UN Special Rapporteurs say any transfer of weapons to Israel is likely to violate international humanitarian law

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

Thirteen United Nations Special Rapporteurs, including Francesca Albanese, along with several Independent Experts and Working Group members, have stated that “any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.”

Their statement has also been endorsed by Mary Lawlor, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and David R. Boyd, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

The Special Rapporteurs highlight: “The United States and Germany are by far the largest arms exporters and shipments have increased since 7 October 2023. Other military exporters include France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.”

$28.5 million in new permits

Two weeks ago, Alex Cosh of The Maple reported: “The Trudeau government authorized at least $28.5 million of new permits for military exports to Israel during the first two months of the state’s brutal war on Gaza, data supplied to The Maple by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) shows. The total value of the new permits authorized over a two-month period exceeds the 30-year annual record high of $26 million in Canadian military exports to Israel in 2021.”

That article adds: “The permits appear to have been authorized quickly, with one processed within four days of the application being submitted. In its 2022 report on military exports, GAC said that its target processing time was 10 days for ‘low-risk’ destinations, and 40 days for other destinations.”

Is Canada still exporting “military goods” to Israel?

Yesterday, the National Post reported: “Canada has stopped issuing export permits to companies looking to sell military equipment to Israel, according to one person familiar with the matter. The source says that Mélanie Joly’s office has issued instructions to staff at Global Affairs Canada to delay issuing permits that are required for weapons, firearms and components that could have a military use.”

It then notes: “Joly may be starting to feel the heat from her own lawyers. Earlier this month, Nicaragua said that it will take Canada, the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands (which only recently stopped supplying arms) to the International Court of Justice over the Gaza war, claiming that the four countries have violated the Genocide Convention by supplying ammunition and technology to Israel.”

World Beyond War Canada has commented: “Good news if true, but frankly we’re not convinced. And if it is, let’s still be clear that a temporary, secretive, unconfirmed pause on new permits is NOT an arms embargo. We expect the 100s of existing permits to be canceled, including the record breaking amount issued Oct-Dec.”

Tweet by Alex Cosh, News Editor, The Maple (February 23).

The Netherlands and F-35 parts

The Special Rapporteurs also “welcomed the decision of a Dutch appeals court on 12 February 2024 ordering the Netherlands to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel.”

Canada has not taken similar action.

A study commissioned by Lockheed Martin in 2018 said there are US$2.3-million worth of Canadian components in every F-35 fighter jet.

Arms companies have human rights obligations

The UN Special Rapporteurs also say: “Arms companies contributing to the production and transfer of arms to Israel and businesses investing in those companies bear their own responsibility to respect human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. They have not publicly demonstrated the heightened human rights due diligence required of them and accordingly risk complicity in violations.”


Most of the biggest arms companies – including Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Boeing – that do export weapons to Israel are represented in Canada by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) located at 251 Laurier Avenue West in Ottawa.

Photo: Protest at CADSI, February 13, 2024.

It does not appear that CADSI has publicly commented on the calls for a ceasefire or for an arms embargo on Israel, nor has not noted the International Court of Justice ruling on the plausibility of a genocide happening in Gaza, or highlighted the necessity of all states (and corporations) adhering to the Genocide Convention.

Last year CADSI received $208,600. from Global Affairs Canada. In 2022 it received another $241,752. with the likelihood of more this year.

Photo: Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.

Trade Commissioner Service not at CANSEC?

CADSI is also organizing the annual CANSEC arms show that will take place this coming May 29-30 at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

Along with Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics, other exhibitors include Elbit Systems (a CADSI member that provides up to 85 percent of the land-based equipment procured by the Israeli military and about 85 percent of its drones), “Israel Representatives”, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown corporation that helps “forge commercial contracts between Canadian businesses and foreign governments”.

CANSEC list of exhibitors, January 18, 2024.

Significantly, the Global Affairs Canada Trade Commissioner Service (that “helps Canadian companies and organizations of all sizes grow and operate internationally”) had been listed as a CANSEC exhibitor this year, but is no longer there.

We continue to follow this.

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