By Annie Shiel, Seth Binder, Jeff Abramson, William Hartung, Rachel Stohl, Diana Ohlbaum, Adam Isacson, Brittany Benowitz and Daniel R. Mahanty
In recent years, U.S. arms sold and transferred abroad have been used to commit gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) and fueled widespread civilian harm, corruption, and humanitarian crises in countries from Yemen and Egypt to Nigeria and the Philippines. The Trump administration has made U.S. complicity in such harm the norm, regularly promoting arms transfers to corrupt, rights-abusing, authoritarian governments in a militarized approach to foreign policy that has undermined human rights and that few Americans believe makes the country any safer.
The Biden-Harris administration has an opportunity to reject this approach and strengthen respect for human rights in U.S. arms transfer policy. While we may have differing priorities and views on the efficacy of weapons sales as a tool of U.S. foreign policy, we all agree that the Biden-Harris administration should enact the following urgent reforms to ensure that U.S. arms do not continue to fuel human rights violations, civilian harm, corruption, and criminal violence.