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Legal regulation of German weapons exports

A range of legal norms offer guidelines on weapons exports:

The first sentence of the German Constitution highlights the striving “to aid peace in the world” (Preamble) as aim of the Constitution and German policy. Article 26 of the German Constitution sums up the regulations regarding war and weapons production, as well as their distribution. Generally, any action which may harm peace is prohibited which is why producing and selling weapons requires a special authorization by the German government.

The fairly general formulation in the GG is clarified by further German laws: The Law regulating combat weapons (KrWaffG) regulates the production and the trade of weapons and armament, their export is regulated by the foreign trade law (AWG). The War Weapons List (KWL), which is part of the KrWaffG, regulates what is to be defined as war weapons and armament. Not respecting the laws will result in punishments and fines; however the AWG is interpreted in a way which is export-boosting and favourable to entrepreneurs.

Since 1998 there have been European agreements establishing a common list of war weapons, which align the criteria for weapons exports. These, while not legally binding, demand to be included into national law. The criteria include, among others, respecting Human Rights and International Law in the recipient countries, the domestic political situation, not permitting the usage of weapons in an armed conflict or in disputes which could swell into armed conflicts as well as the preservation of “peace, security and stability in a region”.