Saudi Arabia: Arms Trade

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policy on arms export licences to Saudi Arabia of the recent reports that a BL755 cluster bomb made by UK firm Hunting Engineering Ltd was found to be in use against civilians in Yemen.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We are aware of recent reports that the Coalition may have used cluster munitions in Yemen. We have raised this issue with the Saudi Arabian authorities and, in line with our obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, continue to encourage Saudi Arabia, as a non-party to the Convention, to accede to it.

The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application. A licence will not be issued for any country, including Saudi Arabia, if to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the mandatory Criteria, including where we assess there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law.

The Government is confident in our robust case-by-case assessment and is satisfied that extant licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria. The conflict in Yemen is being monitored closely, and relevant information gathered from that monitoring is taken into account as part of the careful risk assessment for the licensing of exports to Saudi Arabia.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, responded to an urgent question on the reports of UK manufactured cluster bombs in Yemen on Tuesday 24 May.

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