Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

Civil society organisations object to UN decision on war crimes in Yemen

Published on: 14 October, 2021
UN Human Rights Council, Geneva [Reuters]

UN Human Rights Council, Geneva [Reuters]

In what was described as ‘a major setback’  the UN Human Rights Council decided to discontinue the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) in October.

The GEE was the only international and impartial body investigating serious violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law perpetrated by all parties to the conflict in Yemen.

The Council agreed in  in 2017  to send a group of ’eminent experts’ to Yemen to investigate abuse nearly two years after the Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating military offensive in support of internationally recognised President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was toppled by the Houthi rebels.

On Wednesday Mwatana for Human Rights together with more than 30 civil society organisations  issued a statement stating that ending the GEE’s mandate will entrench impunity in Yemen. It further stated that ending the mandate will act ‘as a greenlight for all parties to the conflict to continue to commit war crimes and other serious human rights violations.

The civil society organisations are calling for the establishment of an international body similar to the GEE. They are also calling for the implementation of the GEE’s recommendations that are geared at making progress towards ensuring accountability for crimes under international law that are committed in Yemen.

The statement further stated that the Council’s decision ‘reflects a persistent lack of leadership and political will by UN Member States that claim to uphold the highest standards of human rights to hold highly repressive States accountable at the Human Rights Council.’

Savita Pawnday, executive director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect said to Al Jazeera: ‘In failing to renew the GEE mandate, the Human Rights Council has failed the people of Yemen and dealt a devastating blow in the fight against impunity in this conflict. By succumbing to geopolitics and financial pressure from Saudi Arabia, some Council members have become complicit in perpetuating the cycle of atrocities in Yemen.  During its next session the HRC must renew or establish another independent mechanism to assure the people of Yemen that achieving justice and accountability for crimes committed against them matters.’