Geneva - In a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council’s 51st session, Euro-Med Monitor and Youth Parliament for SDG said European countries are obligated to stop arms sales to the conflict parties in Yemen under relevant agreements such as The Geneva Conventions, the Arms Trade Treaty, and the EU Common Position, which all prohibit the export of arms that may cause foreseeable violations of international law.
EU Member States of the Human Rights Council must prohibit the export of arms to countries involved in the Yemen conflict, as well as any activities that may prolong the conflict.
Delivering her statement to the Council, Euro-Med Monitor’s Legal Researcher Carma Estetieh said, “Despite international obligations and the overwhelming evidence pointing [to] the direct impact of the arms trade on human rights violations in Yemen, recent reports have found that weapons manufactured in European countries are in the possession of armed groups in Yemen, further fuelling the conflict”.
The statement said that the difficult humanitarian situation in Yemen has not prompted the conflicting parties to stop fighting, despite the fact that over 400,000 Yemenis have lost their lives—and 80% of the population has become dependent on humanitarian aid to survive—since 2014.
Estetieh emphasised that the constant influx of arms makes the continuation of war possible. The international community has a collective responsibility to hold perpetrators of human rights violations in Yemen accountable, including those who provide them with the means to continue committing such violations.
Yemen, one of the MENA region’s poorest countries, is witnessing a devastating armed conflict in its eighth consecutive year.
Since 2014, the conflict has deprived 400,000 people of their right to life, and has left 80% of the population reliant on humanitarian assistance to survive—yet parties to the conflict continue to ignore all calls to end the violence.
The Geneva Conventions, the Arms Trade Treaty, and the EU Common Position protect civilians from targeting during armed conflicts, and require states to deny the transfer of arms that lead to foreseeable violations of international law.
Despite these international obligations and the overwhelming evidence pointing towards the direct impact of arms trade on human rights violations in Yemen, recent reports have found that weapons manufactured in European countries are in the possession of armed groups in Yemen, further fuelling the conflict.
Weapons are known to enable war. As such, it is the collective responsibility of the international community to ensure that [perpetrators of] human rights [violations] on the ground, and those providing them with the means to perpetrate, are held accountable.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and the Youth Parliament for Sustainable Development Goals therefore call on European Member States to immediately impose bans on the export of arms, thereby putting an end to the crimes [being] committed by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.