To United Nations Security Council Ambassadors,
Following the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing on 12 July, where senior UN officials warned of a dramatic worsening of the crisis in Yemen, we felt compelled to write to you as the NGO Task Force on the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The Special Envoy for the Secretary-General has warned an escalation in violence is causing an ‘appalling’ humanitarian situation in Yemen. The Chief of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, reported that 7 million people are at risk of famine, and highlighted that the UNSC has primary responsibility for this conflict and member states must do more. Other officials reported that the cholera outbreak, which has already killed over 1800 people, is unprecedented (affecting 22 out of 23 governorates) and warned that the disease will kill many more due to the collapse of basic health services and the fact that nearly 15 million people – over 55% of the population – do not have access to basic health care or clean water.
The dire humanitarian situation in Yemen is a man-made catastrophe – not a natural disaster. The ongoing armed conflict and the manner in which it is being fought only contributes to and exacerbates this humanitarian crisis. We call on all members of the UNSC to take immediate action to end violations of international humanitarian law by the parties to the conflict, prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation and ensure accountability.
113 UN member states – including eight current Security Council members – have endorsed the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) group Code of Conduct and in doing so have pledged to support timely and decisive UNSC action to prevent or end the atrocity crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Yemen is clearly an atrocity situation, as multiple briefings by senior UN officials have confirmed. Human rights organizations have gathered information showing that all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Houthi armed group and allied forces as well as anti-Houthi forces, have committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, which may amount to war crimes.
It is time for the UNSC to end its paralysis on Yemen and to take concrete steps to prevent mass atrocity crimes and thereby uphold its collective responsibility to maintain international peace and security as mandated in the UN Charter.
Specifically, we call on UNSC members to: