September 5-12: UN Urges Independent Inquiry


In a meeting with the Saudi foreign minister, UK Prime Minister Theresa May emphasized the importance of ending the Yemen conflict and complying with international humanitarian law. Activists have called the UK government complicit in the Saudi-led coalition’s alleged crimes in Yemen.

The UN Human Rights Council stated in a report that the Yemen National Commission, which reports to President Hadi who is backed by the Saudi-led coalition, cannot be responsible for investigating human rights violations in Yemen because of its political constraints, alleged partiality, and lack of enforceability. The report recommended that the UN form an independent commission of inquiry into abuses and violations of international law.

A spokesperson for the World Health Organization explained in an interview with Al Jazeera the causes of the cholera epidemic in Yemen, which include the disintegration of infrastructure, the prevalence of malnutrition, and the lack of functioning health facilities.

The UN Human Rights Council report on Yemen stated that over 1,100 children have been killed in the conflict in Yemen, over half of whom were killed by coalition airstrikes. Over 1,700 children have been used in hostilities, with 67% recruited by the Houthis, and both parties to the conflict have indiscriminately attacked civilians.

SAM Rights and Liberties released a statement demanding that all forces involved in the Yemeni conflict close their illegal detention centers. SAM has documented over 208 illegal detention centers that are run without judicial supervision in poor conditions. Furthermore, both parties to the conflict allegedly forcibly disappear and torture civilians.


Fahmia al-Fotih visited women in prison and Yemen and documented the poor conditions that women face. Women are often placed in small spaces with their children and were often in jail for being a victim of a crime, as the judicial system prioritizes men’s testimony over women’s.

A Reuters analysis explains that although former president Saleh has repaired relations with the Houthis, the Houthis have reason to worry that Saleh’s political ambitions and his relatively good relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE could lead Saleh to undermine the Houthi movement.


A poll conducted in the UK revealed that 65% of the population disapproves of the UK government selling Saudi Arabia guided bombs and fighter jets if there is a chance that the arms would be used in Yemen, and only 10% of Scots polled agree with the UK government’s position.


As described in an article in News Deeply, many Yemeni women have adapted to the conflict by helping those affected by it, such as by forming NGOs or providing medical aid. For example, Hiba Ali Zain Aidaroos formed an NGO, Sawasya, that reports human rights violations, distributes food aid, and provides solar energy systems.

An analysis in Eurasia Review states that Saudi Arabia may be trying to get out of the war in Yemen. Emails have shown that the Saudis are unhappy with the stagnation of the conflict, but Saudi Arabia’s role as an aggressor in the conflict and a source of the humanitarian catastrophe means that their position in the peace process is precarious. To end the conflict, the analysis urges the international community to accept Yemeni political self-determination.

A Washington Post article emphasized the humanitarian costs of the Yemeni conflict, with 20 million people facing food insecurity, 2 million displaced, 10,000 killed, and 600,000 afflicted with cholera. The crisis is entirely man-made, and a recent UN Human Rights Council report found that over half of the documented civilian deaths were attributed to coalition forces.  

Human Rights Watch stated that Saudi Arabia avoids accountability for its violations of international law by refusing to investigate any alleged violations or provide information on its airstrikes in Yemen. Thus, Human Rights Watch urges that the international community create an independent inquiry into violations of humanitarian and human rights law in Yemen.

The State Department approved an arms sales package to Bahrain worth over $3.8 billion that included F-16s, missiles, and patrol boats.

Abukar Arman wrote in Huffington Post that Saudi Arabia’s efforts to block Iranian influence in Yemen have contributed to the humanitarian crisis. Saudi Arabia blockades Yemeni ports, preventing the distribution of food and humanitarian aid, and purchases heavy weaponry and missiles to be used often against civilians in Yemen. Furthermore, this anti-Iran campaign has allowed for Saudi Arabia to excuse the persecution of its own Shi’a minority.


Arms manufacturers in the UK have exported $6.58 billion of arms to countries with repressive regimes since the Conservative party won the election almost 2 years ago. Saudi Arabia in particular has purchased increased amounts of arms; in the 22 months after the election, Saudi Arabia has purchased almost $5 billion in arms, while it only purchased $210 million in the 22 months before the election.

Drone strikes killed 5 suspected AQAP militants in the al-Bayda governorate as they were driving in a car.


The UK has formed a list of its high priority arms markets in order to increase arms sales. Among the countries in the list are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Anastasia Kyriacou of AidEx wrote in Open Democracy that the Yemeni conflict cannot be resolved if the donors of aid are also the perpetrators of the humanitarian crisis; Western countries who donate large amounts of humanitarian aid also sell arms to the Saudi-led coalition, which directs the devastating blockade and destroys civilian lives and infrastructure with airstrikes.


In a speech to the UN Human Rights Council, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein stated that an international inquiry in Yemen is needed to investigate civilian deaths and human rights violations.

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, stated that the unregulated flow of arms into Yemen has contributed to the ongoing civil conflict in a speech urging states to abide by the Arms Trade Treaty. When arms are so readily available, insecurity and armed violence increase, even after the establishment of peace.

Radhya al-Mutawakel, the chairperson of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, wrote an op-ed in The Guardian that countries selling arms to countries such as Saudi Arabia that are involved in the Yemeni conflict are violating the terms of the Arms Trade Treaty. If states acted in compliance with the treaty, the level of human suffering in Yemen would decrease.

An article in Deutsche Welle stated that the Arms Trade Treaty’s “weak implementation and lack of transparency” have prevented it from stopping arms sales that violate its terms. The article explains that the UK government, which signed onto the ATT, violates the treaty by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the leader of anti-Houthi coalition in the Yemeni conflict.