You are here: Parliamentary committees call for suspension of UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia

15 September 2016

Following a joint inquiry into ‘The use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen’, two parliamentary committees have recommended that the UK Government immediately suspend licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia which could be used in Yemen.

UNA-UK, together with our partners in the UK Working Group on Arms, pressed the committees for the inclusion of this recommendation through evidence submitted to the inquiry.

Click here to read the evidence UNA-UK submitted as part of the UK Working Group on Arms

The Joint Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees also echoed recommendations made in our evidence by including a call for an independent international inquiry into reports of violations of international humanitarian law.

UNA-UK particularly welcomes the Report's acknowlegement of the incompatibility of the UK’s actions alongside its commitment to the rules-based international system, and the undermining effect this is having on the Arms Trade Treaty as well as the UK’s standing on the world stage.  UNA-UK made the case for this position in our evidence to the inquiry as well as in numerous policy reports over the years:

“The UK’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, primarily through arms sales in the face of evidence of IHL violations, is inconsistent with the UK’s global leadership role in the rule of law and international rules-based systems. The very rules the UK championed—represented by the Arms Trade Treaty—are at risk of unravelling. As an instigating member of the ATT, the UK should not set the example to other signatories that it is not bound by its obligations. This puts the UK’s own international reputation at risk and we are concerned that the UK’s voice will ring hollow in advocating for compliance with IHL on global platforms.”
Joint Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees, Paragraph 83

The Report also included a recommendation for the UK to independently investigate possible use of UK-manufactured cluster munitions used by the coalition forces, further to evidence documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in Yemen.

UNA-UK urges the Government to act on the important recommendations contained within this Report, including by immediately suspending export licences for arms to Saudi Arabia and by supporting the creation of an independent international inquiry into violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.