Geneva: Bahrain, Russia and other members of the UN Human Rights Council pushed through a vote on Thursday to shut down the body’s war crimes investigations in Yemen, in a stinging defeat for Western states who wanted to keep the mission going.
Members narrowly voted to reject a resolution led by the Netherlands to give the independent investigators another two years to monitor atrocities in Yemen’s conflict.
The independent investigators have said in the past that potential war crimes have been committed by all sides in the conflict that has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against Iran-allied Houthi rebels.
Dutch ambassador Peter Bekker said the vote was a major set back. “I cannot help but feel that this Council has failed the people of Yemen,” he told delegates.
During the debate, Bahraini ambassador Yousuf Abdul Karim Bucheeri said that the international group of investigators had “contributed to misinformation on the ground” in Yemen.
In the vote called by Bahrain, 21 countries voted against the Dutch resolution including Bangladesh, China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines and Russia. Eighteen including Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and South Korea voted to support it.
There were seven abstentions and Ukraine’s delegation was absent. The United States only has observer status.
It is the first time the United Nations’ top rights body has ever rejected a draft resolution since its foundation in 2006.
Yemen’s grinding conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced millions, resulting in what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations calls Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. About 80 per cent of Yemen’s 30 million people are dependent on aid.