A Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 recently disposed of by the Imperial War Museum. The movement of military aircraft held by museums would be restricted by the arms treaty

Arms treaty could kill movement of historic weapons, says Taylor

Geraldine Kendall, 16.11.2012
MA calls for clause to exempt antique arms from UN regulations
The Museums Association has written to the International Council for Museums (ICOM) to alert the worldwide museum community to the potentially damaging impact a forthcoming United Nations (UN) arms treaty could have on military collections.

The Arms Trade Treaty, which is likely to be ratified in spring 2013, controls the international trade of arms, including the transfer of title or control over equipment and the physical movement of equipment into or out of a national territory.

The treaty covers movement including import, export, re-export, temporary transfer, lease, loan and gifts, and encompasses material such as tanks, military aircraft, light weapons and ammunition.

In a letter to the head of ICOM, Julien Anfruns, MA director Mark Taylor wrote: “Under the proposals, any museum would have to seek the permission of the exporting country, the importing country and the transit countries to acquire and transport an antique arm or weapon, even for a temporary loan or a research project.”

The International Committee of Museums of Arms and Military History (ICOMAM) is currently lobbying the UN to ensure an exemption for antique and museum arms and weapons, said Taylor.

“If no exemption is included, [ICOMAM] believes that the bureaucracy would virtually kill the movement of historic arms stone dead,” he wrote.

“The next five years will see a huge number of military anniversaries for which museums worldwide are negotiating exchanges and loans.

“We believe that the treaty needs to include a clause exempting antique and museum arms and weapons from the scope of the treaty, and any help from ICOM would be gratefully received.”