What's In Blue

Posted Wed 24 Feb 2016

Security Council to Renew Yemen Sanctions Regime

This morning, the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution that renews the Yemen sanctions measures for an additional year and extends the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 27 March 2017. The UK, as penholder, circulated a draft text to the full membership on 12 February. Following bilateral consultations with one member, the UK circulated a revised draft on 22 February, which was put in blue yesterday, following a period of silence.

While there are no substantial modifications, this year’s draft resolution reflects the establishment of the targeted arms embargo and the expansion of the designation criteria to include violations of the embargo and obstruction of humanitarian assistance envisaged in resolution 2216. Other new additions include language on the humanitarian situation and hindrances to the delivery of humanitarian aid, the need for parties in Yemen to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, and the expansion of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the increasing presence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant in Yemen. Additionally, the draft resolution recalls that member states are required to provide written reports of cargo inspections to the 2140 Committee. Although this was required by resolution 2216, Coalition states in enforcing the arms embargo have failed to report such inspections.

While most members did not seek any amendments to the initial text, Egypt proposed two changes that required some negotiations. During the Yemen 2140 Sanctions Committee meeting on 22 January, Egypt had expressed unhappiness with the Panel of Experts’ final report (S/2016/73). It maintained that the Panel had overstepped its mandate by reporting on violations committed by the Coalition, since paragraph 21 of resolution 2140 states that the Panel should provide the Committee with information on violations committed by “individuals and entities” and not states. Egypt therefore proposed amendments to the draft sanctions resolution related to their interpretation of the Panel’s mandate. Apparently there was little support among other members. It seems members either did not agree with Egypt’s interpretation of resolution 2140, perceived the proposal as political due to the Coalition’s displeasure with the Panel’s report, or believed that the proposed revisions could jeopardise the panel’s independence.

Following bilateral negotiations with the UK, Egypt agreed to two new paragraphs that apparently reflected their concerns over the final report and its recommendations. One new paragraph recalls the report of the Informal Working Group on General Issues of Sanctions (S/2006/997) on best practices and methods, highlighting paragraphs 21, 22 and 23. These paragraphs provide guidance on the sourcing of information and use of documentary evidence (including on site-observations) by monitoring mechanisms’, and ensuring that their assertions are corroborated by independent verifiable sources. This appears to address Egypt’s criticism, shared by some other members, that the Panel had made assertions based mostly on open source information and limited primary sources.

The other new paragraph added to the draft resolution emphasises the need for the Committee to discuss the recommendations of the Panel’s reports. Egypt has placed a hold on a number of the recommendations in the Panel’s final report.

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