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A Health-Based Case against Canadian Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia

A Health-Based Case against Canadian Arms Transfers to Saudi Arabia


Published on October 26, 2020

October 2020

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Under the Arms Trade Treaty, state parties must assess the extent to which the export of conventional arms might contribute to, inter alia, serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The stated aims of Canada’s arms export licensing decision-making process are, similarly, to assess such risks on a case-by-case basis. This paper examines Canada’s ongoing arms transfer arrangements with Saudi Arabia in light of health-related international humanitarian and human rights law considerations enumerated in the Arms Trade Treaty. It assesses available information suggesting serious violations that implicate acts of commission by the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict in Yemen. The article centers on questions about the potential health-related consequences of Canadian-made, Saudi-coalition-used arms for people in Yemen and how risks are being assessed in export decision-making processes. Ultimately, it argues that Canada is failing to meaningfully take into account the possible negative impacts of its arms exports on people’s health and health care in Yemen. It counters the government’s approach to risk, which it argues is serviceable to exporter interests, with a health-based precautionary approach to exports.


Global Health & Humanitarianism



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