McKinney-Rohrabacher "Code of Conduct"
Amendment Passes House - First Reform of Arms Sales Policy in Twenty
June 10, 1997
Code of Conduct Legislation Prohibits the Transfer of U.S. Arms and
Technology to Non-Democratic Regimes
WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-4th-GA), a member
of the House Committee on International Relations, won House passage
today of an amendment that will significantly change United States
human rights policy as it relates to the transfer of U.S. arms and
technology. The Code of Conduct for Arms Transfers, an amendment to
the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1997 (H.R. 1757), passed by
voice vote, bans countries that are non-democratic, involved in acts
of armed aggression and are abusers of human rights.
"This legislation helps to give the United States a conscience for the
leaders around the world who don't have one. This legislation helps to
give a voice to those people around the world who can't speak out in
their own countries. And finally, this legislation puts the
international behavior of the United States in synchronization with
our words, our beliefs and our fundamental values," the Congresswoman
said on the floor of the House today.
Congresswoman McKinney initially offered the "Code of Conduct"
Amendment during the 103rd Congress to give Congress -- for the first
time in two decades -- a role in United States Arms export policy. On
Wednesday, April 30, the legislation lost by two votes in the
Committee on International Relations. The amendment has the support
of 227 grassroots organizations. The original bill had more than 100
co-sponsors during the 103rd Congress and 54 in the 104th.
The McKinney-Rohrabacher Amendment offered today was altered after
discussions with Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN), the House
International Relations Committee Ranking Democrat. The presented and
(passed) Code of Conduct retains its annual Presidential certification
of nations on four important criteria: democracy; human rights;
non-aggression; and compliance with the U.N. Arms Register. The new
amendment provides the President more latitude to conduct arms
transfers policy by the inclusion of a national security waiver for
those nations that do not meet the Code's criteria. This differs from
the national security exemption in the original Code of Conduct that
has been in force for the past 20 years. It required Congressional
approval for any nation not meeting the Code's criteria.
Congresswoman McKinney, who is the second ranking Democratic member on
the International Operations and Human Rights, received support for
the revised bill from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and
Chairman Christopher Smith (R-NJ). Mr. Smith is Chairman of the
International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee. Both members
joined her in a June 6, 1997 "Dear Colleague" letter and spoke in
support of the bill today on the floor of the house.