Address by State Secretary Boomgaarden at the opening of the Export Control Seminar in Berlin on 19 June 2006

19.06.2006 - Speech

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the Federal Foreign Office here in Berlin for this two-day seminar entitled “End-use verification and export control”.

Anyone who considers issues of non-proliferation and export controls today is focusing on one of the most urgent problems of our age, a subject which makes headline news in some form every day. Effective export controls must prevent the exploitation of international trade for the development of weapons of mass destruction. The international community has expressed this as its goal. One aspect must be to ensure that any use of nuclear energy in a civilian context is not abused. The international community has frequently had to handle such issues and is dealing with the topic again at the moment. Both the Iran problem and Pyongyang's policy and programmes are central issues of international diplomacy. The role of export controls is therefore not only to prevent war weapons from falling into the wrong hands. To a large degree export controls must ensure that dual-use goods are not misappropriated to build weapons of mass destruction. Today, effective export controls are not a challenge solely facing the traditional industrialized countries. The number of countries producing advanced technology is much larger than it was 10 years ago. It is no longer sufficient for only the traditional industrialized countries to impose restrictions to prevent proliferation. Rather, all states manufacturing advanced technology or proliferation-related goods, as well as crucial transhipment locations and transit countries, must employ export controls to prevent goods from being used for such ends. The more successful they are in this, the greater the scope for trade development in the global economy. This is in the interests of all countries and the economy as a whole.

The European Security Strategy adopted by the EU Heads of State and Government at the European Council in December 2003 lists the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as one of the five key threats currently facing Europe. It states that proliferation is “potentially the greatest threat to our security”. The simultaneously adopted EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction includes detailed notes on the role of export controls, which are specifically described as forming part of the “first line of defence” against proliferation.

Other problem areas requiring the undivided attention of export controllers include international terrorism, regional conflicts and civil wars across the globe. Scrupulous end-use controls for conventional weapons and manufacturing equipment are one way to make the world a more secure place, prevent violations of human rights and defuse violent conflicts.

Another important example is the control of small arms and light weapons. Several of those attending this seminar will see one another again in a few weeks when they convene in New York for the conference to review the Small Arms Programme of Action and examine ways to prevent the abuse and proliferation of this dangerous type of weapon. The fact that originally legal exports of small arms frequently end up in the hands of child soldiers in conflict regions shows the seriousness of this issue.

Here in Berlin we are striving to give the topic of export controls the prominence it deserves as a significant aspect of foreign and security policy and external economic affairs. This is the third in a series of Berlin export control seminars which we launched in 2003 with an event on export controls as an instrument to combat international terrorism. The second gathering examined the significance of intangible technology transfer (ITT). Both of the previous seminars focused on important aspects, the first on terrorism and the risk of proliferation to non-state players in the wake of 9/11, the second on ITT as a current and future challenge. The subject of this seminar – “End-use verification and export control” – targets a central issue for all export controls. We can formulate this vital question quite simply – how can we employ appropriate measures to ensure that supplies of goods or technologies actually reach and remain with the intended end-user and are used exclusively for the stated purpose, avoiding the potential for abuse? If we could find satisfactory answers to these questions, the threat posed by dual-use goods and armaments would vanish and all export controllers would be able to sleep at night.

All of us in this room sadly know that the reality is very different. In the real world we can only attempt to approach this ideal, and the devil is in the details.

In this seminar we intend to approach the issue from various angles. We will consider the fundamental question concerning the institutional framework required for successful export controls, and we will examine the goals which governments hope to achieve through end-use control regimes as well as the challenges facing industry here. I think I can safely say this will show that enterprises and their internal compliance programmes have an increasingly important role and responsibility in modern export control, of which they themselves are growing ever more aware. That, at least, is my impression. There can be no export controls without cooperation with industry.

We will study matters pertaining to end-use documentation as well as specific problems of transit and transshipment. Last but not least, our agenda will naturally feature the European Union's contribution in the area of export and end-use control, as well as post-licensing, including post-shipment controls.

My staff have assured me that many of the most experienced old hands in export control are among the delegates at this seminar, representing approximately 50 countries, but that several representatives of nations which have to date not been involved in export control regimes are also attending, which is equally important to us. We therefore intend this also to be an outreach seminar to help demonstrate to non-participating countries how efficient export controls work. The modes of operation are, of course, firmly rooted in Security Council Resolution 1540, which has now been extended by Resolution 1673. This has obliged states to establish, develop and maintain effective national export controls. Export controls must be a common and global endeavour, and their effectiveness depends on the contribution of each and every state.

May I stress at this point that today states and industry should not regard export controls as just a legal obligation. Only effective export controls create the necessary confidence and reliability which underpin a nation's claim of having access to technology and to growing international import and export markets.

We hope that Berlin will prove to be an appropriate venue for this seminar. Not long after its foundation the Federal Republic made a legally binding commitment not to manufacture or possess nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Today the Federal Republic participates in all the aforementioned export control regimes, and this seminar testifies to the fact that we continue to see one of our foreign policy goals as developing and strengthening them further.

The seminar is hosted by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in cooperation with the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, a leading German think tank. At this point I would like to thank all participants for their interest in and contributions to this seminar.

We hope that Berlin will reveal many of its charms and delights to you during this special season in Germany. It is spring, almost summer, on the Spree, and we are hosting the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The Export Control Seminar could well share with the tournament the motto “A time to make friends”. And we hope that at least some of our export control friends will be gripped by the atmosphere in Berlin as the city prepares for one of the football matches in the Olympic stadium. The Olympic stadium is also the venue for the Cup Final, less than three weeks away. We will try to plan events so that we end the seminar in time to allow everyone who wishes to watch the match tomorrow evening – maybe on one of the big screens scattered around the city.

Before that, of course, we will all turn to more serious matters. Let us now make a start.

I wish you all a most stimulating seminar and an enjoyable stay in Berlin.

Thank you very much.

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