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Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Volume 646: debated on Tuesday 4 September 2018

We assess arms exports to Saudi Arabia against strict criteria. The key test is whether there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law. We take this very seriously and keep licensing decisions under careful review.

The New York Times reports today that Spain has heeded the United Nations Human Rights Council’s group of eminent experts on Yemen and ceased its sales of arms to Saudi Arabia for fear that they might be used in Yemen. This decision was taken following the publication of the report, which also expressed serious concern about the independence of the Joint Incidents Assessments Team. How many children in Yemen have to be blown to pieces on a bus before we cease our arms sales to Saudi Arabia?

That incident, and the deaths of any civilians, particularly children, caught up in a conflict are always dreadful. The most important thing is to bring the conflict to an end. We assess our arms sales on a case-by-case basis. I indicated earlier that the coalition was engaged in Yemen to try to reverse an insurgency. That insurgency is now firing missiles at civilian targets and, accordingly, I do not think that the political justification to withdraw arms sales to Saudi Arabia is made, but it is essential that international humanitarian law is adhered to and that there are no such further incidents.