Top 5 Arms Exporters to Saudi Arabia 2014-2018

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What does a cholera outbreak in Yemen have to do with the effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)?

Everything.

With more than 1.3 million reported cases, the outbreak is just one manifestation of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis that has been inflicted upon Yemen by a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015. A UN panel has denounced “widespread and systematic” attacks on civilian targets in the impoverished country.

The key factor that has enabled and sustained this crisis? The unscrupulous and irresponsible transfer of weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite the risk that they could be used to undermine peace and security, and to violate human rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The Arms Trade Treaty prohibits precisely such exports for states parties. And treaty signatories who have not yet ratified are obligated to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the treaty. Yet there has been a steady flow of weapons to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners from major arms exporters since the start of the Yemeni conflict.

Following are the top five arms exporters to Saudi Arabia in the 2014-2018 period.

 

1. United States

Total value of exports 2014-2018: 11.5 billion USD

ATT Status: Signatory

Weapons exported include: military and surveillance aircraft, tanks, ammunition, laser-guided missiles

Diversion of weapons from intended end use(r): YES

Risk of weapons use in IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition: HIGH

Arms exports as of August 2019: ONGOING

 

2. United Kingdom

Total value of exports 2014-2018: 2.7 billion USD

ATT Status: State Party

Weapons exported include: military and surveillance aircraft, ammunition, armoured vehicles, precision-guided bombs

Diversion of weapons from intended end use(r): YES

Risk of weapons use in IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition: HIGH

Arms exports as of August 2019: ONGOING

 

3. Canada

Total value of exports 2014-2018: 1.7 billion USD

ATT Status: State Party as of Sept. 17, 2019

Weapons exported include: armoured vehicles, ammunition, small arms and light weapons

Diversion of weapons from intended end use(r): YES

Risk of weapons use in IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition: HIGH

Arms exports as of August 2019: ONGOING

 

4. France

Total value of exports 2014-2018: 733 million USD

ATT Status: State Party

Weapons exported include: naval vessels, military aircraft, tanks, artillery, ammunition

Diversion of weapons from intended end use(r): YES

Risk of weapons use in IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition: HIGH

Arms exports as of August 2019: ONGOING

 

5. Spain

Total value of exports 2014-2018: 391 million USD

ATT Status: State Party

Weapons exported include: refueling aircraft, ammunition, laser-guided missiles

Diversion of weapons from intended end use(r): YES

Risk of weapons use in IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition: HIGH

Arms exports as of August 2019: ONGOING

 

Photo: A baby is screened for malnutrition at Al-Jomhouri Hospital in Sa’ada, Yemen. UNICEF/Ma’ad Al-Zekri

Sources: Global Affairs Canada, SIPRI, Amnesty International, UNHCR, UNODA, Médecins Sans Frontières, Control Arms, Save the Children, The Guardian, France24, El País, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, CBC News.

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