Letter: Yemen in crisis. Why we must urgently halt the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia
Thank you for writing to my office about the incredibly important issue of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Since 2013, the UK Government has been selling British-made arms and mass weaponry to Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive regimes. Saudi Arabia is using these weapons in Yemen, a country where, according to Oxfam, over 80% of the population is in need of assistance.
The arms sales to Saudi Arabia are a dark part of the UK’s international activity. Despite there being clear laws prohibiting these actions, the UK Government’s involvement in arms sales has resulted in huge death tolls and extraordinary hypocrisy on a global platform. The impervious licensing system makes it very difficult to track the sales, but the estimated worth is hundreds of millions of pounds.
Not only are the direct sales of these arms immoral, they are also illegal. In 2000, the Labour government introduced the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (Consolidated Criteria) which combined the UK’s national export licensing criteria with those of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
Contravene the UK’s international commitments
Be used for internal repression
Provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions in the destination country
Be used aggressively against another country
Adversely affect the national security of the UK or allies
Be diverted or re-exported under desirable conditions
Seriously undermine the economy
Seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country
From this list alone, it is abundantly clear that the sales to Saudi Arabia breaches numerous criterion which have real, long -lasting and not to mention, devastating effects on the lives of thousands.
Furthermore, it has been highlighted that these bombs and missiles were licensed for export under Open Individual Export Licences given to BAE Systems. These licences permit an unrestricted quantity of goods to be exported within a given period, with no public reporting of what has been supplied.
Parliament’s Committees on Arms Export Controls, which scrutinises UK arms export policy included a report that the UK’s licensing system should be made more robust and transparent. The Labour party believe in completely stopping the sale of weapons and British-made missiles to Saudi Arabia. As your MP, I will continue to use my voice in Parliament to speak up against this unethical and disastrous reality.