The European Union would like to thank the Group of Eminent Experts for its oral update to this Council and wishes to commend the Group for its thorough reporting. We deplore that the GEE was not granted access to Yemen, nor to any of the countries members of the Coalition. As stressed by the GEE and civil society and Yemeni citizens, there continues to be a pervasive lack of accountability for the gross violations of international law committed by all sides. The European Union will therefore support the renewal of the mandate of the GEE, as it can contribute to restore full accountability for the overall benefit of the people of Yemen in a reconciliation perspective. We also took note of your recommendations to this Council to strengthen the reporting lines and to ensure that the necessary resources are provided.
We have studied carefully the report before us, as well as the conference paper. The EU is deeply concerned that the conclusions of the report are similar to the previous one, if not worse. In other words, the parties to the conflict in Yemen did little to nothing to uphold their obligations to minimize the impact of this war on civilians. The conduct of hostilities, including by airstrikes and shelling, has continued to have an extreme bearing on civilians. We recall once more that all warring parties must refrain from targeting civilians, civilian infrastructure and services. The principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution must be adhered to at all times. We firmly condemn all acts which could contribute to a general escalation, including the Houthis' attacks on civilian installations in Saudi Arabia, recent destabilizing activities by southern groups and all other acts which inflict further suffering on the Yemeni population, including by regional actors.
The persistence of widespread human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, which may even amount to war crimes, is particularly worrying. Arbitrary detention, torture, sexual and gender based violence, defamation and retaliatory attacks against the civilian population, and gruesome violations of the rights of the child persist at an alarming level. These practices must stop immediately. All parties should conduct prompt, transparent, independent, thorough, credible and gender-sensitive investigations of all violations and crimes in accordance with international standards. Mechanisms set up by parties to the conflict to address impunity or review alleged violations must be structurally and functionally independent, and impartial in assessing the conduct of all parties, in order to be credible. The EU will continue to demand accountability for the actions of all perpetrators, including through criminal justice mechanisms. The Council must maintain focus on the situation as long as patterns of human rights abuses and IHL violations persist. HRC must not allow a climate of impunity in Yemen.
Yemen remains the world's single largest humanitarian crisis. The EU remains deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the conflict in the country, where starvation as a weapon of war is an abhorrent tactic used by parties to this conflict. This is unacceptable and may amount to war crimes. The EU demands full, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to the 24 million people in need of assistance in Yemen. Financial pledges made to the UN Humanitarian Response must be disbursed immediately in order to prevent a suspension of aid due to lack of funding with catastrophic consequences.
The EU expects all parties to maintain their commitments to the UN-led process and engage with the UN Special Envoy in an inclusive and sustainable political process with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women, in order to end the conflict and the immense human suffering it has already caused. The EU has said from the outset that there is no military solution to Yemen’s conflict.
Mr Jendoubi, what are your views on ending impunity in Yemen and how can the Council help to advance accountability?
High Commissioner, we are concerned about reports that GEE does not receive sufficient continuous support and resources. Should the HRC decide to renew the mandate what can your Office do to ensure that the GEE will be immediately operational to carry out its mandate?