The geometric variability of respect for human rights, peace and security 

17 03 2022

Since the entry of Russian troops, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in violation of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, many citizens in France and throughout the world have mobilized to denounce this serious violation of international law. These same citizens are asking their respective governments to support the Ukrainian population and some of them are calling for the sending of arms to the resistance to this invasion.

In this respect, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in its preamble specifies the right to self-defense of States as well as the right to acquire arms for one’s own defense. It also commits the exporting countries to an evaluation of the risks of using these arms, particularly in the face of extreme right-wing militias, and to ensure the risks of their diversion.

But the ATT first requires states to respect their international commitments regarding arms transfers, yet once again and according to Disclose’s information, the French government has authorized, in particular to the companies Thales and Safran, the export of war material to Russia in violation of the decision of the Council of the European Union of July 31, 2014, which instituted an arms embargo towards this country and this to the detriment of the populations of Ukraine and in violation of Article 7 of the ATT, which obliges an assessment of the risk of use of weapons so that they do not contribute to or undermine peace and security, do not participate in a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. Indeed, whether it is the infrared detection equipment and cameras Catherine XP of Thales for or thermal cameras « Matis STD » of Safran, these weapons allow Russian tanks a greater effectiveness on the battlefields, as was the case in 2016 in the Donbass. The same is true for the TACAN navigation system from Thales, which equips the Sukhoi SU-30s that have been seen in Ukrainian airspace since February 24 and may have taken part in bombings that hit civilians.

History seems to be repeating itself, whatever the side, whatever the war, with the irresponsible arms export policy of the French government. It is to stop this that Action Sécurité Éthique Républicaines (ASER) is before the “Conseil d’Etat” in its request for the suspension of arms transfers to the countries of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates at war in Yemen, It is for this reason that ASER has demanded the cessation of French exports to Israel against the Palestinian population and it is also for this reason that ASER demands that a parliamentary inquiry be instituted, as of the new legislature, within the General Secretariat of Defense and National Security as well as with the Prime Minister, to find out the responsibilities of these arms transfers to Russia. But unfortunately, the list of non-compliance with the ATT does not end.

The ATT has among its objectives to contribute to peace and security and to reduce human suffering, and we know, because we have seen it in history, what war represents in terms of serious violations of human rights, war crimes, crimes against humanity, as we also see in Yemen, in the Sahel, in Syria, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Palestine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Ethiopia… It is always the people who bear the cost of war, in this « fog of war » that governments in search of power and absolute reason revel in. However, it is not enough to talk with one’s enemies – how many words have not been respected, on both sides, in the relationship between the West and Russia – it is necessary to take action in order to allow both sides to recognize each other’s legitimacy, not to drive one’s enemy into a headlong rush into an escalation of means in the destruction of the opposing side and thus a risk of a rise to extremes that could lead to a destruction of mankind even more rapid than the coming climate revolution 

For ASER, human rights are indivisible and universal in their implementation and the practice of the « great powers » of « Do what we say but don’t do what we do » is fortunately no longer audible for the majority of the world’s population because for many of its inhabitants, life is just as essential and precious in the Congo, in Gaza, in Yemen, in Ukraine or in Syria.

It is now up to the governments of the member countries of the United Nations, particularly the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, not only to proclaim it but to truly put it into action, otherwise, as Martin Luther King wrote, we will all perish together as fools.

Jean Claude, Alt, administrateur ASER

Joël Molinario, administrateur ASER

Benoît Muracciole Président ASER


11 05 2020


We are publishing this letter from the women Nobel Peace Prize laureates to Prime Minister Trudeau, adding that the suspension of arms sales to these countries, including France, means respecting the arms trade treaty and their international commitments.


The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2 

1 May 2020

Dear Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,

As Nobel Peace laureates, we are deeply concerned by Canada lifting its moratorium on military exports to Saudi Arabia. Although we applaud Canada’s recent decision to extend, indefinitely, its ban on new arms exports to Turkey, a similar ban must remain in place for Saudi Arabia.

On April 8, Saudi Arabia declared a two-week ceasefire in Yemen. The next day, in the midst of a global pandemic and as Yemen announced its first COVID-19 case, Canada announced it would lift its military equipment ban to Riyadh—and resume exports of light-armoured vehicles to Saudia Arabia. This contradicts your government’s support of the UN Secretary General’s appeal for a global ceasefire.

