Chair of Sanctions Committee Chair Urges Leveraging Sanctions in Support of Yemen-led Political Process Brokered by United Nations
The security situation in Yemen had deteriorated since the first round of peace talks two months ago, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy told the Security Council today, stressing that a new cessation of hostilities and spirit of compromise would pave the way for a fresh round of talks and agreements on the country’s return to a peaceful and orderly transition.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said Yemen was living through “the most heart-rending days in its history”. He recalled that it had been two months since the parties had met in Switzerland for their first round of talks, which had produced agreements on aid delivery to Taiz and the release of prisoners, among several other measures. A cessation-of-hostilities announcement had been accompanied by the creation of a De-escalation and Coordination Committee to strengthen adherence to that goal, as well as broad agreement on the principles of a general framework based on resolution 2216 (2015).
However, that positive spirit had deteriorated, he said, noting that more than 6,000 Yemenis had lost their lives since March 2015 and more than 35,000 had been injured. The country was again seeing air strikes, extensive ground fighting and a significant increase in indiscriminate missile fire into Saudi Arabia. The escalation of military activities and worsening regional tensions threatened to delay a new round of talks, he cautioned. Furthermore, there had been an upsurge in terrorist attacks in Aden, Lahej, Abyan, Shabwa and Sana’a, as well as attacks on Government army checkpoints and residences. The assassination of prominent political and security officials in the south continued unabated, and the State’s absence in many parts of Yemen had allowed such terrorist groups as Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to expand, reportedly in Hadramout Governorate.
He went on to recall that in recent weeks, he had discussed challenges to the peace process with Yemeni leaders and regional partners alike, notably the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Jordan and France, as well as the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Vice Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea. He said that from 8 to 16 January, he had met with the Vice President and Prime Minister of Yemen, as well as other leaders and civil society figures, in a quest to ensure the implementation of the positive commitments that had emerged from the Switzerland talks. Describing his successful efforts to secure the 14 January release of two Saudi nationals held by Houthi rebels as a positive development, he said that had been followed shortly by the release of Yemen’s Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and four Yemeni political and media activists.
Detailing other efforts, he said he had pursued agreements seeking to preserve the functioning of State institutions. Together with the Resident Coordinator for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, he was working to relaunch Yemen’s Social Welfare Fund so it could provide financial support to the poorest. Continued political support was needed from all parties and donors, he said, emphasizing that the conflict was causing grave damage to Yemen’s public and private sectors, both of which were critical for the country’s economic prospects.
Citing gains, he said the parties had committed to strengthening the De-escalation and Coordination Committee and agreed on a location for its meetings, important steps because its work was essential to the success of any cessation of hostilities. Yet, deep and persistent divisions prevented the convening of the next round of talks, he said, noting that the parties were split over whether to hold a new round with or without a new cessation of hostilities. He urged that the Council support a recommitment to a cessation of hostilities leading to a permanent ceasefire and take action on its implementation as soon as possible. He pledged to continue to work with all sides in Yemen, the region and the international community to build consensus on the key elements of any agreement. “The conflict in Yemen is political, so the solution must also be political,” he said.
Motohide Yoshikawa (Japan), speaking as Chair of the Security Council committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014), said a new resolution renewing asset-freeze and travel-ban measures would enable Council members to refine and offer additional guidance on targeted sanctions, particularly the arms embargo. Describing sanctions as an important tool for giving effect to the Council’s decisions, he emphasized, however, that they were not an end in themselves and should be leveraged to support a Yemen-led political process brokered by the United Nations. Underlining the importance of full implementation of all sanctions imposed by resolutions 2140 (2013), 2204 (2015) and 2216 (2015), as well as the need to uphold reporting obligations, he encouraged all Member States to cooperate with the Panel of Experts by providing requested information in a timely manner and by facilitating visits.
The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 3:25 p.m.