31 October 2017
Our new publication The Armed Conflict in Yemen: A Complicated Mosaic, written by Sari Arraf, provides an overview of the armed conflict in Yemen and key developments in 2017.
This short publication describes the preludes to the conflict (2011-2012), the failed transitional period (2012-2014), the outbreak of the conflict (2015-2016) and the current situation (2017). It also provides an overview of the role and involvement of the various armed groups, as well as a mapping of foreign involvement in the Yemen conflict*.
This publication will form part, along with other analysis of conflict situations, of the War Report 2017 which will be published at the beginning of 2018.
Although the conflict in Yemen is widely presented as being between two distinct blocs – a Houthi–Saleh alliance against forces loyal to the internationally recognized president of Yemen, Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition – this description can be misleading. The publication highlights that neither camp is cohesive as both feature armed groups or regional players with divergent ideologies and political goals.
‘From secessionists in the south, to Salafists in Taiz and Aden and tribal leaders in the north, there are smaller groups in Yemen who are not necessarily under the control of Hadi or the Houthi–Saleh alliance’ underlines Dr Annyssa Bellal, Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy and Editor of the War Report. ‘In addition, the presence of al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) in Yemen render the Yemen conflict mosaic more complicated’ she adds.
Even states participating in the Saudi-led coalition seem to have different agendas in Yemen, as evidenced recently in mounting tensions between Hadi and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the latter’s alleged support for secessionist groups in South Yemen who operate quite independently from Hadi.
Since the beginning of the Yemeni conflict in March 2015, at least 4,773 civilians have been killed and another 8,272 injured by the violence. Food insecurity has reached critical levels as 17 million people (around two-thirds of the population) are estimated to be severely food insecure, among whom 7 million are close to famine. The country witnessed a cholera outbreak in October 2016, which has since led to at least 1,740 deaths with a further 320,000 suspected cholera cases. Cholera flourished amidst a collapsing health care system and around 16 million people not having access to adequate water, sanitation or hygiene.
It has been reported that as many as 10,000 civilians have been killed since the beginning of the conflict. ‘It is an excellent news that the UN Human Rights Council decided in September 2017 to set up a international commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the conflict in Yemen since 2014’, underlines Annyssa Bellal
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal provides information on the classification of the armed conflicts that have been taking place in Yemen, identifies the parties to these conflicts, and the applicable law.
*Foreign involvement does not necessarily means that these countries are parties to the conflict from a legal perspective. For further information about who is a party to an armed conflict, consult our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts online portal.
As the Geneva Conventions turn 70, discover our current and past research projects aiming at clarifying the meaning of the Geneva Conventions in contemporary circumstances.
Our Strategic Adviser on international humanitarian, Dr Annyssa Bellal, has been invited to brief on 13 August – together with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer and the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares – the UN Security Council on the Geneva Conventions.
Panelists will discuss the struggle of Sednaya's former detainees for justice and accountability, and explore the role of current justice and redress initiatives in the contexts of universal jurisdiction and in the documentation of violations.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
This short course provides an introduction to the regime of sanctions under international law and their effectiveness in addressing contemporary forms of conflict. It addresses the questions related to state responsibility, the pacific settlement of international disputes and the role of the International Court of Justice.
This short course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.
As an annual publication, The War Report provides an overview of contemporary trends in current armed conflicts, including key international humanitarian law and policy issues that have arisen and require attention.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.