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February 2020 - April 2021

Second Administrative Challenge at the Council of State against the Walloon Government




Armed Conflict in Yemen

Recipient State

Saudi Arabia

Case Type

Administrative Challenge




The second administrative challenge also concerned several licences issued by the Walloon Government for arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and invoked the risk that they could be used in the commission of serious violations of international law in Yemen.

The claimant’s learnt of the existence of a series of licensing decisions to Saudi Arabia through a minister’s response to questions in parliament, however, were unaware of the specific details of the licences when they brought the claim. The claim was therefore framed very broadly: it sought to suspend or annul one or more decisions taken on an unknown date to issue licences with a view to the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.

It has since become known through proceedings that these contested licences were issued in December 2019 and concerned the export of small arms and ammunition by Belgian arms manufacturers FN Herstal and Mecar to Saudi Arabia, and the export of turrets by CMI Defence to Canada, where they would be mounted on armoured vehicles with Saudi Arabia as their final destination.

In contrast to the first challenge, the claimants were successful in filing this claim under the ‘extreme urgency’ procedure and the court suspended all contested licences.

Case Details

Claimants’ Submission

The core argument submitted by the claimants was that the government had failed to formally and properly justify its conclusion that there was no risk that the arms would be used for human rights and IHL violations in the Yemen conflict. Walloon Decree, Criterion 2.

 The claimants also submitted that the licences violated international law, notably ATT Articles 1 and 6(2) as well as the obligation to ensure respect for IHL under Article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions.

Court Decision

The court ultimately ruled in favour of the claimants and suspended all arms export licences that were challenged due to the lack of a valid legal basis. 

The court found that ‘the contested acts were not adequately assessed with regard to the clear risk that the military technology and equipment to be exported might be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen.’


Following this decision, the government withdrew the contested licences. However, they refused to suspend all arms exports to Saudi Arabia and proceeded to grant new export licences to Saudi Arabia soon after. 


19 Feb 2020

The case enters the courts. Claim submitted against the Walloon Government at the Council of State, calling for the suspension of licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia under an ‘extreme urgency’ procedure.

Read the claimants submission here

09 Mar 2020

Judgement issued by the Council of State. All contested licences suspended.

Read the judgement here

08 Apr 2020

Following the order for their suspension by the Council of State, the claimants request the annulment of the contested licensing decisions.

11 Apr 2020

The Walloon Government cancels and withdraws the licences that the Council of State had ordered to be suspended.

27 Apr 2021

Judgement issued in annulment proceedings. The Council of State declares the case closed as the licences had been withdrawn.

Read the judgement here

Case Documents


Claim against the Walloon Government for the Suspension of Licences for Arms Export to Saudi Arabia under the ‘Extreme Urgency’ Procedure

Read the document in full


Judgement by the Council of State in Response to the Request Lodged 08.04.2020 for the Annulment of Suspended Licences

Read the document in full


Judgement by the Council of State on the Claim filed 19.02.2020 against the Walloon Government

Read the document in full


05 November 2020

Are Courts Going to Set a Higher Standard for Human Rights Due Diligence in Arms Exports?

Hans Lammerant (Vredesactie) | First published in IPIS

This article provides a critical overview of the trends in Belgian jurisprudence regarding arms export risk assessment decisions by the government.

16 April 2020

Belgian Arms Exports Halved Due to Court Decision


This article closely analyses Belgian arms exports statistics from 2017 – 2020 to highlight the potential impact and significance of the 9 March 2020 judgement on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

Contact the Claimants

This case was brought by two NGO claimants, Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH), Forum Voor Vredesactie (FVV), and Coordination Nationale d’Action pour la Paix et la Democratie (CNAPD).

If you would like to know more about this case, please get in touch with our primary contacts Hans Lammerant (Forum Voor Vredesactie) here and Manuel Lambert (LDH) here.