EUROPE & CIS: Swedish think tank wants to clean up relief

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said its new information web portal www. ethicalcargo.org, would “prevent arms and drug traffickers from accessing significant humanitarian aid and peacekeeping funds.” Some 90 per cent of the air cargo carriers identified in arms-trafficking have also been used for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations by the United Nations, […]


The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said its new information web portal www. ethicalcargo.org, would “prevent arms and drug traffickers from accessing significant humanitarian aid and peacekeeping funds.”

Some 90 per cent of the air cargo carriers identified in arms-trafficking have also been used for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations by the United Nations, EU member states, NGOs and NATO, according to a report published last year by SIPRI. “In some cases, air cargo companies have delivered both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones,” the think tank said in a statement.

Many carriers identified in UN sanctions reports because of their involvement in transporting arms or other illicit goods to and from Africa are now doing big business carrying aid to Afghanistan and Iraq, according to SIPRI researcher Hugh Griffiths.

Outsourcing has exacerbated the problem he said, noting that peacekeeping missions tend to rely on big defence contractors to organise logistics. These firms in turn tend to employ air brokers, who are generally not concerned with the ethical credentials of the carriers that they employ.

“There has been a logistics revolution in the last 20 years – where price has become the only condition. The carriers smuggling arms to Africa are just doing business. If humanitarian conditions are put in their contracts, companies are likely to respond to this,” said Griffiths.