Human Rights Council 36th session Opening Statement by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:
Coalition airstrikes continue to be the leading cause of civilian casualties, including of children
The human rights situation in Yemen is extremely alarming, and for the third time before this Council, I urge establishment of an international and independent investigative body to carry out comprehensive investigations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. I note in this context that 62 international and Yemeni NGOs have submitted a joint letter to this Council’s member states echoing the urgent need for such an inquiry. The minimal efforts made towards accountability over the past year are insufficient to respond to the gravity of the continuing and daily violations involved in this conflict. As of 30 August 2017, my Office has verified at least 5,144 civilians killed and more than 8,749 injured since the start of the conflict; actual numbers are likely to be far higher. Coalition airstrikes continue to be the leading cause of civilian casualties, including of children.
The suffering of the Yemeni people is now compounded by the grave epidemic of cholera, which is a direct result of indiscriminate attacks by parties to the conflict on medical centres and other protected objects, as well as sieges, blockades, and restrictions on movement. We continue to receive numerous reports of arbitrary or illegal detention, enforced disappearances and torture and ill-treatment by both sides to the conflict. The devastation of Yemen and the horrific suffering of its people will have immense and enduring repercussions across the region. I appeal to the parties to the conflict to reach a negotiated and durable solution, and to adhere to their obligations under international law, including by facilitating the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian relief. I urge this Council to do everything in its power to seek a rapid end to this carnage.
Serious violations and abuses of the human rights have been a significant driver of this conflict in Syria, and if it is to be sustainable, those seeking to bring badly-needed peace to the country must ensure that it is grounded in international human rights standards. The work of the newly established International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism will be essential in advancing accountability, by preparing files for prosecution of individuals by other competent courts or tribunals. I continue to call for referral by the Security Council to the International Criminal Court.