Expected Council Action
In November, Council members expect a briefing on Yemen by Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen. A presidential statement is a likely outcome depending on whether the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) has concluded or not.
The mandate of the Office of the Special Adviser on Yemen was renewed on 12 June without an expiration date.
Key Recent Developments
In his 27 September briefing, Benomar acknowledged how the security situation remains volatile in parts of Yemen (S/PV.7037). In September, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) carried out major attacks against military bases in Shabwa governorate. On 6 October, unidentified armed men killed a German national working for the German Embassy, and a UNICEF international staff member was kidnapped. Tribal tensions continue, with clashes of Houthis (a Shia former rebel group) with Sunni members of the Islah party, Salafi groups and tribal militants affiliated to the al-Ahmar family in Amran and Sa’ada.
Although the deadline for the end of the NDC was 18 September, disagreements over key issues delayed its conclusion. The working groups focusing on the future form of government—southern issue, Sa’ada and state-building—have yet to agree on their final reports. The opening ceremony of the final plenary session took place on 8 October. The objective of the NDC was to agree on general principles to feed into the drafting of a new constitution. The Houthi and Hiraak (southern movement) NDC members boycotted the final plenary, citing the lack of a governmental reparation fund for victims of the wars waged against rebels in Sa’ada and disagreements over the federal structure of the state, respectively. (To address this issue, the government announced on 13 October the establishment of a reparations fund to benefit the victims of human rights violations in previous conflicts.) Members of the General National Congress, the former ruling party, withdrew from the transitional justice and good-governance working groups in September, citing disagreements over immunity and political participation of officials of the former regime.
As final reports of the nine working groups are submitted to the plenary, the consensus committee is expected to play an important role on issues that cannot be agreed at the working-group level. If a report does not get 90 percent approval in the plenary, it will be referred to the consensus committee for revision. The disputed issue will then be returned to the plenary to be voted on, at which point it will require 75 percent approval to be accepted. Delays in the work of the NDC postponed the holding of a referendum on the new constitution. It was initially planned for October but is now expected to be held in February 2014.
A joint mission to Yemen in September by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, focused on the critical humanitarian situation and widespread food insecurity. Amos pointed out that the humanitarian consolidated appeal remains underfunded at just 44 percent.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, briefed the Human Rights Council (HRC) on Yemen on 25 September (A/HRC/24/34). She expressed concern at the sometimes-violent suppression of peaceful protests, with reports of arrests and casualties. She also raised concerns about the recruitment of children, both by the armed forces and armed groups, about the application of the death penalty to minors and the overall situation of women. The HRC adopted resolution 24/32 on 27 September, calling on all parties to release all persons arbitrarily detained, demanding that armed groups end the recruitment and use of children and release those who had already been recruited and calling on the government to ensure that the death penalty was not applied to minors.
Pansieri subsequently visited Yemen from 29 September to 3 October. In Sana’a on 3 October, she emphasised the necessity of taking human rights into due consideration in the upcoming constitutional process. She stressed that little progress had been made on a draft law on transitional justice and national reconciliation and regretted that the appointment of members of the commission of inquiry into the events of 2011 was still pending. She noted the serious challenges faced by the judiciary sector and reiterated concern over the executions of minors charged with serious crimes.
Ensuring the timely completion of the NDC and the successful achievement of its objectives, including agreement on the form of government, is a key issue. The inclusiveness of the steps leading up to the general elections—including the constitution-drafting process—is a related issue.
Immediate issues for the Council include the precarious security situation, the presence of AQAP and persistent violent clashes among tribal groups. Funding and supply of weapons from regional actors are related issues.
The bleak humanitarian situation, including the challenges for internally displaced persons, returnees and refugees from the Horn of Africa, is an ongoing issue.
Options for the Council will depend on the accomplishments of the NDC by the time of the briefing. If the NDC has not concluded yet, the Council could issue a statement:
- urging political actors in Yemen to finalise the NDC as soon as possible and agree on general principles to feed into the constitutional process in a peaceful, transparent, constructive and reconciliatory manner;
- encouraging NDC delegates to make use of internal conflict-resolution mechanisms for the issues that remain unsolved (such as the use of the consensus committee);
- reiterating its warning to spoilers of the political process that Article 41 measures could be taken against them; and
- calling on all parties to honour to the extent possible the timetable and benchmarks set out in the transition agreement.
If the NDC concludes successfully before the briefing, the Council could issue a statement:
- commending the work of the delegates of the NDC despite the challenges they faced;
- encouraging the members of the constitution-drafting assembly to honour the compromises agreed to by the NDC; and
- looking forward to the drafting of the new constitution based on general principles agreed by the NDC and the referendum and general elections in February 2014.
Council members continue to follow the situation in Yemen closely. They are aware of the importance of the political transition in Yemen at a critical moment for other transition processes in the region and highlight the close cooperation with regional organisations, the constructive discussions within the Council and the cost-effective UN engagement.
As opposed to the 27 September briefing, which was public, Council members and the Secretariat seem to agree that meeting in consultations will allow for a more frank exchange of views.
The UK is the penholder on Yemen.
UN Documents on Yemen
|Security Council Resolution|
|12 June 2012 S/RES/2051||This resolution 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.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|15 February 2013 S/PRST/2013/3||This was a presidential statement that reiterated Council members’ readiness to consider sanctions against individuals who interfere in the political transition process.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|27 September 2013 S/PV.7037||This was a briefing by Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|12 April 2013 SC/10969||The Council welcomed Yemen’s reorganisation of the military and called on all parties to support the President’s decrees and to work to ensure their prompt implementation.|
Other Relevant Fact
Special Adviser to the Secretary-General
Jamal Benomar (Morocco)