41 NGOs to Senate: Block PGM sales to Saudi Arabia. Vote for S.J.Res.42

The YPP, along with 40 other national and local organizations, sent the below letter urging Congress to vote in support of S.J.Res.42 to block the pending $510 million arms sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. Recently, bipartisan members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives introduced joint resolutions of disapproval to block the sale of these weapons due to their repeated use against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen. 

The organizations on this letter represent millions of Americans across the nation. Their message is clear: By selling more arms to Saudi Arabia, America is green-lighting the killing of innocent civilians in Yemen. The YPP calls on members of the Senate to vote in support of S.J.Res.42 when it comes up for a vote, likely later today.

The full text of the letter and list of signers is below. View a PDF of the letter here.


June 8, 2017

Dear Senator,

We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge you to block the recently-notified direct commercial sale of $510 million worth of precision-guided munitions to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by co-sponsoring and voting for the bipartisan resolution of disapproval introduced in the Senate (S.J.Res.42). Congress must send a clear signal to the administration that US support for the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen is not unconditional and that the conduct of our foreign affairs is a moral, and not merely a transactional, endeavor. Moving forward with this sale will exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which has left more than 7 million civilians on the brink of famine, at least 8,000 thousand dead and 44,000 injured from conflict, nearly 20 million people facing extreme hunger, and 19 of the country’s 21 governorates country facing an unprecedented cholera epidemic that is spiraling out of control.[i]

This planned sale reverses the previous administration’s decision to withhold munitions sales to Saudi Arabia due to grave concerns about the use of US-sold weapons in coalition airstrikes.[ii] Despite increased US support in the form of training and smarter weaponry to lessen civilian casualties, it has become clear that several unaddressed flaws in Saudi Arabia’s targeting process, not the precision of the munition or targeting skill, are the principal cause of harm to civilians and civilian objects from airstrikes.[iii] According to analysis released by the American Bar Association, resuming unconditional sales of these weapons to Saudi Arabia violates the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. [iv]

The United Nations[v] and numerous human rights organizations[vi] have documented continued violations of the laws of armed conflict and human rights by all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition. Coalition airstrikes have struck hospitals and schools, as well as sanitation systems, bridges, and Yemen’s vital Hodeidah port – the main entry point for food, medicine and humanitarian aid for the majority of Yemenis.[vii] These airstrikes,[viii] have played a substantial role in triggering the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.[ix] Selling more precision-guided weapons will enable Saudi Arabia to continue destroying critical infrastructure and will sustain its seemingly indefinite military campaign. The price will ultimately be paid in Yemeni lives.

At a time when the president appears to have solidified a transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that moral concerns, particularly America’s commitment to defending human rights, remain a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Allowing the sale to move forward would signal that Saudi Arabia will not face even modest, reversible consequences for committing human rights violations and ignoring US diplomatic entreaties in Yemen. We strongly urge you to use your authority to block this unconditional weapons sale to Saudi Arabia.


American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)

Arabian Rights Watch Association

Arms Control Association

Cambridge United for Justice with Peace

Center for International Policy

Chicago Area CODEPINK

Chicago Area Peace Action

Circles of Nonviolence/Community Collaboratives Initiative

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)



Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

Global Progressive Hub

Institute for Policy Studies, New Internationalism Project

J Street

Jewish Voice for Peace

Just Foreign Policy

LEPOCO Peace Center, Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern

Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives

Massachusetts Peace Action

Military Families Speak Out

MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

Muslims United for Justice

Nonviolence International

OMNI Center for Peace, Justice & Ecology

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility


Peace Action

People Demanding Action

Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)

STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities

Topanga Peace Alliance

Tri-Valley CAREs

United for Peace and Justice

Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice, Salt Lake City

Western States Legal Foundation

Win Without War

WNY Peace Center

Wolf's Enterprises Human and Civil Rights Advocacy

Yemen Peace Project


[i] Gladstone, Rick. “UNICEF Fears Yemen Cholera Outbreak Could Hit 300,000 in Coming Weeks”, The New York Times, 2 June 2017. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/middleeast/unicef-yemen-cholera-saudi-war.html

[ii] Stewart, Phil, and Strobel, Warren. “U.S. to halt some arms sales to Saudi, citing civilian deaths in Yemen campaign”, Reuters, 13 December 2016. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-saudiarabia-yemen-exclusive-idUSKBN1421UK

[iii] Pecquet, Julian. “Congress prepares for another showdown over Saudi arms sales”, Al Monitor, 9 March 2017. Available at: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/en/originals/2017/03/congress-showdown-saudi-arms-sales-bombs-yemen.html

[iv] Newton, Michael (LTC U.S Army, ret.), “Assessment of the Legality of Arms Sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Context of the Conflict in Yemen”, American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, 19 May 2017. Available at: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/human_rights/ABACHRAssessmentofArmsSalestoSaudiArabia.authcheckdam.pdf

[v] UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, “Final report of the Panel of Experts on Yemen”, UN Security Council, 27 January 2017. Available at: http://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/letter-dated-27-january-2017-panel-experts-yemen-addressed-president-security-council

[vi] “Yemen: No Accountability for War Crimes”, Human Rights Watch, 12 January 2017. Available at: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/12/yemen-no-accountability-war-crimes; “Yemen: Multibillion-dollar arms sales by USA and UK reveal shameful contradiction with aid efforts”, Amnesty International, 23 March 2017. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/yemen-multibillion-dollar-arms-sales-by-usa-and-uk-reveal-shameful-contradiction-with-aid-efforts/

[vii] “Everyday Things are Getting Worse: The Impact on Children of Attacks on Health Care in Yemen”, Save the Children & Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, April 2017. Available at: http://www.savethechildren.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2212-Watchlist-Field-Report-Yemen.pdf

[viii] Jazairy, Special Rapporteur Idriss, “Lift blockade of Yemen to stop ‘catastrophe’ of millions facing starvation, says UN expert”, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 12 April 2017. Available at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21496&LangID=E

[ix] “Yemenis suffer from the largest humanitarian crisis in the world”, International Rescue Committee, 20 March 2017. Available at: https://www.rescue.org/press-release/yemenis-suffer-largest-humanitarian-crisis-world