GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA (8 October 2021) – On 7 October, despite efforts by several States, the Human Rights Council rejected a resolution to renew the mandate of the Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen, through a roll-call decision. This is a major setback for all victims who have suffered serious violations during the armed conflict that has been raging for over six years in Yemen.
The negative vote taken yesterday by Council members further underlines the Group's assessment that there is a lack of political will to address the situation in Yemen. Through this action, our mandate will effectively come to an end at the close of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council, next Monday.
Now is the time for more action, rather than less. By ending the only United Nations independent entity investigating and issuing detailed public reports on human rights violations committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen, the Council appears to be abandoning the people of Yemen
Despite the fear and intimidation that victims and witnesses face, they continue to report to the Group of Eminent Experts a desire to have their suffering made known to the international community and action taken to end impunity. Local civil society organisations and human rights defenders have repeatedly stated that the Group was, for them, a reason for hope.
As our mission comes to an end, we want to renew our recommendations made over the past four years to parties to the conflict. We call upon them to:
- Agree to a full cessation of hostilities and achieve a sustainable and inclusive peace;
- Immediately cease all acts committed against civilians in violation of applicable international human rights and international humanitarian law and take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure;
- Immediately end any measures that worsen the humanitarian crisis; and to
- Conduct prompt, transparent, independent, impartial, thorough, credible, effective and gender-sensitive investigations of all violations and crimes committed during the conflict; and ensure accountability of the perpetrators and justice for the victims and take measures to ensure the protection of victims and witnesses in such processes.
We continue to call upon the international community to provide support to the parties in strengthening accountability mechanisms, and also call upon the international community to take specific initiatives at the international level or in third States, as appropriate, in pursuance of accountability. Victims of this tragic armed conflict should not be silenced by the decision of a few States. Quite the opposite, they should be supported by all means to see the realisation of their rights to truth, justice and reparation.
It is all the more important now to promote and support all efforts by the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen to reach a cessation of hostilities and achieve a sustainable and inclusive peace with due attention for respect of human rights and for accountability. Moreover, the Security Council should integrate the human rights dimensions of the conflict in Yemen more fully into its agenda and ensure there is no impunity for the most serious crimes by, inter alia, referring the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court, and expanding the list of persons subject to Security Council sanctions under its resolution 2140 (2014).
We invite the Office of the High Commissioner to release reports on the human rights situation in Yemen through its country office and to support all initiatives towards accountability for victims.
We thank the Netherlands and the members of the Core Group, who called for the establishment of the Group of Eminent Experts and have supported it tirelessly over the years and all member states that voted in favour of the successive resolutions. They have rightly assessed the desperation of people whose fundamental rights have been violated for too long. Last but not least, we also thank civil society organisations and human rights activists that supported us throughout the four mandates, despite the environment of fear and reprisal created by the parties to the conflict. The people of Yemen should not be forgotten; the people of Yemen must not be silenced.
About the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (Group of Experts)
In its resolution 36/31 (2017), the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a group of eminent international and regional experts on Yemen to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the country. The Group of Eminent Experts (Group of Experts) was mandated 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, including the possible gender dimensions of such violations. The mandate of the Group of Experts also includes its duty to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses and, where possible, to identify those responsible.
The members of the Group of Experts were:
Mr. Kamel Jendoubi (Tunisia), Chairperson (December 2017 – October 2021)
Ms. Melissa Parke (Australia) (December 2017 – October 2021)
Mr. Ardi Imseis (Canada) (December 2019 – October 2021)
Mr. Charles Garraway (United Kingdom) (December 2017 – October 2019)