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The US in Yemen: What We Know, What We Don’t and What It Means for Rights Protection

The war in Yemen, now entering its fourth year, has been marred by frequent violations of the laws of war, including repeated war crimes carried out by both Saudi-led coalition forces and members of the Houthi armed group. The behavior of the warring parties has helped cause the world’s worst humanitarian crisis — with millions on the brink of famine and continuing cholera and diphtheria epidemics. 

The United States is intimately engaged in this conflict, providing significant support to the Saudi-led coalition military campaign, carrying out unilateral strikes, and working in partnership with the UAE to counter Al-Qaeda. However, a lack of transparency about the ways in which the US is engaging in Yemen frustrates advocacy and accountability efforts. With Congress increasingly engaged on the question of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the coalition’s role in exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, this talk will explore both the legal and policy avenues open to rights advocates for pushing the US to adopt more rights-respecting policies and practices in Yemen and in counter-terror efforts in MENA more broadly. 

Kristine Beckerle is the Yemen and UAE Researcher in the Middle East and North Africa Division for Human Rights Watch, investigating international human rights and humanitarian law violations in Yemen and human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates.

Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program, Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA), and HLS Advocates at Harvard Law School.