Civil Society Joint statement: UK government refusal to suspend weapons licenses amid ‘clear risk’ of international law violations

London, 28th January 2024- ICJP joined seven other UK and international civil society organisations in criticising the UK government’s refusal to suspend arms exports to Israel. This is despite the clear risk that UK-licensed equipment might be used to carry out or facilitate serious violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), including war crimes.

The joint letter was signed by ICJP, Amnesty International UK, Human Rights Watch, Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Christian Aid, Sabeel-Kairos UK, Quakers in Britain and War on Want. We believe that the UK Government’s failure to suspend arms export licenses means that they are at risk of failing to prevent and being complicit in serious violations of international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, in violation of its obligations under the Geneva Convention, Arms Trade Treaty and domestic laws. 

The development comes less than a week after a coalition of UN experts demand that arms exports to Israel ‘must cease immediately’. The UN experts’ joint notice noted how State Parties to the Genocide Convention must take all reasonable steps to prevent genocide, including the cessation of arms exports. It went on to explicitly name six countries that export arms to Israel, including the United Kingdom. It also noted the International Court of Justice’s ruling on a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza. The statement also said that State officials involved in arms exports may be individually criminally liable for aiding and abetting war crimes, crimes against humanity, or acts of genocide. 

The UK contributes an estimated 15% of the parts for the F-35 fighter jet, of which Israel has 39. UK industry also supplies a significant proportion of material needed for the F-16 jet, of which Israel has 175 and which acts as the workhorse of the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza. The total known value of the UK military-industry exports to Israel since 2015 is at least £474 million, but the actual total is likely far higher than that, due to the restriction of publicly available information on export licenses. 


Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.  
  2. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].