Members of Congress urge independent investigation into human rights violations

WASHINGTON, DC--On September 12, fourteen members of Congress sent an official letter to Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley urging her to call “for an independent, international investigation into the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Yemen,” after more than two years of abuses by all sides in Yemen’s civil war that have continued with impunity. The Yemen Peace Project applauds this effort, which echoes a letter the YPP and 66 other NGOs previously delivered to members of the UN Human Rights Council.

The congressional letter echoed the most recent report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which highlighted the failures of the warring parties to protect civilians and the failures of the two investigation mechanisms previously set up by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and the Government of Yemen, respectively. As cited in the congressional letter, “the war has caused more than 10,000 civilian deaths, pushed seven million Yemenis to the brink of starvation, driven three-quarters of Yemen’s 27 million people to require humanitarian aid, displaced more than three million people, led to a cholera outbreak with more than half a million reported cases, and deprived more than 10 million children of basic needs like medical care and clean water.” As a result of the failure of the JIAT and the Yemeni National Commission of inquiry to credibly investigate abuses during the conflict, the signers argue that a new accountability mechanism must be established to address the worsening situation.

During recent statements in June, Ambassador Haley stated that the use of investigative bodies for Syria and Korea are “the Human Rights Council at its best...calling out human rights violators and abuses.” The congressional letter argues that the current situation in Yemen falls clearly within the mandate of the Council. As a leader in calling for accountability for human rights abuses and violations in Syria, the United States must do the same in Yemen. After supporting two failed accountability mechanisms, it is the mandate of the UN to ensure accountability for the widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated by all parties in Yemen, through an impartial international investigation.

“The efforts of fourteen members of Congress to advocate for an international investigation into the human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Yemen adds to the growing chorus of voices demanding accountability for the egregious abuses committed by all sides in Yemen’s civil war,” said Kate Kizer, director of policy and advocacy at the YPP. “Given the United States’ active participation in the war without congressional authorization, public debate, or transparency, the US has a responsibility to work toward a humanitarian and political solution to the crisis. The first step is for the US to support the establishment of an independent investigation mechanism to hold perpetrators of abuses publicly accountable and use an independent Commission of Inquiry as leverage to push the parties towards peace.”