Skip to main content


Back to Resources

Parliamentary Oversight of National Defence Industry

17 May, 2022



Prepared in cooperation with NATO PA, the study presents the role and functions of parliaments, focusing on legislation, resource allocation, oversight and accountability, appointments, and dialogue.

It begins by examining the relationship between NATO and the defence industry through recourse to key NATO strategic documents and NATO-industry institutional arrangements. It suggests that NATO should reinforce and further optimize relations with the defence industry, and presents ideas for how this might be achieved, including by emphasizing cooperation between NATO and the defence industry in the new NATO Strategic Concept.

The study then outlines the methods and mechanisms used by parliament to effect parliamentary oversight of the defence industry. It notes that while traditional parliamentary oversight tools continue to be used to oversee the defence industry, more recently they have been complemented by mechanisms tailored to specific issues, such as arms export and multinational defence cooperation. The study concludes by detailing the procedural stages of parliamentary oversight activities and presents examples of good practices regarding parliamentary reviews of defence industry activities. It notes, however, that the growing influence and importance of the defence industry demands that steps be taken to enhance parliamentary oversight over its activities.

Despite the importance of the defence industry in providing for national defence capabilities, parliamentary oversight of the defence-industrial complex remains understudied and, in many cases, underdeveloped. This is partly explained by the complexity and specific context of the defence industry. Ownership of the defence industry varies from state to state, as does the specific expertise needed to ensure effective oversight.