What's In Blue

Posted Mon 3 Dec 2012

Yemen Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (4 December), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a briefing on Yemen by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar. (In resolution 2051 of 12 June, the Council requested that it be updated on developments in Yemen every 60 days. Tomorrow’s meeting will be the second time that Benomar has briefed the Council publicly, as opposed to in consultations.) No Council action is expected following the briefing.

Council members are likely to be interested in hearing about the recent breakthrough agreement reached between Yemeni parties on the allocation of seats for the forthcoming National Dialogue Conference. (The Conference, which will feed into the drafting of a new constitution, is not expected to start before January and will be conducted over a six-month period.) The agreement announced by Benomar on 28 November likely represents a key step in the country’s democratic transition. Under the agreement, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress party and its partners will receive 112 delegates in the 565-seat Conference, the largest of any bloc. The National Dialogue Conference is expected to conclude in late 2013, in the lead up to general elections scheduled for February 2014.

Council members will likely welcome this recent progress. Most seem to agree that the seats allocation deal is an important step towards ensuring a transparent and inclusive national dialogue, alongside the establishment of a new electoral commission. (The electoral commission met for the first time on 3 December.)

Another development that Council members will be interested in hearing more about is the Secretary-General’s 19 November visit to Sana’a, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the 23 November conclusion of the Yemen Peace and Transition Agreement. (The Council itself had planned to visit Yemen in October, but the trip was postponed and may be rescheduled for the first quarter of 2013.) During his visit, Ban Ki-moon met with President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansur—as well as other high-level officials of the government and members of the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue—and highlighted the need for a Yemen-led dialogue, as part of the path towards an inclusive transition to democracy.

Further relevant to tomorrow’s Council meeting, the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, also visited Yemen in late November and met with, among others, President Hadi and Prime Minister Mohammed Saleh Basindwa. (Her meetings resulted in securing the commitment of the government to end the recruitment and use of children by the Yemeni Armed Forces.)

Council members are also likely to be interested in hearing Benomar’s views on the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Yemen, which remains precarious. Since Benomar last briefed the Council in consultations on 18 September, a series of incidents have affected the security situation in Yemen, including the fatal shooting of a Saudi diplomat and his Yemeni bodyguard on 28 November. Media reports suggest that this and similar activities may be attributed to militants of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. There are also concerns among some Council members about the ongoing military threat to the transition process.

Of interest to Council members tomorrow will be Benomar’s comments on the ongoing humanitarian priorities in Yemen, including displacement, food insecurity and malnutrition, lack of water availability and inadequate health services. On a more positive note, Benomar may mention that more than 80,000 people have returned to their homes in Abyan Governorate, representing the first significant displacement decline since May 2011.

It is likely that Benomar will also emphasise the importance of continued political and financial support from the international community, welcoming the almost $8 billion pledged by major donors, the Group of 10 and Friends of Yemen.

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