By Akua Asantewa Owusu-Darko
Are we ready for another humanitarian catastrophe?
The present carnage in Yemen highlights the failure of the United Nations Security Council in resolving its dual mandate. Its stipulated mandate as an apolitical arbiter of global affairs and security threats is trampled by the strategic and geopolitical interests of its Permanent Five members and their respective allies. Since its inception in 1945, the United Nations Security Council has struggled to resolve these clashing interests. However, the atrocities leveled against the citizens of Yemen by the Saudi Arabian led coalition says otherwise. The United Nations Security Council has been relatively quiet even though the actions of Saudi Arabia and its allies has been condemned by other United Nations Organs such as the Secretariat and agencies like the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This deafening silence may lead to the deduction that the United Nations Security Council values the geopolitical hegemony and national interests of its permanent five members and their respective allies over inalienable rights such as the right to life, liberty, security and a standard of living.
Can the silence of the United Nations Security Council be attributed to its role in the events in Yemen? It is a well-known fact that its adoption of its flawed resolution, Resolution 2216 sanctioned a Saudi Arabian led coalition which not only threatened the territorial integrity of Yemen but the lives of its citizens. Hence, its condemnation of Saudi Arabia may be seen as an admission of complicity by some of its members.
Although the war in Yemen is made up of a coalition of Middle Eastern and North African states such as the UAE, Qatar and Egypt, it receives intelligence, arms and logistical support from the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Since the war began in 2015, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has acquired £3.6bn worth of armory from the United Kingdom while the Trump administration recently signed a £350 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia over the cause of 10 years. France on the other hand signed a $7 billion weapons deal with Qatar as well as a $12 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia during the height of the coalition’s attacks. Hence, it is not surprising that these three permanent members namely France, the United States and the United Kingdom sponsored and adopted Resolution 2216 even though it failed to meet the stipulated conditions of Article 51.
This may lead one to conclude that the capitalist west is profiting from the havoc and destruction of a non-western nation-state. Even though I concur with these sentiments, I believe that anyone with a moral conscience will be disturbed by the events in Yemen. Although these western nations may argue that they are not liable to the 10,000 deaths which have occurred since 2015, it can be argued under International Law that they are liable since their fighter jets and armory are the main perpetrators of these mass casualties in Yemen.
We cannot stay silent to the atrocities leveled against the people of Yemen. Not only are their lives constantly at risk due to the indiscriminate use of illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, they are also unable to meet their basic needs due to the Saudi Arabian led blockade on their land, sea and air entrepots. This has led to unimaginable consequences to the state since it imports 90% of its basic needs. A recent report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states that 60% of the Yemeni people are food insecure while the dilapidated sanitary conditions in the country has increased the risk of contracting sanitary-borne diseases like Cholera. A recent report by the World Health Organization indicates that as of September 10 2017, 646,132 people have contracted Cholera while only 45% of the nation’s health facilities are functioning. This is why it is disheartening to see that coalition airstrikes are targeting neutral zones such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities. A vivid example is the attack on two Médecins Sans Frontières hospitals in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
It is high time the United Nations Security Council calls Saudi Arabia and its coalition to order. Since the Saudi Arabian led coalition began its amoral attacks in Yemen, there has been a complete disregard for international conventions and Security Council resolutions such as resolution 2286, 2140 and 2216. These resolutions advocate for the respect of international aid agencies, international humanitarian law and the protection of humanitarian assistance.
Saudi Arabia’s inability to adhere to these resolutions and conventions pushed former Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon to add the state to its blacklist of states that violate children’s rights during conflicts. The Kingdom unfortunately responded to this denouncement by threatening to decrease its monetary commitment to the United Nations.
It is therefore not surprising that aid agencies and reporters are barred from Yemen due to the Kingdoms obsession with its image and not the human rights of the Yemeni people. We implore the United Nations Security Council to speak up against the injustices meted out by the Saudi led coalition. We cannot relive the horrors of Syria, Rwanda Sri Lanka and Bosnia. If a lukewarm approach is adopted, Saudi Arabia’s actions would be legitimized and adopted by other member states. As the world’s moral arbiter, we beseech the United Nation’s Security Council to condemn the actions of Saudi Arabia by revoking the coalitions right to intervene in Yemen. We also call on the United Nations Security Council’s panel of experts and all stakeholders to come up with a plan of action which will restore hope and order to war-torn Yemen.
Akua Asantewa Owusu-Darko is a junior at the University of California Berkeley majoring in Political Economy.
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