On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres submitted an annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) to the Security Council. The report, seen by Reuters, blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for killing and maiming children in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia had previously lobbied hard to prevent being blacklisted. While its name appeared in that blacklist in 2016, then-UN chief Ban Ki-moon removed Saudi Arabia from the list a few days later, acknowledging that he had been forced to do so after the regime and its allies threatened to cut off funding to many UN programs.
This year, while the UN report did blacklist the Saudi-led coalition, it also said the coalition had taken measures to improve the protection of children in the armed conflict, in an apparent attempt to avoid too much Saudi backlash.
On Friday, Amnesty international welcomed the UN’s blacklisting of the Saudi-led coalition but condemned the world body for attempting to reduce blame on the coalition by claiming that it has taken unspecified measures to protect children.
“Every time the United Nations makes concessions that allow perpetrators of crimes under international law to evade criticism or justice, it emboldens others to commit violations that cause immense misery to people around the world,” said Sherine Tadros, the head of UN office in New York for the UK-based rights group.
“While we welcome the overdue listing of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the CAAC report, it is a shame that the UN caved in to pressure and included it in a new category specifically designed to limit condemnation of the coalition,” she added.
The report held the Saudi-led coalition responsible for 683 child casualties in Yemen and for 38 attacks on schools and hospitals during 2016.
Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi claimed on Friday that “there is no justification whatsoever” for the regime to be on the UN blacklist.
Yemen has witnessed a deadly Saudi-led war since March 2015. The protracted Saudi offensive, which has been accompanied by a naval and aerial blockade on Yemen, has so far killed over 12,000 people and led to a humanitarian crisis and a cholera outbreak.
In an interview with Press TV, Scott Rickard, a former American intelligence linguist, hailed the UN move to include Saudi Arabia on its blacklist as “the right choice,” but one that came later than it had to.
“This is something that would have happened last year, but the Saudi Arabians have threatened to not fund the UN, so Ban Ki-moon was forced to remove Saudi Arabia from the blacklist last year,” he said.
The new UN chief “has taken the initiative to put Saudi Arabia and the coalition,… which includes the United Sates,” in the blacklist, Rickard said, adding that “the United States is a key player alongside Saudi Arabia in this intense war upon Yemen.”
Also speaking to Press TV, Jihad Mouracadeh, a political commentator and Middle East expert, claimed that the Houthis Ansarullah movement was causing more problems for Yemen than the invading Saudi-led coalition.
The Houthi Ansarullah movement has been defending Yemen against the Saudi-led invaders.