Western governments have long been silent parties behind human security and safety threats internationally. An example is Canada’s ongoing arms deals with Saudi Arabia. The human rights crises that often follow such deals include Yemen’s continually deteriorating situation, famine, instability, and civilian casualties.
The Green Party of Scotland conducted a study on the U.K sale of arms since Boris Johnson took office and focused exclusively on countries deemed “not free” by Freedom House. Among the states that have had dealings with the U.K. since 2015, the most significant are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. Significant because of the repressive nature of some state’s governments, and it has been reported that the U.K made 1.9 billion dollars off of arms exports to Saudi Arabia alone within the past two years.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens has stated publicly that;
The statement, spoken plainly by Ross Greer, underlines the global problem of Western governments seemingly prioritizing profits over human security. Greer went on to state that Scotland should prioritize human rights over profits and arms sales.
The Canadian Federal Green Party echoes the sentiment with the official party platform against Canada taking part in such deals. In addition, Amnesty International has spoken out against Canada recently in the hopes of stopping the state from continuing to sell to Saudi Arabia, given their human rights abuses.
In response to criticism regarding the ethics of these trades, the U.K put a temporary one-year hold on trading with Saudi Arabia, and the government has since stated that they do not have sufficient evidence for believing that the arms sold to Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, this decision comes after U.S President Biden has publicly promised that they will no longer sell arms to Saudi Arabian groups fighting in Yemen.
The U.K, Canada, and the U.S have made billions of dollars from selling arms to repressive regimes. Together, these governments have long stated that they always stand for freedom. While the U.S has made steps in the right direction, the situation requires that powerful states speak for the ongoing violation of human rights and how they have contributed to and, by extension, endorsed serious threats to human security.