UK Parliamentary Committee Draft Report Calls for Pause in Weapons Exports to Saudi Arabia

This post was first published at 12:45am.

A powerful body of the UK Parliament, the Committees of Arms Export Controls, has stated in a draft report that billions of dollars in UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia should be halted due to the risk that such transfers will be used by the Saudis to commit serious violations of the law of armed conflict in Yemen.

The report comes after the European Parliament earlier this year voted, by an overwhelming margin,  to “launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.”

The UK Committees’ draft report states:

“The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia.”

The draft report also concludes that it “seems inevitable” that such violations of the law of armed conflict by the Saudi coalition involve UK weapons. The report calls for a pause in arm sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen until an independent and international inquiry can establish the truth.” Late last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for such an independent, international investigation.

The report was apparently provided to the BBC, which gave detailed quotations from the report. This development also comes on the heels of a report in the Guardian that Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs will personally brief British MPs on Wednesday in an effort to urge them not to ban UK arm sales to the kingdom. The Saudi Foreign Ministry has lost one such effort recently. In March of this year, the Dutch parliament voted to ban arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Just Security has recently published a series analyzing the international legal rules that apply to recently reported Saudi-led strikes in Yemen, and to UK and US arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition. 

About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.