Monday, January 17, 2022

Experts call for greater transparency in Canada’s arms exports

The federal government must increase the transparency of arms exports to ensure that the weapons do not violate human rights or agreements with Canada, a House of Representatives committee heard Tuesday.

Jean-Christophe Boucher, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Calgary, told the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee that the Canadian government has not been transparent in granting export permits for firearms, which could raise concerns about how the weapons are used.

According to Boucher, more than 60 percent of Canada’s defense productions are exported, so the government must continue to pursue the export and development of the defense industry.

However, in Boucher’s September 2020 survey of what Canadians believe is the most important factor in selling military equipment, most (31 percent) were concerned about respect for human rights, followed by respect for international law (22 percent). About 22 percent of respondents are concerned about promoting local jobs in Canadian, and only 10 percent focus on maintaining good relations with allies.

“We need to strike a balance between Canada’s economic interests and this human rights issue,” Boucher said.

Concerns over arms exports to Turkey

The Foreign Affairs Committee has considered regulations on the granting of export permits for military goods, following allegations that Canadian technology was used in the military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh last year.

The war in Nagorno-Karabakh was waged between Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, along with Armenia.

In October 2020, an Armenian air defense unit shot down a Turkish maker Bayraktar TB2 road drone, deployed by rival Azerbaijan forces during the 44-day conflict. Armenian officials claim the drones are equipped with Canadian target acquisition technology and surveillance camera, manufactured by Ontario-based company L3Harris WESCAM.

The ruins of the town of Zangilan, Azerbaijan, on January 5, 2021. (Tofik Babayev / AFP via Getty Images)

Last month, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau also announced that cancellation of the issuance of new export permits for military goods to Turkey. Garneau said it was a follow-up to the government’s previous decision to suspend the issuance of export permits following the Turkish army’s invasion of Syria in 2019.

Pierre Jolicoeur, a professor of political science at the Royal Military College in Canada, told the committee the use of combat bumblebees is recognized as one of the key factors behind Azerbaijan’s success in reclaiming a significant portion of the secession area.

“I believe the problem here … is that Turkey has used the equipment that Canada has provided to change the status quo in the region, with this so-called ‘Frozen Conflict’ destabilizing the region and threatening international security, said Jolicoeur. said.

Jolicoeur said Turkey had taken an increasingly assertive position in the Caucasus region in recent years, including the deployment of its fleet to the Mediterranean to make claims on oil resources near Cyprus, and its intervention in Libya and Syria, where speculations are the same combat drones are used.

He noted that although Turkey, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is an ally of Canada, the “authoritarian zeal” in the country is cause for concern.

“For all these reasons, we doubt the reliability of our partnership with Turkey,” Jolicoeur said.

“We can see not only the reaction of the US, but also of other partners and allies of Canada with NATO that Turkey is really concerned,” he said. “And we really wonder if we have the same democratic values ​​as Turkey.”


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