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A Case Study of Yemen: Does the British Arms Industry have a Place in our Modern World?

Updated: Apr 8

Introduction

In our modern, western world the concept of war and conflict may seem like a historic one of darker times. In reality, however, this is far from the truth. BAE Systems, a company that recently won a £5bn contract to provide fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, currently employs 5000 people at their production facility in Warton, Lancashire (The Times, 2018) and from 2008 to 2017 UK companies were granted £12 billion worth of military controlled arms export licenses by the British Government, including licenses for arms that would be sent to twenty-nine of the thirty countries on the foreign office human rights watchlist (AOAV, 2018). The arms industry has a bigger impact on our country, and our lives, than most people realise, and I was keen to investigate this in great detail in order to understand the complexities of the arms trade, which can be so advantageous in creating employment and stimulating economic growth, but also catastrophic in accelerating war and allowing human rights violations to occur.


In defining our ‘Modern World’ as a civilised, western society that should have peace, freedom and equality at the core of its values, this investigation will aim to analyse and evaluate research related to the arms trade in a considered and balanced manner before concluding whether the British Arms Industry has a place in our modern world. I aim to achieve this through the use of Yemen as a case study of how British arms can impact and escalate conflict and will be investigating two key areas: firstly, the importance the arms trade has in stimulating and driving forwards the British economy, as well as the political impact the arms industry has in developing international relations overseas; secondly, the impact British arms have had in escalating the conflict in Yemen.


There are many vulnerable countries greatly affected by the British arms trade, and over the last decade almost one third of British arms exports have been to countries on the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) 2017 human rights ‘priority countries list’ (AOAV, 2018). However, I have chosen to use Yemen as a specific case study as I believe it is a true example of how arms exports can destabilise a country, not only in terms of conflict, but also in terms of its economic, political and social instability. Analysing this case study alone allows us to focus the question more specifically on one particular conflict as opposed to stretching ourselves too wide across the many hundreds of conflicts across the world that British arms fuel.

An unexploded, British-made cluster bomb found by a farmer in Hajjah, Northern Yemen. © Amnesty International

Since Saudi intervention began in the Yemen conflict in 2015, British arms have fuelled the Saudi-led coalition, and ultimately the war. This conflict has caused one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the 21st century and “as the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need humanitarian aid and protection” (UN Secretary General, 2018). This is a great example of the impact that arms, manufactured in the UK by British workers in British factories through licenses granted by the British government, can have on conflicts overseas – in particular, the impact it can have on innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of war. The discovery of a British-made cluster-bomb used in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition that killed 16 civilians, as pictured in Figure 1, (Amnesty International, 2018) is further evidence of the brutality and destruction that British arms can cause.


In doing all of this I hope to conclude whether or not the arms industry is morally acceptable in our so-called ‘modern world’ of peace and freedom, as well as whether the terror and destruction these arms create in the hands of our export partners is truly justified.


The Arms Industry as a force of good

While the arms industry is often criticised for its role in provoking conflict further, its importance in generating economic stimulation for the British economy cannot go unrecognised. Between 2012 and 2016, “the UK was the 6th largest weapons exporter, with 4.6% of the world share” (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018) and in 2015 arms export licenses to Saudi Arabia alone were worth £2.9 billion (AOAV, 2018). Although 2015 does represent an unusually significant spike in arms export licenses, the scale of the licenses granted that year really do reflect the importance of the arms trade to the British economy. Furthermore, not only does the arms trade have evident economic advantages, it could also be argued that it is significant in defending the UK’s international interests by building alliances abroad, which – in the words of former PM, Theresa May – are fundamental in keeping “people on the streets of Britain safe” (Independent, 2016). However, we have to question whether the economic and diplomatic advantages of the arms trade are really worth the brutality of conflict that they can cause. This is particularly significant in light of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s (CAAT) ‘arms to renewables campaign’ which could see the arms industry replaced by renewable energy, bringing the same economic and diplomatic advantages without the fundamental destruction of war.


What are the economic advantages of the Arms trade?

