Canadian Arms Trade Deal With Saudi Arabia
Canadian arms treaty with Saudi Arabia is the largest arms export contracts in the history of Canada as explained by the experts. The contract will enable Canada to export military weapons that are locally made to one of the nations that are considered to be violating human rights in all aspects of life. The contract is almost concluded, and it seems to go through irrespective of resistance from Canadian citizens who do not support the move of the ruling government. It has been argued that the ruling government of Canada has acted against the current existing regime that controls the export of arms. The main concern of the regime is to control the shipment of the goods from Canada to any nation that violates human rights. The political analysts have also cited that irrespective of the non-approval of the government move; there exist a guidance lists that guide the government on the nations to which it can export weapons and it is published by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
According to this list referred to as Automatic Firearms Country Control List, Saudi Arabia falls among the other nations that the government of Canada is authorized and approved to exports its weapons as at the year 2014. There have been various opinions and criticisms that have put the ruling Liberal party on the spot concerning the Canadian controversial firearm agreement that the country has entered into with the Saudi Arabia, a nation that has been considered as a human rights violator and feared to use the weapons in support of actions against humans and terrorists (Fukui, 2015).
Foreign Policy: This refers to a policy that is observed by a country when making deals with other countries and is intended to help in achieving national objectives.
Human Rights: The concept is applied to refer to the basic rights that are bestowed on humans that are not formed by the government and are not supposed to be revoked by any ruling government.
Trade Treaty: The concept is applied when referring to the international agreements that are entered into by nations that are involved in carrying out trade in goods and services.
International relationship: the concept is applied to refer to the branch of political science that is concerned with dealings that exist between nations and mainly with foreign policies.
The Canadian government has been put on a spot concerning the controversial agreement that was signed by the two governments in the fiscal year 2014 that involved the exports of the firearms to Saudi Arabia. The government also according to the political analysts has declined to disclose whether it was supported Saudi Arabia that the light armoured vehicles that are on the verge of being sold to Saudi Arabia have any chance of being used against the Saudi citizens. In Canada, there is a guarantee by federal exports controls that concerns any arms shipment to a destination that has a constant record of major involvement in violation of human rights (Paul, 2007).
The controversial agreement of 2014 to export made-in-Canada armoured vehicles to one of the nations in Mideast has come under increasing scrutiny following a number of incidences that have been publicized indicating torture and mistreatments by Saudi authorities. For instance, in the move to oppose the deal, the researchers in the field of political science have put forward some incidence that indicates the nation’s act of violating human rights. There has been a case concerning a videotape that was publicized which involved a woman in Mecca who was executed by cutting off her head. Another incidence includes a writer who was beaten severely with a whip and jailed for blasphemy and has Canadian ties. Another victim was sentenced and punished with not less than 1,000 whips because he was found to have insulted Islam and to make it worse his family are offered asylum in Canada. In the same year, a number of judges have been jailed as a result of criticizing the government officials. The three judges, for instance, were jailed for a minimum period of eight years because they criticized the ministry of justice. The incidences are in support of the nation’s probability of abusing the arms sold to continue with its unwarranted behaviors against human rights (Fukui, 2015).
Saudi Arabia has been cited by scholars to be among the worst nations that violate human rights worldwide. Many standards that have been established in the current times have classified the nation as a human rights pariah. Washington-based Freedom House has supported the scholars view terming the country to the worst offender of the human rights globally. Organizations and bodies, for instance, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have consistently been spotted condemning the regular and organized oppressions that are subjected to the Saudi civilian population by the ruling governments. According to the scholars, beheading has become a regular practice in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive which according to scholars is acting against human rights and freedom of speech and expression has been severely subjected to censorship (Fukui, 2015).
Different levels of freedoms that are identified to serve as human rights, for instance, freedom of the press, association, and academic are highly restricted in Saudi Arabia where many websites have been blocked to suppress citizens. The nation has also been cited to be imposing ruthless penalties that include beheading for crimes like apostasy, witchcraft, and fornication. As a result of the listed matters concerning Saudi Arabia ways of violating human rights raises eyebrows when Canada makes a massive deal with such a nation. It has been highlighted as an indication of negligence on the part of Canadian government concerning the applicable human rights and their safeguarding (Paul, 2007).
