© Amnesty International
The global Arms Trade Treaty came into force last Christmas Eve. In many ways a very familiar story of a miracle birth, heralded as a new chapter for humankind. One year on, though, and it’s already been broken. More shockingly still, by its own self-declared greatest champion - the UK.
The Arms Trade Treaty was hard won. It doesn’t require an arms expert to work out that most of the world’s worst horrors are committed with weapons, but arms experts from groups like Amnesty, Oxfam, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and the Control Arms campaign came together in an unprecedented way in a decade-long campaign calling for the treaty to be instituted. Controlling the global arms trade and pre-empting the likelihood of atrocities, we argued, would help cut the tyrants off at source by denying them access to their tools of violence and destruction.
But like any treaty, it only works if it’s followed and a damning ‘legal opinion’ today echoed what we’ve been saying for months; the UK has broken it.
The UK government asserts that it’s not taking an active part in the military campaign. However, it has issued more than 100 licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia since bombing began in March. Those licences include more than £1.75 billion worth of combat aircraft and bombs for the use of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
David Cameron hailed the Arms Trade Treaty as a landmark agreement that would 'save lives and ease the immense human suffering caused by armed conflict around the world.' He said Britain should be proud of the role it had played in securing an agreement that would make the world safer for all. 'The United Kingdom has led efforts to secure the Arms Trade Treaty from the start' crowed a Foreign Office press release from this time last year. And so it did. But in the intervening year since the treaty came into force, the UK government has been busy moving the goal posts.
What it boils down to is an analysis of risk. The purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty is to prevent arms sales when it is more likely than not that they could be used to commit war crimes and other violations of international law. That’s COULD be, not HAVE been.
The UK has demanded evidence that specific UK weapons have been used to commit atrocities and is at pains to point out that our close allies, Saudi Arabia, have given repeated assurances that it is abiding by international law. The problem is that it clearly isn’t.
UK military 'working alongside' Saudi bomb targeters in Yemen war
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Aiding and abetting the Sauds and their coalition of NATOCIA type destroyers is as much a war crime as training and arming terrorists in Syria as in Libya.
Jail is too good for the regime, all of it. They and their families, advisors and mentors should be made to live in the war zones they take part in creating. Aden or Aleppo for example. Their allowed income to be determined by their fitness to work, not their needs.
Big hat tip to Jamila Hanan