UN Removal of S. Arabia From Blacklist Censured

UN Removal of S. Arabia From Blacklist Censured UN Removal of S. Arabia From Blacklist Censured

Several lawmakers criticized the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for removing the Saudi-led coalition against Yemen from its annual child rights blacklist.

The United Nations had blacklisted the coalition after concluding in a report released last week that it was responsible for 60% of the deaths of children in Yemen last year.

But the world body announced last Monday it had removed the coalition from the blacklist pending a joint review by the organization and Saudi Arabia of child deaths and injuries during the war in Yemen.

Homayoun Hashemi, an independent lawmaker, told ICANA on Sunday that Saudi Arabia has been blatantly violating international law in Yemen since its aggression against the impoverished country began in March 2015.

"Despite all [western] support for Saudi activities, the international community is well aware of the facts," he said.

The lawmaker said "laxity" of the UN will encourage the pro-western Arab kingdom to continue committing war crimes and further endanger peace in the Middle East, with the help of its allies.

The UN chief said on Thursday that Saudi Arabia had exerted "unacceptable" and undue pressure on the world body after the blacklisting.

Riyadh had threatened to cut its funding of UN programs, among other measures, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Ban described the decision as one of his most painful and difficult ones and said millions of other children would likely suffer if funding for UN programs was cut off.

  Behind the Scenes

Hassan Norouzi, a principlist parliamentarian, told ICANA that he believes major backers of the Saudi-led coalition, the US and UK, had a role behind the unusual UN decision.  

"Saudi Arabia has attacked poor Yemenis with the green light from the US and UK," he said. "The [two] arrogant world powers, which pretend to advocate human rights worldwide, want to save face."

The United States backed Ban's remarks and said the UN chief had invited Saudi Arabia to discuss the report in New York on June 17.

The UK has also called for calm in the angry row between Saudi Arabia and the UN, saying it welcomes "the fact that the secretary-general and the house of Saud have reached agreement on an analysis of the cases in the report."

The US and UK have sold billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia and have provided advisory services to the Saudi army since the beginning of the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen, in which thousands of people have been killed and injured, mainly innocent civilians.  

The removal form the UN blacklist prompted angry reactions from human rights groups, which accused Ban of caving in to pressure from powerful countries and damaging the credibility of the world body.

Twenty prominent human rights groups said in a letter on Wednesday the UN chief's decision undermined "an invaluable tool in efforts to curb violations against children in armed conflict" and urged him to put the Saudi-led coalition back on the blacklist.