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15 February 2022

Human Rights, Civilian Harm, and Arms Sales: A Primer on US Law and Policy

John Ramming Chappell and Brittany Benowitz | Center for Civilians in Conflict and American Bar Association

Read the primer here

This primer seeks to inform oversight and advocacy efforts by identifying the relevant sources of US law governing arms transfers, compiling existing human rights protections and oversight mechanisms in these sources of law, and clarifying the authorities of different US government entities.

The primer defines the main types of arms transfers covered under US law, identifies the constitutional authorities implicated in US arms transfers, outlines the domestic legislation on arms transfers with a focus on the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), and introduces sources of domestic policy and regulation that implement US legislation. The primer aims to illustrate the ways in which a variety of provisions, statutes, and policies can serve as tools to promote accountability compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law in US arms sales.