Pakistan, China, Bahrain, Russia and other members of the UN Human Rights Council pushed through a vote on Thursday to shut down the body’s war crimes investigations in Yemen, in a stinging defeat for Western states who sought to keep the mission going.
Members narrowly voted to reject a resolution led by the Netherlands to give the independent investigators another two years to monitor atrocities in Yemen’s conflict.
It marked the first time in the council’s 15-year history that a resolution was defeated.
The independent investigators have said in the past that potential war crimes have been committed by all sides in the seven-year conflict that has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-allied Houthi rebels.
More than 100,000 people have been killed and 4 million have been displaced, activist groups say. Dutch ambassador Peter Bekker said the vote was a major setback. “I cannot help but feel that this Council has failed the people of Yemen,” he told delegates.
“With this vote, the Council has effectively ended its reporting mandate, it has cut this lifeline of the Yemeni people to the international community.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres still believes there is a need for accountability in Yemen, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
“We will continue to press for accountability in Yemen, a place … in which civilians have seen repeated crimes committed against them,” Dujarric said.
Ambassador Katharine Stasch, Germany’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the council: “While we acknowledge the (Saudi-led) coalition’s efforts to investigate civilian casualty claims through the joint incidents assessment team.— Agencies