Response to calls for arms embargo on Saudi Arabia

Thank you for contacting Molly with regards to the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. The vote in plenary on the Humanitarian situation in Yemen will take place on Thursday 25th February.

Molly and her colleagues in the Greens-EFA group tabled a Motion for Resolution condemning the Saudi Arabian-led coalition airstrikes, calling for a halt to military confrontation, and expressing deep concern that some Member States are still supplying arms to Saudi Arabia in breach of legally binding EU arms exports rules under Common Position 2008/944/CFSP. We are concerned that ongoing licensing and direct military training by EU Member States can be considered complicity in war crimes and other serious breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

In addition to the Greens’ own resolution, we also worked with several other political groups in the European Parliament to table a Joint Motion for Resolution. Within this resolution, we will call on the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to initiate an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, given the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

The situation in Yemen is by no means helped by the revelation that David Cameron’s government engaged in a secret deal to get the Saudi Arabians onto the UN Human Rights Council, and that the UK has been the largest arms supplier to the region since 2010. Molly is astonished at the choice of a Saudi Chair for the panel of independent experts at the UN Human Rights Council, and believes that the Saudi government should start living up to the responsibility that such an important post should carry.

Molly and her Greens-EFA colleagues in the European Parliament share your concerns about arms trading with countries engaged in violations of human rights and war crimes. Molly does not believe in putting vested interests above those of humanity, as she explains in this article for CNN. Last December, the European Parliament adopted a report setting out its assessment of how EU rules on arms exports are being implemented and how to tighten them up, with a large majority of MEPs voting in favour. Commenting after the vote, fellow Green MEP Bodil Valero, the European Parliament’s draftsperson for the report, said:

“The European Parliament has sent a clear signal to EU governments on the need to tighten up EU rules and practices on arms exports. The existing rules are binding but a major problem is that these rules are not properly implemented, with the consequence that arms still end up in the wrong hands. The report highlights the need to ensure better implementation but also calls for stricter EU rules.”

You can read the full press release here.

I hope this provides reassurance that Molly and her colleagues recognise the urgency of the situation, and share your desire for a firm humanitarian stance from the EU. We will support the Joint Motion for Resolution on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen (2016/2515(RSP)), and will be calling for an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.