Oxfam Canada, CSOs Send Open Letter to Trudeau To Revoke Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia
Staff, Oxfam Canada
On the one-year anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty [ATT], which fell on September 17, Oxfam Canada, along with thirty-nine civil society organizations [CSOs], sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing their concerns and reiterating their demand to revoke the arms deal.
The treaty effectively regulates international weapons sales to significantly reduce violence and harm done to civilian casualties of war. As a signatory to the ATT, the government should ensure that Canadian weapons are not used to target civilians.
Nevertheless, Canadian weapons continue to fuel a war that has had led to the largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen and heavy civilian casualties. In the same year that Canada acceded to the ATT, its arms exports to Saudi Arabia more than doubled. Arms exports to Saudi Arabia currently account for three-quarters of non-US military exports.
With the subject of ongoing weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, the letter read that its signatories reiterate the continued opposition to Trudeau government’s issuance of arms exports permits to Saudi Arabia.
“We write today adding to the letters of March 2019, August 2019, and April 2020 in which several of our organizations raised concerns about the serious ethical, legal, human rights and humanitarian implications of Canada’s ongoing exports to Saudi Arabia. We regret that, to date, we have received no response to these concerns from you or the relevant Cabinet ministers on the matter.”
The signatories voiced disappointment at the Canadian government’s not releasing any information with respect to the arms-length advisory panel of experts that was announced by Ministers Champagne and Morneau over five months ago.
The letter further stressed to Trudeau that the decision to resume arms transfers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and only days after endorsing the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire undermines Canada’s professed commitment to multilateralism and diplomacy.
“We again reiterate our call for Canada to exercise its sovereign authority and suspend the transfer of light armored vehicles and other weapons which risk being used in the perpetration of serious violations of international humanitarian or international human rights law in Saudi Arabia or in the context of the conflict in Yemen,” the letter concluded.