Bahrain, Russia and other members of the UN Human Rights Council pushed through a vote on Thursday to shut down the body's war crimes investigations in Yemen.
Members narrowly voted to reject a resolution led by the Netherlands to give the independent investigators another two years to monitor atrocities in Yemen's conflict.
It marked the first time in the council's 15-year history that a resolution was defeated.
The independent investigators have said in the past that potential war crimes have been committed by all sides in the seven-year conflict, which has left at least 100,000 people dead and four million displaced.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres still believes there is a need for accountability in Yemen, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
"We will continue to press for accountability in Yemen, a place in which civilians have seen repeated crimes committed against them," Dujarric said.