Saudi Arabia seems to have been successful in buying silence and loyalty. The Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE), which is the only independent and impartial international mechanism to investigate human rights violations and other atrocities committed in Yemen, has been dismissed. There are indications that Saudi Arabia and its allies – whose actions in Yemen have come under scrutiny in the reports of the Panel of Eminent Experts – have stepped up lobbying efforts in capitals around the world to undermine support for the resolution and to get rid of Eminent Experts Panel.
Human Rights Watch had confirmed in a statement that Saudi Arabia, a key party to the Yemen conflict, was accused of serious violations, including potential war crimes, as well as its coalition allies, were waging a relentless pressure campaign to prevent States in the Human Rights Council from renewing the mandate to investigate human rights violations.
The United Nations Human Rights Council rejected the adoption of the resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, following a roll-call vote, which took place on October 7, where 21 States voted against and 18 in favor, while 7 abstained.
Eminent Expert Panel’s report highlighted the Saudi Arabia crimes in Yemen
The recent report of the Panel of Eminent Experts once again revealed the brutal attacks against civilians across the country by the Saudi-led coalition, the Emirates and the armed group Ansar Allah (the Houthis). The report also sent a warning that the lack of political will between the parties to the conflict and the international community for international law remained a major obstacle to ending to end the harm to civilians, the wider human suffering within the country, and to ensure effective accountability for these violations. The ongoing conflict has ravaged the country, and it has inflicted enormous suffering on its people. The report reveal that at least 233,000 people lost their lives, including 102,000 as a direct result of hostilities and 131,000 for indirect reasons, including but not limited to; Conflict-related famine, destruction of health services and infrastructure.
Attacks on homes, schools, hospitals, civilian infrastructure and humanitarian aid have put Yemen on the road to one of the biggest famines in recent history. Today, more than 400,000 Yemeni children are at risk of dying from hunger and malnutrition, and 16.2 million people face acute food insecurity. That’s not accidental; there is overwhelming evidence that the warring parties, headed by Saudi Arabia and their blockade of Yemen are deliberately starving Yemenis as a method of warfare.
In introducing his latest report last month, the Chairman of the Group of Independent Experts, Kamel al-Jandoubi, said that coalition airstrikes “continue to inflict heavy casualties on the civilian population”. Since March 2015, it is estimated that the coalition has carried out more than 23,000 air strikes and that more than 18,000 civilians have been killed and wounded.
The termination of Independent Experts Group work shocked the civil society organizations and human rights defenders
The Group stressed its shock at the resolution and added that it was now time to “redouble rather than reduce efforts,” noting that with the termination of the work of the only independent United Nations body investigating and issuing detailed reports on human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, the Council had failed the Yemeni people. Civil society organizations and human rights defenders have repeatedly expressed that for them the Panel represents a glimmer of hope.
The Panel stated that, despite their fear and intimidation, victims and witnesses continued to call on the Panel of Eminent Experts to convey their suffering to the international community and to act to end impunity. The statement added that it was a major setback for all victims who had suffered grave violations during the ongoing and intense six-year armed conflict in Yemen. The statement made clear that the negative vote of Council Member States confirmed the Panel’s assessment concerning the lack of political will to address the situation in Yemen.