Challenge to Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia before High Court

13 Feb 2017 | by Conor McCarthy

The High Court has heard a challenge brought by Campaign Against Arms Trade (“CAAT”) in respect of the granting of licences by the United Kingdom in respect of the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in its military operations in Yemen.

Yemen is presently engulfed in a bloody civil war in which  Houthi forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have launched an insurrection against the government  of Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.  A coalition of Gulf states is conducting air and ground operations in Yemen in support of the Yemeni government. Grave concerns have been raised about the conduct of these military operations. A wide range of international bodies, including the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Yemen has concluded that the Coalition’s air strikes in Yemen are likely to have involved serious violations of the laws of war, including war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

CAAT seeks an injunction to prevent the licensing of further military equipment on grounds that there is a clear risk that such equipment might be used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Conor McCarthy, instructed by Leigh Day, is junior counsel for the Claimant.

Nikolaus Grubeck, instructed by Debevoise and Plimpton, is junior counsel in the proceedings for a coalition of intervenors (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Rights Watch UK).