ICBU Letter to Colombian President, Parliament over UAE Mercenaries in Yemen

Nov 30 2017
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Date: 29/11/2017

Brussels, Belgium                     

To: Para los Honorables Representantes a la Cámara y dependencias legislativas

Carrera 7 No. 8-68 Primer piso –

Edificio Nuevo del Congreso.
Código postal: 111711




Administrative Department of the Presidency of the Republic

house of Nariño: Carrera 8 # 7-26; Administration Building: Calle 7 # 6-54. Bogota, Colombia



H.E Juan Manuel Santos


-President of the Congress and the Senate,  Efraín Cepeda 

-Respected Members of

Colombian  House of Representatives, )Cámara de Representantes)

Subject: Involvement of Colombian Mercenaries in Yemen War, recruited by United Arab Emirates



Dear Mr. Speaker,

Distinguished Parliament Members

We are sending this urgent letter to express our deep concern and urge you to take prompt action to save the lives of innocent civilians in Yemen.

New York Times and other newspapers reported that the United Arab Emirates has been using of Colombian  nationals as “mercenaries” to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict. Thousands of people lost their lives in the ongoing war while many where wounded. Yemen is suffering a “biblical famine” where children are dying slowly due to lack of food and health.

Private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide has been supplying UAE with mercenaries from your country.  NY Times added that the Colombian troops now in Yemen, handpicked from a brigade of some 1,800 Latin American soldiers training at an Emirati military base.  The paper argues also that those hose mercenaries were brought mostly for domestic missions — guarding pipelines and other sensitive infrastructure and possibly putting down riots in the sprawling campus housing foreign workers in the Emirates, before they were sent to Yemen.

It’s indeed to see nationals of other countries stepping in others’ people lands, thousands of miles to fight in the wars of others. Under the emergent system of international criminal law the individual is a subject of the law. Experts affirm that Mercenary like terrorism has become an international crime.

International Law is clear on opposing Mercenaries:

  • UN Commission on Human Rights is “convinced that notwithstanding the way in which mercenaries or mercenary-related activities are used or the form they take to acquire some semblance of legitimacy, they are a threat to peace, security and the self-determination of peoples and an obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by peoples”


  • Meanwhile, The General Assembly in 1970 adopted the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In accordance with the Declaration “Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands, including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another State”. Likewise, by its resolution 3314 (XXIX) on the Definition of Aggression of 1974, the General Assembly stipulates that the sending by or on behalf of a State of mercenaries is considered as an act of aggression.


  • In 1968, General Assembly declared that “the practice of using mercenaries against national liberation movement and sovereign States constitutes a criminal act and that the mercenaries themselves are criminals, and calls upon the Governments of all countries to enact legislation declaring the recruitment, financing and training of mercenaries in their territories, and the transit of mercenaries through their territories, to be punishable offences, and prohibiting their nationals from serving as mercenaries”


  • It also stressed 1973 that the “use of mercenaries by colonial and racist regimes against the national liberation movements struggling for their freedom and independence from the yoke of colonialism and alien domination is considered to be a criminal act and the mercenaries should accordingly be punished as criminals”


  • The use of mercenaries is also in contradiction to the Geneva Conventions Article 47 of Additional Protocol I. It doesn’t even give the mercenaries the status of ordinary combatants.


  • OUA Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa of 1977 clearly states the crimes of mercenarism which may be committed by:

(a) an individual, group or association, representative of a State and the State itself; with the aim of: (b) opposing by armed violence a process of self-determination stability or the territorial integrity of another State; and the types of acts:

(c) shelters, organizes, finances, assists, equips, trains, promotes, supports or in any manner employs bands of mercenaries;  enlists, enrolls or tries to enroll in the said bands; allows such activities to be carried out in any territory under its jurisdiction or in any place under its control or affords facilities for transit, transport or other operations of the above mentioned forces.

  • The International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries of 1989

In light of the above, we urge you to immediately hold an urgent session at your Parliament to take the following measures:

  • Withdraw any Colombian nationals fighting in Yemen or in any UAE wars.
  • Put those mercenaries to trial once they returned to their homeland.
  • Severe the relations with UAE to the lowest level, due to its role.
  • Investigate the process of recruitment for those mercenaries.
  • Enacting new robust laws banning the exportation of mercenaries.

We are hopeful of your supporting positions and looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely Yours,

International Campaign to Boycott UAE

Political Section

Henry Green