There is little doubt that the arms industry is a significant employer. It is estimated that there are around 115,000 UK arms industry jobs and a further 55,000 in arms export production, including supply chains (CAAT, 2014). The reality of jobs relying on the arms industry is staggering, and although this employment only represents 0.6% of UK total employment, of which approximately 45% comes from arms exports (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018), the real number of workers these industries employ and the number of households involved in arms exports is still significant. Employers like BAE systems are fundamental to parts of the UK, such as Warton, Lancashire, where they employ 5000 people at their production facility (The Times, 2018); this employment is imperative given the recent light the 2019 election shed on underdevelopment in parts of Northern England and the need for further employment and decentralisation from London in order to stimulate economic growth in more economically isolated areas. If these employers just disappeared over night, the social, political and economic consequences for the UK would be disastrous. Hence, in order for England to continue to prosper, it is likely the arms industry will be fundamental in attempting to increase both local and national economic growth in the long-term, as well as social equality and financial mobility across the UK, through providing further employment opportunities, and thus it is unlikely there will be a reduction in arms export-related jobs in the near future.


Furthermore, the arms industry doesn’t just create employment through production facilities but also in procuring research and development. UK aerospace companies, often involved in the production of arms, “continue to invest £1.8 billion in research and development and sustain 223,000 UK jobs” (ADS, 2010). These research roles not only sustain jobs, but also stimulate GDP and put Britain at the cutting edge of new advancements in the fields of Science and technology – a vital position to be in during the so-called ‘tech revolution’ of the 21st century. The UK already has a 10% share of the global defence market as well as a “significant share of the global aftermarket (service) sector, including maintenance, repair and overhaul” (ADS, 2010) and in order to maintain our position in such a competitive market it is important the British arms industry receives continual investment. As a result, the arms industry is a highly reliable economic force in creating employment and stimulating GDP growth through procuring research opportunities that will allow the UK to continue to operate at the cutting edge of such a competitive, global industry.


UK aerospace companies are also world leaders in the ever-growing rotorcraft (helicopter) market which is forecast to be worth up to £30 billion in 2027 (ADS, 2010) – thus it is vital Britain maintains its role as a world leader in this particular field of the arms industry given the large market expansion predicted for years to come. It would be foolish not to take advantage of this growing opportunity and the success of Britain’s every-growing economy could be greatly impacted by the continued investment in research and manufacturing opportunities that the arms trade creates. Therefore, in allowing our country to flourish economically, the arms industry certainly has a place in our ‘modern world’.


How does the Arms Industry aid International Relations?

In addition to this, it is often argued that arms exports are vital to securing good international relations with countries like Saudi Arabia – relations which are often referred to as vital because, in the words of Theresa May, “When it comes to counter-terrorism and dealing with terrorism, it is that relationship [with Saudi Arabia] that has helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe” (Independent, 2016). It isn’t just our diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia that is said to benefit from British arms exports, but also our relationship with close European allies – like France and Spain – as well as the USA, which is the UK’s second biggest arms market (CAAT, 2014).


However, this argument is highly flawed as countries, like Saudi Arabia, are already obliged through international law to share crucial information with the UK that could prevent terror attacks from taking place through UN resolution 1373 (Open Democracy, 2017), and while good international relations may be helpful in the communication of this information, it is not as fundamental to the security of Britain as politicians, like Theresa May, have previously made it out to be. Furthermore, the trading of arms hardly seems like the only way to ensure a strong and stable relationship between two countries – there is a large array of other forms of diplomacy other than the trading of arms that can be used to build strong relations – political alignment through organisations like the EU or the G7 for example. Therefore, given there are sufficient alternatives to the arms trade in building international relations, the arms industry seems irrelevant and largely replaceable when it comes to international diplomacy.


Similarly, it is a common theme amongst many Western arms markets, particularly markets in Europe, that defence spending is increasingly reducing. In 2012 there was a Europe-wide decrease in defence spending of €1.1 billion compared to spending in 2011 (EDA, 2013). This decrease is a common trend in European markets and as a result British arms exports to Western allies are decreasing as defence spending is continuously being cut. Therefore, regardless of whether the arms trade is good for international relations, defence cuts mean that arms exports are becoming less and less significant on the international stage, in the Western hemisphere at least. Therefore, while many claim the arms trade to be vital in securing international relations, in reality it is not as fundamental as previously thought, and thus, when it comes to diplomacy, the arms industry is not hugely significant in our ‘modern world’.


