UN Secretary-General Guterres repeats his plea for a global ceasefire, while Canada’s military exports have doubled

Published by Brent Patterson on

On May 21, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres repeated his call first made on March 23 for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.”

In his new appeal Guterres noted that 3,217 civilians were reported to have been killed or injured in Yemen in 2019, with children accounting for 25 per cent of the casualties. The previous year, Canada exported $1.282 billion in military goods to Saudi Arabia which has been at war with Yemen since March 2015.

Fighting in northern Yemen has intensified in 2020 and the UN refugee agency says that more than 40,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the year.

It is within this context that Canada has said that it supports the call for a global ceasefire while also confirming a $14 billion agreement to export armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia and opening the way for more arms shipments to that country.

On April 10, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canada fully supports the call for a global ceasefire. And yet just one day prior, Champagne announced that Canada’s ban on new arms export permits to Saudi Arabia had been lifted.

Champagne also noted on April 9 that Canada’s delivery of an estimated 742 light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia was about 50 per cent complete. The LAVs are wheeled military vehicles armed with that can be armed with various weapons, including automatic cannons, machine guns, mortars and anti-tank missiles.

Champagne has declined to say whether Canada has sought assurances from the Saudis that the LAVs will not be used in foreign military operations.

Guterres has pleaded: “To silence the guns, we must raise the voices for peace.”

To raise your voice for peace via an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that you can personalize with your own message, please go to our URGENT ACTION that calls on him to back the UN’s call for a global ceasefire.

Canada’s official military export figures (that don’t include hundreds of millions of dollars in arms sales to the United States because of a defence production sharing agreement signed in 1956) show that our global military exports more than doubled in 2018 ($2.069 billion) from 2017 ($1.031 billion).

The Prime Minister has encouraged Canadians to reflect on how we can all stand up to build a more peaceful world. Stricter adherence to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty would be an important first step in that direction.

For more on this: The Observer view on the failure to secure a global ceasefire during the pandemic (Sunday May 24). Photo of Guterres by Mark Garten.

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