NPWJ welcomes European Parliament’s call for weapons export ban on Saudi Arabia and the UAE

17 Sep, 2020 | Press Releases

Brussels-Rome, 17 September 2020

Today, the European Parliament 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 commending 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, the UAE as well as in Bahrein and Egypt. As highlighted in the report, Member States should follow the example of Germany, Finland and Denmark, which, after the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, adopted restrictions on their arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

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 the EU Member States to confirm and to implement through concrete measures this strong commitment to 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.