Chronology of Events

revised on 5 November 2018


October 2018

On 11 October, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee issued a press release that condemned attacks on commercial vessels described in the 9 July case-study of the Yemen Panel of Experts as perpetrated by the Houthis. On 23 October, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen focusing on the rising threat of famine that has the potential to affect up to 14 million people, according to the latest UN estimates. Ahead of the meeting, on 20 October, OCHA had sent Council members a white paper on the worsening food crisis. During the briefing Lowcock warned of imminent danger of “a famine engulfing Yemen”. He called for Council support in five areas, including a cessation of hostilities in and around all infrastructure and facilities that the aid operation and commercial importers rely upon and for a larger and faster injection of foreign exchange into the economy.

August 2018

On 2 August, the Council received a briefing from Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and OCHA Director of Operations John Ging. Griffiths announced his intention to organise a first round of consultations with the warring Yemeni parties on 6 September in Geneva to discuss, among other things, the framework for negotiations and to agree on relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward. Council members discussed Yemen under “any other business” on 10 August, at the request of Peru on behalf of Bolivia, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, following an air strike on a school bus in Saada province which had killed more than 40 children the previous day. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun briefed. Council members subsequently issued press elements expressing their grave concern at the attack and all other recent attacks in Yemen, called for a credible and transparent investigation, and also called on all parties to engage in good faith with the UN led process, notably consultations scheduled for September in Geneva. On 10 August, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee met with the Yemen Panel of Experts to consider the panel’s midterm update, which is an unpublished report on the implementation of the sanctions regime. The midterm update stated the panel’s continued belief that most of the weapons it inspected, including the debris of ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, show characteristics similar to weapons systems known to be produced in Iran. It also reported that the panel had received information that the Houthis receive financial support from Iran through the donation of fuel. At the same time, the midterm update said that the panel believes Iran might now be willing to play a constructive role in furthering a peaceful solution for Yemen, flagging Iran’s recent efforts with several European countries to try to broker a ceasefire during Ramadan. The update affirmed, among other things, that the panel continues to obtain evidence of widespread violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all parties to the conflict, outlining different incidents that it was investigating.

June 2018

The Council met on 11 June due to concerns over an impending Coalition attack on the Hodeidah. UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths briefed via VTC on efforts to negotiate a deal to forestall an offensive, while Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed on the potential humanitarian consequences. Members issued a one-paragraph set of press elements, which “reiterated that only a negotiated political settlement can bring the war to an end”. On 14 June, after the start of the offensive, Griffiths briefed again in consultations via VTC. OCHA’s Ursula Mueller also briefed. Members issued press elements, expressing deep concern about the humanitarian situation and reiterated that Hodeidah and Saleef ports should remain open and called for the implementation of all Council resolutions, including resolution 2216. They urged all sides to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law. On 18 June, Giffiths and Lowcock briefed in consultations as part of the Special Envoy’s regularly scheduled update. Speaking from Sana’a, Griffths provided an update on his ongoing efforts to broker a deal to have Houthi rebels turn over Hodeidah port to UN control, indicating his belief that an agreement between the sides was possible. He also presented a framework to resume political negotiations, outlining  the principles it would be based on. Council members issued press elements, noting that the Special Envoy’s efforts on Hodeidah remained ongoing and that they asked to be kept updated in real time. They further welcomed his briefing on his proposals to restart the political process.

April 2018

On 17 April, the Security Council received a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock. The meeting was Griffiths’ first briefing to the Council since becoming Special Envoy for Yemen in March. He said that he planned to put to the Council within the next two months a framework for negotiations, while raising concerns about an escalation in fighting, including over the prospect of intensive military operations against the port city of Hodeidah, which could derail political efforts. All members delivered their statements in the public chamber, and consultations that had been scheduled were not held. On 5 April, Ahmed Himmiche was reappointed the Coordinator and finance expert of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, leaving still pending the appointment of the armed groups expert (the regional, international humanitarian law, and arms experts were appointed on 27 March). On 27 April, the Yemen Sanctions Committee met to discuss with the committee’s Panel of Experts the panel’s work plan for the coming year.

February 2018

On 26 February, the Council adopted resolution 2402, extending the Yemen sanctions regime. At the adoption, members first voted on a draft resolution prepared by the UK, which Russia vetoed, objecting to references to the Yemen Panel of Experts’ findings that Iran was in non-compliance with the arms embargo. Eleven members voted in favour, China and Kazakhstan abstained with Bolivia also voting against (S/2018/156). Council members then unanimously approved a draft resolution Russia had presented that was based on last year’s resolution 2342, with technical amendments to extend the sanctions measures for a further year. The next day, 27 February, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed briefed the Council. This was Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s final briefing as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen. The Director of Operations for OCHA John Ging also briefed, as did Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra (Peru), as the chair of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee. Consultations followed the public session.

