Yemen enters a 9th year of war as High Court judgement on UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia anticipated

  • Sunday 26th March marks eight years since the Saudi-led Coalition’s bombardment of Yemen began, when it launched the aerial campaign “Decisive Storm”. 

  • Campaign Against Arms Trade awaits a judgement from the High Court in its second Judicial Review, which took place on 31 January 2023, challenging the UK government’s decision to renew arms exports. 

  • Arms exports and military support, including training and maintenance, to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates should be halted immediately. 

The case is CAAT’s second Judicial Review against the Government on this issue, following the successful case brought in 2019, temporarily halting new arms licences to the Saudi regime and the rest of the Coalition that has bombed Yemen.

The Coalition’s bombing campaign, has repeatedly targeted schools, hospitals, residentials areas, agricultural and water facilities, and civilian gatherings such as weddings, funerals, and market places. According to the Yemen Data Project at least 8,983 civilians have been killed and 10,243 injured by Coalition attacks. 

Investigations by UN bodies, Yemeni and international NGOs have found that many of these attacks were in violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), and many may be war crimes. 

For eight years the UK government has continued to allow arms exports to the Saudi-led Coalition, insisting that human rights violations against civilians are simply ‘isolated incidents’ with no ‘pattern’. The total value of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the war is around £25 billion. 

The victims of the Yemen war face layers of injustice not only for the atrocities they have endured but also for a severe accountability gap for the crimes that have been committed. All parties to the conflict are guilty of numerous and serious violations of human rights. However none of the parties or the international community have shown any inclination to ensure that gross violations of human rights are investigated and prosecuted.

The humanitarian crisis is directly linked to the policies and actions of all parties to the conflict, in particular the Saudi-led Coalition, through the destruction of health facilities, food and water facilities. Both the Saudi-led Coalition and the Houthis have been accused of using starvation as a means of warfare. 

Katie Fallon of Campaign Against Arms Trade said:

The UK’s role in the war in Yemen will remain a dark stain on the legacy of UK foreign policy. The suffering caused by the relentless supply of arms to the Saudi-led Coalition bombing Yemen, is compounded by the impunity granted to the Coalition for serious human rights violations – including possible war crimes – by the international community. 

The conflict and the Yemeni people have been ignored to serve vested interests: namely to sustain arms sales to the UK’s biggest customer, Saudi Arabia, and to maintain the illusion that an alliance with a murderous authoritarian regime upholds global security. 

CAAT and its supporters await with anticipation the High Court’s judgement following our judicial review against the government’s decision to renew arms sales to the Coalition in 2020. The people of Yemen deserve justice for the violations they have endured, and it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to hold the UK government accountable for its actions.”


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