Britain Says It Can Restart Saudi Arabia Arms Export Licences (excerpt)
(Source: Reuters; published July 7, 2020)
By Alistair Smout
The British government’s decision to resume issuing arms export licenses for Saudi Arabia, which had been suspended by the Court of Appeal in June 2019, will allow additional sales to be concluded, including of additional Typhoon fighters. (Twitter photo)
LONDON --- Britain can once again issue new licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia after complying with a court order, its trade minister said on Tuesday, a move [that] campaigners condemned as “morally bankrupt”.

The Court of Appeal last year ruled that Britain broke the law by allowing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been deployed in the war in Yemen.

The court concluded that Britain’s government had erred in law in its decision-making processes on arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, after activists said there was evidence the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.

While the court’s decision did not mean Britain had to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it did mean it had to pause the granting of new export licences to sell arms to the kingdom - Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser.

Trade minister Liz Truss said the government had re-taken those decisions on a “correct legal basis”, meaning it could resume issuing licences.

“I have assessed that there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL (International Humanitarian Law),” she said. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.

Click here for the full statement to the House of Commons, in our Word for Word section.


Notice to Exporters 2020/11: Progressing Licence Applications for Military Exports to Saudi Arabia
(Source: UK Department for International Trade; issued July 7, 2020)
The necessary steps have been taken to comply with the judgment of the Court of Appeal of 20 June 2019 regarding licences for military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen.

On 7 July 2020 the Secretary of State for International Trade informed Parliament in a written statement that she has retaken her decisions regarding licences for military exports to Saudi Arabia for possible use in the conflict in Yemen, in accordance with the Judgment of the Court of Appeal of 20 June 2019.

Consequently, the undertaking given to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away. The broader commitment that was given to Parliament, relating to licences for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, also no longer applies.

The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year. Each application will be carefully assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and a licence would not be granted if to do so would be a breach of the criteria.

Exporters should be aware that it may take some months to clear this backlog. There may also continue to be delays in processing new applications until the backlog has been cleared.


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