On 29 September 2017, the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council passed by consensus a compromise resolution requesting that High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussain establish a Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts to carry out a “comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law committed by all parties to the conflict” since September 2014. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain welcomes the passage of the resolution and the creation of an international investigative panel of experts.
The conflict in Yemen has entailed numerous human rights violations. Since the Saudi-led coalition entered the Yemen conflict, over 13,000 civilians have been killed, many by coalition airstrikes which have struck civilian areas like schools, hospitals, and markets. A combination of Saudi Arabia’s devastating blockade and the destruction of critical infrastructure has helped create a humanitarian crisis, in which over half a million Yemenis have been affected by an outbreak of cholera and 20.7 million Yemenis – including 11 million children – are in need of humanitarian assistance.
As a result of the scale of the violence and humanitarian crisis, national, regional, and international civil society organizations and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have repeatedly called for action. Over the past two years, numerous NGOs have called for an “independent, international mechanism to document violations committed by all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen.” This call was reiterated and amplified by 57 NGOs in the run-up to the 36th Session of the Human Rights Council. High Commissioner Zeid has also called for the creation of an independent international inquiry. In his opening statement to this session of the Council, he reiterated his call for the Council to establish “an international and independent investigative body to carry out comprehensive investigations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB: “The Council’s decision to adopt without a vote the establishment of an international investigate mechanism to comprehensively examine abuses in Yemen is a critical step towards ensuring that all parties in the conflict are held accountable for rights violations. For too long the Saudi-led national commission has whitewashed coalition violations, including airstrikes against civilian populations. With the establishment of this mechanism, composed of independent international experts, the Yemeni people will finally have access to justice and all parties involved will be held accountable.”
ADHRB welcomes the passage of the resolution. Documenting the grave human rights violations in Yemen is the necessary prerequisite to ending impunity and ensuring accountability. ADHRB calls upon all member states of the Human Rights Council, and in particular the members of the Saudi-led coalition, to fully cooperate with the commission of experts to ensure the credible and efficient functioning of the investigation.