No, Minister: white phosphorous may be “a legitimate obscurant” but it burns and maims children. That’s not “legitimate” – it’s a war crime. And when a NATO country does it, it’s a scandal.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL10150):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 9 November (HL9502), what response they have received, if any, to representations made to the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to request the govrnment of Turkey to launch an investigation on the use of violence against civilian populations; and what assessment they have made of reports that more than 70 export licences have been issued by the UK for military products sold to Turkey containing white phosphorous over the last two decades. (HL10150)
Tabled on: 10 November 2020
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
We have encouraged the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI) to investigate all alleged violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law in Syria. We have not made specific representations to the COI to request Turkey launch investigations, as the COI had already called for this. We have therefore not received a response. We take our arms exports obligations very seriously and keep all our defence exports under careful and continual review. If licences are no longer consistent with the Consolidated Criteria they will be revoked. We have continued to make clear that any targeting of civilians is against International Humanitarian Law, but white phosphorus is a legitimate obscurant.