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14 August 2021

Domestic Accountability for International Arms Transfers: Law, Policy and Practice

Valentina Azarova, Roy Isbister, and Carlo Mazzoleni | Saferworld, GLAN, and ICJ

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This report discusses the prevalence and importance of litigation against international arms transfers that fuel human rights and IHL violations in armed conflict and constitute potential Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) violations. In particular, it notes that given the lack of a formal international accountability mechanism, litigation initiated in national courts are the primary means of ensuring state compliance with their international arms trade related obligations.

The briefing documents ongoing and past litigation against arms sales to countries involved in the Yemen war in nine national jurisdictions, (UK, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, USA and South Africa) and a case initiated at the International Criminal Court. It also identifies common themes among the cases and draws some initial conclusions on the obstacles faced in achieving genuine and robust accountability in the implementation of ATT and general arms-trade related obligations under international law.