Bahrain, Russia and other members of the United Nations Human Rights Council went ahead with a vote on Thursday to close the commission’s investigations into war crimes in Yemen, in a painful defeat for Western countries that sought to keep the mission; According to a report by Reuters, translated by Al-Mashhad Al-Yemeni.
Members voted narrowly to reject a Dutch-led decision to give independent investigators two more years to monitor atrocities in the Yemen conflict.
This is the first time in the council’s 15-year history that his decision has been defeated.
Independent investigators have said in the past that possible war crimes were committed by all sides in the seven-year conflict that led to the intervention of the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.
Activist groups say more than 100,000 people have been killed and 4 million displaced.
Dutch Ambassador Peter Becker said the vote represented a major setback.
“I can’t help but feel that this council has failed the Yemeni people,” he told delegates.
With this vote, the Council has effectively ended its reporting mandate, cutting the lifeline of the Yemeni people to the international community.
A spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters in New York that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres still believes that there is a need for accountability in Yemen.
“We will continue to press for accountability in Yemen, a place… where civilians have witnessed repeated crimes being committed against them,” Dujarric added.
Catherine Stasch, Germany’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the council: “While we acknowledge the efforts of the (Saudi-led) coalition to investigate allegations of civilian casualties through the Joint Incident Assessment Team, we are convinced that an independent, UN-mandated international mechanism is indispensable. The United Nations is working to hold the perpetrators of violations against the Yemeni people accountable.
Rights activists said this week that Saudi Arabia had lobbied hard against the Western decision.
The kingdom is not a voting member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, and its delegation did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
During the debate, Bahraini Ambassador Yousef Abdul Karim Bucheery said that the international group of investigators “contributed to spreading false information about the situation on the ground” in Yemen.
In the vote called by Bahrain, an ally of Saudi Arabia, 21 countries voted against the Dutch resolution, including China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Venezuela and Uzbekistan. Eighteen, including Britain, France and Germany, voted to support it.
Seven members abstained from voting and the Ukrainian delegation was absent. The United States of America has only observer status.
Meanwhile, the Yemeni activist and head of the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, said that she is very disappointed with the result.
She added, “By voting against the renewal of the Group of Eminent Experts today, UN member states gave the green light to the warring parties to continue their campaign of death and destruction in Yemen.” In reference to the investigators known as the Group of Eminent Experts.
John Fisher of Human Rights Watch said the failure to renew the mandate “is a disgrace on the record of the Human Rights Council.”
“By voting against this much-needed mandate, many countries have turned their backs on the victims, caving in to the pressures of the Saudi-led coalition, and putting politics to the test,” he added.