London’s High Court rejected a judicial challenge against Britain’s approval of military shipments to Saudi Arabia for potential use in the war in Yemen. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) criticized the British government for making the incorrect decision to start awarding new permits to export military hardware to Saudi Arabia in 2020.
However, in a written decision on Tuesday, the court dismissed CAAT’s legal contention.
The judges, Andrew Popplewell and Andrew Henshaw, said in their ruling that the British government’s analysis of potential breaches of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia was not irrational.
The Department for Business and Trade, the successor ministry to the Department of International Trade, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
In a statement, CAAT spokesperson Emily Apple expressed disappointment with the decision of approval of British arms export , but also added, “The judgment has exposed the fact that the government’s arms export licensing regime is incredibly permissive.”
At the hearing in January, the British government had argued that there has been a “sustained decrease” in the number of allegations of violations of international humanitarian law over the course of the war.
According to the only publicly available official figures, British arms exports doubled during 2022, reaching a record £8.5bn. These figures reflect escalating geopolitical uncertainties and fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.