Every year, Western nations export small arms and large weapons systems to countries around the globe. Tight export regulations are designed to prevent misuse and ethically questionable deals. But how effective can they be? The Libyan example demonstrates the limits of regulations and oversight.
EU arms exports to the Middle East have been skyrocketing in recent years, although economic arguments go against it. Despite the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, countries like Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt and Libya are all armed with EU weaponry, showing that Europe places business interests over international human rights standards.
In recent weeks, European politicians have begun to reassess their approach to autocratic regimes in the Middle East. But the shift in rhetoric has not resulted in a shift in policy. As long as current arms export rules persist, commitments to peace and justice ring hollow.