By MICHAEL ISAKOFF
CSU Law has a myriad of extracurricular organizations for its students’ diverse passions. Perhaps one area where it is lacking, however, is a student-led group dedicated to international humanitarian law (“IHL”). In an effort to get more involved in the IHL community, I turned to Professor Milena Sterio for guidance. Professor Sterio is CSU Law’s savant of international law—she’s published, revered, and respected throughout the world. Professor Sterio directed me to reach out to Sydney Warinner, a 3L at Case Western Reserve University (“CWRU”) School of Law and the Executive Director of the Yemen Accountability Project (“YAP”).
YAP is a student-led pro-bono legal project hosted by CWRU, which documents and analyzes war crimes and crimes against humanity that have been committed during the Yemen Civil War from 2015 to the present day. Historically, international courts and tribunals have encountered difficulties gathering evidence to support prosecutions for crimes committed in past conflicts. YAP’s purpose is to create a narrative history in real time and demonstrate trend analyses of the international humanitarian law violations taking place in Yemen. YAP has published white papers documenting atrocities and proposing accountability solutions for the perpetrators.
Yemen is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula with an estimated population of over 30 million people. Since late 2014, Yemen has had a deadly civil war—driven by religious and cultural differences, between the Rashad al-Alimi Yemeni government and the Houthi armed movement—both claiming to constitute the official government of Yemen. It is estimated that 150,000 civilian deaths and the displacement of four million people are the result of the armed conflict. According to a United Nations Security Council report, “there have been widespread violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all parties to the conflict.” Air strikes, indiscriminate attacks, summary executions, obstruction of humanitarian access and other lawless acts have plagued the civilian population. Moreover, there has been “no evidence to suggest that appropriate measures were taken by any side to mitigate the devastating impact of these attacks on the civilian population.” This arguably makes Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
YAP has three Divisions: Investigations Division, Intelligence Division, and Registrar Division. I am a member of the Investigations Division and serve as a Narrative Investigator. It’s my role to summarize reports of human rights crimes committed in Yemen each and highlight particularly egregious attacks. And moreover, detail geopolitical developments each month. My work product is then compiled to draft memos that are used to create that year’s white paper.
From a practical perspective, being involved in YAP offers the opportunity to not only make an impact, but also strengthen adherence to deadlines, communication with colleagues, and problem solving. YAP typically demands an average of 2-8 hours of work every 2-3 weeks. YAP affords all law students the opportunity to seek justice for civilians and civilian infrastructure harmed during the Yemen conflict. If you would like to learn more about YAP, or are interested in joining, please reach out to Sydney Warinner at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published by The Gavel. Republished here with permission from The Gavel and Michael Isakoff.