A NEW report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) reveals that UK arms exports nearly doubled in 2022 to £8.5 billion. This is the highest level of Single Issue Export Licences (SIELS) since records began. The figure is driven, in part, by the delivery of Eurofighter Typhoons to Qatar, along with substantial bomb and missile deliveries to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

UK arms exports in 2022: a research briefing draws on a variety of sources to provide the most comprehensive analysis of arms exports possible with the data available. However, as the report highlights, there are many areas where a greater level of transparency is needed to ensure companies are compelled to provide accurate data on the financial values and quantities of actual transfers.

The report shows that the highest levels of arms exports were to countries with repressive regimes and poor human rights records. This includes £2.7 billion to Qatar, £1.1 billion to Saudi Arabia and £424 million to Türkiye.

Ukraine is also cited as a country of concern in the report due to the UK government not putting any measures in place to safeguard weapons when the conflict ends. This is in contrast to the EU and the US, both of which have additional regulatory mechanisms in place to address end user concerns in Ukraine.

Small arms sales to the US are also highlighted as problematic due to a licence issued for 28,500 sniper rifles for a commercial end user. This raises concerns that weapons exported by the UK could contribute to gun violence, or be smuggled to Mexico and Central America where a large proportion of the guns used by criminal gangs originate from the US.

CAAT’s Research Coordinator and lead author Dr Samuel Perlo-Freeman, said: “CAAT’s Annual Report draws together information and data on UK arms exports from a variety of sources to present an overall picture of the UK arms trade in 2022, and trends over the past 10 years. Given the lack of transparency in the global arms trade, where each source provides only partial information, this approach allows for a much more comprehensive picture. The report also discusses in more depth several key destinations for UK arms in 2022 that CAAT considers particularly problematic, or which raise particular issues of concern.”

Emily Apple, CAAT’s Media Coordinator added: “The Annual Report gives a clear picture of how the UK is complicit in fuelling conflict around the world. Billions of pounds of arms are exported to dictatorial, or near-dictatorial regimes that commit appalling human rights violations with a disturbing lack of transparency.

“As we move closer towards a general election, it is vital that all political parties take CAAT’s recommendations seriously and commit to taking urgent action over these deadly sales.”

* Read: UK arms exports in 2022: a research briefing here.

* Source: Campaign Against Arms Trade