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Over 70 professors rap Saudi delisting in letter to UN chief

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More than 70 professors in Europe and North America have expressed concern over a UN decision to remove Saudi Arabia from its blacklist of child rights violators amid Riyadh’s military campaign in Yemen.

In a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, 73 professors expressed shock at “the brazen vulgarity of power that a single ruling family in one member state can assert against the entirety of the UN to prevent it from documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The signatories, all professors of top universities including Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge, further pointed to the exclusion of Israel from a similar list.

It is the second time in a year that the UN has dropped the name of a regime charged with war crimes from such rosters, they said.

“Such egregious violations of the human rights of a beleaguered nation by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, aided and abetted by the US and the UK, make a mockery of the sovereignty of nations, of international humanitarian conventions, of the rule of law, and above all of the rule of reason and sanity.”

“If not the UN then what international body has the duty of documenting such criminal offenses? If not the UN then who should hold Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners accountable for such war crimes?” they asked.


Yemenis look at a hole in the ground following a Saudi airstrike in the capital, Sana’a, on February 25, 2016. ©AFP

The professors also said it is up to the UN to document Saudi Arabia’s barbaric violations of Yemeni children’s safety and security.

On June 6, the UN gave in to a Saudi demand to drop the kingdom from its annual blacklist of child rights violators, less than a week after it blamed Riyadh for the killing of hundreds of Yemeni children.

The Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) report, published on June 3, said Saudi Arabia and its allies were responsible for 60 percent of child casualties in Yemen last year, during which 510 children were killed and 667 others injured.


A Yemeni boy stands in the rubble of buildings destroyed in a Saudi airstrike in the capital, Sana’a, on February 25, 2016. ©AFP

Both Saudi Arabia and the UN drew international criticism after Ban acknowledged that he had expunged Riyadh from the blacklist under “undue pressure.”

Saudi Arabia launched its military aggression against Yemen on March 26, 2015 in a bid to bring Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi — who has resigned as Yemen’s president and is a staunch ally of Riyadh — back to power and defeat the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

More than 9,400 people have been killed and at least 16,000 others injured since the onset of the aggression.

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