Today, Human Rights Council members face a choice that goes to the core of this body’s credibility: whether to renew the only independent monitoring mechanism on Yemen, or let the mandate lapse.
No one has suggested that the situation in Yemen has improved such that the mandate is no longer needed. As the Group of Eminent Experts documented, the warring parties continue to indiscriminately bomb and shell civilians, abduct people from their homes, and interfere with the delivery of food and medicine.
We are dismayed – though not surprised – by the campaign of misinformation waged by the Saudi-led coalition in an attempt to discredit the experts’ work:
- They critique the experts for using a “reasonable grounds” standard of proof – yet that is the exact same standard used by the Myanmar Fact-finding Mission, and other UN monitoring bodies.
- They critique the experts for referring to the Houthis as “de facto authorities” in relation to areas under their control - yet the Secretary General himself has used this common term while making clear it does not confer legal recognition.
- The coalition claims the experts ignored Houthi abuses – yet the experts reported on Houthi unlawful shelling and sniper attacks, forcible recruitment of child soldiers, arbitrary detention, torture, and denial of humanitarian aid.
One can understand why the Saudi-led coalition would want to terminate independent international scrutiny of the conflict. Just last month, a coalition airstrike killed at least 26 children and wounded more than 19 in or near a school bus in a busy market. Some parents said they were unable to recover any body parts of their children.
Much more remains to be done to document abuses on all sides.
When you leave this place tomorrow, don’t turn your back on Yemeni civilians. Don’t abandon them to their fate, caught between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi armed group in the midst of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Don’t let the message be: we know about your suffering, but somewhere along the way, we just stopped caring.