Security Council sets up sanctions regime to deter spoilers of Yemen’s political transition

Security Council votes to adopt resolution on Yemen. UN Photo/Mark Garten

26 February 2014 – The United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution expressing its strong support for the next steps in the political transition in Yemen, and establishing sanctions to be imposed on individuals or entities that seek to obstruct or undermine this process.

Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, with a Government of National Unity, which came to power in an election in February 2012 following the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Recognizing that Yemen’s transition process requires “turning the page” from the Saleh presidency, the resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member body sets up a sanctions regime that includes an asset freeze and travel ban, as well as a sanctions committee and a panel of up to four experts.

While the resolution does not name any ‘spoilers’ – leaving the designation of individuals and entities to the sanctions committee – it does set out criteria that includes those obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition, those impeding the implementation of the outcomes of the final report of the recently-concluded National Dialogue through violence or attacks on essential infrastructure, as well as those planning, directing or committing human rights abuses.

Jamal Benomar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Yemen, had previously warned the Council that despite real progress in the transition, there has been a “systematic pattern of obstruction,” adding that the Yemeni people are doing their part and that they are counting on the Council to do its part.

“Today the Security Council sends a clear and strong message to Yemenis,” Mr. Benomar told reporters after the meeting.

“With this resolution, the Council is supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Yemenis, including the youth, who fought and continue to fight for deep and meaningful change.”

The Council expressed strong support for completing the next steps in the transition, including drafting a new constitution, electoral reform and timely general elections.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights today condemned the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks affecting civilians by Yemen’s armed forces in southern Yemen and called for unrestricted humanitarian access to the area.

“I am shocked by a series of attacks led by Yemen’s armed forces in Al Dhale Governorate that reportedly killed more than 40 persons since December, including at least 6 children,” Navi Pillay said in a news release.

Since 16 January, the High Commissioner’s Office (OHCHR) has documented a series of eight attacks during which at least four hospitals and clinics, four schools, one college and one institution for people with disabilities were shelled.

The latest incident was reported on 18 February, when Government armed forces shelled Al Dhale city, killing seven civilians and injuring eight others, after an army convoy near the office of the local government in the city was attacked.

Ms. Pillay expressed grave concern that the 33rd armoured brigade of the Yemeni armed forces, which is stationed in Al Dhale, is reportedly responsible for these attacks.

“Claims by Yemen’s armed forces that they were fired upon by armed groups or that their bases were attacked can never justify the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks,” she said.

The High Commissioner reminded commanders of their responsibility to ensure that their troops fully respect international law, in particular the right to life, even in the most difficult circumstances.

She called on Yemeni authorities to carry out “credible and transparent” investigations of alleged human rights violations in Al Dhale and to hold those responsible accountable, and called on both Government armed forces and armed groups to take all necessary measures to prevent civilians from being affected by the violence.

Ms. Pillay also expressed concerns about the plight of some 50,000 people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in conflict areas and urged the Government of Yemen to allow immediate and unimpeded access to all UN agencies and relevant organisations to secure the delivery of humanitarian aid.


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