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UN approves international investigation in to Yemen war crimes

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution last week that will see the appointment of a panel to investigate reports of war crimes in Yemen.

The resolution, passed without a vote last week, will see a group of "eminent international and regional experts" appointed by the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein to investigate “all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and other appropriate and applicable fields of international law".

It will "establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, and where possible, identify those responsible".

The decision falls short of a commission of inquiry into Yemen, a move that Saudi Arabia had lobbied strongly against. The country currently leads a Western-backed coalition, which backs the Yemeni government and has carried out extensive bombing raids in the conflict against Houthi rebels.

Speaking on the decision, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said “I think anybody that can come and see first-hand evidence … for alleged crimes against international humanitarian law or human rights, I think that will be helpful because it will shed some light on the impact of the military activity on all sides, and there are no good guys in this fight”.

“We keep trying to remind the parties of their obligations, but there has been a blatant indifference of the parties when it comes to international humanitarian law,” he added.

Yemen’s government declared its “acceptance” of the resolution, which was backed by the UK and US. A previous Yemeni proposal for a domestic inquiry was not taken up.

US charge d'affaires Ted Allegra said,

“We believe the Council speaking with one voice on Yemen is essential to address the worsening situation there, and to encourage the parties involved in the conflict to come to the table, not to mention for the integrity of the Council.”