On Monday 10 July, Liam Fox MP – the Secretary of State for International Development gave a statement on a High Court ruling which concluded that the government was acting lawfully in granting export licences for UK arms. At the heart of this case is a concern about weapons that the UK has supplied to Saudi Arabia, and whether those weapons have been used in a manner which breaches international humanitarian law. In particular, the use of UK-manufactured arms in the conflict in Yemen has come under close scrutiny.
Whilst the High Court found that the Secretary of State had acted legally in granting arms export licences in this conflict, the case raises important questions about the use and sale of British armaments in international conflicts – especially where there are suspicions that international humanitarian law is being breached. I asked the Secretary of State why the Department of International Trade does not take more notice when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reports that certain countries appear to commit infractions of international humanitarian law.
Will the Secretary of State please enlighten us about why he does not take more notice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s reports on countries of concern for human rights and repression?
Liam Fox (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Perhaps we are talking about a different judgment, because this judgment makes it very clear that we did take very clear account of the advice given by the Foreign Office and, indeed, that we sought further advice from the Foreign Office when it was necessary to do so.
You can watch the exchange below: