March 26, 2019

Cardin, Durbin Introduce Bill to Limit U.S. Arms Sales to Countries that Commit War Crimes, Human Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) yesterday introduced new, bipartisan legislation to ensure that U.S. weapons are not provided to governments that engage in human rights abuses, commit war crimes, or have ties to extremist groups. The bill also is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

S.854, the “Enhancing Human Rights Protections in Arms Sales Act of 2019,” would require human rights certifications on certain arms sales arms sales and transfers.  The act also requires the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, to develop a strategy to enhance human rights protections in the arms transfer process and amends the Arms Control Export act to ensure end use monitoring of misuse of arms in human rights abuses. 

“As the world’s leading arms supplier, the United States has a unique obligation to set strict standards with regard to the actions of governments that receive U.S. weaponry. We do not only have a moral obligation to ensure that U.S. weapons are used responsibly, but it is clearly in our national security interest,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. “Our bill takes critical steps to help ensure that U.S.-manufactured weapons are not used to commit heinous war crimes, for the repression of internationally recognized human rights, or end up in the hands of terrorists.”

“Years ago, Congress passed legislation I introduced restricting U.S. military assistance to countries that use child soldiers,” said Senator Durbin. “This new bill takes another important step in making sure American values are upheld by prohibiting military sales to countries with troubling human rights records.”