Essential Elements of an Effective Export Control System

To effectively implement an export control system, a country must exhibit a broad national commitment to the endeavor. This commitment is first illustrated by making the political decision to adhere to international nonproliferation norms, as defined by various multilateral regimes, and engage solely in responsible arms transfers.

Second, a nation must establish a legal authority to control the export of defense-related and dual-use goods and technologies. This authority would adhere to six legal principles:

  • Comprehensive Controls
  • Implementing Directives
  • Enforcement Power and Penalties
  • Interagency Coordination
  • International Cooperation
  • Protection against governmental dissemination of sensitive business information.

Third, a country should implement regulatory procedures to support export control laws and policies. These procedures should establish clear lines of authority and provide for a list of controlled items. The control list should adhere to international norms (multilateral regime lists and their associated catch-all controls). The regulations should be clear and easily accessible to exporters in their description of licensing and enforcement policy. The designated authority administering the regulatory regime should review license requests for completeness and clarity. The regulations should encourage transparency and predictability of governmental decision making, and should give sufficient room for exceptions to policy in the interest of the government.

Fourth, proper enforcement measures should be built into the system. Preventive enforcement is essential, and should include established procedures related to export license applications (i.e. screening the proposed item, quantity, end-use and all parties involved in the transaction for any potential export) and compliance mechanisms (i.e. working in partnership with industry to educate them on how and why — to monitor and control their own export activity). The ability and authority to interdict and investigate illicit exports are necessary to implement an effective export control system. International cooperation can ensure full compliance with export legislation.

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