The U.N. Human Rights Council agreed Friday to send war crimes investigators to Yemen, overcoming resistance from Saudi Arabia which sought to fend off an independent international probe.
A resolution adopted by consensus mandated U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to send three experts to the country to “carry out a comprehensive examination of all alleged violations and abuses of international human rights” committed in the ongoing conflict.
“A credible international investigation is necessary in order to comprehensively, transparently, independently and impartially establish facts and circumstances surrounding violations with a view to put an end to the cycle of impunity in Yemen,” the Dutch delegate told the forum on behalf of a core group of Western states.
A European Union resolution was led by the Dutch and Canada, calls for a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to be dispatched to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombarding rebels since March of 2015.
The Saudis have in a letter leaked to several media outlets threatened economic and diplomatic retaliation against rights council members that vote for the Dutch/Canadian proposal.
Commissions of Inquiry are the U.N.’s highest level probes and have turned up evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity in crisis-hit countries like Syria, North Korea and Burundi.
More than 5,100 civilians have been killed and more than 8,700 injured since the UN started monitoring casualties in March 2015, according to a report by the U.N’.s Human Rights Office in September.
The Saudi-led coalition supporting Hadi was responsible for 60 percent of these deaths through airstrikes, while the Houthis have shelled civilians and recruited more than 1,100 child soldiers, the report showed.
Yemen has been ravaged by the war since 2014 between the government, which is supported by regional power Saudi Arabia, and the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Saudi Arabia’s rival Iran.