UK government approves £12bn arms sales to countries with poor human rights

By staff writers
July 18, 2013

Over 3,000 export licences for arms and military equipment worth more than £12 billion have been approved for 27 countries which are classified by the Foreign Office as "of concern" because of their poor human rights record, a cross-party group of MPs revealed yesterday (17 July)

The arms export controls committee's annual report, drawn up by MPs from four separate select committees, shows that significant sales have been approved for countries including Israel, Saudi Arabia, China, and Zimbabwe, according to

Around 400 arms export licences fo have been approved for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories for equipment valued at around £8 billion. This includes components for body armour, parts for "all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection", assault rifles, pistols, military support vehicles, and small arms ammunition.

The anti-poverty charity War on Want has called for a two-way arms embargo between the UK and Israel. The charity's senior campaigner Rafeef Ziadah said: “Israel has persistently violated international law and Palestinian human rights.We will intensify our efforts for an effective and credible arms embargo, operating in both directions between the British and Israeli governments.”

The chair of the cross-party group, and former Conservative defence minister Sir John Stanley, said: "The scale of the extant strategic licences to the FCO's 27 countries of human rights concern puts into stark relief the inherent conflict between the government's arms exports and human rights policies."


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