Expected Council Action
In November, the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on the situation in Yemen from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser and UN Envoy Jamal Benomar.
No Council action is expected at this point.
Key Recent Developments
Benomar last briefed the Council in consultations on 18 September (under the terms of resolution 2014, the Council receives a briefing on Yemen every 60 days; most of these briefings have been in consultations). Focusing on the ongoing challenges to the transition process and other political, humanitarian and security issues, Benomar also updated the Council on the forthcoming National Dialogue Conference as well as security reforms.
Since the last briefing, a few incidents have affected the security situation, which continues to be fragile. On 10 September, Yemen officials said that the second-in-command of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and former Guantanamo detainee, Said al-Shihri, was killed in southern Yemen, though very few details of the operation and those involved were released. The following day, Defence Minister Muhammad Nasir Ahmad survived an assassination attempt in Sana’a that killed at least 12 people when a bomb detonated as his motorcade passed. On 13 September, Council members issued a press statement (SC/10762) condemning the terrorist attack in Sana’a.
On 16 October, AQAP militants, one of them a suicide bomber, killed six members of the Popular Resistance Committees (tribal forces backing the army) and wounded eight others in an attack on a checkpoint in the south. On 18 October, a drone strike near the southern city of Jaar killed at least seven AQAP suspects, including Nader al-Shadadi according to Yemeni sources.
A donor conference on Yemen was held in Riyadh on 4 September. On 27 September, a high-level “Friends of Yemen” meeting took place on the margins of the General Assembly (Saudi Arabia, the UK and Yemen jointly chair the Friends of Yemen, which includes key Persian Gulf countries, the G8 and intergovernmental organisations). Pledges of nearly $1.5 billion were made at the meeting, which focused on financial support for the transition process. The government of Yemen briefed on the National Dialogue Conference scheduled for 15 November for a period of six months. The Conference is part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and intended to serve as an inclusive forum for discussions between different actors in Yemen and feed into constitutional reforms. At press time, however, media reports suggest the Conference has been postponed. The next meeting of the Friends is scheduled for March 2013.
The day after the 27 September Friends meeting, Council members issued a press statement (SC/10778) in support of a fully inclusive National Dialogue. They expressed concern about efforts to undermine the National Unity Government as it endeavours to implement the political transition agreement and reiterated their readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the UN Charter, if such actions continued.
A Council visit to Yemen, initially scheduled for October, may now take place in early 2013. Several Council members are interested in a public demonstration of the Council’s support for the transition process.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on 5 September on the situation of human rights in Yemen. The report takes note of the positive political and human rights developments but raises concern that investigations into past violations remain selective and lack credibility and deplores the adoption of an amnesty law granting immunity to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and other officials. The report recommends the launch of a transparent and independent national investigation, the release of remaining individuals detained by government security forces without due process and by armed opposition groups, and the immediate adoption of measures to end the use and recruitment of children.
On 27 September, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution on Yemen in which it called on all parties to release persons detained arbitrarily and to end any practice of unlawful detention of persons. It also called on the government of Yemen and armed opposition groups to take immediate measures to end the use and recruitment of children and requested the High Commissioner to provide technical assistance to the government to enable Yemen to fulfil its human rights obligations and to report to the HRC at its 24thsession.
The key challenge for the Council is to determine what role it can play in assisting Yemen to foster a peaceful political transition in accordance with the GCC initiative and the accompanying implementation mechanism. In particular, the Council must determine how it can support the National Dialogue Conference.
A related issue for the Council is dealing with the continuously precarious security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, which could undermine the new government and the prospects for the political transition process.
Options for the Council include:
- keeping abreast of the developments in Yemen and receiving regular briefings from Benomar and the Department of Political Affairs;
- adopting a clear message directed at spoilers, including former President Saleh, in order to give credence to its declared readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter;
- visiting Yemen to send a strong signal about its support for a peaceful and successful transition; and
- requesting briefings regarding the human rights situation and the humanitarian crisis from the relevant UN actors, as well as international and regional organisations.
Council members seem to be in agreement that Yemen is a complicated situation, where the ongoing interference from Saleh and his relatives to undermine the transition process remains a key obstacle.
Most Council members appear concerned about the deteriorating security, human rights and humanitarian picture in Yemen. While they recognise that violence has declined slightly, they are aware that any given incident could enflame the situation and lead to an escalation of violence.
Council members, including those that were not initially inclined to threaten actions under Article 41 in resolution 2051, were not opposed to reiterating the threat in the recent press statement. At this point, however, they do not feel that follow-up action on this is warranted unless Benomar or other credible sources bring to light evidence showing new or increased interference in the implementation of the GCC initiative.
The UK has the lead in the Council on Yemen.
UN Documents on Yemen
|Security Council Resolutions|
|12 June 2012S/RES/2051||focused on the second phase of the transition and expressed the Council’s readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter.|
|21 October 2011S/RES/2014||endorsed the GCC initiative for a peaceful transition of power.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|29 March 2012S/PRST/2012/8||noted Council members’ concern over the deterioration in the situation since the transfer of power to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi on 25 February.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|27 September 2012 SC/10778||followed a high-level “Friends of Yemen” meeting.|
|13 September 2012 SC/10762||condemned the terrorist attack in Sana’s on 11 September.|
|21 May 2012SC/10656||condemned the suicide attack that killed 96 soldiers in Sana’a on 21 May.|
|7 March 2012SC/10571||condemned the terrorist attacks that occurred in Abyan province.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|29 May 2012S/PV.6776||was a briefing by Special Adviser Jamal Benomar.|
|29 March 2012S/PV.6744||was on the deterioration situation in Yemen since the 25 February transfer of power.|
|Security Council Letters|
|21 June 2012S/2012/470||was from the President of the Council noting the receipt of the Secretary-General’s 18 June letter.|
|18 June 2012S/2012/469||was from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council noting his intention to establish a small office of the Special Adviser for the initial period of 12 months.|
Friends of Yemen Ministerial Meeting Co-Chairs Statement from 27 September 2012.
Other Relevant Facts
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen and UN Envoy to Yemen
Jamal Benomar (Morocco)