A Case Study of Yemen: the harsh realities of the arms trade

When it comes to analysing the damage that British arms have caused in the Yemen conflict, the obvious answer to whether the British arms industry has a place in our modern world is a resounding no. Since the outbreak of the Yemen civil war in 2015, Yemen has faced severe social and economic problems – the conflict has paralysed trade and, as a result, created one of the greatest humanitarian crises in global history. It is estimated that “some 18 million people are food insecure” and more than three-quarters of the population require humanitarian aid (UN Secretary General, 2018). This is in no small part thanks to British arms bought by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners intervening in the Yemen conflict.


How are British arms actually used?

Saudi Arabia, and its coalition partners, are some of the UK’s largest arms export destinations, with Saudi Arabia accounting for almost half (48%) of UK arms exports (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018). “The UK government has licensed the sale of at least £4.7 billion of military equipment (referred to as ‘arms’) to Saudi Arabia since the outbreak of the Yemen civil war in March 2015” (Full Fact, 2018) and, since Saudi Arabia is one of the main forces fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, it must be inferred that the bulk of these weapons are being used in the Yemeni conflict. Furthermore, these imports are not just limited to Saudi Arabia, but also to Yemen itself. Before the out-break of civil war in 2015, UK arms exports to Yemen were rather insignificant, although there was a “peak of 22 [licenses] in 2014”. However, since 2016 there has been a rather significant spike in the number of arms licenses approved “with 72 and 131 in respectively 2016 and 2017”, constituting a 700% rise compared to the two previous years (AOAV, 2018). This rise comes with increasing success of territorial gains for the Houthi rebels, thus suggesting the progression of the war, and losses of the Saudi-coalition, has provoked more significant imports of British arms.


Therefore, through analysing this data we can clearly understand that British arms are in fact fuelling the conflict by providing the Saudi-led coalition with the means to combat the Houthi forces; now that this is clear, we can begin to understand the human impact that this conflict has had and assess the issues British arms have escalated, if not caused, in the Yemen conflict.


What has been the human cost of the conflict?

British arms have contributed significantly to Yemen’s humanitarian disaster. Yemen imports up to 90% of its daily needs (United Nations, 2017), including food and fuel, of which supplies are gravely depleted. Due to the civil war, trade has been paralysed and an air, land and sea blockade initialised by the coalition in November 2017 as an attempt to run the Houthi rebels dry of supplies has “exacerbated food, health and humanitarian conditions, threatening famine and exacerbating the worst cholera epidemic of modern times” (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018). The war has brought Yemen to its knees. The UN Secretary General described Yemen as being “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” with some 18 million people food insecure (UN Secretary General, 2018). “Reserves are in such short supply that three Yemeni cities have been unable to pump clean water to residents” leaving one million people at risk of a renewed cholera outbreak, off the back of Yemen’s previous one that was deemed as the worst of modern times (United Nations, 2017). Furthermore, the conflict has led to the displacement of more than 3 million civilians and over 21 million people (80% of the population) are relying on various forms of humanitarian resistance (AOAV, 2018). It is clearly evident that this conflict has sparked humanitarian disaster beyond comprehension – endangering the lives of millions of people who don’t know where their next meal will come from and leaving them prone to diseases such as cholera, due to poor water quality, and diphtheria, caused by a lack of medical capabilities as a result of bombed and destroyed facilities. These third world conditions are truly unacceptable; after almost five years of conflict, with little military success, it appears British arms have created damage beyond human comprehension. It is appalling to think that British arms have been a catalyst in causing this destruction and there can be no doubt that the sale and export of these arms to human rights abusers, like Saudi Arabia, who is leading the coalition in Yemen, is completely unethical.


While countries like the UK have offered humanitarian and financial support in the form of £205 million to Yemen in 2017-18, on top of the £112 million we provided in 2016-17 (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2017), no form of aid will ever be sufficient enough to solve the Yemen crisis and make up for the over £5bn of arms export licenses granted to Saudi Arabia and the wider coalition fighting in the war that has fundamentally fuelled the conflict. The aid Britain has offered is a drop in the ocean compared to the destruction we have caused – destruction which has undoubtably contradicted the very values of peace and freedom we strive for and hence, as a result, it is clear the devastating consequences of the arms industry in Yemen render the industry unfit for our ‘modern world’.


What is the physical impact of the Yemen Conflict?

