What's In Blue

Posted Fri 8 Jun 2012

Yemen Resolution Adoption

Following the briefing on 29 May by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, Council members began negotiating a draft resolution on Yemen. Introduced by the UK and discussed among the P5 before being circulated to the E10 on Monday (4 June), the draft resolution was discussed by all 15 Council members on Wednesday. Only a few minor amendments seem to have been made to the text this week and the draft has now been put in blue. It looks likely that the Council will adopt the draft resolution on Tuesday (12 June).

The draft reemphasises the need for the full implementation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and Implementation Mechanism, signed in November 2011. In particular, the text focuses on the second phase of the transition process, following the completion of the first phase (presidential elections this past February and the transfer of power). Specifically, the Council underlines the importance of an inclusive National Dialogue Conference, which would feed into the constitution-writing process that is to conclude by the end of 2013. (Following a 6 May presidential decree, a preparatory committee for the national dialogue is to be formed by the end of June.) General elections are then scheduled to take place by February 2014.

Another necessary step in this second phase of the transition that the Council has highlighted is the restructuring of the security services. Benomar, in his briefing on 29 May, cited interference in this area from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his relatives as a key obstacle to President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi’s reforms and said that they could “derail Yemen’s fragile transition process.” (Benomar noted in particular his disappointment that after seemingly successful discussions with Saleh and his son on the handover of two military positions occupied by relatives, a stand-off had prevented Hadi’s appointees from assuming their positions.)

As a result of this interference, the draft resolution addresses obstructions to the implementation of presidential decrees, specifically concerning military and civilian appointments. It also demands an end to all actions aimed at undermining Yemen’s Government of National Unity and the transition process.

Significantly, the draft resolution also expresses the Council’s willingness to consider further actions if attempts to stymie the transition process continue, including measures under Article 41 of the Charter.

As could be expected, some P5 members were wary of the reference to Article 41 in the text and its implicit threat of sanctions against Saleh and his family. However, most Council members seem to agree that the former president, along with his relatives, poses a serious threat and has the capacity to potentially derail the current phase of transition. As a result Council members seemed willing to send a strong signal to any spoilers.

The Council’s apparent unity on Yemen, particularly within the context of its current discussions on Syria, is notable. While the draft resolution only alludes to sanctions further down the track rather than imposing them, the Article 41 reference indicates that the P5 members see somewhat eye-to-eye on the issue. There is common concern about the growing number of attacks in Yemen carried out or financed by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and clear backing for the transition process. The worrying scale of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen is also likely to have been a factor in the Council giving full support to reforms in the country. (The World Food Programme has warned that levels of malnutrition in the country have reached alarming levels and half the population has experienced extreme hunger.)

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