A Yemen Centre for Human Rights study on U.N.S.C. resolutions from 2011 to 2021. More detailed reports (in Arabic) on Security Council violations can be found here https://ychr.org

Study Summary

Since the admission of Yemen to membership of the UN in 1947 and until 2021, Yemen went through many wars and foreign aggressions that took place from time to time. Even so, all resolutions by the UN and the Security Council did little, if any, effort to provide real solutions to such wars that had one thing in common: the existence of foreign support for one of the parties to the conflict.

After a seven-decade period of no action on the part of the Security Council (a period that saw only four resolutions but tens of civil wars and foreign aggressions against Yemen), the same Security Council without any prior notice started, however, to weak up and show great concern for Yemen, as it has adopted 17 resolutions since the start of the Yemeni popular revolution in 2011 and until the time of writing this study in December 2021.

After carrying out a legal analysis of Security Council resolutions on Yemen adopted during the period from 2011 to 2021, we find that the Security Council has been inconsistent in its resolutions with the Charter of the UN and its resolutions that call for maintaining the sovereignty of states and not interfering in their internal affairs. It has also violated the Charter-identified powers given to the Security Council that limit its role to some cases that constitute a real threat to international peace and security and to cases that amount to the crime of aggression, a crime the Security Council, however, has encouraged to exist through the repressive measures it has been taking since the beginning of the aggression against Yemen on 26 March 2015. In doing so, the Security Council has turned Yemen’s internal conflict that was taking place during a political gestation period with limited military confrontations into an international conflict in which tens of countries from various continents are involved, turning itself from a protector of international peace and security into a violator of international law.

The Security Council has involved itself in such violations to fulfil some of its member states and their Gulf allies’ ambitions of having control over Yemen’s natural capabilities and regional waters by taking advantage of the popular revolution and the political gestation in Yemen. And that is why it has sought to impose its illegal trusteeship over Yemen through four stages:

Stage one: This first stage paved the way for misleading the international community into believing that the situation in Yemen constituted a threat to international peace and security by introducing Resolution 2014 (2011) and Resolution 2051 (2012).

Stage two: The Security Council adopted Resolution 2140 (2014), claiming that the situation in Yemen constituted a threat to international peace and security in the region. Through that resolution, the Security Council was able to adopt more resolutions under Chapter VII that interfered in Yemen’s internal affairs, even though it failed to present any single case that constituted a threat to international peace and security. Moreover, it reaffirmed in all its resolutions that the events in Yemen were an internal Yemeni affair that had never gone beyond its geographical boundaries and that such events were political in nature and derived by the transition of power. What is more is that the resolution itself welcomed in an unprecedented way the positive political developments and the cooperation of all parties during that transitioning period!

As a result, Resolution 2140 is in total contrast with the UN system and international laws and norms, and clearly and deliberately violates the Charter of the UN and its purposes and resolutions that set out the laws for when Chapter VII is applicable to states and that prohibits interfering in their internal and external affairs as well as violating their sovereignty or expropriating the rights of their people to self-determination.

Stage three: The Security Council resorted to unexpected moves to circumvent the success achieved by the September 21st Revolution that took place in 2014 because it found itself unable to come up with any new resolution after Revolution Leader Al-Sayyid Abdul Malik Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, the leader of the Ansar Allah Movement, declared Sana’a to be under the control of the revolutionaries and after all political components in Yemen signed the Peace and National Partnership Agreement, an agreement the Security Council welcomed and called upon all parties to show compliance with.

After the resignation of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Khaled Bahah followed by the declaration of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee as an interim authority tasked with administrating the affairs of the country to avoid any constitutional void until implementing all provisions of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement and carrying out presidential and parliamentary elections to transmit power to whomever elected, the Security Council and the Gulf Cooperation Council couldn’t bear seeing the Yemenis succeed in their revolution and put an end to the foreign interference in the Yemeni decision-making process and to the continued efforts aimed at depriving them of their right to self-determination and to maintain the sovereignty of their own country. That period saw a constant stream of condemnation statements by the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council followed by Security Council Resolution 2201 (February 15, 2015). However, one month before the aggression, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2204 (February 24, 2015) at its 7390 session, a resolution that seemed to be generally encouraging and less worrying and denouncing than the previous resolutions, and refrained from calling for compliance with the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, while voiced its support for the UN envoy in fostering the dialogue that was taking place under the Supreme Revolutionary Committee. In addition, that resolution didn’t contain any condemnation against any acts of violence or terrorist activities simply because such acts and activities by Al-Qaida had disappeared along with acts of using force against demonstrators and using media to incite hatred among political rivals. Indeed, it was a period of peace where government institutions resumed their service-providing activities under a caretaker government, and all components came together to the negotiating table at the Movenpick Hotel, Sana’a Capital, under the supervision and auspices of the UN and through its envoy. 

