Saudi Arabia: Arms Trade

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 25th November 2015.

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Photo of Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what systems they have in place to monitor the use of military equipment licensed for export to Saudi Arabia to establish whether or not that equipment has been used to violate international humanitarian law in Yemen.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State

The British Government monitors the situation in Yemen closely, including reports of alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We take these reports very seriously. We have raised our concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities, who have provided assurances to us that they are complying with IHL. We continue to engage with them on those assurances, and we urge all sides to investigate such incidents fully. The Ministry of Defence continues to monitor alleged incidents internally, using available information, which in turn informs our overall assessment of IHL compliance in Yemen. We are offering Saudi Arabia advice and training to demonstrate best practice and to help ensure continued compliance with International Humanitarian Law.

With respect to UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia, all applications for strategic export control licences for military and dual-use goods are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the Criteria), in a manner consistent with the UK’s international obligations. A licence will not be issued for export of items to any country if to do so would be inconsistent with any mandatory provision of the Criteria, including where we assess there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL.

The Government is satisfied that extant licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the Criteria. Our export licensing system allows us to respond to changed circumstances and new information as and when necessary. The principle of responsible export controls is fundamental for the Government.

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