Alwaght- Without any doubt, Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen, should be considered crimes against humanity. These activities are taking place against any group of Yemeni people, whether they are civilian women, men, children, or members of the military.
Regarding the measures taken at the international level or actions done by governments, such as Saudi Arabia’s recent attack on Sanaa, two issues can be raised:
1. Whether the measures described are an international crime or not?
2. If these are considered to be international crimes, what are the ways to pursue this issue in domestic or international courts?
Regarding the first issue, there is no doubt that Saudi activities in Yemen, fall under multiple offenses. These are crimes against humanity that are taking place against every group of Yemeni people whether they are civilians or not. On the other hand, since these activities are against a certain race, or against followers of a certain religion (Zaidi Shiite), they can fall under genocide, which is one of the biggest international crimes. But even if one is skeptical and has doubts about the nature of these crimes, there cannot be no doubt that these activities are war crimes. Because, these activities have taken place through an international war, and many of these actions such as attacks on civilian residential areas, occupying a country with sovereignty, and can be instances of war crimes. Also, these actions can be considered to be a form of territorial aggression, which itself is a war crime.
It is a quite harder situation when it comes to the second issue, which is the way to prosecute the crimes that even the UN Secretary General has endorsed. Currently, there are not any international courts to unconditionally deal with crimes that are committed by governments or their officials. International Court of Justice in The Hague, can only take on cases if one of the governments involved has accepted the court’s statute. However, neither of the Yemeni government nor the Saudi government have accepted the court’s statute. According to the statute of the International Court of Justice, a government can accept this court’s jurisdiction regarding the crimes that have been committed in its territory or by its citizens. So in this case the Yemeni government can have such a request from the international court. Not long ago, the Palestinian government made a similar request to the International Court of Justice regarding the events in Gaza.
Also, pursuing legal trial would have been possible if UN referred the situation to the International Court of Justice, but Riyadh’s old ally, the US, is likely to veto, therefore this issue probably will not reach court.
Consequently, despite the obvious and heinous criminal activities, prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes is not an easy task, and perhaps, like many other crimes committed in the world, the perpetrators will not get the proper punishment for their actions.