Parallel to the increased imports of British arms by the coalition in 2016, as previously mentioned, the civil war in Yemen has also seen an increase in civilian casualties. “As of October 10 [2016], at least 4,125 civilians had been killed and 7,207 wounded since the start of the campaign, the majority by coalition airstrikes” (Human Rights Watch, 2016). Thus, we can see a direct link between the increased purchase of UK arms and the deaths of innocent civilians on the ground in Yemen and, while there are allegations of International human rights violations by all parties involved in the conflict, “the majority of deaths … are from coalition airstrikes, and it is the Saudi-led coalition that the UK is supporting militarily and diplomatically” (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018).


A report by Amnesty International in 2018 highlights their discovery of a British-made cluster bomb used in air strikes by the coalition – “at least 16 civilians, including nine children, have been maimed and two children killed by one form or other of cluster munitions”. Cluster munitions, such as this one manufactured in the UK and used on civilian targets, are illegal under International laws dating back to 2008. The report went on to say that “this type of cluster bomb was originally manufactured in the UK in 1970/80’s and likely sold to a member of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition some years ago. But regardless of when this was sold, the UK has a responsibility, under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to ensure these weapons are never used” (Amnesty International, 2018). Therefore, not only is there evidence of the Saudi coalition – with the political and military support of the UK – targeting civilians in Yemen, whether purposefully or accidentally, there is further evidence to suggest that British arms are being used in these attacks, including arms that are banned under International law. This is a clear breach of the UK Government’s criterion-based licensing system, in particular section 2C where the government will “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law” (Hansard, 2014). Furthermore, not only are British arms violating IHR law in Yemen, defying the very principle of our ‘modern world’ of peace and freedom, but the consequences of these attacks are in fact truly devastating. “Human Rights Watch investigated 18 apparently unlawful strikes, some of which used US or UK-supplied weapons, on 14 civilian economic sites. The strikes killed 130 civilians and wounded 173 more. Following the attacks, many of the factories ended production and hundreds of workers lost their livelihoods” (Human Rights Watch, 2016). These attacks are not only shocking examples of the devastating physical affects the war is having in directly killing and injuring civilians, but also examples of the further ramifications this can have on the Yemeni economy. These attacks defy the very definition of our ‘modern world’, stimulating violence and aggression while denying principles of peace and freedom. Therefore, neither these attacks nor the arms trade that supplies them have a place in our so-called ‘modern world’.


What are the social and economic implications of the conflict?

The targeting of schools, hospitals and businesses is ruining Yemen’s local economy through destroying facilities and infrastructure that the local people cannot afford to rebuild. With some two million children out of school and an estimated 2,500 schools destroyed (UN Secretary General, 2018), the future of Yemen’s children is of great concern with young people, some as old as eight, never having experienced a day of school in their life. Moreover, in targeting economic sites, the coalition are damaging the remains of Yemen’s already very basic economic infrastructure, and repeated coalition strikes on factories and other buildings of significant economic importance raises the concern that the coalition is purposefully attempting to inflict damage on Yemen’s limited production capacity. The destruction of such facilities, and as a result the loss of employment opportunities, has resulted in severe economic hardship for the majority of families in Yemen. In 2018, Yemen’s GDP per capita was an appalling $895, ranking it 162 in the world (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2019) and putting it just below Guinea, a country known for being the poorest in West Africa, and just above Chad, a country prone to severe terror attacks by the Boko Haram Islamic state group. Being associated with these countries is vital evidence of how inferior Yemen’s economic situation really is and reflects the damage that years of civil war, fuelled by British arms, has had in paralysing the country.


Furthermore, the combined economic hardship in Yemen, alongside the breakdown of the education system through the destruction of school buildings and the displacement of people, has had catastrophic social ramifications. In these pressing economic circumstances of financial distress, and an absent education system, young boys have been pushed into the conflict in order to generate the much-needed income their families require to buy food, fuel and other basic resources. “UN and NGO reports highlighted the continued recruitment of child soldiers by all parties in Yemen” and “the UNICEF Resident Representative said that the organisation had verified 2,369 cases of child recruitment between March 2015 and January 2018” (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2017). This significant level of child soldiers is hugely alarming. Because of this brutal conflict, under-aged boys are losing their lives in order to provide for their families. This appalling reality completely contradicts any values of peace and equality as these children are continually denied the opportunity to learn and have fun, but instead are forced to risk their lives on a battlefield – subjected to the harsh realities of war. It is British arms, manufactured in the UK and used by the coalition forces, that are fuelling the conflict and taking the lives of thousands of young people, not only physically, but emotionally as their schools are destroyed and the increasing economic hardship, catalysed by the conflict, forces them into labour and conflict.


However, it is not just boys who have been affected by Yemen’s fallen education system and strenuous economic misfortune as a result of the British-fuelled, Saudi-led conflict, but girls have also been made particularly vulnerable. “A 2017 UN report highlighted child marriage as a particular concern, estimating that 52% of women marry before the age of 18, and 14% before the age of 15” (Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 2017). In these relationships, young girls are often vulnerable to sexual abuse and rape. However, these marriages are seen as necessary by their family members in order to provide food and shelter for the rest of the family, particularly in the case of larger families with many children to provide for. Thus, it is clear that economic pressures, ravaged by the civil war, have pushed young girls into forced marriages in order for their parents to collect a dowry that will allow them to feed their younger siblings. The social ramifications of this conflict are truly heart-breaking, and the cover of war has created a somewhat lawless land where tragedies like this are an everyday occurrence. Therefore, the conflict has not only physically killed and injured thousands of civilians, but also forced social change through financial hardship that has seen young girls and boys deprived of education and prone to physical abuse against their consent – if there was ever a reason why the arms trade is an abomination, surely this is it. The forced marriage of young girls and the fighting of young boys in bloody and brutal conflict defies the very definition of peace, freedom and equality that we set out for our ‘modern world’, and hence these dehumanising events – and the arms trade by which they have been caused – cannot have a place in our society.


Conclusion

Throughout this investigation, I have collated and analysed a wide range of sources that show both the economic significance of the arms trade, and the devastating human impact of the industry in catalysing conflicts overseas through my case study of Yemen. In assessing the physical damage that British arms have created in conflicts overseas, and the devastating human cost this has caused – not to mention the declining social and economic situations in these war-torn conflict zones – it is evidently clear that the British Arms Trade does not have a place in our ‘modern world’ as the destruction that these arms have caused denies the very definitions of peace, freedom and equality that we as a society should aim to pursue.


While it is undeniable that the arms trade plays a fundamental role in providing sustainable economic growth in the UK through manufacturing and research procurement – for example BAE Systems which makes Typhoon fighter jets, currently being used in the Yemeni conflict, employs 33,000 people in the UK (Open Democracy, 2017) – the destruction of Yemen’s basic infrastructure and creation of an almost lawless land, as a result of the brutality of conflict, could never be justified by the financial gains the arms trade creates. In placing people above profit, the arms trade has no place in our ‘modern world’. According to the CAAT, almost 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the Yemeni conflict in 2015 (CAAT Blog, 2019), and the Saudi-led coalition, who “the UK is supporting militarily and diplomatically” (Dr Anna Stavrianakis, 2018), are responsible for hundreds of air strikes, of which one-third were on civilian targets (CAAT Blog, 2019). As a result of these devastating air strikes, Yemen’s already basic infrastructure has been critically damaged, with many hundreds of schools and hospitals destroyed – not to mention the irreplaceable lives of innocent civilians lost in the process, each one with yet another grieving family struck by the harsh realities of civil war. This is not a game or a profit-making exercise – these are the invaluable lives of our fellow human-beings.


Countless numbers of underage girls have been forced into marriage against their consent; many hundreds of young boys face the brutality of war in order to provide for their families – a war in which they will most likely lose their lives to the hands of the Saudi-led coalition using our British made arms. All of these aforementioned issues do not even touch on Yemen’s severe humanitarian crisis, whereby three-quarters of the population require humanitarian aid, and where “every ten minutes, a child under five dies of preventable causes” (UN Secretary General, 2018).


The time for complacency is long gone, and our duty to Yemen long overdue. There can be no doubt, with the identification of British cluster munitions being used in air strikes – killing two children and maiming 16 civilians in total (Amnesty International, 2018), that British arms have catalysed this conflict and, as a result, caused incomprehensible damage – physically, as well as socially and economically – to the lives of many millions of innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire of war. And henceforth, the indecipherable human cost of the arms trade renders it unfit for our ‘modern world’, regardless of any opposing rhetoric or argument an advocate of the industry would choose to present. No means, financial or otherwise, could justify the injustices inflicted upon the many millions living through Yemen’s humanitarian crisis – supposedly the greatest in global history.


