16:00 GMT +318 June 2019
Listen Live
    Smoke rises from a house of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh after a Saudi-led airstrike in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, May 10, 2015.

    UK Breaking Its Own Law by Selling Arms to Saudi - UN Lawyers

    © AP Photo / Hani Mohammed
    Europe
    Get short URL
    2106

    The British government could face legal action for breaking "domestic, European and international law" by supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia for its military operation in Yemen, which is fuelling the country's ongoing civil war.

    Lawyers and human rights campaigners have come to the conclusion that the UK government could be taken to court for exporting arms, manufactured by British companies, to the Saudi Arabian regime.

    The British government deny any involvement in Saudi Arabian's military campaign in Yemen — despite issuing more than 100 licenses for arms exports to Saudi Arabia since March 2015.

    During the first six months of 2015, British arms exports to Saudi totaled US$2.61 billion (£1.75bn).

    According to the United Nations, Saudi Arabia is breaching international law in Yemen. Lawyers, therefore, believe it is unlawful for the UK to continue to supply weapons used in such atrocities.

    "The UK has fueled this appalling conflict through reckless arms sales which break its own laws and the global Arms Trade Treaty it once championed," Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International (AI) said.

    Indeed, in 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron championed the Arms Trade Treaty, saying it would "save lives and ease the immense human suffering caused by armed conflict around the world," adding that Britain should be proud of securing such a deal.

    Two years later and after legal scrutiny of Britain's obligations, arising under the UK's consolidated criteria on arms exports, the EU Common Position on Arms Exports and the Arms Trade Treaty, by lawyers — Professor Philippe Sands QC, Professor Andrew Clapham and Blinne Ni Ghralaigh of Matrix Chambers — made the following conclusion:

    "Any authorization by the UK of the transfer of weapons and related items to Saudi Arabia… in circumstances where such weapons are capable of being used in the conflict in Yemen, including to support its blockade of Yemeni territory, and in circumstances where their end-use is not restricted, would constitute a breach by the UK of its obligations under domestic, European and international law."

    Immoral and Indefensible

    Commenting on the conclusions drawn by the lawyers, Kate Allen from AI said: "This legal opinion confirms our long-held view that the continued sale of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia is illegal, immoral and indefensible."

    Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has admitted that British-made weapons are being used by Saudi forces.

    And while legal proceedings could be brought against Britain, European Union member states have also been accused of failing to condemn Saudi Arabia's total disregard for human rights under international law.

    Amnesty International claim that the EU's collaboration with Saudi Arabia on counterterrorism, energy and trade issues means that:

    "The EU is essentially giving the green light for abuses to continue."

    The West's controversial arms trade relationship with the Saudi regime is making British arms manufacturers billions — but at the cost of lives lost in a bloody civil war.

    Saudi Arabia is Britain's main trading partner in the Middle East.

    Related:

    David Cameron Facing Internal Backlash Over UK Support of Saudis in Yemen
    UN Declares Week-Long Ceasefire in Yemen Ahead of Peace Talks in Geneva
    UK Flooding Middle East With Arms Leads to Weapons Falling Into Wrong Hands
    UK's Hammond Backs More Saudi Arms Sales, Says They Create 'British Jobs'
    Arming Corrupt Arab States Boosts Extremism, Adds to Conflict - TI
    Tags:
    civilian casualties, arms market, Yemen conflict, lawyers, arms trade, international law, arms export, investigation, government, civil war, military, war crimes, war, court, weapons, British Conservative Party, Amnesty International, United Nations, European Union, Philip Hammond, David Cameron, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik