UN Forced to Remove Saudi-Led Coalition’s Attacks on Yemen from Report on Children


Human Wrongs Watch

9 June 2016 – Standing by his decision to remove the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen from his latest report on conflict-affected children, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said it was one of the most ‘painful and difficult decisions’ he has ever had to make, and that it is ‘unacceptable’ for Member States to exert undue pressure as scrutiny is necessary part of the work of the UN.

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Boy playing on piece of exploded artillery shell which landed near his home, in the village of Al Mahjar, a suburb of Sana’a, Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Mohamed Hamoud 

“The report describes horrors no child should have to face,” said Ban speaking to the press outside of the UN Security Council chamber, where he acknowledged that the “fierce reaction to my decision to temporarily remove the Saudi-led Coalition countries from the report’s annex.”

“At the same time, I also had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would de-fund many UN programmes. Children already at risk in Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and so many other places would fall further into despair,” he stressed.

Insisting that he stands by the report, the UN chief added that the Organization “will assess the complaints that have been made, but the content will not change.”

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Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in July 2015. Photo: OCHA/ Charlotte Cans 

“I fully understand the criticism, but I would also like to make a larger point that speaks to many political challenges we face. When UN peacekeepers come under physical attack, they deserve strong backing by the Security Council,” he stated.

“When UN personnel are declared persona non grata simply for carrying out their jobs, they should be able to count on firm support from the Member States,” he said.

“Under Fire”

Ban also underlined that when a UN report comes “under fire” for raising difficult issues or documenting violations of law or human rights, Member States should defend the mechanisms and mandates that they themselves have established.

“As the Secretariat carries forward the work that is entrusted to us, I count on Member States to work constructively and maintain their commitment to the cause of this Organization,” he told reporters.

Turning to the issue of migration, the Secretary-General announced that he will be traveling to the Greek island of Lesbos next week to assess the situation and to show his solidarity.

 

“Hundreds of Syrians and other refugees and migrants continue to die in the Mediterranean while making perilous journeys out of war and persecution,” he said. “I have listened to the stories, hopes and fears of many refugees in recent months, to understand this challenge based on their first-hand experience,” he added.

As the global community formulates a global response to adopt at the upcoming High-Level Meeting on large-scale movements of refugees and migrants in September, Mr. Ban said he looks forward to continuing to work with Member States “to meet this test of our common humanity.”

The Secretary-General also took the opportunity at the press encounter to highlight some other challenges affecting the “wide sweep” of the UN’s work, such as keeping up momentum on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement; building on the progress of last month’s World Humanitarian Summit; and doing more to resolve major threats to international peace and security.

Responding to questions, Ban told one correspondent that in the course of making reports available to the Member States or in the course of preparing these reports, the Organization has found that some countries were more concerned that their names are listed together with some non-State actors, like terrorist and extremist groups.

“Therefore, I think the main reaction of the Coalition is also that their names are included and listed together with some terrorist and extremist groups. Therefore, we are now in the process of considering what would be the better modalities of listing those countries,” he explained, but reiterated that no decision has been made as the matter is still being discussed. (Source: UN).

Yemen: Ban removes Saudi-led coalition from report on conflict-affected children

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A boy sells vegetables at the Taiz Governorate Osaifera vegetable market in Yemen. Photo: UNICEF/Giacomo Pirozzi 

In the wake of the release of his latest report on the situation of ‘Children in Armed Conflict,’ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has on 6 June 2016 accepted a proposal by Saudi Arabia that the United Nations and the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen review jointly the cases and numbers cited in the text.**

“The Secretary-General shares the objective that the report reflect the highest standards of accuracy possible,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

According to the statement, Ban has stated repeatedly his alarm at the civilian casualties caused by all parties to the fighting in Yemen and has reminded them of the need to avoid such casualties and move immediately toward a lasting ceasefire.

“In this regard, the Secretary-General invites the Coalition to send a team to New York as soon as possible for detailed discussions, ahead of the Security Council’s discussion of the report currently scheduled for August,” said the statement, adding that pending the conclusions of the joint review, Ban will remove the listing of the Coalition in the report’s annex.

In his annual report on children and armed conflict covering the year 2015, the UN chief expressed his shock at the scale of grave violations against children in countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Ban noted the complex environments created by aerial operations by some Member States’ armed forces and international coalitions, which killed and maimed many children. In some cases, State-allied armed groups have recruited and used children and committed other violations.

“Member States should consider, as a matter of priority, changes in policies, military procedures and legislation, where necessary, to prevent violations and protect children,” he said in the report, stressing that those who engage in military action resulting in numerous violations of children’s rights will find themselves under scrutiny by UN. (**Source: UN).

2016 Human Wrongs Watch

 

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