Export Controls:

Multilateral Efforts to Improve Enforcement

NSIAD-92-167: Published: May 18, 1992. Publicly Released: May 18, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of multilateral efforts to improve export control enforcement, focusing on: (1) enforcement initiatives taken by the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM) and other multilateral export control regimes; (2) the potential impact of the elimination of internal borders in the European Community (EC) on enforcement; and (3) factors impeding the effectiveness of multilateral efforts to enforce export controls.

GAO found that: (1) COCOM has acted to strengthen export controls by developing a common standard of enforcement, encouraging non-COCOM members to adopt comparable standards, and requiring former Soviet allies to establish safeguard systems over COCOM-origin items in exchange for an easing of COCOM controls; (2) COCOM enforcement of non-proliferation controls will become more difficult due to the comparatively lower levels of technology involved and the greater need to concentrate on export end uses and users; (3) all COCOM members meet the common enforcement standard and have agreed to exchange data on export enforcement and legislation; (4) the European Community (EC) has proposed an export control standard for its members to address concerns that controlled items could be diverted through EC members with weak controls; (5) export controls will be more difficult to enforce in the future because countries that may misuse items to make weapons may not be part of an identifiable alliance; and (6) multilateral efforts to improve enforcement could help limit the proliferation of highly destructive weapons.

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