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A malnourished child lies in a charity clinic in Hodeida, Yemen on November 3, 2019. (Photo: Essa Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images)

A malnourished Yemeni toddler lies on a bed at a clinic run by a humanitarian organization in the port city of Hodeida on November 3, 2019. (Photo: Essa Ahmed/AFP/Getty Images) 

New UN Report Recommends ICC Investigate Possible War Crimes by All Sides—Including US-Backed Coalition—in Yemen

"Yemen has been ravaged in ways that should shock the conscience of humanity," said one of the report's authors.

Brett Wilkins

A United Nations report published this week calls on the U.N. Security Council to refer alleged war crimes committed by all sides in Yemen's civil war to be referred to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution.

The report (pdf), states its authors, the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen (GEE), found "reasonable grounds to believe that the parties to the conflict have committed and continue to commit serious violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to war crimes." 

It cites U.S.-backed Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that have killed thousands of civilians, the Saudi-led blockade that has exacerbated the famine and disease that have killed at least tens of thousands of people, and a wide range of human rights violations by both Yemeni government forces and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, including unlawful imprisonment and killing, forced disappearances, and use of child soldiers. 

"All parties continue to show no regard for international law or the lives, dignity, and rights," a statement accompanying the report said, adding that there are "no clean hands" in the conflict. 

"After six unremitting years of armed conflict in Yemen, the multi-party war continues with no end in sight for the suffering millions caught in its grip," the report states.

"Whether through ongoing airstrikes, the crippling blockade, indiscriminate artillery attacks, impeding humanitarian relief supplies and access to food and healthcare, harm from landmines, arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearances, widespread displacement, assaults on civil society and minorities, recruitment and use of children, gender-based violence, and endemic impunity, Yemen remains a tortured land," it says. 

GEE member Melissa Parke said upon the report's release that "Yemen has been ravaged in ways that should shock the conscience of humanity." 

For the first time, GEE called for a criminal investigation of the worst abuses detailed in the report, urging the Security Council "to refer the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court, and to expand the list of persons subject to Security Council sanctions." 

While not accused of war crimes by GEE, Britain, France, Iran, the United States, and—for the first time—Canada were called out in the report, which said their arms sales to warring parties are "helping to perpetuate the conflict."

Last April, President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution that would have forced an end to U.S. military funding and involvement in the five-year war. The Senate subsequently failed to override the president's veto. 

Despite being one of the world's worst human rights violators, Saudi Arabia has long enjoyed warm relations with the United States. Trump used the occasion of a March 2018 White House visit by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to tout the $12.5 billion worth of warplanes, missiles, warships, and other weapons the Saudi regime has purchased from U.S. corporations during his tenure.

The State Department was criticized last month by leading Democratic lawmakers for what Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) called a "sham" declaration of a national security "emergency" to sell arms to the Saudis. 

According to a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, Trump also boasted about protecting the crown prince, whom the CIA and other countries' intelligence agencies believe ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi. 

"I saved his ass," Trump allegedly bragged. 

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