The arms’ export from Italy is regulated by two different laws: act 110/1975, on the trade of light and small calibre weapons, and act 185/1990 on the exportation, importation and transit of weapons of war. The second one alone includes provisions limiting exports towards other countries on the basis of the criterion of respect of human rights in the importing country. The lack of a clause on human rights in the first law enables Italy to sell weapons to public or private bodies in third States where, for example, child soldiers are sued.
According to a report issued in January 2009 by the UN Secretary General, Italy has recently authorized arms’ exports to some of the States included in the list of countries where child soldiers are used: for example, Afghanistan where, according to a 2008 report by Amnesty International (“Afghanistan: the arms’ proliferation fuels further violations of human rights”), there is a high risk that the excessive quantity of small calibre weapons, light weapons and ammunition present in the country could be used to commit serious human rights violations. Unfortunately, Act 185/1990 too, in spite of the fact that it is widely considered to be a good law, has not always prevented weapons of war use from ending up, somehow, in the hands of armies or armed groups that use child soldiers or commit war crimes or other breaches of humanitarian law.
by Antonio Marchesi