Armed Conflict in Yemen: An Illustration of the Pertinence and Deficiencies of Existing IHL Rules

Document Type : Original Article


Professor of International Law, Department of International Law and International Organization, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva



The armed conflict in Yemen is one of the most devastating and catastrophic crises the international community is currently facing. It is entering its seventh year. This situation has raised numerous questions under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as the set of rules the main aim of which is to limit the effects of armed conflicts for humanitarian reasons. This is also an occasion to test the pertinence and efficiency of IHL rules in the face of current armed conflicts. Accordingly, the present article seeks to study certain important issues in IHL raised by Yemen armed conflict. Doing so, firstly, the type of armed conflict in Yemen is addressed (1). Then, it goes through the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions (2). Thereafter, the issues of blockade and siege are dealt with (3). After that, the situation of certain persons is examined (4). And finally, the very challenging and significant question of humanitarian assistance is studied (5). I will conclude that most of the humanitarian problems except the issue of humanitarian assistance and sieges are adequately regulated by IHL and that the problem is mainly that those rules are not respected. The controversy about the classification of the conflict, whether it is an international armed conflict (IAC) or a non-international armed conflict (NIAC), does not fundamentally affect those rules.


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