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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Arab coalition denounces 'biased' UN resolution on Yemen human rights investigation

The Yemeni government says it will not co-operate with the probe

Displaced Yemenis at Meshqafah Camp on September 23, 2018 in Aden, Yemen. Getty
Displaced Yemenis at Meshqafah Camp on September 23, 2018 in Aden, Yemen. Getty

The Arab Coalition battling the Houthi rebels denounced as "biased" a resolution that renewed a UN-backed investigation into alleged human rights violations in Yemen.

The Yemeni government said it would not co-operate with the probe.

The condemnation was issued in a joint statement on Friday by the Yemeni government, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

It comes after the UN Human Rights Council voted to extend an international probe of alleged human rights violations in Yemen by both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels.

"We are left with a resolution which is biased, and which clearly contradicts the clear mandate laid out by the United Nations Security Council," said the joint statement.

Rights council members voted in favour of the resolution in Geneva on Friday by 21 to eight, with 18 abstentions.

Saudi Arabia and its allies criticised what they said was the council's "failure to achieve consensus".

"In particular, we are disappointed that certain member states failed to consider the real and legitimate concerns of those states who are most affected by the situation in Yemen," they said.

The resolution showed "disregard for Yemen's sovereign right to give its consent to co-operate with international resolutions that deal directly with the human rights situation on its own territory."

The Yemeni government told Al Arabiya news channel that it would not cooperate with the United Nations team of experts "in terms of its right as a member state of the United Nations not to interfere in its internal affairs”.

Last month, investigators detailed evidence of alleged human rights breaches in Yemen by both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi rebels supported by Iran.

The coalition and the Yemeni government strongly criticised the probe's initial report, arguing that it underplayed rebel violations and Iran's role.

"We are disappointed that the observations of international and regional expert groups, including those which highlighted irregularities, errors and omissions contained within the report, were not included" in the resolution, the coalition said.

The Arab group in the rights council had backed a rival text that called on Yemen's national human rights commission to take charge of future investigations of the conflict.

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That proposal was a non-starter for many states, given a lack of confidence in the Yemeni commission.

The approved resolution led by a group of European states and Canada calls on investigators to deliver another report next September.

Probe members had said they needed more time to fully document the range of violations in the Yemen conflict, which has killed up to 10,000 people since March 2015 and triggered what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Riyadh's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Abdulaziz Alwasil, said he voted no because the resolution did not address his "legitimate concerns", notably about the "lack of balance" in the probe's first report.

The fact that it went to a vote underscored divisions on the issue within the 47-member rights council, which typically strives for consensus on major texts.