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Legality of UK Military Action to Target Houthi Facilities

Image taken from the bridge of HMS Diamond, seen here firing her Sea Viper missiles in the Red Sea to repel an attack in the Red Sea from Iranian-backed Houthis, 10/01/2024 [Crown Copyright]

Summary of the UK Government Legal Position ~ The legality of UK military action to target Houthi facilities in Yemen.

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Policy Paper, Downing Street, 12 January 2024: The legality of UK military action to target Houthi facilities in Yemen.

  1. The Houthis have been carrying out dozens of serious attacks on shipping in the Red Sea for a sustained period. British flagged vessels, as well as the vessels of many other States, have been the subject of those attacks. On 9 January, this culminated in an attack against HMS Diamond, involving multiple drones. The government assesses that attacks will continue unless action is taken to deter them.
  2. Military intervention to strike carefully identified targets in order to effectively downgrade the Houthi’s capabilities and deter further attacks was lawfully taken. It was necessary and proportionate to respond to attacks by the Houthis and this was the only feasible means available to deal with such attacks.
  3. The UK is permitted under international law to use force in such circumstances where acting in self-defence is the only feasible means to deal with an actual or imminent armed attack and where the force used is necessary and proportionate.
  4. The Government will notify the United Nations Security Council of the actions it has taken under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
HMS Diamond in the Red Sea on Operation PROSPERITY GUARDIAN, 06/01/2024
[Crown Copyright: LPhot Chris Sellars]

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