End User Certificate – Dangerous and Embargoed Goods

End user certificate is issued by importer/buyer certifying the usage of the goods intended to be imported and that the goods will not be transferred or re-exported to any other party or country. From end user certificate we can ascertain whether the goods may be used for illegal activities, may reach in the hands of non-state actors or terrorists, whether the goods are going to states under embargo etc.

• What goods may require an end user certificate?
• Can we get guaranteed assurance that the goods will only be used legitimately as declared in end user certificate?

Arms and Ammunition

For class 1, explosives, cartridges the concern is for what purpose and who will be using these cartridges against who? Humans against birds (hunting) or humans against humans (civil defense) in a legitimate way or non-legitimate (repressive regimes).

There are many other Class 1 explosives which fall in this categories, example; grenades, incendiary explosives etc.

International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) defines “An end-user certificate is an official document, issued by a competent national authority of the importing state, which identifies a government agency of the importing state as the ultimate recipient of an international transfer of weapons”.

Syrian civil war is raging for more than 5 years and has resulted in deaths of 400,000+ according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The factions fighting in Syria includes Syrian Government, Opposition, ISIL &         Syrian Kurdistan people. There are some countries supporting Syrian government and some supporting Syrian opposition.

European Union sanction on Syria EU No 509/2012 includes export/import restrictions on goods and trade such as;

  • Export ban on arms and related material and on equipment which might be used for internal repression.
  • Import ban on crude oil and petroleum products from Syria.
  • Ban on exports to Syria of key equipment and technology for the oil and gas industry.
  • Ban on trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Syrian public bodies and the central bank.
  • Ban on supplying banknotes and coinage to the Syrian central bank
  • Export ban on equipment, technology or software primarily intended for monitoring or interception of the internet or telephone communications.

Prohibition also include Chemicals, which   may   be   used   as   precursors   for   toxic chemical agents.

EU Council resolution on Syria prohibits

(a) to sell, supply, transfer or export, directly or indirectly, equipment, goods or technology which might be used for internal repression or for the manufacture and maintenance of products which might be used for internal repression, as listed in Annex IA of the resolution, whether or not originating in the Union, to any person, entity or body in Syria or for use in Syria;

(b) to participate, knowingly and intentionally, in activities the object or effect of which is to circumvent the prohibitions referred to in point.

For exporting goods to Syria which is restricted by EU Resolution end user certificate alone is not sufficient but the approval of competent authority as per the resolution is required and this approval will be given only for food, agricultural, medical or goods for humanitarian purposes.

Drug Precursors

End user certificate and export/import permit is required for chemicals falling under United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Article 12 of this convention is related to substances frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.

Article 12(10) (a) of the convention requires each Party from whose territory a substance in Table I is to be exported shall ensure that, prior to such export, the following information is supplied by its competent authorities to the competent authorities of the importing country:

  1. Name and address of the exporter and importer and, when available, the consignee;
  2. Name of the substance in Table I;
  3. Quantity of the substance to be exported;
  4. Expected point of entry and expected date of dispatch;
  5. Any other information which is mutually agreed upon by the Parties.
  6. United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances table 1 and 2
    United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances table 1 and 2

    Chemical Weapon Convention

    Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) restricts chemicals and precursors for chemical weapons through 3 schedules.

    • Schedule 1 chemicals which have few, or no use other than for chemical weapons

    (Example Ricin)

    • Schedule 2 chemicals have legitimate small-scale applications. Restricted for export to non CWC signatory countries.

    Example: Thiodiglycol , Dimethyl methylphosphonate

    • Schedule 3 chemicals have large-scale uses in commercial industry but also may be used for making chemical weapons

    Example: Hydrogen cyanide, Thionyl chloride

    Legitimacy of End User Certificate

    Each case must be evaluated, who is the shipper, who is the consignee, who is the end user and what is the end use.

    End user certificate may be deliberately miss declared. Corrupt government departments may certify the end user certificate without necessary details such as clauses regarding transfer of the goods or re-export. If the detail of the exporter is missing in the end user certificate the importer can use same certificate to procure more goods than the quantity permitted from various suppliers.

    While verifying the end user certificate one must be alert to check various points including

    • Is the end user certificate issued by non-government end user?
    • Is the end user certificate issued by government?
    • Is the end user certificate issued by non-government end user supported by import permit from import country’s government?
    • Does the end user certificate supported by export permit or export permit is required as per law for the substances on goods involved?
    • Does the end user certificate clearly state the end use, guarantee for non-transfer to other parties or re-export?
    • Are the goods involved comes under International Sanctions?
    • Does the end user certificate mention full details of exporter and importer?

    End User Certificate – Improving Standards to Prevent Diversion published by Mark Bromley and Hugh Griffiths of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is an excellent guide to understand types of end user certificates and probable loopholes in same. Click here to read it


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