Britain’s appeals court rejected the government’s request to cancel a decision last month that the arms sale to Saudi Arabia should not be illegal because of its use in the war in Yemen.
The decision constitutes the latest blow in a long series of European countries’ decisions to stop selling arms to the Saudi regime in the light of the horrific war crimes committed against civilians in Yemen.
In a decision issued on Friday, the court granted Theresa May government the right of appeal, which allows it to challenge the decision makes arms sell to Riyadh licenses illegal.
The government had asked the court to overturn the ruling issued three weeks ago without at least making some assessments of whether previous cases amounted to a violation of international humanitarian law.
Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, had vowed not to issue new licenses to sell arms to Saudi Arabia during the appeal. He said there must be a review and investigation of the weapons that were sold to Riyadh before.
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party has recently condemned the government’s resumption of the arms deal with Riyadh.
Figures from the Ministry of Commerce indicated exports of about £ 5 billion ($ 6.3 billion) of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015.
Britain is the second-largest exporter of weapons to Saudi Arabia after the United States as Riyadh purchased 43% of total British arms sales over the past decade.
The decision, issued by the Court of Appeal three weeks ago, was a historic victory for Britain’s civil society organizations against the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Months ago, the European Parliament ratified a ban on exports of arms supplied to Saudi Arabia because of the continuation of its war in Yemen after a draft resolution submitted by a number of its members.
Recently, countries such as Germany and the Netherlands announced the cessation of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen, while the Norwegian Foreign Ministry announced the freezing of licenses to export arms to Riyadh.
The draft resolution submitted to the EU parliament proposed a future mechanism to apply sanctions to EU member states that are not committed to a common position on arms exports.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament approved a draft resolution on arms exports and presented it this week for discussion at the Strasbourg plenary sessions.
“The European Parliament considers that arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen do not meet the criterion, because of the involvement of these countries in serious violations of humanitarian law, as defined by United Nations bodies,” the report stated.
It also states that the European Parliament “reiterates its call for the urgent need for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, and calls on the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Defense and Council to extend this ban to all other members of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.”
The draft resolution makers regretted that some members of the European Union had not taken into account the behavior of the countries concerned, nor the end-use of exported arms and ammunition, which could undermine the European arms control system.
The European Parliament had previously issued a non-binding resolution imposing a European embargo on the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, against the backdrop of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Riyadh Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, early October.
According to Associated Press,325 deputies approved the resolution, while rejected by one deputy, and 19 abstained.