In the last few minutes the Court of Appeal has ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen are unlawful.
The Court of Appeal concluded that it was ‘irrational and therefore unlawful’ for the Secretary of State for International Trade to have granted licences without making any assessment as to whether violations of international humanitarian law had taken place.
This historic judgment means that the government must now stop issuing new arms exports licences, and retake all decisions to export arms to Saudi in accordance with the law.
We celebrate this historic verdict. But these weapons sales should never have been licensed in the first place. It should not take a group of campaigners taking the Government to court to force it to apply its own rules.
It shouldn’t take four years of schools, hospitals, weddings, and funerals being bombed. It should not take tens of thousands of deaths and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
We must also question a system – and the priorities of government – that have allowed the continuing provision of arms in these circumstances.
This isn’t the end.
The government is likely to continue to fight this decision, even now. So now is the time to ramp up the pressure and make sure they finally prioritise human lives over arms trade profits.