The United Nations has been supporting Yemen for 60 years. Since 2011, the United Nations has been facilitating Yemen’s political transition, at a moment when the country was on the brink of civil war: fighting had killed and wounded hundreds. Yemenis rallied in squares, demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.
Working closely with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and government, key political groupings and civil society, a process for peaceful dialogue was established under the auspices of the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism. The agreement included commitment to inclusive participation, including for women and youth, in the political process.
Under the framework of the agreement there was provision for the non-competitive election for a new President. This took place on 21 February 2012 and power was peacefully transferred to the then Vice-President Abed Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in a largely peaceful environment with high voter participation. A National Unity Government was formed and this was followed by six-months of preparations for a Comprehensive National Dialogue.
A promising Outcome Document was adopted with an agreement on a set of principles for a new Yemen and setting the foundations for a new state on the basis of federalism and democracy, pursuant to the principles of rule of law and equal citizenship. Despite Yemen being among the most conservative countries in the region, the Outcome Document called for 30 per cent representation for women at all levels of government.
The outcomes of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference remain an important point of consensus in Yemen’s political life. A Constitution Drafting Commission was formed in March 2014 and worked intensively on a draft constitution until January 2015. Many elements of this draft constitution and recommendations from the Committee should remain useful for the development of a new Yemeni Constitution in the future. The National Dialogue built on Yemen’s proud tradition that has always allowed people regardless of class, regional, or political grouping to talk to each with ease, and strengthened the voice of women, youth and civil society in decisions about the future of the Yemeni state.
Currently, the Special Envoy is undertaking efforts to restart Yemeni-Yemeni peace negotiations without further delay. Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed is working to overcome the latest challenges and has asked the delegations to show good faith and participate in the talks in order to reach a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Yemen. The negotiations are expected to be based on a framework that paves the way to a peaceful and orderly process based on the GCC initiative and the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference.
The political process in Yemen had stalled for several months and violent conflict is affecting many parts of the country. As of 12 April 2016 (UN OCHA Reports), over 6,400 people have lost their lives, and nearly 30,600 have been injured since 19 March 2015. 2.8 million people are internally displaced and 21.2 million people, 82% of Yemen’s population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. 19.4 million Yemenis have no access to safe clean water and 14.4 million Yemenis are food insecure, of which 7.6 million are severely food insecure.
The Secretary-General has called for all parties to engage in United Nations-facilitated consultations in good faith and without pre-conditions. He has also stated that the only durable resolution to the crisis in Yemen is an inclusive, negotiated political settlement.
In accordance with the instruction of the Secretary-General, his Special Envoy is undertaking efforts to consult with the Yemeni Government, Yemen’s political groupings and countries in the region with the aim of ensuring the negotiated implementation of resolution 2216 including a comprehensive ceasefire, and the resumption of peaceful dialogue and an orderly political transition.
Security Council support
The Security Council has been closely monitoring the situation since the start of the uprising in 2011, and has adopted five resolutions on Yemen:
- Resolution 2014 (2011) calling for implementation of a political settlement based upon the GCC Initiative and requesting the Secretary-General to continue his good offices;
- Resolution 2051 (2012) reaffirming the need for the full and timely implementation of the Transition Agreement and signaling potential sanctions;
- Resolution 2140 (2014) supporting the implementation of the National Dialogue outcomes, reaffirming the need for the full and timely implementation of the political transition, and establishing a sanctions regime under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter;
- Resolution 2201 (2015) deploring the unilateral actions taken by the Houthis to dissolve parliament and take over Yemen’s government institutions, expressing grave concern over reports of the use of child soldiers, and urging all parties to continue the transition;
- Resolution 2204 (2015) extending the mandate of the Sanctions Panel of Experts to March 2016.
- Resolution 2216 (2015) demanding that all Yemeni parties fully implement resolution 2201 (2015), imposing an arms embargo on selected individuals, and requesting that the Secretary-General intensify his good offices role in order to enable the resumption of the political process.
- Resolution 2266 (2016) extending the asset freeze and travel ban imposed by resolution 2140 (2015) to help stem the crisis in Yemen, which is threatening the country’s ongoing political transition.