December 2017

On 5 December, Council members were briefed on Yemen in consultations by Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock. On 22 December, Council members condemned in a press statement the 19 December ballistic missile attack by the Huthis against Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

November 2017

On 8 November, Council members were briefed in consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock on the Saudi-led intensified coalition blockade following the Houthis firing of a ballistic missile on 4 November at Riyadh. Lowcock told Council members that unless the blockade is lifted, there would be a famine affecting millions of people, and he outlined a series of measures required to avoid such a famine. Council members issued “press elements”, which emphasised the importance of fully implementing the Council’s 15 June presidential statement, particularly keeping all of Yemen’s ports and airports functioning, including Hodeidah port. Members also condemned the attempted missile attack on Riyadh. Egypt subsequently circulated a draft presidential statement to condemn the missile attack. Bolivia, France, Italy, Sweden and Uruguay would eventually jointly break a silence procedure on the draft, believing that it did not sufficiently address the humanitarian situation. No further action was taken on the statement. On 10 November, the Yemen Panel of Experts submitted a case study to the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee. The confidential report concluded that the arms embargo in resolution 2216 was being used as justification to obstruct humanitarian assistance. The panel also said that it had seen no evidence to support Saudi Arabia’s claims that short-range ballistic missiles have been transferred to the Houthis. Following a visit from 17 to 21 November by the Coordinator of the Panel, Ahmed Himmiche, to Riyadh, the Panel submitted an update report to the  2140 Committee on 24 November. The update concluded that missile debris inspected from attacks against Saudi Arabia, including the 4 November missile attack, were consistent with the design, characteristics and dimensions of Iranian-designed and manufactured missiles.

October 2017

On 10 October, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed and OCHA Operations Director John Ging briefed the Council. During his briefing, the Special Envoy did not report any progress regarding the package of confidence-building measures that he has been pursuing, and said that “the parties have to commit to…start discussions for a comprehensive agreement”. In describing the humanitarian crisis, Ging outlined the ongoing challenges facing humanitarian and commercial access and the impact of non-payment of civil servant salaries. Closed consultations followed the public session. Council members subsequently issued elements to the press in which they deeply regretted the lack of progress in the political process and the worsening of the humanitarian situation. They reaffirmed the need for all parties, especially the Houthis, to engage meaningfully with the UN Special Envoy’s comprehensive proposals for peace and to make progress towards a ceasefire and resolution of the conflict.

August 2017

On 18 August, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien briefed the Council on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. It was followed by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed briefing via video teleconference from Amman on his ongoing efforts to reach an agreement to avoid a possible attack on Hodeidah port and to resume salary payments of Yemeni civil servants. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mekhlafi also participated. Consultations followed, and in press elements afterward, members stressed the importance of fully implementing the Council’s 15 June presidential statement. On 21 August, Senegal organised an Arria-formula meeting on “The Vital Role of the UN’s Humanitarian Assistance Partners in the Crisis in Yemen”. O’Brien and the Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, Abdallah al-Rabeeah, provided briefings. Ahead of the session, Senegal circulated a concept note.

July 2017

On 12 July, the Council was briefed via video teleconference by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and in person by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien. The director-generals of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and of the Food and Agricultural Organization, José Graziano da Silva also briefed by video teleconference. After further discussion in consultations, Council members issued elements to the press, which reiterated members’ support for the Council’s 15 June presidential statement and recognised the need for all parties to convert the words of the text into action.

June 2017

On 15 June, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the humanitarian situation and confidence-building measures regarding Hodeidah port. The statement stressed the importance of keeping all of Yemen’s ports functioning, including Hodeidah. The Council called on the parties to engage constructively with the Special Envoy on his proposal for increasing commercial and humanitarian shipments, including new arrangements for the management of Hodeidah, while urging an agreement for resuming payments of government salaries. The Council further encouraged rapid agreement on the timely installation of cranes at Hodeidah to increase the port’s capacity, and increased access to Sana’a Airport for lifesaving humanitarian supplies and movement of urgent humanitarian cases. The presidential statement marked the first Council product on Yemen in nearly 14 months since its 25 April 2016 presidential statement.

Council members also discussed Yemen’s humanitarian crisis at a 16 June Arria-formula meeting regarding the risk of famine in the conflict-affected areas of northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

May 2017

On 30 May, the Special Envoy for the Secretary-General on Yemen, Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and the head of OCHA, Stephen O’Brien, briefed the Council. A Yemeni civil society representative, Radhya al-Mutawakel from the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, also briefed. This was followed by closed consultations.

March 2017

On 10 March, following a request by Russia, the Council was briefed by OCHA head Stephen O’Brien, who had travelled to Yemen from 26 February to 2 March. O’Brien highlighted that Yemen was the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 18 million people in need of assistance, and was at risk of famine, while he also addressed the humanitarian crises of South Sudan, Somalia and the Lake Chad Basin Region. The following week, 17 March, following a Russian request, members discussed in consultations under “any other business” a planned attack against the port city of Hodeidah by the Coalition and Yemeni government. Political Affairs Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman provided a briefing. On 29 March, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and Ambassador Koro Besho (Japan), Chair of the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in consultations. Ahead of this meeting, on 23 March, the Informal Experts Group on Women Peace and Security met on Yemen. Participants included Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Special Envoy Ahmed, the UN’s Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick and the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

April 2017

On 18 April, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee held a session on humanitarian access through Yemeni Red Sea ports, which was organised following a case study submitted by the Yemen Panel of Experts on the issue. UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick, Coordinator of the Panel of Experts Ahmed Himmiche and Country Director of the World Food Programme Stephen Anderson briefed, focusing on the situation of Hodeidah port and a possible coalition attack against the city. During the session, it was highlighted that no substitute exists, among the contingency plans and options being considered, that could make-up for Yemen’s needs if Hodeidah port becomes unusable. On 24 April, the Committee met with the Panel following the 13 April appointment by the Secretary-General of the Panel’s expert on armed groups. The Panel discussed with members its work plan for the coming year.