Parliament and devolved governments must have greater role
The SNP’s Shadow Foreign Affairs spokesperson has called for an overhaul of the UK’s arms exports controls and for strengthened oversight and transparency around remote warfare – criticising the UK government for “burying its head in the sand” over its current approach.
Alyn Smith MP will today (Wednesday) bring forward a motion calling for a Bill that introduces a regulatory framework for the use of drones and bans the development, production and use of lethal autonomous weapons.
The legislation would also create a statutory requirement on the UK government to consult with the devolved governments on arms export policy.
The Tory government has come under repeated criticism over its role in arms exports to other countries – with the Court of Appeal earlier ruling that its actions in selling arms to Saudi Arabia were unlawful.
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alyn Smith MP said:
‘The Tory government’s approach to arms export controls and the use of drones is one that has been shamefully shrouded in secrecy and with little or no oversight.
‘In the SNP’s submission to the Integrated Review, we called for devolved governments and civil society to be given a proper role and greater input into decision-making – rather than it being centralised in Whitehall.
‘From arms exports to drone use, the UK government has clearly shown itself unwilling or unable to create transparent and accountable frameworks around policies which, more than many others, are matters of life and death.
‘The age of remote warfare is here, with all the moral and legal questions it brings. Instead of addressing these head on, the UK government continues to stick its head in the sand and hide behind ‘no comment’ policies on the use of these weapons.
‘The UK government is asleep at the wheel while the character of international warfare is transformed before us. If Boris Johnson is serious about ‘Global Britain’ being an influential player on the international stage, he must leap at the opportunity to be at the forefront of negotiations to create the legal framework that is being created around their use.
‘The dawn of the nuclear age made it possible to end thousands of lives with the push of a button. The development of lethal autonomous weapons would take this one step further, removing human beings from the chain of decision-making and forever transforming the character of war.
‘So, in addition to finally introducing an ethical and accountable arms export policy, it is vital that the UK government must join with the diverse coalition formed by the UN Secretary General and 30 UN Member states and work towards an international treaty which would ban the development, production and use of lethal autonomous weapons.’
Arms (Exports and remote warfare): Ten Minute Rule Motion
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about enabling arms exports oversight by the United Kingdom Parliament and the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies; to prohibit the use of lethal autonomous weapons; to make requirements about transparency in arms exports and the use of drones and other remote weapons; and for connected purposes.