A new report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) reveals that UK arms exports nearly doubled in 2022 to £8.5bn. This is the highest level of Single-Issue Export Licences (SIELS) since records began. The figure is driven, in part, by the delivery of Eurofighter Typhoons to Qatar, along with substantial bomb and missile deliveries to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The report shows that the highest levels of arms exports were to countries with repressive regimes and poor human rights records. This includes £2.7bn to Qatar, £1.1bn to Saudi Arabia and £424m to Turkey.
Ukraine is also cited as a country of concern in the report due to the UK government not putting any measures in place to safeguard weapons when the conflict ends. This is in contrast to the EU and the US, both of which have additional regulatory mechanisms in place to address end-user concerns in Ukraine.
Small arms sales to the US are also highlighted as problematic due to a license issued for 28,500 sniper rifles for a commercial end user. This raise concerns that weapons exported by the UK could contribute to gun violence, or be smuggled to Mexico and Central America where a large proportion of the guns used by criminal gangs originate from the US.
Emily Apple, CAAT’s Media Coordinator stated: “The Annual Report gives a clear picture of how the UK is complicit in fuelling conflict around the world. Billions of pounds of arms are exported to dictatorial, or near-dictatorial regimes that commit appalling human rights violations with a disturbing lack of transparency.
“As we move closer towards a general election, it is vital that all political parties take CAAT’s recommendations seriously and commit to taking urgent action over these deadly sales.”
Andrew Jackson, Chief Executive of Pax Christi England and Wales welcomed the report, saying: “This is such a valuable report and we should all be grateful to CAAT for the detailed work they have done in shining a light on the dark world of UK arms exports. The lack of transparency in UK arms manufacture and trade is evident alongside the absence of any proper Parliamentary oversight.
“Reading the report so soon after the DSEI Arms Fair in London is a sobering reminder of just how complicit the UK is in the supply of arms to repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere. The report raises a number of concerns that can fuel our campaigns to end UK involvement in a trade that, as Pope Francis has said sullies the soul, heart and humanity.” Read the full report here: www.caat.org.uk