Any questions ?

Phone +31 62 72 41006

Examining Yemen's Human Rights Landscape: Insights from the 46th UPR Session

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Examining Yemen's Human Rights Landscape: Insights from the 46th UPR Session


Haneen Alawawdeh

Team UN Geneva Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence. 

The 6th meeting of the 46th session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Yemen convened on 01 May 2024 in Geneva. The recent Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Yemen has shed light on significant human rights violations occurring within the country, prompting urgent calls for action from various nations. During the UPR session, several countries voiced concerns and recommendations to address critical human rights issues in Yemen.


In response to these concerns, Yemen’s representative reiterated the nation’s commitment to addressing human rights challenges amidst formidable circumstances. Emphasizing the significance of submitting national reports and collaborating with international bodies to assess and implement recommendations, Yemen underscored collective efforts with diverse stakeholders in crafting these reports and executing suggested actions. Amidst the enduring crisis since 2014, attributed to the influence of Houthi militias, Yemen delineated grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, assaults on vital infrastructure, curtailment of freedoms, and intimidation of journalists.


Despite adversities and hurdles posed by the Houthi militias, the legitimate government persists in endeavors to foster stability, peace, and uphold human rights. Moreover, the government showcased dedication to realizing sustainable peace by endorsing the UN envoy’s proposition for a humanitarian ceasefire and the reopening of Sana’a airport.


Additionally, in the realm of human rights, Yemen actively endeavors to fortify legal and institutional frameworks. Initiatives include reactivating human rights coordinators in governorates and reinstating the national human rights committee. Moreover, the country reaffirmed adherence to international human rights conventions, committed to participating in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, and welcomed inquiries and recommendations to effectively fulfill its human rights obligations.


Building upon these efforts, one of the key issues raised during the UPR was child protection in Yemen. Belgium urged Yemen to ensure the protection of educational facilities as civilian objects, prioritizing the reconstruction of schools and preventing their use for military purposes, mobilization, or recruitment. Additionally, both Canada and Bulgaria emphasized the immediate need to stop the recruitment of child soldiers and release individuals under 18 from military duty.


Moving on to Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, Argentina stresses the importance of ensuring full human rights protection for women and girls, including the criminalization of gender-based violence such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, and marital rape. Vietnam also encourages Yemen to continue focusing on promoting girls’ access to education and reducing the gender gap in education. Costa Rica recommends adopting anti-discrimination laws in alignment with international conventions, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In addition, Denmark expresses concern over the rights of women and girls, particularly regarding freedom of movement, while the United States recommends abolishing policies that unfairly restrict women’s movement, particularly at checkpoints, to uphold their freedom of movement and rights. Furthermore, Australia proposes measures for Yemen to enhance women’s participation in politics and public life, including raising the minimum marriage age to 18 in line with international standards.


In terms of healthcare, Djibouti offered recommendations to Yemen, including continuing efforts to enhance universal access to healthcare, primary healthcare, and addressing malnutrition and pregnancy care to reduce maternal and infant mortality


Regarding humanitarian aid, Malaysia acknowledged Yemen’s collaboration with UN humanitarian coordinators and recommended continuing efforts to reform national policies on internal displacement. Costa Rica emphasized the importance of ensuring transparency in humanitarian aid funds by supervising them with anti-corruption bodies. Additionally, the UK advised Yemen to enhance humanitarian access and aid delivery in areas under its control to effectively reach vulnerable populations. Moreover, Germany recommended Yemen to allow free access to organizations delivering aid and to reduce bureaucratic obstacles that hinder or delay humanitarian and development work.


In the realm of legal accountability, Malta noted that Yemen has not signed or ratified any optional protocols to human rights conventions, highlighting the need for further commitment to international human rights standards. Furthermore, France and Czech Republic recommended abolishing the death penalty and ratifying the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with the goal of ultimately eliminating the death penalty. Additionally, Afghanistan proposed taking measures to combat impunity and effectively addressing and punishing those responsible for attacks on civilian infrastructure, including healthcare facilities, food and water infrastructure, and schools.


Furthermore, Switzerland emphasized the importance of conducting independent and effective investigations into all human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law. It also stressed the need to allow the national commission to operate independently and to protect prosecutors and witnesses, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice in accordance with international fair trial standards. Moreover, Luxembourg urged an investigation into the presumed murder of migrants and other human rights violations occurring at the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.


In the midst of conflict, the Russian Federation raised concerns about escalating tensions along Yemen’s coastline. Incidents involving commercial vessels and responses to violence in Gaza have heightened these concerns. Additionally, condemnation of strikes on Yemen’s soil by the US and the UK underscores the risk of further destabilization and prolonged conflict.


Shifting focus, Israel highlighted the mistreatment of Bahai faith followers and other minorities by the Houthis. Moreover, Israel emphasized the harsh restrictions faced by women and girls, including recent death sentences for homosexuality charges, highlighting the pressing need for protection and equality. Similarly, Algeria’s call for continued and strengthened efforts to enhance social protection for vulnerable segments of society reflects a collective commitment to uphold human dignity and rights.


Yemen’s responses to the points raised demonstrate the government’s ongoing efforts to tackle challenges amidst the country’s persistent war. Despite endeavors in negotiations and peace initiatives, obstacles remain due to the rejection by terrorist militias, hindering lasting peace.


Moreover, regarding irregular migration, the Delegations of Germany and the UK asked questions, addressing the challenges faced due to irregular migration and displaced persons, particularly from the Horn of Africa. Yemen acknowledged the presence of thousands of irregular migrants in the country, seeking work and adding to the economic and social burdens. Additionally, the government has taken measures to address this issue, including working with the International Organization for Migration to repatriate affected individuals.


Furthermore, concerns over women’s movement restrictions and child conscription are highlighted, with the government taking measures to prevent such violations and safeguard vulnerable groups. Concerning child conscription, Yemen outlines efforts to prevent the recruitment of children into the armed forces, including the issuance of decrees prohibiting child conscription and the establishment of mechanisms to ensure compliance. Moreover, the government has implemented various measures to safeguard children’s rights, such as creating child protection focal points in military centers and signing agreements to protect schools from violations.


In conclusion, the Minister from Yemen acknowledges the vital role of international support in enhancing human rights, law enforcement, and judicial authorities in the country. The Minister’s statement sheds light on the challenges faced by Yemen, particularly in distinguishing between violations in areas controlled by the government and those controlled by Houthi militias. Highlighting systematic acts of impunity, violations, and lack of accountability, the Minister underscores the destruction of numerous homes and the perceived indifference of the international community towards the actions of the Houthi militias.


Sources and further readings:

United Nations. (2024). National report submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 16/21*. Retrieved from


United Nations. (2024). Compilation of information prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved from


United Nations. (2024). Summary of stakeholders’ submissions on Yemen*. Retrieved from


United Nations. (2024, January). Yemen: Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) 2024. Retrieved May 10, 2024, from


Human Rights Watch. (2024). World Report 2024: Yemen. Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *