Last Tuesday, SAM for Rights and Liberties organized an online seminar on Zoom platform entitled "Accountability and Justice in the Yemen Peace Process."
At the seminar, in which a number of activists and jurists participated, four international experts spoke about justice and its importance in achieving the peace process in the country.
The international experts who spoke at the seminar were Ruanthika Junarante, Coordinator of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Yemen, Kamal Al-Jandoubi, Chairman of the United Nations Panel of Eminent Experts on Yemen, and M. Arta Abrantes Mendes, Yemen Adviser to the Open Society Organization, as well as Anna Moyo, Director of the Advocacy Programme at the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation.
The session was moderated by Kawkab Al-Thibani, a peace and women's rights activist, and one of the founders of Women 4 Yemen, a women's network that supports peace in Yemen. The seminar targeted a crowd of policy makers, international organizations, members of civil society and representatives of the media on the importance of incorporating rights accountability and increasing inclusiveness in the political process in Yemen.
At the seminar, Ruanthika Junarante, coordinator of the United Nations Group of Experts on Yemen, spoke about the role of the United Nations Security Council in continuing to monitor the situation in Yemen through the Yemeni sanctions regime.
"Ruanthika" referred to the role of the Panel of Experts, whose primary duty is to assist the Council in identifying individuals and entities that pose a threat to peace and security in Yemen. "Ruanthika Junarante" also highlighted the role that Yemeni civil society organizations can play in influencing the decision-making process of the Security Council. She stressed the need to ensure that civil society seeking accountability made efforts to identify individuals responsible for human rights violations. "It is only by highlighting the violations of entities that persons directly responsible for violations can hide behind collective responsibility and thus go unpunished," said Ruanthika Junarante.
For his part, Kamal al-Jandoubi, Chairman of the United Nations Panel of Eminent Experts on Yemen, said : "There can be no peace without the inclusion of human rights in Yemen." He recommended that the Security Council refer the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court because of obstacles to prosecutions in Yemen and extend the list of sanctions. The justice system in Yemen suffered from inherent problems that needed to be addressed and did not meet the required standards. Al-Jandoubi also stressed the need for a comprehensive approach to the peace process, recognizing the exclusion of many Yemeni groups from consultations.
In turn, Marta Abrantes Mendes the Yemen's adviser to Open Society organization said :
"There is a need for a broader interpretation of Security Council resolution 2216 to ensure that young people and women are able to participate in the negotiations. She also stressed on the need for discussion between Yemeni civil society and decision-making entities, such as the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy.
And she recommended that certain preconditions be set in the context of Yemen before transitional justice begins, noting that accountability and fairness must be taken into greater account in the United Nations-led peace process. And added that the language of accountability in Security Council resolutions had become too weak, if not completely absent and stressed the importance of clarifying what is expected to be achieved through the future transitional justice process before engaging with victims' groups, among other Yemeni groups.
"Some believe that achieving accountability and justice leads to instability, which is a misconception," said Ana Moyo, director of the advocacy programme at the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation Studies. "Experience has shown that peace cannot be achieved in the absence of justice, and the removal of accountability and justice from the peace process incites perpetrators to engage in more violence, thus creating a culture of impunity" She added.
Moyo also noted that political leaders tend to give priority to political intermediaries and settlements to evade prosecution and accountability for their crimes committed during the conflict. Lastly, she stressed the importance of identifying issues of justice and accountability within the Yemeni peace process in order to achieve sustainable peace and a democratic system.
The seminar was full with interventions from participants, all of which emphasized the importance of justice for building a sustainable peace process in Yemen.