Vienna/New York. In a message addressed to the UN Security Council [on 5 April 2015], Dr Hans Köchler, President of the Vienna-based International Progress Organization, urged the international community to take coercive action under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter [“Action With Respect To Threats To The Peace, Breaches Of The Peace, And Acts Of Aggression”] to enable the delivery of urgently needed medical and other relief supplies to Yemen.
The domestic conflict and the foreign military intervention by a Saudi-led coalition has brought about a catastrophic humanitarian situation, particularly in the port city of Aden. The total aerial and naval blockade imposed by the Saudi military has made it impossible for international humanitarian organizations to carry out their task. Tons of medicines, surgical instruments and water sanitation kits cannot be delivered, and medical teams, on standby in the region, cannot reach the country because of the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia.
The President of the International Progress Organization stated that this behavior constitutes a serious violation of international humanitarian law, in particular of the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949. Under the Convention, parties to a conflict are under the strict obligation to allow humanitarian assistance to the people affected by the fighting. The behavior of the Saudi-led coalition, potentially leading to the death and suffering of thousands of innocent civilians, amounts to an active prevention of humanitarian aid and constitutes a war crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court and other instruments of international criminal law.
The International Progress Organization also condemned the repeated indiscriminate attacks by the Saudi air force on civilians and civilian installations in Yemen as serious violation of international humanitarian law.
The President of the I.P.O. reiterated the organization’s position that the attack by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and her allies against the Republic of Yemen constitutes an act of aggression against a sovereign member state of the United Nations. Apart from the illegality of the action under international law, foreign intervention in a domestic dispute such as the one in Yemen will only make the conflict more intractable and bring the risk of a wider conflagration.
The Security Council should take immediate action against the foreign military intervention in Yemen, including an end to the unilateral humanitarian blockade, and instead impose an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict and consider referring the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court in conformity with Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute1. Those who are responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law, including grave breaches of the Geneva Convention of 1949, must not enjoy impunity, the President of the I.P.O. emphasized in his message to the Security Council. •
1 “Article 13
Exercise of jurisdiction
The Court may exercise its jurisdiction with respect to a crime referred to in Article 5 in accordance with the provisions of this Statute if [...]
(b) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under
Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations [...]”
(Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute)
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