British Foreign Office Warns Saudi Arms Sales Risk War Crimes Prosecutions

Huge Civilian Toll of Saudi Strikes a Legal Problem for Arms Exporters

While the Cameron government continues to insist the shipments of weapons to Saudi Arabia fully comply with international law, British Foreign Office lawyers and diplomats are warning this is “not at all clear,” and that Britain could be setting itself up for war crimes prosecutions by continuing to sell missiles to them.

Saudi Arabia has come under significant fire for its massive civilian death toll in the last nine months of attacks on Yemen, and the Foreign Office is concerned about how many of those bombs and missiles falling on Yemen are from Britain.

Arms sold before the war began are a concern, certainly, but the bigger concern seems to be that the Cameron government continues to sell more weapons to the Saudis, even as they continue an air war with one of the most heavily civilian death tolls in decades.

The Foreign Secretary has sought to skirt the issue in the past by saying there is a review of Saudi sales upcoming, that just hasn’t been done yet, but lawyers warn that’s ringing increasingly hollow the longer the war lasts, and the more military contact Britain and Saudi Arabia have in the ISIS war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of