It is a huge irony that the government of Canada continues to support the deal of a massive $15-billion with Saudi Arabia that contradicts its foreign policy concerning the trade, especially on arms to the foreign nations. The nation is guided by various policies that restrict any ruling government from trading with a nation that contributes significantly towards violations of human rights and using its authorities to mistreat its citizens. The nation is as well not suppose to form international relationships with such a country since it would appear as if it is supporting the continuity of such violations to take place without taking any restrictive measures. The international relationships formed by the governments are supposed to consider the welfare of the citizens irrespective of the massive financial benefits that are attached to the relation. Canada could have considered the lives of innocent Saudi citizens who will be subjected to torture as a result of signing an agreement to ship the armoured vehicle to Saudi Arabia (Paul, 2007).
The contradiction and failure to adhere to the trade treaties that are meant to regulate and control Canadian export were also established by the Project Ploughshares. According to Project Ploughshares, the issuance of export permits had not taken place at the time the Saudi deal was announced in the month of February year 2014. The documents are of great importance because they are meant to assess the human rights of the country that is buying the arms from Canada. The documents are supposed to declare and hence ensure that the trade treaty to be signed does not go against the Canadian’s export control policies. Entering into the agreement with the Saudi government is an indication that Canadian government was violating the principles of the 2014 Arms Trade Treaty that has core objectives of keeping weapons from the nations that have a serial record of abusing human rights. The arms trade treaty have high chances of damaging the international reputation that Canada has already established and hence ruining the international relations with other nations that support establishment of human rights (Paul, 2007).
The Middle Eastern nations have been involved in the civil war especially in Yemen and as a result, the deal would put the lives of the innocent civilians at a risk. These nations have intensified their continuous contribution in the civil wars and hence making such a huge deal is uncalled for and could be interpreted as Canadian intentions to support the civil wars that have been ongoing in the Middle Eastern nations (Paul, 2007). The government has faced many objections even from the people who voted for it and human right lawyers to take a bold move and abandon the deal. The deal has been discussed in the parliament and various polls conducted as covered by the media where majority numbers of citizen do not support the arms treaty to Saudi Arabia.
Irrespective of the government position towards the arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the analysts and media have covered documentary evidence that indicates that the Saudi regime has continuously used light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to attack and humiliate innocent civilians. For instance, in the month of March year 2011, Saudi Arabia was on the spot for sending LAVs in the neighboring Bahrain in its effort of helping to overwhelm the protests formed by peaceful civilians. The media houses, for instance, Britain’s Telegraph reported explaining that the troops from Saudi Arabia were sent in Bahrain with the main intention of crushing the peaceful protests, but not to keep and maintain peace. Canadian government has failed to either distant itself or accept the claims that the armoured vehicles that were used by the Saudi forces to crush civilians who were protesting peacefully were made in Canada. According to the Globe and Mail report, Canadian government does not deny or accept that made-in-Canada light armoured vehicles were used in Bahrain (Fukui, 2015).
Ottawa has given the opinion concerning the international relationship that Canada is entering into with the Saudi Arabia terming it difficult and not supposed to be relied upon by the nation to share the intelligence. Ottawa has cited the challenges experienced by the America for many decades trying to form allies with the Saudi government. There has been an indication that the existence of such relation merely work and hence not beneficial to Canada. A strategic analyst from the National Defense Department has forwarded intelligence report that has indicated Saudi Arabia to have participated in supporting jihadist groups. This hence contradicts the perception that Saudi Arabia government has created concerning its involvement in fighting actively against groups Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The government failed to disclose to the public the information concerning the justification as per Ottawa evaluation of the deal. The government, also, did not file any report regarding human rights in the fiscal year that ended in 2014 which was the year that it announced the arms trade treaty. Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) did not as well disclose the number of LAVs that were to be manufactured by the General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). Additional, DFATD did not reveal the details concerning the application procedures of an export permit where it explained its non-disclosure as a commercial confidentiality (Paul, 2007).
It is arguable that the Canadian government views the deal as an initial step of opening doors in Saudi Arabia for both Canadians diplomats and businesses. The deal nevertheless does not have a slight chance of fundamentally changing the security relationship that exists between these two nations. Economists have argued that the deal’s primary concerns are financial appealing, creating jobs and intended to support and strengthen defense industry in Canada. Even though majority could think of such reasoning as cynicism way of arguing, they are persuasive to the Liberal government and the conservative citizens (Paul, 2007).
