Second Administrative Challenge at the Council of State against the Walloon Government
Armed Conflict in Yemen
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 Development: Judgement by the Council of State in Response to the Request Lodged 08.04.2020 for the Annulment of Suspended Licences
The court rules that as the licences had been withdrawn, there is no longer a need to adjudicate in the annulment proceedings and declares the case closed. The government had made a decision to...
Case Development: Judgement by the Council of State on the Claim filed 19.02.2020 against the Walloon Government
The court finds that several decisions by the Walloon Government in December 2019 to issue licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia must be suspended.nn Acting under the ‘extreme urgency...
Case Development: Claim against the Walloon Government for the Suspension of Licences for Arms Export to Saudi Arabia under the ‘Extreme Urgency’ Procedure
The claimants request the suspension or annulment of one or more decisions to issue one or more licences for the export of arms to Saudi Arabia.nnnnnnn The date of these decisions by the Minister...
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.
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
Claim against the Walloon Government for the Suspension of Licences for Arms Export to Saudi Arabia under the ‘Extreme Urgency’ ProcedureRead the document in full
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).