Alwaght– The Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has agreed on Friday to establish a panel of experts in few days to investigate the human rights violations committed in Yemen. The decision was made after frequent demands by the Yemeni government and global public opinion pressures and three years of anti-Yemeni aggression by the Saudi-led Arab military coalition that launched its campaign in early 2015.
The UN step is being taken while during the three years of war any effort for giving enlightenment on the Saudi war crimes by various parties have met with failure, with the international organizations meaningfully remaining silent about the abuses.
Defense of the human rights and checking the violations against them were the core tenets of foundation of the UN. The UN General Assembly since its establishment has set up over 80 various commissions and approved human rights declarations, with the human rights body directly responsible for implementation of them. The OHCHR is in fact undertaking one of the main tasks among other UN organizations by improving the human rights status in the member states and curbing any violations through launching investigation and making reports from across the world.
The OHCHR features empower it to fight the abuses against the humanity, but for it to be more influential and deterrent the current mechanism alone is not enough. This claim can be supported by the tragic conditions of the Yemeni people who are subjected to unceasing Arab military coalition’s attacks that so far remain undeterred.
Since March 2015, the Saudi-led Arab alliance has been pounding Yemen, killing more than 13,000 civilians and tightening the noose on the remaining by imposing an all-out blockade from sea, air, and ground. The people, including the women and children as the most affected categories of the society, are now living in catastrophic conditions and grappling with various problems including the food and medicine shortage as well as outbreak of epidemics such as cholera.
The extraordinarily-difficult living conditions of the Yemenis have so far came under the international organizations’ scrutiny several times, and many global parties, including the governments and independent organizations, have placed applications for investigation of the Saudi human rights breaches, but none of them bore any results that prove the Yemeni people’s voice is heard by the world.
Certainly, the UN and its OHCHR are the direct parties to blame for failure of the pro-rights efforts. The UN, whose charter tasks it with taking stances against the aggression of one country against another, chose to turn a blind eye to the Saudi aggression on Yemen. The UN subsections responsible for human rights defense followed suit and embarked on a policy of silence.
Some 70 percent or 19 million people of the 28 million population of Yemen are in urgent need of humanitarian aids. But any help operations are inefficient as Saudi Arabia has destroyed most of the Yemeni infrastructure, including hospitals, roads, bridges, markets, schools and residential areas during past 29 months.
The international laws and human rights organizations especially caution against violation against these service places. However, the Saudi leaders not only declined to be sued by the UN for their crimes but also to disappointment of all in 2015 their country was picked head of the Human Rights Council and in next year kept its seat. Various human rights groups expressed objection to the choice but were far from being strong enough to foil the picking. According to the Article 8 of the HRC, a member state cannot be chosen member to the panel if it commits crimes against humanity.
Saudi Arabia several times survived the investigation or condemnation of its “large-scale crimes” against the Yemeni civilians, something apparently blamed on the politicized international system and prioritization of the countries’ interests by distortion of the law. Perhaps the biggest law distortion took place when under duress of the rights groups and global public opinion a number of reports providing evidences of Saudi criminality were sent to the UN in a bid to help blacklist Saudi Arabia as a children rights violator in June 2016. But to surprise of pro-rights groups, the bid was withdrawn after Riyadh put strains on the then UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and threatened to cut off its aids to the UN. Its name removal from the blacklist was followed by its choosing as head to the HRC.
The West shares interests with Saudi Arabia and thus provides backing to Riyadh’s anti-Yemeni aggression. This firmly stresses the international organizations negligence of the Saudis’ war crimes. After all, Saudi Arabia is a strategic regional ally to the West and a provider of its interests in the region. The Western rights pretenders such as the US and Britain continue selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. For instance, Britain since the beginning of the conflict approved £3 billion (nearly $4 billion) worth of arms to the Arab kingdom. Likewise, the US President Donald Trump during his late May visit of Riyadh signed 350 billion dollar arms deal with the regime, sending the world in outrage as his weapons are directly used in Yemen war.
This pushes us to the idea that the OHCHR decision to launch a probe cannot draw much optimism as previous bids by countries like the Netherlands and Canada to form a committee of investigators for Yemen field enquiry have yielded no result.
On September 29, the HRC announced intention to send experts to Yemen. The body approved a resolution and commissioned Zeid bin Ra’ad, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with sending regional and international investigators to launch a probe into the allegations of human rights violations committed by all involved sides.
On the strength of their leverages, the OHCHR and the HRC can identify Saudi Arabia as war criminal if they decide to stay away from politicization and avoid bowing to the interested powers. In this case, more humanitarian crisis can be avoided through pressuring the Arab monarchy. But their high potentials remain unused as they are turned into playthings in the hands of aggressors who enjoy money, power, and superpowers’ cover to impact such organizations, and leave the humans desperately behold global injustice.