court application to review arms exports to parties to the conflict in yemen

SALC and Open Secrets vs. NCACC and the Minister of Defense

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Yemen, South Africa has exported arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The UN expert group on Yemen and other civil society reports have accused Saudi Arabia and the UAE of violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The engagement of both these countries has escalated the conflict in Yemen and lead to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and Open Secrets have launched an urgent two-part application in the North Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) seeking:

  1. The names of all permit holders that are authorised to export arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  2. A judicial review of the decisions by the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) to authorise arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite their active role in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen and allegations of committing war crimes.

By granting export permits, the NCACC did not adhere to the criteria and principles set out in the National Conventional Arms Control Act (NCAC Act). In terms of the NCAC Act, the NCACC must avoid transfers of arms to governments that systematically violate or suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms; and transfers of arms that are likely to contribute to the escalation of regional military conflict.

notice of motion and founding affidavit with annexures

The grounds for review in this case derive from domestic legislation as well as international law. The application focuses on decisions by the NCACC to grant permits enabling the export of arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. SALC and Open Secrets argue that the decisions by the NCACC constitute administrative decisions that must be reviewed and set aside.

fact sheet and graphics

coverage in the media