Your government had, rightfully, suspended the sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Unfortunately, the human rights situation inside Saudi Arabia has not changed.

Saudi-Arabia holds one of the worst human rights records in the world. It is also a leading player in the protracted conflict in Yemen, which has resulted in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Thousands of civilians have been killed and injured, and tens of millions of people experience food insecurity and are on the brink of famine.

We strongly believe that instead of arming Saudia Arabia, Canada should focus on the ceasefire and its very narrow window for peace, by investing resources and diplomatic expertise in an inclusive process to bring relief and lasting peace to Yemen.

Resuming arms sales during a global pandemic—or at any time—does not reflect positively on Canada’s feminist leadership. On the contrary, it further endangers ordinary civilians inside Saudi Arabia and Yemen, in particular, women.

We call on Canada to live up to its own commitment to “put armed conflict on lockdown” by:

  • Re-instating, immediately, the freeze on all military exports to Saudi Arabia and put an end to the arms deal.
  • Calling on all warring parties to abide by the UN call for a global ceasefire.
  • Ensuring the safety of women calling for peace.
  • Working to keep peace processes alive and build peace during this global pandemic.


Canada cannot call itself a global leader for peace while simultaneously supplying weapons of war.


Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) – Yemen
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) – Iran
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) – Liberia
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, (1976) – Northern Ireland
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) – Guatemala
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) – USA

Actions juridiques

French arms sales: the government no longer stops despite war crimes in Yemen

7 05 2019

MBZ Macron

Today, Tuesday, May 7, 2019, the independent media Disclose informs us that the Saudi flagged cargo ship Bahri Yabun is due to arrive tomorrow, Wednesday, May 8, in Le Havre to load Caesar guns produced by Nexter, a company owned by the French government.

If this information is accurate, for Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines (ASER) – which has filed an urgente procedure in its appeal pending before the Paris Administrative Court – the French goverment will be in flagrant breach of Article 6 (paras 2 and 3) of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Indeed, since 2016, the first reports of United Nations experts and NGOs have regularly denounced serious violations of international human rights law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. It is no longer a question of risks of use (Article 7) but of potential uses of French weapons (Article 6(3)).

The French government would therefore continue to violate its international commitments « in full knowledge of the facts » at a time when the report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) speaks of more than 230,000 deaths to come for this conflict at the end of 2019[1].

Neither the French Head of Government, Edouard Philippe, nor the Head of State, Emmanuel Macron, can ignore the reports of the United Nations and NGOs that regularly denounce serious violations of international human rights law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The repeated negations of the Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly contrast with the evidence of the war revealed by Disclose: French weapons are involved in war crimes in Yemen.

It is unacceptable that on our behalf the French government is adding war to war in this way, against all the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council since 2016 on Yemen.

ASER has special ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations
ASER is a member of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)

[1] if the war keep the same intensity :


ACTION SECURITE ETHIQUE REPUBLICAINES introduces an urgent procedure to stop the sale of French weapons involved in war crimes in Yemen

6 05 2019



Today, May 6, 2019, ACTION SECURITE ETHIQUE REPUBLICAINES (ASER) filed for interim relief in its appeal before the Paris Administrative Court. ASER calls for the suspension of arms transfers to the countries of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, responsible for war crimes, or even crimes against humanity, in Yemen.

The recent publication by the independent media Disclose, which proves that the French government was aware of the use in Yemen of French weapons sold to the coalition, persuaded us of the urgency of this referral.

The Minister of the Armed Forces continued to deny the facts before the Senate on April 30, justifying the continuation of arms sales to fight Al Qaeda.  We remind Florence Parly that ASER has informed the Presidency since 2016 that the war has strengthened Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in particular. The repeated refusal to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry strengthens our legal approach for ASER.

This urgency is also confirmed by the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen. A report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimates the number of deaths at more than 230,000 by the end of 2019, including more than 140,000 children under the age of 5 if the conflict continues with such intensity.

It is also on the basis of this latest information that the US Senate voted, on Thursday, May 2, for the 3rd time against his government’s military support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by 53 votes in favour and 45 against. This is despite President Trump’s announcement that the United States is withdrawing from the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

ASER has special ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations

ASER is an IANSA member

Contacts :

For interview requests or participation in a program on the issue of weapons/ human rights : Benoît Muracciole : +337 72 33 40 45


2 03 2019

A 330 MRTT 2

All parties involved in the war in Yemen continue to plunge the population into what the United Nations Secretary General has denounced as « the planet’s worst humanitarian crisis.” One estimate put the death toll at nearly 60,000 since 2016. Hostilities between the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition and the Houthi and other armed groups, have become increasingly muddled as loyalties have shifted, armed groups and militia proliferated and factions fragmented. The Coalition includes Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates. It supports the beleaguered Yemen government and its militia.Despite a fragile ceasefire agreed in December, clashes have continued, as have attacks on civilians by Yemeni government militia, the Coalition forces and the armed groups.


Mobilization by civil society and calls by parliamentarians in many countries following reports of civilian atrocities by NGO, media and UN experts of atrocities have put pressure on governments to stop the flow of all arms that would be used in Yemen. Shock at the brazen assassination of exiled Saudi Arabian journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, by a Saudi state murder squad on 2 October 2018 heightened such calls. In response, States such as Austria, Denmark, Finland, Flanders, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland have announced they will suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia. This suggests that some governments are beginning to accept responsibility to take measures to ensure respect of international law, particularly that of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL). However, the United States, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom governments continue as the main suppliers of war material to the Saudi Arabia-Led Coalition and the United States and the United Kingdom, among other States, continue to advise the Coalition.


According to a detailed report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Group of Experts in August 2018, the Coalition has continued a pattern of air strikes and military operations causing most of the documented civilian casualties in Yemen. In the past three years, such air strikes using precision munitions have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities. The use in some cases of “double strikes” close in time, which affect first responders, raises grave concern. The UN Experts Group report accused the Saudi-led coalition of routinely having failed to consult its own “no-strike list” of more than 30,000 sites in Yemen, including refugee camps and hospitals. The Group also said the Saudi Air Force had not cooperated with investigators about its targeting procedures. Similar findings were reported from a UN Security Council panel of experts on Yemen in January 2018.


The mounting evidence indicates that these actions are repeatedly violating the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution when conducting hostilities, acts which constitute serious violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and may amount to war crimes and even crimes against humanity. Unicef’s Middle East and North Africa director, Geert Cappelaere, said: “Not enough has changed for children in Yemen since the Stockholm agreement on 13 December 2018. Every day since, eight children have been killed or injured. Most of the children killed were playing outdoors with their friends or were on their way to or from school” (The Guardian, 26 February 2019).


At the same time, the UN calculated that in 2018 nearly 60% of the aid to alleviate suffering in Yemen came from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US. The UK is also now stepping up its aid to Yemen. The UN says about 22 million people out of a population of 29 million need help to secure food this year in Yemen, including nearly 10 million who are just a step away from famine. Nearly 240,000 are facing “catastrophic levels of hunger.” More than 250 humanitarian organisations are operating in the country.The UN Experts Group said that millions of civilians were also suffering “devastating effects” from the coalition’s arbitrary restrictions on shipping and air travel because food, medicines and fuel were needed to fend off starvation and diseases. The Coalition’s screening of ships was supposed to prevent arms smuggling to the armed groups but had become a “de facto blockade’ while the UN searches had found no weapons on ships.


The United States, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom are signatories to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). As such they are obliged to respect its object and purpose which is to establish the highest possible common international standards for improving the regulation of the international trade in conventional arms, and to reduce human suffering. Moreover, France, Italy and the United Kingdom are legally bound as State Parties to the ATT to respect all the obligations under the Treaty. Those legal obligations include a duty to prohibit any arms transfers if their State knows that the arms would be used for such violations or international crimes.  They and the Saudi Coalition blame the government of Iran for continuing to arm the Houthi forces, as if two wrongs make a right. The UN Expert Group accused Houthi fighters and their allies of violating IHL, including by shelling residential areas, impeding humanitarian aid and using child soldiers. Houthi and other armed groups appear to have acquired most of their arms from Yemeni government stocks and from illicit markets in the region.


