Today marks the one year anniversary since we won a landmark victory at the Court of Appeal, challenging the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
As a result of that ruling, we have stopped the export of new weapons for use in the war in Yemen. A multi-billion pound deal to sell more fighter jets to Saudi Arabia remains on hold.
This is significant progress, but there is much more to do. The government is fighting every step of the way to continue the arms sales. It is appealing to the Supreme Court for a final decision, with the hearing scheduled for 23-25 November.
Meanwhile it has still not complied with the Court of Appeal ruling that it should retake its previous decisions to allow weapons sales, and it is continuing to supply the war in Yemen.
It’s not just our lawyers who are demanding answers; in today’s Observer all of the Opposition parties have united to call for urgent action.
We must end UK complicity in the war in Yemen. Thousands of people have been killed by five years of bombing, many more by hunger and disease, and now Yemen is facing a dual threat of cholera and COVID-19 with a health system shattered by war.
Shamefully, UK-made fighter jets, bombs and missiles have played a central role in this destruction.
Our case challenges the sale of these weapons. UK rules state that weapons should not be sold where there is a “clear risk” that they might be used in violations of international humanitarian law. Yet the UK government has continued to support the supply of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition, even as it has bombed schools, hospitals and food supplies.
If the government won’t follow its own rules, we need to make it do so.
In last year’s ruling, the Court of Appeal found that that the government had failed to properly assess the risk of weapons exported from the UK being used in violations of international humanitarian law.
The government was ordered to retake all its previous decisions to export arms to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, in a lawful way. New arms sales were put on hold until this review is complete. The government agreed to undertake the review as a matter of priority.
Yet, one year on, it has still not completed the review ordered by the Court.
All the time that review has not been completed, weapons sales can continue under pre-existing licences – and BAE Systems can still maintain the warplanes bombing Yemen.
So we must keep the pressure on. The government was ordered to retake its decisions, not just carry on with business as usual.