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The Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster invites you to a panel discussion on British arms sales, military training and human rights in the Persian Gulf.

In February 2017, the High Court began a judicial review into the UK's continued export of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which represents the largest market in the world for UK arms traders. Saudi forces have engaged in widespread violations of international humanitarian law in the conflict in Yemen since March 2015 and there is significant evidence that UK weapons and training have played a key role in these crimes.

The UK-Saudi arms relationship is decades old, however, and fits within a broader set of strategic relations in the region. This is about more than profit for UK business: despite their poor human rights records, British governments have long regarded the Gulf states as "vital partners" in securing the free flow of oil and gas which sustains the global economy, as well as enabling direct UK military presence in an unstable region considered crucial to national interests. Arms sales, and military training programmes, can be understood as key tools used to ensure the stability of friendly regimes in a vital region, in exchange for energy, bases and markets.

This panel will discuss the nature and consequences of UK arms sales and wider foreign policy in the Persian Gulf, and will be chaired by Dr Aidan Hehir, Reader at the University of Westminster.

Register for a free ticket via Eventbrite.


  • David Wearing, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies

David Wearing has just completed his doctoral thesis on Britain's relationship with the Gulf Arab monarchies. He sits on the steering committee of Campaign Against Arms Trade, which recently challenged UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the High Court. He is the author of two recent NGO policy briefings on British arms exports: A Shameful Relationship: UK Complicity in Saudi State Violence and Arming Apartheid: UK Complicity in Israel's Crimes Against the Palestinian People. He teaches Middle East politics and international relations at SOAS and also writes for news media such as The Guardian, CNN and the New Statesman.

  • Shavana Musa, Manchester International Law Centre, University of Manchester

Shavana Musa is a Lecturer in Constitutional and International Law at The University of Manchester. Shavana’s main areas of expertise are security law and policy, transitional justice, victimology, human rights and humanitarian law. She has worked extensively on the law and practice surrounding reparation for victims of armed conflict, as well as on the regulation of the arms trade, autonomous weapons systems and cyber security. Previously, she worked for the UN, as well as other international organisations and NGOs.

  • Jac St John, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

Jac St John is a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations and PhD student at the University of St Andrews, researching political policing in 1970s Britain. Since 2013, he has worked as a research assistant at The Rendition Project and in 2016 co-authored Arming Repression: The New British Imperialism in the Persian Gulf.