Germany has made a decision to halt all arms exports to Saudi Arabia, becoming the first major arms exporter to do so. In 2013, Germany sent more than US$400 million worth of arms to a country that has been widely criticized for serious violations of human rights. The current sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1, 000 lashes is but one recent example, even as many world leaders are describing Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who passed away last week, as a reformer. German government sources have cited instability in the region as the basis for the halt while other outlets have stressed that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record may have also been influential in Germany’s decision. The risk of undermining peace and security and the risk of human rights violations are central to the Arms Trade Treaty’s risk assessment criteria for approving or denying arms transfers.
Roy Isbister of Saferworld welcomed Germany’s recent action saying, “Germany has made it clear that profits aren’t the only thing that should be considered when dealing weapons to oppressive regimes. Other major arms exporters that provide Saudi Arabia with everything from assault rifles and ammunition to fighter jets must follow Germany’s lead and stop these transfers immediately. The United Kingdom is a major source of these arms and should be the next in line to take action.”
Control Arms welcomes Germany’s decision to put a stop to arms exports with Saudi Arabia and urges other major exporters to follow suit. Last week, Control Arms also urged the United Kingdom to cease exports to Saudi Arabia, the biggest destination for British arms. Coalition members based in Canada have criticized the Canadian government, for its on-going arms transfers there.