Stage four: The UN sought to impose its trusteeship on Yemen by encouraging the coalition countries to commit the crime of aggression against Yemen on 26 March 2015. That was the case despite the fact that Yemen’s national and revolutionary components responded positively to the Security Council’s requests stated in resolutions 2140, 2201, 2204. In addition, although the Saudi-led coalition launched hundreds of airstrikes on Yemeni governorates during the 40-day period of the Sana’a Government of Salvation’s strategic policy of self-restraint, the Security Council didn’t take any move to fulfil its duty even by passing a resolution to condemn the aggression that was not met with any bullet, and to call for putting an end to it. Instead of doing so, it participated in the crime of aggression by committing two grave violations of the UN Charter and international humanitarian law:

  • The first violation: The Security Council ignored the crime of aggression being clearly carried out by the collation against Yemen and kept silent for twenty days in the face of hundreds of airstrikes on several Yemeni governorates by the coalition that targeted Yemen’s infrastructure and civilian properties and led to the death and injury of 3362 civilians, of them 1037 killed, including 214 children and 184 women, and 2325 wounded, including 352 children and 485 women.
  • The second grave violation: The Security Council committed a grave violation against the Yemeni people and international costmary law when it adopted Resolution 2216 at its 7426th session on 14 April 2015. That resolution shocked the world and brought shame not only to the Council but also to the whole system of the UN, since it completely ignored the coalition’s announcement of the aggression and its offensive operations against Yemen and completely turned a blind eye to hundreds of war crimes that claimed the lives of thousands and caused great loss of private and public property.

In an attempt to mislead the international community, the coalition announced on 21 April 2015 (six days after the Security Council adopted Resolution 2216) an end to Operation Decisive Storm in a statement by the spokesperson for the coalition. That announcement came after 26 days from the start of the military campaign, during which the Yemeni people exercised self-restraint and paved the way for the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities. However, that Council didn’t move a finger to stop the aggression even by releasing any statement of condemnation, which encouraged the coalition to continue its aggression against Yemen and announce in the same statement the start of a new campaign called ‘Operation Restoring Hope’ to renew its targeting against Yemen and its efforts to occupy Yemen’s territories.

During the first forty-day period, the coalition kept launching air, sea, and land attacks against Yemen, leading to the death and injury of 5731, among them 4144 killed including 661 women and 585 children, and 1587 wounded including 250 women and 289 children.

That is why it was not surprising to see the Council adopting Resolution 2564, a resolution that was preceded by a seven-year period of silence on the part of the Security Council toward the aggression against Yemen that saw no single condemnation for any crime or violation carried out by the coalition countries. Such a resolution, which was adopted on 25 February 2021, was an extraordinary, since the Security Council turned its back on its commitments to the inspirations of the Yemeni people—a commitment it used to reaffirm again and again in every preamble of the previous resolutions, in which it also used to reaffirm its commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Yemen. In addition, it was the first time for the Security Council to condemn a party to the conflict that was provoked by the Saudi-led Coalition’s aggression, which has been ongoing since 26 March 2015. However, such condemnation contained in this resolution wasn’t directed against the party responsible for targeting Yemen with missiles and bombs day and night and for using starvation as a weapon against the Yemeni people for seven years or against the party responsible for killing and kidnaping tens of male and female travelers between Mar’ib and Sana’a governorates. The Security Council, however, expressed its strong condemnation for ‘the ongoing escalation in Mar’ib, Yemen, including the Houthi operation on 7 February 2021, and the continuation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia including on Abha International Airport, on 10 February 2021,’ and called for ‘an immediate cessation of attacks without preconditions’.

Since Resolution 2140 of the Security Council has no legal basis, all decisions that were taken based on that resolution are illegal, including the decision to form a sanctions committee and give a mandate to a panel of experts assisting the committee. Although the Security Council Expert Panel has no legal basis for its mandate, we think it is important to show the validity of this argument by shedding light on the Security Council’s own resolutions adopted during the 2014-2021 period. In spite of the fact that this panel has no legal basis to continue to exist and that its reports are biased in favor of the coalition and against the revolutionaries in Yemen and the Sana’a government, the Panel of Experts failed to cover its bias because of the fact that it limited its investigations to a limited number of crimes for which the coalition couldn’t deny its responsibility in the first place and that it turned its back on hundreds of massacres and thousands of crimes, even though such crimes were globally known crimes and documented by local and international human rights organizations and media outlets.

