The European Arms Trade is a Feminist Issue
And What We Can Do About It
Together, the EU’s member-states are second only to the US in the volume of the arms they export. The production and export of military equipment are closely linked to what academics call the 'normalisation of a militarized approach to security' and the ‘pro-defence industry’ approach the EU Commission has been taking. At the same time, the EU continues to confirm its commitment to foster gender equality through its foreign policy - as for example outlined in the Strategic Approach on Women, Peace and Security in 2018.
However, delinking these issues fails to acknowledge that the international arms trade is a feminist issue. Indeed, an important opportunity to minimise the risk of European arms contributing to gender-based violence was missed in 2019, when the update of the EU Common Position did not amend the Position’s language to explicitly bring it in line with the language of the Arms Trade Treaty, which – since 2014 – requires State Parties to not export any military equipment if there is the potential that they are being used “to commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or serious acts of violence against women and children”.
The online discussion, organised by the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation and the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, will reflect on why the international arms trade is a feminist issue, debate the tensions between the EU's arms export and its commitment to gender equality and reflect on if and how the EU arms exports can be rendered more gender-sensitive.
• Verity Coyle, Stimson Center
• Hannah Neumann, MEP, The Greens/EFA
• Hanna Muehlenhoff, Assistant Professor of European Studies, University of Amsterdam
• With welcoming remarks by Ambassador Marjolijn van Deelen, EU Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament. The event will be facilitated by Giorgio Franceschini (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung) and Nina Bernarding (Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy).