Opening remarks of the UN Special Envoy at the Peace Talks in Switzerland, 15 December 2015

15 Dec 2015

Opening remarks of the UN Special Envoy at the Peace Talks in Switzerland, 15 December 2015

Peace be upon you all. On behalf of the Secretary-General, please allow me to thank you for coming.

I would like to welcome you to Switzerland  and I hope that this venue will help us to address the difficult task awaiting us. I would also like to thank the Swiss Government for hosting us and for working continuously with my team to ensure the right conditions for the success of our efforts. The eyes of Yemen, indeed the eyes of the entire international community, are today focused on this Swiss village. There are many who hope your efforts will be crowned with success and they are willing to support you. I hope you will take this opportunity to put Yemen on the path of peace.

Yemeni people of all groups (men and women of all ages and communities) are undergoing unprecedented suffering as the beloved county of Yemen is being consumed by the flames of violence and armed conflict. Here I would like to pause and reiterate once more that the only solution is a political one and that violence must cease.

You have already effectively taken the necessary first step in that direction by agreeing on the cessation of hostilities. There can be no doubt that that was a real achievement, but the most important thing now is to focus your efforts this week on reaching a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. Moreover, should any violation occur, I would invite you to address that situation immediately and in a constructive and practical manner.

The people of Yemen are daily, indeed hourly, anticipating the outcome of these discussions. This meeting is their only glimmer of hope and must not be extinguished. The tongues of fire, the scenes of destruction, the reverberation of bombs and the soaring prices have turned their daily lives into a series of ongoing tragedies. Who is responsible for all that suffering? Who gains from this situation in which Yemeni civilians daily lose their lives? Mutual recrimination will not acquit anyone before the tribunal of history, and what country was ever built on ruins and rubble?

Today, you are the decision makers and before you lies a historical responsibility. Are you going to abandon Yemen and its people and lead the country into further violence and slaughter, or are you going to put Yemen first, awaken your humanitarian and patriotic consciences, activate the role of the institutions, and ensure the people of Yemen can live the dignified life they deserve? You are writing the history of modern Yemen and you alone have the power to overturn the situation. The tears have dried in the eyes of Yemeni mothers, hundreds of children have died of hunger, Yemen is tired of waiting for the new dawn of peace to break.

Our meeting comes at a crucial moment in which threats and dangers abound and challenges are increasing both locally and regionally. The failure to reach a solution will have disastrous human and material consequences for the nation. Anyone who does not participate in the solution is effectively helping to perpetuate the crisis.

Based on our previous discussions, the purpose of our being here is to create a general framework for a comprehensive agreement on how to put an end to the crisis. We are here to achieve a common goal, namely to put an end to the armed conflict and return the country to an orderly, peaceful, political process based on Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) and other related resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, as well as the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council and its operational mechanisms and the outcome of the National Dialogue Conference.

Moreover, I urge you to work at the same time on the issue of providing urgent basic services to the Yemeni people. I therefore invite you to work with the colleagues here present from United Nations humanitarian agencies to guarantee unconditional and unrestricted access to humanitarian supplies throughout Yemen. I recommend that you consider the practical steps that could be taken right away to provide vital services, revive the economy and facilitate the return of Yemeni refugees and displaced persons.

Peace-making is an essential condition for the reconstruction of Yemen. In order to achieve it, there must be consensus among all the political and social components that guarantee the return of Yemen to order and peace. This must include women, young persons and civil society, as indicated in the decisions issued by the National Dialogue Conference. Our proceeding must be transparent and we must clearly map out the sequence, timing and linkages between each step. Here, I refer to the fact that Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon received a letter from the Yemeni Women's Pact for Security and Peace in which the women of Yemen call on the Secretary-General and the international community to forge a comprehensive political agreement that reflects the aspirations of Yemeni women and Yemeni society.

The situation in Yemen is critical, our task is extremely sensitive and our responsibility historic. Today, it is you who will decide whether peace will prevail or Yemen will be thrust further into darkness, tragedy and suffering. So let us begin our sessions and may the Yemeni people remain foremost in our hearts and minds.