23 October 2015
7542nd Meeting (AM)

Warring Parties in Yemen Conflict Have Agreed to Peace Talks Sponsored by United Nations, Special Envoy Tells Security Council in Briefing

Chair of 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee Also Reports on Body’s Activities, Efforts

Following recent delays, warring parties in Yemen had agreed to take part in United Nations‑sponsored peace talks aimed at ending the fighting based on the framework set out in resolution 2216 (2015), the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy in that country told the Security Council today, underlining the importance of its support to both sides, as positions remained “very divergent”.

Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said consultations between the Government of Yemen and its opponents had been delayed over the former’s need for clearer acceptance of resolution 2216 (2015).  However, he added, he had kept in touch with Houthi leaders and the General People’s Congress, which were now committed to implementing the resolution, including a negotiated withdrawal from key cities and the surrender of weapons to the State.  “I have no doubt that these talks will help us start a new phase that will mark the new history of Yemen.”

He went on to say that during his recent tour, he had updated the Government of Yemen in Riyadh as well as the leaders of Saudi Arabia on developments, and on his discussions with the Houthis.  Similar discussions had been held on the margins of the General Assembly with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and with the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Russian interlocutors, all of whom supported efforts to reach a peaceful political solution.

On the basis of those developments, President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had informed the Secretary‑General in a 19 October letter of his intention to send a delegation to the talks, he continued, adding that he would start working immediately with the Government of Yemen, the Houthis and others to agree on an agenda, date and format.  The proposed negotiations would be aimed at advancing the withdrawal of militias from key cities, ensuring the release of prisoners, returning heavy weapons seized from the army, improving the humanitarian situation and resuming an inclusive political dialogue.  They were designed to lead Yemen back to the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and to the outcomes of the national dialogue, he said.

As a first sign of hope, the talks must be nurtured, he emphasized.  Indeed, the need was great; previous consultations had been cancelled due to new preconditions, missed opportunities that had left Yemenis in increasing misery.  “Yemen is ablaze and the Yemeni population is in a catastrophic situation,” he said.  “The county is bleeding.”  Cities were collapsing and citizens were being denied their most basic rights.

He said extremists had rapidly taken advantage of the situation.  With the return of the legitimate Government in Aden, it had been hoped that security would have been restored.  Instead, extremist groups had attacked Government headquarters and civilians had been killed.  The bombing of mosques in Yemen, famed for its tolerance, had become a common occurrence.  “The longer the war continues, the more extremist groups will expand their presence,” he warned.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had reported that more than 21 million Yemenis, 80 per cent of the population, were in need of aid.  Some 20 million lacked potable water and 500,000 children were malnourished.  Taiz, once considered the country’s cultural capital, today faced indiscriminate shelling, with people struggling to survive.  Aid had been blocked, and more broadly, only 1 per cent of Yemen’s normal monthly fuel requirements had been allowed in September.

Mr. Ahmed said that, in one positive sign, he had attended a gathering of Yemeni women organized by UN-Women in Larnaca, Cyprus, where participants had called for urgent measures to improve the humanitarian situation, restore the flow of aid and commercial goods, and ensure the protection of civilians.  He said he planned to work with the yet‑to‑be‑formed Women’s Pact for Peace and Security and other civil society groups, to ensure their voices brought Yemen back to peaceful dialogue.

Following those remarks, Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), Chair of the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee, described the subsidiary body’s work in the context of resolutions 2216 (2015) and 2204 (2015) and 2140 (2014), noting that, as per the latter text, 20 implementation reports from Member States had been received and were on the Committee’s website.  The Committee had received only one initial report and no subsequent reports relating to inspections carried out pursuant to the targeted arms embargo outlined in resolution 2216 (2015).  She called upon all Member States that had not yet done so to submit the required reports.

She recalled that on 29 July, the Committee had amended its guidelines to reflect provisions contained in resolutions 2204 (2015) and 2216 (2015).  On 2 April, new members of the Panel of Experts had been appointed by the Secretary-General, while a new arms expert had been appointed on 18 June.  Committee members had discussed, on 2 February, the final report of the Panel of Experts and agreed on the course of action for its recommendations.  On 25 August, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Yemen Crisis had briefed on the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism, followed by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, on 18 September.

On 9 October, she continued, the Panel of Experts had shared information on international humanitarian law and the finance aspects of its mandate, underlining its need to investigate all violations, including through travel to all parts of Yemen.  To promote transparency, on 1 September, the Committee had held an open briefing for all Member States featuring an overview of its mandate, the sanctions regime, and remarks by the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts.

The meeting began at 10:45 a.m. and ended at 11:09 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.