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24 June 2019

U.K. Court Nixes Saudi Arms Sales–What it Means for the US and Other EU Countries

Kristine Beckerle and Dearbhla Minogue | Just Security

Read the article in full

This article, written following the decision of the Court of Appeal in June 2019, considers the significance and impact of the court ruling on UK government policy and practice as well as how it might shape how EU member states and the United States might consider arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition.

It provides an overview of the key considerations before the court, namely whether ‘the Secretary of State could rationally decide not to assess individual past violations in an estimation of the risk of future violations and remain in compliance with domestic and EU rules on arms export’, and provides analysis on the scope of the public law doctrine of irrationality as well as the evidence of repeated serious IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

With respect to other states, the article concludes that, although not legally binding, as a lot of the courts reasoning is grounded in the EU Common Position and User’s Guide, the judgment makes a compelling case that other EU MS must assess the coalition’s record in Yemen, and ‘cannot turn a blind eye to past abuses when granting arms licenses if seeking to comply with the EU Common Position.’