Since the uprisings in early 2011 the Secretary-General has utilized his good offices to engage with Yemeni political leaders and civil society to promote a peaceful, orderly and inclusive political transition process.
However, the confrontation between the Houthis (Ansar Allah) and Yemen’s Government starting in early 2014 led to the Houthi advance on Sana’a in August 2014. Despite the signing of a UN-brokered agreement on 21 September 2014 aimed at getting the transition back on track, the Houthis continued to consolidate and expand their hold on power and territory, further escalating the situation. In January 2015, the President and Prime Minister tendered their resignations, precipitating a political crisis. On 6 February, the Houthis dissolved parliament and declared that a five-member presidential council would be formed and that a Supreme Revolutionary Committee would run the country temporarily.
In resolution 2201 of 15 February 2015, the Security Council, inter alia, “strongly deplored actions taken by the Houthis to dissolve parliament and take over Yemen’s government institutions”, “demanded that the Houthis immediately and unconditionally engage in good faith in the UN-brokered negotiations and that all parties in Yemen cease all armed hostilities”, and “requested the Secretary-General to continue his good offices”.
To find a consensual power-sharing solution and resolve the situation, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Mr. Jamal Benomar, attempted to facilitate another round of inclusive negotiations amongst the Yemeni parties in Sana’a. However, the military confrontation between the Houthis and the Government of Yemen escalated further. In February 2015, President Hadi escaped to Aden and rescinded his resignation. At the request of the United Nations Security Council, Special Adviser Benomar subsequently consulted the Yemeni parties and regional countries on a new venue for the negotiations.
However, at President Hadi’s request, a coalition of ten countries led by Saudi Arabia commenced a military operation, primarily through air strikes, against Houthi positions on 25 March, which led to a suspension of the negotiations and the temporary withdrawal of all international UN staff from Yemen.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took note of the military operation calling on all parties and Member States to refrain from taking any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.
He also called for a cease-fire and reminded all parties involved of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and of all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel, as well as of the rules and principles of international human rights law and refugee law.
The United Nations has repeatedly reiterated that there is no military solution to the Yemeni crises and has called for a return to peaceful negotiations.
On 14 April, the Security Council adopted resolution 2216 (2015), which, inter alia, demands that all Yemeni parties, in particular the Houthis, fully implement resolution 2201 and refrain from further unilateral actions. The resolution also “requests the Secretary-General to intensify his good offices role in order to enable a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process.”
On 25 April, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as his new Special Envoy for Yemen. Since his appointment, the Special Envoy has been engaging with the Yemeni parties, regional countries, Security Council members and other member states with the aim to prepare the ground for a cessation of hostilities by all parties and a resumption of the political transition process towards a more peaceful, stable and democratic country.
Inclusive consultations among Yemeni governmental and other actors were due to start on 28 May in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations. Nevertheless, on 26 May the Secretary-General asked his Special Envoy to Yemen to postpone the consultations in Geneva following a request from the Government of Yemen and other key stakeholders. The Secretary-General instructed his Special Envoy to redouble his efforts to consult with the Yemeni Government, Yemen’s political groupings and countries in the region with the aim of producing a comprehensive ceasefire and the resumption of peaceful dialogue and an orderly political transition.
The Geneva initiative, aimed at bringing together a broad range of Yemeni governmental and other actors, followed extensive consultations by the Special Envoy as well as strong expressions of support by various Security Council resolutions, including 2216 (2015), for a peaceful and Yemeni-led political transition process based on the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism and the outcomes of the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference.
As the conflict continued nearly half the population remained food insecure and without access to clean water and other basic services. A quarter of a million children were severely malnourished and at risk of dying. Thousands of youth suffered unemployment and investors face high risk economic opportunities.