NPWJ supports European Parliament’s call for weapons export ban on Saudi Arabia

14 Jul, 2020 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 14 July 2020

Yesterday, the European Parliament´s Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted the “Arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP” report, aimed at assessing how Member States were implementing the EU’s legally binding set of common rules* adopted in 2008 to govern the control of exports of military technology and equipment.

NPWJ particularly welcomes the report praising the decisions of some Member States to restrict their arms exports to countries that are members of the Saudi-led coalition involved in the war in Yemen and calling again on the High Representative to launch a process that would lead to an EU-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. According to the latest SIPRI figures,** EU-28 is the second largest arms exporter to both Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The EU and its Member States should stop providing arms and any other military or surveillance items that may be used by the Saudi regime and its allies to commit massive international humanitarian law violations against civilians, such as in Yemen.

Critically, these weapons have also been and will continue to be used for internal repression and to silence opposition leaders or human rights activists, such as in Saudi Arabia and – as highlighted in the report – in Egypt. It is way past time for the international community, and the European Union in particular, to reconsider, at a fundamental level, their arms trade relationship with countries whose behaviour resembles that of a rogue regime. Failure to do so is, in reality, siding with tyranny and total disrespect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.

NPWJ looks forward to the European Parliament confirming in plenary this strong stance for non-proliferation of arms in countries where these weapons may be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. This a crucial tool to protect civilians against massive and indiscriminate armed violence and to prevent more humanitarian crises, human rights abuses and atrocities in the future.

*Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, adopted in 2008, contains eight criteria that are to be taken into account when issuing export licenses. The criteria include the respect for human rights in the country of final destination, the preservation of national and regional stability and the compatibility of arms exports with the development of the recipient country.

**The latest SIPRI figures also show that arms exports from the EU-28 amounted to some 26 % of the global total in 2015-2019, collectively making the EU-28 the second largest arms supplier in the world after the USA (36 %) and followed by Russia (21 %).

For more information: contact Nicola Giovannini on