Protecting civilian rights in Yemen

Improving protection for the rights of civilians in Yemen

In Yemen, scene of what is currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, over 10,000 civilians have been killed. Violations of human rights and international humanitarian law include airstrikes on civilians and civilian infrastructure carried out by the Saudi-led coalition; indiscriminate shelling by the Ansar Allah group (Houthis); and arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, summary executions, and use of landmines. In addition, advances in the south by UAE-backed forces have meant that the country is now effectively divided into at least three parts.

With over a quarter of the population now directly threatened by famine, Yemeni civilians are deliberately being starved. (The close involvement of the UK government and Saudi Arabia was highlighted by Ceasefire in this Guardian piece.)

The lack of authoritative information on violations in Yemen has also left the international community divided, with each side accusing the others of violations, largely on sectarian lines. Following two years of attempts, a UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen was eventually established by the UN Human Rights Council in late 2017, but it still faces problems of access on the ground.

This project seeks to fill a strategic gap in building the capacity of civil society to monitor and document violations of the rights of civilians in the armed conflict, ensuring that impartial information from the ground is made available to inform UN mechanisms and wider international scrutiny, and to secure documentation essential for accountability and reparation.

The application of civilian-led monitoring techniques in Yemen presents a significant opportunity. This project combines capacity building for Yemeni human rights defenders, production and dissemination of monitoring information, safeguarding of documentation, and international advocacy in pursuit of improved protection for civilians affected by the conflict.

Partners on this project are:

Mwatana Organization for Human Rights is an independent Yemeni human rights NGO established in 2007 and formally registered in 2013. Mwatana depends on field investigative research accurately and objectively to document violations committed by all sides in the conflict, and its work is widely quoted by the UN and the international media as Yemen’s main human rights NGO with a nationwide presence.

This programme is supported by the Fondation Pro Victimis and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Photo © anasalhajj /

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