ONGOING SYSTEMATIC RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN YEMEN'S EDUCATION SECTOR
ARWA's Side Event at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council
Historical Background on Conflict
1. On 26 March 2015, a Coalition led by Saudi Arabia consisting of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, andMorocco (together “the Coalition”) launched a war on the people of Yemen without a UN mandate. From the outset, this Coalition was supported politically, diplomatically, and militarily by the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, and Turkey. Upon launching the war, the Saudi Coalition conducted airstrikes that killed and injured hundreds of civilians and leveled civilian infrastructure. After three weeks of airstrikes, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2216 on 14 April 2015, placing an arms embargo on 5 named individuals in Yemen.
2. After about two months of war without achieving its stated official objectives and after failing to convince Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey to provide ground troops, the Coalition sought out other ways to bolster its troops on the ground in preparation for a ground invasion. To achieve that end, the Coalition hired foreign troops and mercenaries. After months of stalemate, the number of countries participating in the Coalition increased to include Sudan and Senegal, both sending large numbers of troops to Yemen. In addition to hiring Sudanese and Senegalese troops, the Coalition relied and continues to rely on the use of mercenaries to continue hostilities.
3. According to the Legal Center for Rights and Development, in the first 600 days of war, 11,252 civilians in Yemen were killed by Saudi Coalition airstrikes and shelling, including 7,009 men (62%), 1,802 women (16%), and 2,441 children (22%). A further 19,203 civilians have been injured, including 15059 men (78%), 1902 women (10%), 2242 children (12%). A further 3 million persons have been internally displaced. Coalition airstrikes also targeted and destroyed tens of thousands of residential homes. 148 power stations were destroyed. 237 water tanks and their distribution networks were targeted and destroyed. 638 food storage facilities were destroyed. 473 food trucks were destroyed. 215 fuel trucks were destroyed. 287 petrol stations were destroyed. 179 livestock and poultry farms were destroyed along with 1376 agricultural fields. 242 factories were destroyed. 514 markets were destroyed. 15 Airports and 12 seaports and harbors were destroyed. 1226 bridges and roads were struck and either damaged or destroyed. 263 hospitals and clinics and 712 schools were targeted and completely or partially destroyed by Saudi Coalition airstrikes and shelling.
Statement of Facts and Allegations
4. The Saudi Coalition systematically targeted, destroyed and damaged over 1000 schools in Yemen. For a chart detailing 645 incidents whereby education facilities including schools and institutes were targeted with airstrikes, along with the location, the date facility was targeted and a general damage assessment, please refer to Annex I.
5. The systematic targeting of hundreds of education facilities has caused over 3500 schools to shut down depriving millions of students in Yemen from their right to education due to the danger posed to life and limb.
6. The manner in which the Saudi Coalition has conducted the war it launched without a U.N. mandate has left no place safe for children as they are not only targeted in schools and on their way to and from school but also in homes, hospitals, markets, and agricultural fields, making them prone to join armed groups. 
7. Students alongside education personnel including teachers, principals and staff have not been spared either. They have been targeted and killed by Saudi Coalition airstrikes as well. One such incident occurred on 10 January 2017 when a Saudi Coalition airstrike targeted an area right outside AlFalah school in Nihm killing seven students and the deputy principal while injuring 15 others.
8. According to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights 53 administrative buildings in the education sector have been targeted, destroyed or damaged. One such incident occurred on 18 August 2015 at 7:00P.M., when two Saudi Coalition airstrikes targeted a building belonging to the Yemeni Ministry of Education that was being used at the time by educators to prepare for delayed end of year examinations. According to the Legal Center for Rights and Development, the airstrikes resulted in the death of 17 and injury of 21 education personnel as well as the death of 4 children who were playing outside of the building waiting for their parents to adjourn their meeting. Surrounding properties and residential homes were also damaged in the airstrikes. The incident was condemned in a statement issued by UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, who stated that the educators were engaged in “a selfless activity, turned in a moment into senseless bloodshed.”
9. Under International Humanitarian Law, schools are protected civilian objects. If a school is attacked, it is considered a war crime unless there is a military objective as schools benefit from the humanitarian principles of distinction and proportionality. Parties to an armed conflict must make a distinction between civilian objects and military objectives, and may only target military objectives defined in IHL as “objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to the military action and whose partial or total destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a distinct military advantage.” Even when a party to conflict has an objective in its sights which appears to be a military objective, the party must take all feasible precautions to verify that the target is in fact a military objective. An object is presumed to be a civilian object unless there is certainty that it is a military objective. The systematic targeting and destruction of over 1000 schools in Yemen indicates a reckless disregard by the Saudi Coalition for the Yemeni people’s right to education. No reported distinct military advantage was achieved in any of the airstrikes that targeted the listed schools. Two years into the war, the Yemeni people who the Saudi-led Coalition is fighting still have de-facto control over lands where 85% of the population lives. What remains from the attacks on 1000 schools is the death and injury of students and educational personnel, the destruction of the education sector’s infrastructure and the serious violations of the Yemeni people’s right to education that rises to the level of war crimes.
10. International Criminal Law (ICL) establishes individual criminal responsibility for international crimes that come within the jurisdiction of national courts and various international criminal tribunals, such as the International Criminal Court or ad hoc tribunals and mixed courts. Under ICL, individuals, not parties to conflict per se, may be held accountable for the commission of acts, considered war crimes in both international and non-international armed conflicts. This includes “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives” as well as “buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law.”
 All statements of allegations are based on field work and discussions with local and international NGOs, the various UN organs, the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights and the Executive Director of ARWA. Media reports are only cited to show that the statements made herein have been reported by media outlets from various countries across the world.
 Mohammed Aboud, Egypt allegedly sends ground forces into Yemen quagmire, The Middle East Eye, 9 August 2015. http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/egyptians-allegedly-sends-ground-forces-yemen-quagmire-132459953#sthash.qu9yz0EN.dpuf
 Mohammad Mukashaf, Pakistan declines Saudi call for armed support in Yemen fight, Reuters, 10 April 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-idUSKBN0N10LO20150410
 Blog, Turkish and Saudi leaders discuss Yemen conflict, The Middle East Eye, 27 March 2015. http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/live-blog-saudi-and-arab-allies-bomb-houthi-positions-yemen-1521000548
 Ishaan Tharoor, Why Senegal is sending troops to help Saudi Arabia in Yemen, The Washington Post, 5 May 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/05/05/why-senegal-is-sending-troops-to-help-saudi-arabia-in-yemen/
 Legal Center for Rights and Development.
 This incidents list is not the entire list of educational facilities targeted by airstrikes. The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights reported that by the end of 2015, 1,012 schools were documented to have been targeted, destroyed and damaged by Saudi Coalition airstrikes and was the main cause of disruption to the education sector.
 #Yemen children escape from Altaawin school in Sabaha, #Sanaa after #Saudi Coalition airstrike lands nearby. #UN https://twitter.com/arwa_rights/status/714910462698250245
 #Saudi Co airstrike on Al Falah School in Nihm, #YEMEN today killing 7 children & principal & injuring 14+ @UNHumanRights @UNICEFEducation https://twitter.com/arwa_rights/status/818833242790850560
 The Most Serious Crimes Violating International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, Third Official Report, Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.
 The Targeting and Killing of Educational Cadre. Legal Center for Rights and Development
 https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule8 [accessed 15 February 2015]
ARWA's Side Event at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council