve conditions, Anthony and Marsh agree, is to promote international discussion. On a topic like end-user control, it is probably the only realistic alternative. When a country transfers arms in support of one side in an essentially local conflict, Marsh says as an example, the headache begins.

“Weapons tend to fall into the hands of the people you’re trying to fight,” he explains, and goes on to outline one alternative for dealing with the problem. “The Norwegian government could require, for instance, that ‘this ammunition can only be used for practice or in a NATO operation,’ but realistically…”

He doesn’t expect any nation to stand up to, for example, the United States. But since the politics of international relations often seem to be at the root of problem, it is probably also at the root of the solution. Instead, he suggests, “what would be much more effective for Norway to do, would be to work toward bringing the EU or another multilateral group to sign a treaty or a common standard. Whether this would be to strengthen the EU code of conduct, or something built on a whole new set of rules, it would be a start.”

Anthony, too, calls for broader multilateral cooperation, and thinks the Scandinavian countries could be the ones to initiate it.

“What Norway and Sweden should do,” he suggests, “is to promote an international discussion on how to improve enforcement, and in particular on improving end-user control and ways to reduce corruption.”

Anthony realizes that this will be a very difficult task, but as a starting point, he suggests that a number of states come together and make a common assessment of which countries pose a real risk.

At any rate, everybody seems to agree, that Norway and Sweden are more likely to be part of the solution than part of the problem.

“I think that it’s fair to say,” Marsh concludes, “that the Scandinavian countries in general have one of the better records on arms exports (notwithstanding the occasional scandal.)”