“This ruling offers further proof, if any is needed at this point, that the primary – and indeed, the only – purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is to constrain the Western democracies.”
The British Court of Appeal has ruled that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful, on the grounds that British ministers had “made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law in the past, during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so.” This ruling offers further proof, if any is needed at this point, that the primary – and indeed, the only – purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is to constrain the Western democracies.
The latest ruling follows from a 2017 High Court decision which found in favor of Britain’s arms sales. I analyzed this ruling for Forbes, pointing out that the case was “rooted in Britain’s adoption of a legally-binding policy that it has committed to follow when granting export licenses for arms and other military goods.” That policy, in turn, reflects the Arms Trade Treaty, though it has earlier precedents.
At the time of the High Court’s ruling, I noted that “On the substance of the case, I agree with the Court. But my own view is that while the Court got it right in its first and third conclusions, its second . . . is less persuasive.” I am therefore not surprised that the Court of Appeal has decided against the government.
by Ted Bromund