UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL - 45TH SESSION

Joint Statement on Yemen

Interactive Dialogue with Group of  Eminent International and Regional Experts

Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

We thank the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts for their presentation and for the comprehensive report [and Conference Paper] submitted to the Council.

We greatly appreciate the Group’s work, particularly in light of the many and significant challenges faced by them and the Secretariat this year.

We remain profoundly concerned by the appalling human rights situation, and the ever-deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen. We are also very concerned about the recent escalation of the conflict, especially in Mareb. There is an urgent need for the de-escalation of violence, both to protect civilians and to help avert famine

The Group’s work provides, once again, a sobering assessment of the intense suffering being endured by the Yemeni people, some 6 years into this devastating conflict.

An end to that conflict, and achieving sustainable peace in Yemen, can only be achieved through political means, and we re-affirm our full support for the inclusive and comprehensive UN-led process working towards a negotiated, political Yemeni-owned solution. In that context, we welcome the agreement reached on 27 September on the immediate release of a first group of more than 1,000 conflict-related detainees.

Mr/Mme (Vice) President,

Recently, the UN Secretary-General noted that it was “time to step up for the people of Yemen”[1].

We could not agree more.

The human rights violations and abuses being endured by the Yemeni people, are quite simply shocking.

These include arbitrary deprivation of life, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention, starvation of children as  a method of warfare, gender-based violence, including sexual violence, particular targeting of migrants, journalists, human rights defenders, and persons belonging to minority groups, persecution of persons based on their religion or belief, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as the recruitment and use in hostilities of children.

And this year, against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis of overwhelming proportions, the continued denial of humanitarian access and medical supplies including through import and other restrictions, the sustained attacks on humanitarian workers, civilians and civilian objects (including medical facilities and schools). To make matters even worse, the situation are further exacerbated by COVID-19 and dire food insecurity in Yemen, with the USG for Humanitarian Affairs telling the Security Council this month that “the spectre of famine has returned[2].”

For these reasons, we continue to believe that the Human Rights Council has a duty and a responsibility to respond meaningfully to the human rights and international humanitarian law violations and abuses by all parties in Yemen.

We fully support the need for the continued provision of technical assistance to the National Commission in Yemen as we believe that the Commission has an important role to play in documenting human rights violations.

However, as the only international, independent mechanism that is working , in accordance with international standards, to further accountability for the Yemeni people, the contribution of the Group of Experts is vital. The Group’s work is strengthened by rigorous, evidence-based analysis that takes into account the facts on the ground.

We fully support therefore the renewal of the Group’s mandate, and would greatly welcome a return to consensus support for the Group, as at its establishment in 2017. Continued provision of full administrative, technical and logistical support is necessary to enable the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts to carry out its mandate.

Mr Jendoubi,

In May your Group issued a statement highlighting concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19 in detention facilities. Could you elaborate some more on these concerns and on the impact of the pandemic on the human rights situation overall?

Thank you.

[1] https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/statement/2020-09-17/secretary-generals-remarks-the-high-level-ministerial-meeting-yemen-delivered

[2] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/200915%20USG_Statement%20to%20Security%20Council%20on%20Yemen.pdf