Erstellt am: 3. 3. 2016 - 15:54 Uhr
No Weapon, No Cry
FM4 Reality Check
How do you stop a war?
One way would be to make all the guns and missiles and other arms unavailable. Right?
Well, at the beginning of this week, Amnesty International called for an arms embargo on all parties involved in the Yemen conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition and Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
I contacted Rasha Mohamed, Yemen researcher at the Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Programme, for a breakdown of what the AI embargo proposal entails...
RASHA MOHAMED: So basically, what Amnesty is calling for urges all states to ensure that no party to the conflict in Yemen is supplied directly or indirectly with any weapons. So, we’re not just focusing on Saudi and a Saudi-led coalition because there are multiple parties to the conflict that are state and non-state parties. Therefore our call focuses on all sides of the conflict because in our research thus far, we found that all parties of the conflict have committed human rights violations. So we’re asking, any states including and EU state or the UK or the US or Canada, when they authorize an arms transfer to any party to the conflict in Yemen, they should include a strict legally binding guarantee that the end use will be in line with international humanitarian law. That means that such arms will not be used in Yemen. So we’re asking states to not give arms to any state that’s going to use them in Yemen now. That is basically our call.
RIEM HIGAZI: Whoa. That’s a huge order when you think about how much of a hotspot Yemen is when it comes to the arms trade. Especially, of course, in the Middle East.
RASHA: Yes exactly that’s why we wanted to be ambitious but we also didn’t want to be close-minded because currently there is a UN Security Council resolution, 2216 it’s called, that basically imposes and embargo on one side to the conflict, an arms embargo on the Houthis and Saleh-aligned people (Rasha means Yemen's former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh) and this embargo only addresses those parties of the conflict. However, we are saying everybody should have no arms because they’re all hurting civilians and they’re all committing human rights violations.
RIEM: Yeah but there’s also a lot of money obviously here at stake and money seems to make the world go round. That’s why I’m saying, it’s such a huge tall request, if you will.
RASHA: Yeah! I agree there is a lot of money at stake and that’s why we want to be realistic in our call…however, you can’t deal with weapons with one hand and then deal with development aid with the other. That is what a lot of these states are doing in reality, they’re selling weapons and they’re making billions out of them if not more and they’re giving aid with the hand and one contradicts the other.
RIEM: When it comes to decisions about, for instance, an embargo on the arms trade at Amnesty International offices, when you guys get together to brainstorm on this, how does it work? I mean, does somebody just go, "You know what? We really should call for an embargo. Yeah!" How does that come into fruition?
RASHA: It’s very complicated. This call took us nearly a year to this point. I mean the conflict (Yemen) started in March of 2015. When we make such calls, they’re always based on our research. So, between March last year and March today, we have gone on four different missions to Yemen. On those missions, when we find evidence, we bring it back to the office and we discuss this evidence. On our missions we found evidence of US-made bombs, of UK-made bombs, we have evidence of cluster munitions that are Brazilian-made and US-manufactured. We also found evidence of small arms and light weapons that are being used in attacks so we’re talking mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, tanks that have been used by armed groups on the ground. We bring back all that evidence, it’s usually photographic or we take videos, and we study it and we try to bring back and see what is the chain that has been passed along to these different parties. That’s why it takes so long for us to make such a call. Once we have the evidence, we sit down and think, what is the most realistic call given that we have this evidence. It’s just the Saudi-led coalition that’s committing human rights violations, it’s also other parties to the conflict that are fighting on the ground which are different armed groups that are Houthi and anti-Houthi. We sit down, this specific discussion took a month of many many meetings and we thought it would be close-minded to just impose an embargo on just one side of the conflict which is the coalition. We thought it would be comprehensive by imposing it on all parties to the conflict because they’re all at fault.
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The EU Parliament Had a Similar Idea
Last week, members of the European Parliament called on the European Union to impose an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, saying Britain, France and other EU governments should no longer sell weapons to a country accused of targeting civilians in Yemen.
To get a better understanding of the European Parliament proposal, I spoke to Roy Isbister of Saferworld...he's an arms trade expert at the independent international organisation working to prevent violent conflict and build safer lives.
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