The war in Yemen between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi-Saleh forces is nearly two years old – more than 4,600 civilians have been killed and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. The High Commissioner has repeatedly called for an international investigation into abuses by all parties to the conflict, yet the laws of war continue to be violated and true accountability is starkly lacking.
The Saudi-led coalition has unlawfully bombed homes, markets, schools, and hospitals, killing and wounding thousands of civilians. Human Rights Watch has documented 62 apparently indiscriminate coalition airstrikes – most recently one that killed two students on their way to school – and 18 more where the coalition used banned cluster munitions. In some of these attacks, the coalition has used weapons made and continue to be sold by countries on this Council.
The Houthi-Saleh forces have arbitrarily detained, tortured or forcibly disappeared an unknown number of people, laid anti-personnel landmines, and indiscriminately shelled civilian neighborhoods. We have documented instances where children have been detained and abused by Houthi-Saleh forces, where activists, nongovernmental organization workers and members of the Baha’i community were harassed or intimidated.
Yemen is now among the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions reportedly on the brink of famine. Both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi-Saleh forces have delayed or impede the flow of humanitarian assistance, contributing to many more silent, civilian deaths.
Accountability for these and other violations remains crucial, and international action is urgently needed to pressure the parties to cease ongoing abuses. States could begin by stopping weapons sales to Saudi Arabia until it ceases its unlawful attacks and investigates those that have occurred. The Council should create an independent, international investigative mechanism to examine abuses by all side. But, until then, it should ensure that states support OHCHR’s own investigative efforts and back regular briefings by the High Commissioner on developments so that the conflict in Yemen, and the enormous toll it is taking on Yemeni civilians, is not forgotten.