Following action SPEAK took in partnership with CAAT in Summer 2017 we asked for the support of an Early Day Motion (EDM) for the re-establishment of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), to provide scrutiny over current UK arms sales and the UK's arms export control regime post-Brexit! The good news is that Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) was established. However, despite this, arms sales to Saudi Arabia and human rights violations in Yemen continued, which is why we are continuing to take action. In June 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms to Saudi-led forces for use in Yemen without making an assessment as to whether or not past incidents amounted to breaches of International Humanitarian Law. In July 2020, the government announced that it was resuming arms sales. This followed a review by the Department for International Trade which concluded that any violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) committed by the Saudi coalition were ‘isolated incidents’, despite the fact that hundreds of attacks on residential areas, schools, hospitals, civilian gatherings, and agricultural land and facilities have been documented.
The UK government continues to license the export of weapons for use in the war in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition is still bombing Yemen. Despite plenty of evidence of violations of International Humanitarian law in Yemen, the UK government refuses to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, hospitals, schools, food supplies, weddings and funerals have been targeted (by bombing) by the Saudi-led coalition. UK weapons have played a central role in these bombings. Saudi Arabia is the UK’s biggest arms customer. Our partners CAAT originally launched a Judicial Review application against UK government actions in March 2016 and on 20th June 2019 the Court of Appeal ruled in CAAT’S favour. But the government has continued to supply weapons to Saudi Arabia. Therefore a new Judicial Review application was filed on 26th October 2020 by CAAT into the legality of this decision by the UK government.
The UK government is once again allowing the sale of weapons for use in the bombing of Yemen.
Right now, Saudi forces are flying UK-made fighter jets to fire UK-made missiles and drop UK-made bombs. Attacks by the Saudi-led coalition have destroyed schools and hospitals, food supplies, weddings and funerals. The government has justified providing arms by claiming that war crimes committed in the attacks on Yemen are only "isolated incidents”.
Yet a new UN report highlights the “documented patterns of serious violations of International Humanitarian Law”. It says that the continued supply of weapons “is only perpetuating the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Yemeni people”.
Please act now to make sure your MP is aware of this report and urge the government to stop all arms sales and military support for the coalition.
UK arms export criteria say that if there is a “clear risk” that a weapon “might” be used in a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) then an arms sale should not go ahead. Saudi-led forces have been accused of widespread and systematic violations of IHL. In recent months a United Nations expert panel concluded that Saudi-led forces had been responsible for a pattern of IHL breaches and concluded that countries arming parties to the war could be “aiding and assisting” war crimes.
Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the UK has licensed £5.4 billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including:
£2.7 billion worth of ML10 licences (Aircraft, helicopters, drones)
£2.5 billion worth of ML4 licences (Grenades, bombs, missiles, countermeasures)
In reality the figures are likely to be a great deal higher, with most bombs and missiles being licensed via the opaque and secretive Open Licence system. The UK’s biggest arms company, BAE Systems, has made £15 billion in revenue from services and sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015. Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “Tens of thousands of people have been killed in this brutal bombardment, yet arms companies have profited every step of the way. These arms sales have only fuelled the destruction and prolonged the conflict. Last year the Court of Appeal found that the government had acted illegally, and nothing that we have seen since suggests otherwise.
“The government may think that the widespread destruction of schools, hospitals and homes can be dismissed as ‘isolated incidents’ but we do not. These arms sales are immoral, and we are confident that the Court will confirm that the decision to renew them was illegal.”
www.writetothem.com by searching your postcode
Dear MP, (Your MP)
I write to express my concern at the UK’s continued supply of arms to the Saudi-led coalition that is bombing Yemen. I am horrified that the UK government recently resumed granting new arms licences to the Saudi-led coalition for weapons that could be used in Yemen. It is astonishing that the government could conclude that such licences could comply with the UK’s export licensing criteria, and that it has justified providing arms by arguing that war crimes committed in the attacks on Yemen are only "isolated incidents”.
UK rules expressly prohibit the licensing of arms exports where there is a clear risk that they might be used in violations of international humanitarian law.
• Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen by air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition. These airstrikes have frequently hit civilian targets.
• In addition to the direct impact of the bombing, many more lives have been lost through the humanitarian catastrophe caused by the war. Nearly 80% of the population remain in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Attacks on food production and infrastructure suggest the deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war – which would also constitute a war crime.
• The UK has licensed billions of pounds of arms sales to the Coalition - at least £5.3 billion in published figures since the war began, but many billions more under the secretive open licensing system.
• UK weapons – including warplanes, bombs and missiles – are being used by the Saudi-led forces in Yemen and have been linked to individual attacks violating International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The government’s dismissal of violations of IHL as “isolated incidents” is not compatible with the evidence. Instead, the decision to resume arms sales is a choice to prioritise arms company profits over the pursuit of peace and security in Yemen, and over Yemeni lives.
Points for prayer
1.) Please pray that the UK government will change its mind as to supplying arms to Saudi Arabia.
2.) Please pray that the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court is unsuccessful.
3.) Please pray for the people of Yemen that God would give them courage to speak out in the face of oppression and that God would sustain them.
4.) Please pray that God would guide government officials and leaders of arms trade companies away from injustice and towards peace.
“They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Isaiah 2: 3-5
1. Send a letter to your MP via email or through printing out this postcard and sending it.
2. Encourage others in whichever group you are part of to spend time praying for the people of Yemen and doing the action of writing to their MP all together.
3. Support our campaign financially by becoming a LOUDSPEAKER and donating to make an incredible difference to the work of SPEAK.
4. If you can, please visit: www.speak.org.uk/get-involved/become-loudspeaker
5. Check out our partner’s web site www.caat.org.uk/homepage/stop-arming-saudi-arabia/caats-legal-challenge/
Either send off the postcard or email your MP in solidarity with our partners CAAT: