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Statement for the Universal Periodic Review Pre-session on Yemen

اقرأ المحتوى باللغة العربية

Honorable Members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues, Friends:

My name is Yazeed Aljeddawy and I am here representing the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, a Yemeni policy and research center. Today, I point your attention to the catastrophe in Yemen, which continues to suffer from nearly a decade of war and one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The core of our submission regards the urgent need to recognize the rights of the victims of conflict, and the centrality of justice to Yemen’s political and economic future. Victims’ voices are not being adequately represented or respected in official negotiations, and have too long been drowned out by competing political and military agendas, from actors both within Yemen and abroad.

This arrangement is as dangerous as it is unjust, ensuring that national reconciliation and sustainable peace will remain elusive, and that unresolved disputes and cyclical violence will destroy the aspirations of yet another generation of Yemenis.

We hold that the recognition and prioritization of victims of conflict is a crucial component of any peace process. Last July, along with more than 70 Yemeni civil society organizations, the Sana’a Center signed a landmark declaration demanding that transitional justice be made a central tenet of negotiations and recognized as a requisite of any political settlement.

But justice must extend beyond the realms of wartime criminality and political inclusion. Yemen remains the poorest country in the Middle East, a condition exacerbated by nine years of destructive conflict. Worldwide, it ranks as one of the most vulnerable to, and least ready to cope with, the effects of climate change, despite contributing less than 0.1 percent of global emissions.[1] The abnegation of responsibility by the leading economies does not come without costs, which are being borne by Yemeni communities already teetering on the verge of famine.

If Yemen is to rebuild an economy capable of supporting the basic needs of its population, it needs urgent support for sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

Climate change has made Yemen increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic weather events, which are expected to increase in severity and frequency. In such circumstances, climate justice is not only a matter of environmental protection, but an issue of basic human rights, implicating the rights to life, health, and water–and with them the right to a healthy environment. Yet the country has received insufficient development and economic support to ameliorate the current situation or the promise of worse to come.

In previous cycles, member states have made recommendations to the internationally recognized Government of Yemen on transitional justice, including establishing and implementing a reconciliation and transitional justice framework aligned with the recommendations of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference and the UNHCR; expediting relevant legislation; ensuring the independence of the National Commission of Inquiry; and promoting the representation of women in political processes and in public life.

In the 32nd UPR session in January 2019, some member states recommended general and specific action to ensure accountability for violations of international law committed by the parties to the conflict. They also insisted on the importance of ratifying existing international instruments – such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances – to address arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, and the torture of journalists, human rights defenders, and religious minorities, amongst others. The Government of Yemen accepted and supported 13 of the total number of 16 recommendations made by Member States to address these human rights concerns. However, to date the Government of Yemen has done little to implement these recommendations. In addition to this, many visit requests made by special procedures mandate holders – such as the special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions – have also gone unanswered. As a result, the government has missed important opportunities to build technical cooperation and develop the capacities needed to improve the situations identified as matters of concern.


To the internationally recognized Government of Yemen:
  1. Recognize the right of victims, family representatives, and associations to be present and represented in all activities related to political settlements and transitional justice. The government should facilitate the registration of these associations in order to encourage victims or their representatives to provide testimonies for documentation and memorialization purposes. The government should furthermore guarantee the right of victim associations to draw their internal rules as well as to organize their activities and programs without interference or pressure from the authorities.
  2. Guarantee the presence of Yemeni civil society organizations – including victim associations – in meetings related to the political process in Yemen. Furthermore, promote and protect the role of civil society representatives including victims and those acting on their behalf in any peace-related arrangements such as ceasefires and other peace efforts, including but not limited to those led by the United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen. .
  3. Promote and support a comprehensive national approach to transitional justice, drawing on the experiences of the National Dialogue Conference and incorporating relevant just principles of customary law and legislation.
  4. Systematically consider climate change damages and losses and provide fair and equitable compensation to ensure the most vulnerable and marginalized voices in Yemen experience climate justice.
To the international community:
  1. Provide support to transitional justice efforts in Yemen, namely by ensuring that donor-funded programs are sensitive about the legacies of human rights violations in Yemen and by supporting justice and reparations for victims of the armed conflict;
  2. Provide financial and technical support to help Yemen implement sustainable development and environmental protection initiatives. These should take advantage of indigenous knowledge and engage with local and vulnerable communities.
  3. Support and provide funding for roadmapping a transitional justice process by Yemeni civil society.
  4. Support civil society organizations in Yemen to ensure that compensation to victims and other reparations-related measures as may have been taken by parties to the conflict in Yemen do not prejudice their right to uncover the truth, restore their dignity, or seek accountability.

Despite the potential re-escalation of the conflict in Yemen, it is imperative that we neither forget nor neglect its victims and their suffering. Immediate action is needed to organize support for victims and to document the violations against them. Additionally, the critical consequences of climate change in Yemen must be urgently addressed, considering its role in exacerbating poverty, malnutrition, and conflict.

  1. “Climate Change Profile – Yemen,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, April 2018,