What's In Blue

Council to Adopt Resolution on Yemen

The Security Council is expected to adopt later today (15 February) a resolution on Yemen. On Friday afternoon (13 February), the UK circulated a draft that it had been working on with Jordan which was open for comments until 10 am on Saturday. It was placed, without any substantive changes, under a short silence procedure and then put in blue yesterday afternoon.

This draft resolution’s circulation follows a Council briefing on Yemen on Thursday (12 February), where the Secretary-General warned members that “Yemen was collapsing before our eyes”. UN Special Advisor Jamal Benomar, who briefed via video tele-conferencing from Sanaa stated that the transition was in “disarray”, and the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) called for the Council to condemn the Houthis’ latest actions.

The text that the Council is expected to adopt appears to be largely based on a GCC draft that GCC states along with Jordan (which was invited in 2011 to join the GCC) shared with Council members early last week. There are differences in the Council draft compared to the GCC draft, including toned down language regarding the Houthis, and incorporation of language from the Council’s 6 February “press elements”. Before the draft was circulated on Friday, it seems that discussions had been held earlier in the day between some Council members and representatives from GCC countries.

The draft resolution strongly deplores the Houthis’ actions to dissolve parliament on 6 February and take over government institutions. It additionally strongly calls upon all parties, in particular the Houthis, to abide by the GCC Initiative, its implementation mechanism, the National Dialogue Conference outcomes and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), as well as urges the acceleration of negotiations to reach a consensus solution regarding the current political impasse.

The draft also demands that the Houthis immediately and unconditionally: engage in good faith in UN-brokered negotiations; withdraw their forces from government institutions, including the capital Sana’a; release individuals being held under house arrest; and refrain from unilateral actions that could undermine Yemen’s political transition and security. It also demands that all parties, in particular the Houthis, cease armed hostilities against Yemen’s legitimate authorities and relinquish arms that have been seized from Yemen’s security institutions in accordance with the PNPA.

Differences from the GCC text included deleting the term “coup” in referring to the Houthis’ actions, while inserting in its place language about the Houthis’ dissolution of parliament and take-over of Yemen government institutions. It seems that some members continue to be uncomfortable with characterising the Houthis’ actions as coup.

The Council’s draft also “deplores” rather than “condemns” the Houthis’ actions. The changes are consistent with the Council’s 6 February “press elements” which it issued in response to the Houthis’ ‘constitutional declaration’, outlining their own plans to establish a new government in the wake of the 22 January resignations of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the cabinet of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah.

Though the draft resolution continues to highlight the Houthis’ role in the current crisis, and condemns the group’s attacks, against, inter alia, private residences and places of worship, it seems that, compared to the GCC draft, there is more emphasis given to the roles of other Yemeni parties in resolving the crisis. During the negotiation of recent statements, Russia, in particular, has expressed concern over language singling out the Houthis role in the deteriorating situation. Some of these changes may have been an effort to address these concerns. Additionally, the Council draft is more detailed on the threat of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while a reference to the use of child soldiers is not only attributed to the Houthis, but also Ansar Al-Sharia (the Yemeni wing of AQAP) and government forces. Instead of stating that the resolution is being adopted under Chapter VII, as the GCC had sought, the draft recalls the Council’s determination in resolution 2140 that the situation in Yemen constitutes a threat to peace and security. (Resolution 2140 was adopted under Chapter VII.) At an extraordinary ministerial meeting in Riyadh yesterday, GCC countries further called for the Council to adopt a resolution under Chapter 7.

Other elements of the draft resolution include emphasising that the political transition has been undermined and reiterating the Council’s call for all parties to resolve their differences through dialogue. It also urges all parties to agree on and publically announce dates for completing the constitutional consultation process, holding a referendum on the constitution and conducting elections; which seems to reflect a point that Benomar stressed during consultations on Thursday that this would be important for any new agreement he may broker.

Moreover, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to continue his good offices, notes its appreciation to Benomar’s efforts, and requests that the Secretary-General propose options in order to strengthen Benomar’s ability to fulfil his mandate. The Council requests the Secretary-General to report back on implementation of the resolution within 15 days of its adoption, and subsequently every 60 days. The draft resolution declares the Council’s readiness to take further measures in the case on non-implementation by any Yemeni party.

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