Stephen Twigg – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Stephen Twigg on 2016-06-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will suspend arms export licences and reject new applications for arms exports to Saudi Arabia while there is a risk that they could be used in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Mr Tobias Ellwood

The UK Government takes its arms export responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world. All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, taking account of all relevant factors at the time of the application.

Risks around human rights violations are a key part of our assessment against the Consolidated Criteria. A licence will not be issued for any country, including Saudi Arabia, if to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the mandatory Criteria, including where we assess there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law.

Our export licensing system allows us to respond quickly to changed circumstances, with the option to suspend or revoke any export licence, where we consider that this is a necessary step. The Government is confident in its robust case-by-case assessment and is satisfied that extant licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with the UK’s export licensing criteria.