GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) – The United Nations Human Rights Council voted Thursday, September 26 to extend the mandate of war crimes investigators in Yemen, after the group found evidence of grave violations by all sides in the conflict.
The investigators, appointed by the council in 2017, reported earlier this month they had identified “individuals who may be responsible for international crimes,” perpetrated during the fighting.
A resolution renewing their mandate for a year faced opposition from several states, notably Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to bolster the internationally recognized government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The Saudi envoy to the U.N. in Geneva, Abdulaziz Alwasil, accused the investigators of publishing “non-credible, unfounded information which hadn’t even been verified.”
But the renewal resolution passed with support from the European Union, along with Canada and several Latin American states.
The United Kingdom’s U.N. ambassador Julian Braithwaite praised the “fair and balanced” work of the investigators but also urged them to focus on “the conduct of those who back the protagonists.”
“Iran’s role in the violation of human rights in this conflict, through their support for the Houthi rebels, is something that should not be ignored,” he said.
The investigative team, officially called a Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts, were tasked with delivering another report on Yemen’s conflict in a year.
A group of Arab states, which opposed the Western-led text, have backed another resolution on promoting human rights in Yemen without an international war crimes probe.
Tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in March 2015.
The fighting has displaced millions and left more than two-thirds of the population in need of aid.