Introduction to Just Security Series on UN Yemen Report

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council released a Report (including a 274-page Supplement) by a Group of Eminent and Regional Experts on Yemen that the Council commissioned to investigate “violations by parties to the conflict” in Yemen since September 2014. The Report presents “findings by the Group of Experts with regard to the practical impact of these violations on the lives of ordinary Yemenis, which has been immense and wide ranging.” It details not only human rights violations during the non-international armed conflict underway in Yemen, but also significant violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes in the view of the Report’s authors. The Report also finds that several major military powers – including the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Iran – may be complicit due to their roles in supporting the Saudi-led coalition through arms sales and other forms of support, or in the case of Iran, supporting the Houthis. It emphasizes that all parties to the conflict, and their supporters, shoulder blame for the immense toll on Yemen’s civilian population. 

In reaching its legal conclusions, the Report interprets numerous provisions of human rights and international humanitarian law, including obligations for which the scope of application and precise content are the subject of debate in the scholarly community and among states.

Just Security has long focused on the Yemen War, and it bears noting that the Report cites five articles published by Just Security, including:

on siege warfare and starvation of civilians (by Beth Van Shaack);
on interference with humanitarian relief operations and famine (by Nathalie Weizmann);
on arms transfers to the Saudi-led Coalition possibly amounting to war crimes liability (by Ryan Goodman);
on potential US complicity in support for Saudi airstrikes (by Oona Hathaway);
on the duty of States to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions (by Oona Hathaway, Alexandra Francis, Alyssa Yamamoto, Srinath Reddy Kethireddy and Aaron Haviland).

Today, we are publishing the first in a series of articles analyzing the Report’s legal conclusions.

IMAGE: SANA’A, YEMEN – JULY 07: A Yemeni girl walks on rubble of a building destroyed in an airstrike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, at the Old City of Sana’a, on July 07, 2019 in Sana’a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)

 

About the Author(s)

Tess Bridgeman

Senior Editor at Just Security. Former Special Assistant to the President, former Associate Counsel to the President, former Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC), formerly Served at the Department of State in the Office of the Legal Adviser, in the Office of Political-Military Affairs and as Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser. Currently Senior Fellow and Visiting Scholar, Reiss Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law. You can follow her on Twitter (@bridgewriter).

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). Follow him on Twitter (@rgoodlaw).