Following illegal and unethical arms trades to countries with very poor human rights records under apartheid, democratic South Africa established a legal framework so that the mistakes of the past would not repeat themselves.But 26 years later, the plan to implement a system that ensures responsible arms trades guided by international law has failed. The reality of South Africa’s arms exports appears to be dominated by economic gain, with no space provided for humanitarian considerations. Today, South Africa grants permits to export arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), countries accused of committing war crimes in Yemen. When decisions are not made based on rationality or facts, such behaviour is indicative of a failed system that can help fuel a conflict such as the present one in Yemen. To review decisions granting export permits and hold South African state entities to account, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Open Secrets launched an urgent application in the Pretoria high court on 3 June 2021.
Back to old habits? South African arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE
Mail&Guardian 7 June 2021 By Atilla Kisla
Atilla Kisla is a Consultant at Southern Africa Litigation Centre’s International Criminal Justice cluster.