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2016 in Review: Human Rights Body Calls out UK on Arms Transfers

December 28, 2016

Civil society groups in the UK and internationally have been doing excellent work to highlight the UK government’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the midst of its bombing campaign in Yemen, which has led to a humanitarian catastrophe. One of WILPF’s contributions to this effort was to submit a shadow report on the United Kingdom to the Committee of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR), which reviewed the UK’s compliance with these rights from 6–24 June 2016.

WILPF’s report, written by WILPF Disarmament and Human Rights programmes, focuses on the violations of the rights to adequate housing, health, and education in Yemen that are facilitated by UK arms transfers to Saudi Arabia. As a result, the CESCR Committee recommended that the UK government “conduct thorough risk assessments prior to granting licences for arms exports and refuse or suspend such licences when there is a risk that arms could be used to violate human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights.”

What’s next?

We will continue to raise awareness amongst governments, civil society groups, and the public about the connections between arms transfers and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in as many forums as possible, including those on human rights, arms control, and disarmament. We will also continue our research and advocacy on the international arms trade and on explosive weapons use, particularly in relation to the Middle East, where we work with women’s rights activists in the region to promote nonviolent feminist solutions to conflict. We’ll also continue our work with the International Network on Explosive Weapons to end the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

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