Arms sales

France and the United Arab Emirates, partners in the crimes committed in Yemen

Publish Date
December 14, 2021
Pages Count
Arms sales
Press Release

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On 3 September 2019, as the conflict in Yemen, which is in the midst of the worst humanitarian crisis according to the UN and aggravated violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, enters its fifth year, a group of eminent international experts established by the UN Human Rights Council is sounding the alarm. It calls on the international community to denounce the crimes committed by all the warring parties, calls on States to refrain from supplying weapons that could be used in the conflict and reminds them of their obligation

to take all necessary measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law. In particular, the experts stressed that “States may be held responsible for aiding or assisting in the commission of violations of international law if the conditions for complicity are met”, finding that the “legality of arms transfers by France, the United Kingdom, the United States and other States remains questionable “1. Two years later, the same group of experts published its report in September 2021 and reiterated its concern about the supply of arms: “Notwithstanding the strong recommendations by the Group of Eminent Experts in its previous reports, third States, including Canada, France, Iran (the Islamic Republic of), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, continued their support of parties to the conflict, including through arms transfers. (...) As the Group has previously noted, arms sales are fuel that perpetuates the conflict »2. What has happened in the meantime? Since the start of the conflict’s escalation in 2015, several NGOs have highlighted the presence of French equipment sold to the warring parties in Yemen3. Among these, the United Arab Emirates is now the fifth-largest client of France for arms and military equipment for the 2011-2020 period. Our report aims to highlight, through the analysis of our member organisation Gulf Centre for Human Rights, how this country, a strategic ally of the Western powers, is, in reality a

particularly repressive dictatorship, where any dissenting voice risks imprisonment and torture, as exemplified by the fate of Ahmed Mansoor, winner of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights, who was convicted for his criticism of the regime and remains in detention despite having served his sentence. In addition, and thanks to the work of Mwatana for Human Rights, our member organisation in Yemen, this report highlights the direct and indirect responsibilities of the Emirati authorities in the commission of some of the most serious violations on the ground in the Yemen conflict. Finally, as evidence of these violations has accumulated in recent years, our report analyses the manner in which the French authorities have continued to equip the regime militarily, in violation of its international obligations on arms exports. Has it been complicit in violations? French support now extends to French companies themselves, which have set up shop in the Emirates, helping to build an industrial hub for military arms and surveillance equipment, feeding an autocratic police state internally and a criminal one on the ground in Yemen, in violation of French laws on due diligence.