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UN votes to end Yemen war crimes probe in narrow defeat at Human Rights Council

UN votes to end Yemen war crimes probe in narrow defeat at Human Rights Council
Following a close vote, the United Nations Human Rights Council is ending the mandate of its independent investigators who found that all parties in Yemen’s conflict had committed acts that may amount to war crimes.

On Thursday, 21 countries voted against the resolution put forward by the Netherlands to extend the war crimes probe, while 18 were in favor of it. Seven countries abstained and Ukraine was absent.

The International Service for Human Rights condemned the move on Twitter, saying those who voted against continuing the inquiry had “voted against the rights, dignity and future of the Yemeni people”.

Mwatana for Human Rights, an independent Yemeni organization, issued a statement just days prior calling on the UN to not abandon the country’s people and to allow the mandate to be extended by another two years to continue investigating possible war crimes.

The organization also accused Saudi Arabia, which backs the Yemeni government in the conflict, and its allies of having “increased lobbying efforts in state capitals around the world in a bid to undermine support for the resolution”.

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Its chairperson, Radhya Almutawakel, said the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen (GEE) “is the only independent and impartial mechanism working to deter war crimes and other violations by all parties to the conflict”, and ending their inquiry would be tantamount to “a green light to continue such violations”.

The ongoing war in Yemen has ravaged the country and its population. ​​Addressing the human rights council earlier on Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that “Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection – more than 12 million of them in acute need”.

Millions of Yemenis are displaced, she warned, with the overwhelming majority (83%) being women and children.

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