HRW claims UN Human Rights Council failed to bring justice to Yemeni civilians

4 October 2015 (Last Updated October 4th, 2015 18:30)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UN Human Rights Council of missing a key opportunity to address alleged violations of the laws of war by all sides to the conflict in Yemen.

PPM-2 antipersonnel mines

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UN Human Rights Council of missing a key opportunity to address alleged violations of the laws of war by all sides to the conflict in Yemen.

The watchdog called a resolution adopted by the council by consensus on 2 October, as deeply flawed, and noted it ignores calls for an international inquiry into mounting abuses in the country.

HRW Geneva deputy director Philippe Dam said: "By failing to set up a serious UN inquiry on war-torn Yemen, the Human Rights Council squandered an important chance to deter further abuses."

According to HRW, the Netherlands originally proposed a draft resolution that would have mandated a UN mission to document violations by all sides since September 2014. It withdrew its draft on 30 September under intense pressure from Saudi Arabia and due to insufficient support from key countries, including the US and the UK.

"By failing to set up a serious UN inquiry on war-torn Yemen, the Human Rights Council squandered an important chance to deter further abuses."

Additionally, the Yemeni Government is said to have boycotted talks on the Dutch resolution, while several members of the Saudi-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Yemen, including Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE, openly opposed the proposed UN inquiry.

The draft resolution put forward at the council was prepared by the Saudi Arabian-led Arab group, and is said to lack any reference to an independent UN inquiry. It urges the UN high commissioner for human rights to provide Yemen with ‘technical assistance’ to support a recently formed domestic committee and continue the reporting already in place.

The Houthis and other Yemeni armed groups, and the Saudi-led coalition allegedly committed serious violations of the laws of war and human rights abuses since September 2014, and this March, respectively.

While the Saudi-led coalition is accused of conducting indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes that killed and injured scores of civilians and destroyed numerous civilian objects, the Houthi and allied forces, as well as opposition groups repeatedly and indiscriminately launched rockets into civilian populated areas in southern Yemen and across the border in Saudi Arabia, mistreating people in custody, and recruiting children for their forces.

Dam added: "The US, the UK and France appear to have capitulated to Saudi Arabia with little or no fight, astoundingly allowing the very country responsible for serious violations in Yemen to write the resolution and protect itself from scrutiny."


Image: PPM-2 antipersonnel mines found in the Yemeni port city of Aden in July-August 2015. Photo: © 2015 Human Rights Watch.