Senior U.N. officials have seen the Yemeni issue as a test of the council’s credibility after it also backed away a year ago from launching an independent inquiry.
That latest behind-the-scenes negotiations at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva have ended, as with last year, declining to launch an independent investigation into Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen, leading to a series of very public condemnations from human rights groups.
Salma Amer, of the Cairo Institute, termed the latest deal as having put “Saudi Arabia’s desire for impunity above the need to protect the people of Yemen,” while others accused the council itself of abusing their positions to deflect accountability.
Last year’s debates of the matter ended with the agreement that the Saudi government and its allies could investigate themselves, which naturally just amounted to a solid year of rubber stamping continued war crimes. The new text, dubbed a “compromise,” will allow a handful of UN investigators to observe the internal investigation, so they can keep track of how it’s going nowhere in real time.
Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in lobbying against any international reproach for its actions in Yemen, ending up briefly on the UN “name and shame” list of violators of children’s rights before complaining until the UN Security Council grudgingly took them off the list. Other public criticism from UN officials has faced loud condemnation from the Saudis, who claim to be unfairly faulted, despite the enormous civilian death toll of their ongoing air war.