The UN Security Council has been slow and one sided. In 2013 the Council had condemned the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Yemen, and in April 2015 imposed an arms embargo only targeted on the Houthi armed opposition. Total embargoes had been imposed on UN-designated terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) affiliate in Yemen, which have become actively engaged in attacks on Coalition as well as armed opposition forces and civilians. In January 2018 the Security Council’s expert panel accused Iran of transferring some missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles used by Houthi forces, although it also reported that been no reported maritime seizures of weapons and ammunition during 2017, and only very limited seizures of arms-related material have been identified on the main land supply route. However, the Security Council has not imposed an embargo on arms transfers to Yemen as such.


Civil society organizations, parliamentarians and governments that respect the international rule of law can further step up political pressure as well as take legal actions to compel arms supplying States to implement their ATT obligations and suspend transfers to the Saudi Coalition. Some NGOs have attempted to challenge their home governments in the courts.


In the case of France, Article 55 of the Constitution gives supra-legislative status to treaties ratified by Parliament. In the 2018 complaint filed by Action Sécurité Ethique Républicaines (ASER) against the French government’s continued arms exports to the Saudi Arabian-led Coalition, the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security disputed the direct effect legal status of the ATT in its defence brief.


A decisive point in the case remains the choice of which article of the ATT applies to the transfer of arms to the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition given the strong prima facie evidence of atrocities being committed with those arms in Yemen. Should the case be based first and foremost on Article 6, which prohibits a potential arms transfer if the State Party “has knowledge” that the arms would be used for the commission of serious violations of IHL or war crimes? Or should the case first rest on Article 7, which requires the exporting State Party to assess whether there is an “overriding risk” that the potential arms export would be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of IHL or of international human rights law, despite “available mitigation measures” first taken by the exporting and importing States?


ATT Article 6, paragraph 3 specifies that: « A State Party shall not authorize any transfer of conventional arms or items…[covered by the Treaty] if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that such arms or items would be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilians or civilian objects and protected as such, or other war crimesas defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.”


ASER’s opinion is that before the start of full-blown hostilities in March 2015, litigation based upon the risk assessment procedures required by ATT Article 7 to approve or deny arms exports to Saudi Arabia could have been justified.  Each exporting State Party to the ATT had to assess the risks of using potential exports of weapons in the light of the information it was then aware of.


However, Article 7 only applies if a potential export is not prohibited by Article 6, and since 2015, factual evidence of the Coalition’s flawed ‘rules of engagement’ in this armed conflict had quickly become a proven reality. Repeated cases pointing to serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been widely documented in United Nations and NGO reports. In particular the UN reports of January 2017, January 2018 and August 2018 provide details of air strikes on civilian targets and other attacks on civilians by Saudi Arabian-led Coalition forces, as well as by Houthi and other armed groups. It is therefore Article 6 of the ATT that must first be applied in litigation efforts in countries that are ATT States Parties.


Some NGOs in the European Union began their litigation efforts over the past two years in a general way by referring to ATT Articles 6 and 7 as well as to the EU Common Position on arms exports. Criterion 2 of the Common Position requires that Member States deny an arms export licence “if there is a clear risk that the military technology or equipment to be exported might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law.” Although the wording in the Common Position and the ATT is slightly different, Criterion 2 presents similar challenges to ATT Article 7. Neither should be the starting point of litigation ahead of Article 6.


Such legal action by NGOs should of course be accompanied by a mobilisation of civil society at the political level. The French Government’s refusal to allow the judiciary any right of scrutiny over the regularity and conformity of French arms export procedures is essentially political and in ASER’s view it contravenes the French Constitution. It reveals a vision of the 19th Century in which citizens were not allowed to speak or question decisions of government that appear illegal or immoral.


ASER is determined to convince the judge of the direct effect of the ATT in domestic law and of the illegality of the arms transfers that the government could foresee would be used for atrocities in Yemen. France’s foreign policy affects all citizens living in France, particularly in terms of security and respect for human rights, and that policy must not blatantly violate and be seen to blatantly violate, relevant international law.


ASER’s action sets a precedent in France. So far no other French NGO has launched a legal challenge to the State concerning arms export authorisations.


For ASER :

Jean Claude Alt

Benoît Muracciole