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AOAV signs joint letter by civil society organisations to Control Arms Export Committee regarding UK arms to Israel

Action On Armed Violence (AOAV) has co-signed two letters with other leading organisations, addressed to both the UK’s Control Arms Export Committee (CAEC) and the Financial Times. Our words highlight the urgent need for a thorough review of the UK’s arms export policies in light of the escalating conflict in Gaza.

The situation in Gaza is deeply concerning, with Israeli forces intensifying their operations in the southern part of the region. This has resulted in an alarming number of casualties, nearing 18,000 Palestinians, alongside catastrophic living conditions for those who have survived. In this context, the international community, including AOAV, is raising critical questions about the UK’s involvement as a major arms supplier to Israel.

The letters, a collective effort by AOAV and its allies, begins by highlighting the dire situation in Gaza. They emphasises the human cost of the conflict and the impact of armed violence on civilian populations. Central to the letters’ message is the scrutiny of the UK’s role in this crisis. They point out that the UK, as a significant supplier of arms and components to Israel, might be indirectly contributing to the conflict. The evidence suggests that weapons and components supplied by the UK are being used by Israeli forces in Gaza. This fact raises serious concerns about the UK’s adherence to its obligations under international law, given the scale and nature of the violence in Gaza.

The letters also address the current status of the CAEC, highlighting that this parliamentary committee has not convened to scrutinise the UK’s arms export policy during this crucial time. The reformation of the Department for International Trade into the Department for Business and Trade earlier this year has led to a loss of leadership and members within the CAEC, further complicating the situation. The signatories, including AOAV, are calling for the urgent election of a new Chair for the CAEC and an immediate inquiry into the use of UK-manufactured weapons in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Dr Iain Overton of AOAV said of the letters: “AOAV’s involvement in this initiative aligns with its longstanding commitment to reducing armed violence and promoting peace. By signing this letter, AOAV joins hands with other organisations in urging the UK government to take a hard look at its policies and their potential impact on international conflicts. The letters emphasise the need for the UK to reassess its role in global arms trade, particularly in contexts where human rights violations and humanitarian crises are prevalent.”

In conclusion, AOAV’s participation in this joint letter is a testament to its dedication to addressing the root causes of armed violence and advocating for responsible arms trade policies. The organisation remains committed to working alongside its partners in civil society to bring about positive change and ensure that the UK’s arms export policies align with its international obligations and ethical standards. As the situation in Gaza continues to evolve, AOAV will continue to monitor developments and advocate for policies that promote peace and reduce violence.