Report: Saudis Use European Arms for ‘Human Rights Violations’
In just over one year, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) has made history again by achieving the 50 ratifications necessary to activate entry-into-force. At a High Level event at the United Nations today, eight states – Argentina, the Bahamas, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Senegal and Uruguay – deposited their instruments of ratification, bringing the overall total to 53.
A coalition of dozens of human rights groups said Friday that European nations and the United States together sold US$25 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2015 — and those arms are being used to violate human rights in Yemen.
The report from the Control Arms Coalition lists the U.K., U.S., France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland as among those supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia, which is currently waging a war against the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.
Control Arms Director Anna Macdonald said: “Governments such as the U.K. and France were leaders in seeking to secure an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) — and now they are undermining the commitments they made to reduce human suffering by supplying Saudi Arabia with some of the deadliest weapons in the world. It’s truly sickening.”
From January to June 2015, Spain authorized eight licenses for export of aircraft, fire control systems, bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles to Saudi Arabia worth US$27 million, according to the coalition.
The U.K. issued a total of 152 licenses for exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, totalling over US$3 billion. Seven of these licenses were for more than US$1 billion worth of bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles.
The findings were released one day after the European Parliament voted to impose an EU-wide ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia amid criticism from the United Nations over the Middle Eastern nation’s bombing of Yemen.
That vote is not legally binding, however.
The report comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the U.K. on Friday for selling “brilliant” arms to countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.
“I can see the planes being built right behind me here. We’ve got more work to do in Saudi Arabia. The Germans have done a lot of work as well. It is a collaborative project,” Cameron said while touring a BAE Systems factory in northern England.
Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since a Saudi-led coalition began bombing Yemen last year. According to the U.N., about half of the dead are civilians.