What are the alternatives to the Arms Trade?

We cannot, however, simply walk away from the Arms Trade – even if it lacks a future in our Modern World; as previously mentioned, the social and economic consequences of this for many parts of Britain, and the many thousands of jobs the British Arms industry supports, would be disastrous. Therefore, alternative industries – delivering the same economic advantages but without the catastrophic implications of war – must be harnessed in order to fill the gap of the arms trade in British society. This industry must have the same potential to create many thousands of British jobs, while procuring research and initiative, and thus stimulating GDP and allowing our country to flourish.


A vital example of a replacement industry for the arms trade is the Renewables Sector (CATT, 2014). The ever-looming climate emergency, spurred on by activists such as Greta Thornburg, makes the Renewables Industry vital to the future of our planet – Governments around the world are pledging new and ambitious renewables targets, and with renewable sources contributing to only 5.2% of UK total energy and 14.9% of UK electricity generation in 2013 (DUKES, 2014), there is a huge market for new renewables technology as the international community moves away from the traditional use of fossil fuels. Thus, the renewables industry is an ever-growing opportunity for future investment which, if harnessed by the UK, could provide hugely beneficial economic, social and environmental benefits through procuring research and creating employment, similar to that of the British arms trade.


Further to being a growing market, the renewables sector “requires many of the same skills as the arms trade, employs many of the same branches of engineering and is in need of skilled personnel” (Open Democracy, 2017). There are currently severe shortages in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) in the UK where huge industry demand is surpassing supply. As a result, the growth of many industries – such as renewables – is being hindered by a lack of workers with the correct STEM backgrounds and qualifications. It is currently estimated that the UK will need 87,000 new graduate-level engineers each year over the next decade; only 51,000 graduates are completing suitable STEM qualifications per annum (CAAT, 2014), therefore leaving a significant shortfall. Since the arms trade employs many thousands of workers with suitable STEM qualifications required for industries such as renewables, it is highly plausible that the short-term void of unemployment and economic instability created by the potential loss of the arms trade would be quickly filled in the long-term by this huge demand for workers from STEM-related backgrounds.


A research study by the CAAT in relation to their ‘Arms to Renewables’ campaign found that over the coming years, growth in the renewables industry in the UK would create a total of 220,000 jobs – including 35,000 operation and maintenance jobs further to the 185,000 jobs created by the installation and manufacturing of renewable technologies in the areas of wind and marine energy (CAAT, 2014). Although these figures are estimations, this level of employment is more than sufficient to replace the 55,000 UK employees involved in arms exports production and would thus create further employment opportunities across the UK as a result; the economic prosperity, financial stability, and social equality that the arms trade contributes to British society is by no means irreplaceable and the growth of the Renewables Industry and demand for green energy makes the industry a prime alternative to the Arms Trade, hence alleviating Britain of the importance that the Arms Trade holds in providing employment and encouraging prosperity – especially in Northern England where BAE systems is a fundamental employer to less economically-mobile communities.


Final Thoughts

Determining the detrimental human impact of the Arms trade as being categorically unjustifiable by financial means, in addition to identifying the Renewables Industry as a prime replacement for British arms-related employment and research, it is hence evident that the British Arms Industry does not have a place in our modern world.


The British arms trade has undoubtably caused incomprehensible human suffering through fuelling the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen civil war – as evident in the UK Court of Appeal’s recent suspension of future British arms export licenses being granted to Saudi Arabia (Court of Appeal, 2019). The decision by the Royal Courts of Justice is a significant turning point in recognising the injustices created by the British Arms Industry – profiting at the despair of innocent civilians. Our case study of Yemen shows the frightful consequences of war, and the arms industry that so willingly fuels it. It would be inhumane to say such an industry should continue to prosper at the hands of human suffering.


The evidence is hence clear that the British Arms Industry lacks a future in our modern World. As a result, we must look forwards, attempting to resolve the damage that British arms have created; closing the factory doors of our British manufacturers; withdrawing the licenses granted by our very Government; and advocating the beauty of peace, not the destruction of war.


Conor Walsh



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