Germany fourth largest exporter of arms in world: report

Germany is the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, according to a report released by the Stockholm Peace Research Institute on Monday.

Germany fourth largest exporter of arms in world: report
The "U31" submarine model. Photo: DPA

The arms business is booming: the global arms trade grew by 7.8 percent in the period from 2014 to 2018 – and by 13 percent in Germany – compared to the years 2009 to 2013, according to the report.

SEE ALSO: Five things to know about guns in Germany

The largest exporters were the US, Russia, France, Germany and China. Together, the five countries accounted for 75 percent of all international arms deliveries over the past five years.

German exports during this time were mostly to Israel, South Korea, and Greece, reported the Institute, with a particular interest in German ships and submarines.

Graph created for The Local by Statista.

Arms exports continue to be a sensitive topic in Germany, and the country prides itself on having one of the most restrictive arms export policies in the world.

Furthermore, the trading of weapons abroad are subject to government approval, and foreign buyers have to sign an agreement pledging not to sell their purchase to any other countries or groups.

Still, this hasn’t stopped illegal exports, with employees of German gun manufacturer Heckler & Koch going on trial in May 2018 over thousands of assault rifles that were allegedly exported illegally to violence-torn Mexican states.

A German court fined the company €3.7 million in February and gave suspended jail terms to two of its ex-employees.

SEE ALSO: German gunmaker fined €3.7 m over illegal arms exports to Mexico

Conflicts abroad have also spurred Germany to prohibit or put a freeze on the sale of arms. In November 2018, the German government stopped all arms exports to Saudi Arabia as a reaction to the killing of the government-critical Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

At the end of 2018, German chancellor Angela Merkel signed an agreement forbidding the sale of weapons to any country directly involved with the war in Yemen.

SEE ALSO: Germany set on Saudi arms ban despite British warning

The country exporting the largest number of arms remains the U.S., whose exports alone account for 36 percent of the global arms trade.

“The USA has further consolidated its position as the world's leading arms supplier,” says Sipri weapons expert Aude Fleurant.

They had supplied weapons such as fighter jets, short-range missiles and guided bombs to at least 98 countries – far more nations than any of the others detailed in the report.

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Does Austria have a problem with violence against women? 

Austria is the only EU country where more women have been killed than men in 2021. Is this a statistical anomaly or does it speak to a deeper problem in Austrian society?

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash
Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

In early May, a 50-year-old woman and her 76-year old mother were shot and killed in the Salzburg Flachgau region.

Just days before, a woman was killed in Vienna.

This led to demonstrations against ‘femicide’ (the murder of women) in the capital and prompted the Minister of Social Affairs Wolfgang Mückstein to says, as the father of two daughters, he was “sad and angry” about the deaths.

More women than men killed in Austria

So far this year 11 women have been murdered in Austria, making it the only EU country in which more women were killed than men

While across the European Union 65 percent of those killed are male, more women than men were killed in Austria in 2021 – as well as 2015 and 2016.

READ MORE: Outrage in Austria over ninth woman is murdered in 2021

This has led some to ask whether there is a problem with violence against women culturally embedded in Austrian society. 

Little consensus

Despite widespread political and academic discussion on the topic, there is no consensus on why murders of women are so prevalent in Austria. 

Austrian writer Gerhard Ruiss, who created the initiative ‘Femicide – It’s All About Us’, told Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung that violence protection projects and women’s shelters are chronically underfunded in Austria. 

Ruiss also indicated that an assessment of femicides often shows major police failings, particularly as the offenders often have long histories of violence and are “known to the authorities”. 

However, a representative of the Archdiocese of Vienna claimed in a Die Presse newspaper comment piece that Austria did not have an unusual level of femicide in a European comparison, saying the country was “only remarkable” because it recorded very few murders of men in an international comparison.

Home ‘most dangerous’ place

Speaking to The Local, Teresa Ulleram of domestic violence charity Wiener Interventionsstelle gegen Gewalt in der Familie (Vienna Intervention Centre against Violence in the Family), agreed this could be the reason women seemed to be statistically more likely to be murdered than men.

“Most murders here do not happen on the streets or in public spaces, but actually at home, ” she said. “Domestic or family violence is a phenomenon that is primarily directed against women and children.”

Ulleram said in the vast majority of cases of femicide, the perpetrators are male, and are even often close relatives.

Not necessarily related to immigration

Despite claims to the contrary by some political parties, the statistics show the increase in murders is not necessarily related to immigration.

In 2020, the suspects in all femicides were Austrians in 21 out of 26 cases. In the year before, 22 of the 43 suspects were Austrians, Der Standard reports. 

Maria Rösslhumer, the Head of the Association of Autonomous Austrian Women’s Shelters, told Zett magazine that the problem was too widespread in Austrian society to be blamed on immigrants. 

“Politicians try to play down violence against women by increasingly labelling it as an “imported problem” that came to Austria through migration. But that’s not true,” she said.

“There is a problem in Austria with violence against women that cannot be reduced to migrants. Every fifth woman experiences physical or sexual violence in her life.”

Do Austria’s gun laws need reform?

The Local has reported previously on Austria’s relatively relaxed laws on gun ownership. 

In May, Austrian gun manufacturer Glock prompted outrage with an advert in which a gun was shown in a Mother’s Day advert. 

EXPLAINED: Why is gun ownership in Austria on the rise?

However, Ulleram was not convinced stricter gun laws would make the problem disappear. She said more gun control was “important” but perpetrators also used weapons such as knives or even their own hands to commit murders. 

Although Austria signed the Istanbul Convention (an international treaty creating binding legal norms against violence against women and domestic violence) in 2011 and ratified it in 2013, not all the conventions recommendations and measures have been implemented yet in Austria, Ulleram said. 

She called for a variety of measures to prevent femicides – such as more budgeting for victim protection institutions, and greater funding for the police and justice. 

‘Very good laws’

One positive aspect is women in Austria are protected by “very good laws,” Ulleram said women were particularly vulnerable just before or after a separation.

In Austria the Protection Against Violence Act was passed in 1997, and since then, women no longer have to automatically leave their homes and go to a women’s shelter in the case of violence in the home. Instead perpetrators can be made to leave by the police. 

Last week, a government round table took place at which a package of measures against violence against women and to strengthen violence prevention was decided.

More money will be made available for violence protection institutions and for work with perpetrators such as men’s counselling.

Violence against women can be attributed to ‘many causes’

However, these more steps will not totally address the most fundamental root cause of violence identified by domestic violence charities  – the patriarchy.

Ulleram said that violence against women can be attributed to many causes, and in Austria was “deeply” embedded in patriarchal and historically developed social structures. 

One telling statistic is that Austria is still one of the EU countries with the largest gender pay gap between women and men.