New York

12 February 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council Briefing on Yemen

We have all been following recent developments in Yemen with the deepest concern.

As you know, I have just returned from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Preventing civil war in Yemen was the main political subject of my discussions with the leaders of these two countries.

I met with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE; Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdul Latif Al Zayani, and many other leaders.

They all expressed to me their serious concern that the situation in Yemen may get significantly worse unless we take more determined and concerted action.

In particular, they called for a strong and unmistakable signal to be sent to all parties that further acts aimed at undermining the transition would not be allowed to stand.
I briefed them on the latest efforts by my Special Adviser on Yemen, Mr. Jamal Benomar. We agreed to work together even more closely going forward. Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly commend Special Adviser Mr. Benomar for his leadership and hard work and commitment to facilitate this political negotiation under very dangerous circumstances.

Let me be clear: Yemen is collapsing before our eyes.  We cannot stand by and watch.

The country is facing multiple challenges. 

A dangerous political crisis continues in Sana’a. President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and government ministers and other state officials must be granted freedom of movement.

I am concerned by reports of excessive use of force to disperse peaceful demonstrators, and the use of arbitrary arrest and detention of civil society activists and journalists. I call for the protection of human rights, especially the rights to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression.

There are more widespread and lethal attacks by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, with increasing hostilities between AQAP and the Houthis in various provinces south of Sana’a, such as Damar and Al Baydah.

There are increasing secessionist tendencies in the South, and an acute humanitarian crisis.  An astounding 61 per cent of the population – almost 16 million people -- now need humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

These developments threaten regional and international peace and security.

Given these troubling circumstances, we all have a solemn obligation to live up to our commitments under the United Nations Charter.  We must do everything possible to help Yemen step back from the brink and get the political process back on track.

Yemen’s transition has an agreed roadmap. 

All parties must abide by the common framework as set forth in the Implementation Mechanism of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement.

I expect them to refrain from any further provocations and implement these agreements in full, and without any further delays.

To this end, my Special Adviser is facilitating negotiations with all sides on a consensual and peaceful way forward, under very difficult operational circumstances. All Yemeni parties must engage in these negotiations and cooperate in good faith.

I also call on the members of the Security Council to provide their continued unified support to the facilitation efforts of my Special Adviser. 

I also urge all members to work closely with the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and other international partners to take confidence-building steps with the Yemeni sides to deescalate tensions and pave the way for a peaceful way forward through political negotiations.

First and foremost, our focus must be on helping the Yemeni people to reestablish a legitimate government authority as soon as possible.

At this time of crisis, I also call on Member States to increase their funding for the 2015 Humanitarian Response Plan. This support will be more urgently needed than ever before.  

This will be essential for preventing an escalation of the conflict and creating the basis for reverting to peaceful political transition, which I firmly believe is the only way forward.

Thank you for your attention and leadership to this pressing issue.