The arms deal between the two nations was declared publicly without making any reference concerning the human rights situation that is prevailing in Saudi Arabia. The Minister of International Trade made an official statement indicating that the Dynamics Land Systems had won one of the largest advanced manufacturing export wins that has ever existed in the history of Canada. This supported that arm deal according to Canada had a main objective that was based on economic grounds and victory, without considering other accompanying factors like international relations and human rights effects. The export permits necessitate the announcement of such a deal should disclose important factors like human right situations affecting the country in question. The factors were all omitted and hence were not announced during the public declaration of the arms deal (Paul, 2007).
Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) is not an inactive intermediary, but it is actively involved in the promotion of military exports. The Canadian government has also made economic diplomacy in its effort of servicing private industry which acts as the most important feature of the foreign policy applied in Canada. Some reports have been filed by various media and analysts, for instance, a report that was made by Globe and Mail that suggested the view of the CCC’s president and chief executive in regards to the Middle East nations. According to the report, the president of CCC views the nations in the Middle East as a strategic area where the market exists for the selling of Canadian arms. It has also been noted by analysts that the Canadian Commercial Corporation have been involved in the active searching of the new markets where the military commodities could be sold. This act is pushed by the federal government and would play a significant role in beefing up the position assumed by the Canada as an arms dealer (Fukui, 2015).
Canada can be viewed to participate in eroding its set standards that are meant to control military export. This move is supported by the way government has expanded the Automatic Firearms Country Control List that was meant to put a ceiling on the foreign market for the automatic firearms that are sourced from Canada hence making it less controlling and preventive measure. The list main objective is to record the specific nations that have been selected and identified to be receiving Canadian firearms. As a way of minimizing the restrictions, Canadian government has added various potential markets indicating nation’s agenda on a profitability goal. As a result, many deals have come up with regards to Canadian-made weapons while other old and reliable customers have withdrawn their purchasing behavior. For instance, during the establishment of the AFCCL in the year 1991, the number of the nations in the list has increased significantly by thrice, tripling from thirteen to about forty countries (Fukui, 2015).
The scholars have suggested that the minority position held by the Canada as a non-signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty does not allow the nation to have a voice in the important international process that could help them in regulating the arms trade in an effective manner. The Arms Trade Treaty that was signed and was implemented to be used from late 2014 is by great extent viewed as a significant diplomatic success. According to Fukui, the ATT is intended to play a significant role in regulating the global arms trade and hence act in preventing military exports from contributing towards violation of human rights and curbing the prevailing armed conflicts (2015). The agreement contains a key feature that is meant to ensure that deals concerning arms trade are conducted with utmost transparency. This would ensure that the risks of violating human rights by the end user of the arms is negligible and can be assessed with ease (Fukui, 2015).
According to the scholar, the first and an important conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty was held in Mexico (Fukui, 2015). Major decisions were passed and voted for concerning arms treaties where Canada as a non-signatory nation did not participate. The conference made rules concerning the procedures, financing mechanisms that are to support the sustainability of ATT, rules regarding the making of decisions, for instance, threshold of voting, especially when dealing with important and procedural issues. The rules concerning location makeup, the functioning of the ATT Secretariat were also discussed. The conference also deliberated on the responsibility of states, industries and civil society during successive meetings that are to be held by the states parties.
Canada has been cited as the only nation in the North America that has not signed the Arms Trade Treaty. Additionally, the nation has also been cited to be the only nation that is a member of G7 that groups industrialized nation that has not signed the ATT and the single country among the twenty-eight members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations that has as well not signed the armed trade treaty. As a result, Canada’s fails to contribute towards any important issues that are addressed by the member states concerning the trade deals that concern military arms (Fukui, 2015).
Critics from different scholars have recommended that Canada should take initiative concerning the way LAVs that are equipped with weapons will be used by the Saudi government after putting into consideration terrible records that have been put in place by different Saudi regimes. The poor record set involves violation of basic human rights like freedom of association, belief, assembly, and treating women as inferior gender as well as the administering of criminal justice. The record also includes imprisonment of innocent civilians as a result of criticizing the ruling government and also one is prone to face uncalled for investigations, convictions and sentenced to long jail terms. The cited factors have contributed towards making Canadian arms trade deal with Saudi Arabia questionable.
Fukui, Y. (2015). The Arms Trade Treaty: Pursuit for the Effective Control of Arms Transfer. Journal of Conflict And Security Law, (2), 301.
Paul, H. (2007). Canada’s Economic Interests in the Middle East. In, Studies in International Governance. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.