In addition, the legal and analytic study conducted into the Expert Panel’s reports makes it clear that Resolution 2140, along with those Security Council resolutions that followed that resolution up until October 2021, has no legal basis. The study found the following:

  1. The provisions of Resolution 2140 shall have no legal effect due to the invalidity and incredibility of the Security Council’s argument that the Yemeni situation constitutes a threat to international peace and security and requires action under Chapter VII.
  2. The Security Council has violated the Charter of the UN and the resolutions of the General Assembly and has not taken its responsibilities seriously towards what the Panel of Experts documented of those crimes that proved the Saudi-led coalition’s responsibility for committing a complete crime of aggression that fully fits into the legal description stated in General Assembly Resolution 3314 (December 14, 1974) and in the Rome Statute, and for committing all sorts of crimes that fall into the category of most serious crimes under international criminal law. 
  3. The Panel of Experts has followed the policy of the Security Council in misleading the international community and international public opinion about the true nature of the crime of external aggression being committed against Yemen and about its bias in favor of the coalition against the revolutionaries and the Sana’a Government as well as the Ansar Allah Movement, the General People’s Congress, and their political and social allies.

Yemen has been experiencing a catastrophic situation for seven years, during which the interference of the Security Council in internal Yemeni affairs saw no end, so did its resolutions that violate the UN Charter and international law. The Council has not been able to achieve any of its declared political goals in Yemen, and this was proven by the Security Council Expert Panel in its January 2021 report, which states that:

The situation in Yemen has continued to deteriorate, with devastating consequences for the civilian population. Three main factors are contributing to the catastrophe: (a) economic profiteering by all Yemeni parties, affecting human security; (b) continuous and widespread human rights and international humanitarian law violations, with impunity; and (c) escalations in fighting and its impact on civilians, including displacement.

This description is far from the political and security situation the Council promised to create for the Yemeni people, the people who proved to be wiser than the Security Council when they managed to contain all crises and conflicts and resolve them with minimal losses before the interference of the Council. 

Using the logic of arrogance and high-handedness in dealing with Yemen and the Yemeni people is still dominating the resolutions of the Security Council, which couldn’t, for one reason or another, understand the fact that Yemen has been facing oppression for about 7 years, during which the Security Council has kept silence to satisfy the USA, UK, and their Arab allies who failed to force the Yemeni people bend the knee, and achieve their scheme aimed at occupying and dividing Yemen and looting its capabilities. 

The Security Council couldn’t understand the fact about the existence of a great God Who is ruling the whole universe and never accepts injustice and corruption on this Earth, and Who is the only one capable of turning the balances in favor of the oppressed and giving them victory, strength, and might if they believe in Him and have a just cause: {‘for it was due on Us to support the believers’}[Ar-Rum 30:47]. The Security Council also forgot that it is only natural for the Yemenis to exercise their right, and more importantly their duty, to defend themselves as well as their lands and properties, which is guaranteed under the Charter of the UN and all international and divine laws, especially after the Security Council stripped the Yemenis of all their rights, including the rights guaranteed by the UN due to Yemen’s membership, and turned a blind eye to all those violations committed against them. 

The Security Council has committed violations, if not crimes, by supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression against Yemen based on an alleged request from a resigned president who doesn’t represent any national component and has left the country after turning his back on all Security Council resolutions and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement, which was referred to as a reference by the Security Council. In addition, the actions taken by the Security Council and the Saudi-led coalition have been in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, the Charter of the UN and its resolutions, international law, and the Taif Agreement signed and ratified by the UN. Therefore, the commission of such violations, as well as the insistence on the continuation of this crime against the land and people of Yemen, makes it clear that the Security Council is not only targeting Yemen but also targeting the entire system of the UN, its member states, and humanity as a whole; and this may lead to the collapse of the UN system for nothing other than pleasing and supporting the super powers in their arrogance, tyranny, and domination of peoples, and may set the stage for another tragic collapse of the League of Nations: {‘so that Allah might accomplish what was destined to be done’}[ Al-Anfal 8:42].

For more details on the violations of the Security Council seen in its resolutions on Yemen, you can have access to our study entitled ‘The Security Council & the Aggression on Yemen: Airstrikes & Resolutions‘ at www.ychr.org.