Since the uprisings in Yemen broke out in early 2011, the United Nations has been engaged, through the good offices of the Secretary-General, in helping Yemenis to find a peaceful solution. The United Nations provided support for the negotiations between the Government and the opposition, which resulted in the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism in Riyadh on 23 November 2011. The United Nations has since remained actively engaged with all Yemeni political groupings to promote peace and stability through dialogue and negotiations in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2014 (2011), 2051 (2012), 2140 (2014) and 2216 (2015).
To ensure the full and effective implementation of Security Council resolutions 2014 (2011) and 2051 (2012), together with the political transition agreed in November 2011 under the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, the Secretary-General established the Office of the Special Envoy to the Secretary-General on Yemen. Since the establishment of the Office of the Special Envoy in 2012, the United Nations has provided support for the Yemeni-led political transition process and has promoted inclusive participation, including of previously marginalized groups, such as women, youth, the Houthis and Southern Hirak. With the support and facilitation provided by the United Nations, Yemenis concluded a National Dialogue Conference in January 2014, which brought together 565 delegates from all the regions and political groupings of Yemen. The outcome document of the National Dialogue Conference established the foundations for a new federal and democratic Yemen, with support for good governance, the rule of law and human rights. A Constitution Drafting Commission was created to draft a new constitution based on the National Dialogue Conference outcomes.
Despite important progress in the political transition, conflicts between the Houthis, other armed groups and government forces led to an escalation of military violence in mid-2014. Notwithstanding agreements brokered by then United Nations Special Adviser, the Houthis and allied units of the armed forces seized control of Sana’a and other parts of the country in September 2014 and over the ensuing months.
The United Nations facilitated numerous rounds of negotiations to resolve the political impasse, but these efforts were ineffective to halt the escalation of military confrontations that continued in early 2015. At the request of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia intervened militarily on 26 March 2015 in support of the Government of Yemen. More than three years of fighting between Coalition-backed forces and pro-Houthi forces on several fronts has led to thousands of civilian casualties, destruction of infrastructure and a large-scale humanitarian emergency. Political tensions between the Government and southern groups have also increased, leading to deadly outbreaks of violence in Aden and elsewhere in the South. In addition, attacks claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other terrorist groups continue in many parts of Yemen. The overall security situation remains highly volatile.
Then 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.
Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly reiterated that there is no military solution to the Yemeni crises and has called for a return to peaceful negotiations.
In its resolution 2216 (2015), the Security Council requested the Secretary-General to intensify his good offices role in order to enable the resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led transition. Since then, the Special Envoy has facilitated successive rounds of consultations aimed at obtaining a negotiated settlement to end the conflict and resume the political transition process, including direct talks in Switzerland in June and December 2015, and in Kuwait from April to August 2016. Despite these efforts by the United Nations, fighting continues between various parties throughout the country, including along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border.
Following on from previous efforts, a new Special Envoy was appointed by the Secretary-General in 16 February to continue exercising his good offices role. The overall aim of the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen is to provide support to the Yemen peace process, and the implementation of any eventual agreements to enable the resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led transition. In line with resolution 2216 (2015) and the letter from the Secretary-General to the Security Council dated 24 May 2016 (S/2016/488), the Special Envoy will mediate between the parties, with a view to ending the conflict.
More than two and a half years of armed conflict, a stalled peace process and a severe economic decline that has accelerated the collapse of essential basic services and institutions, Yemen is in the grip of a protracted political, humanitarian and developmental crisis. Yemen is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 22.2 million people – 75 per cent of the population – in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Approximately 17.8 million people are food-insecure, including 8.4 million who do not know how they will obtain their next meal. Famine remains a serious threat. More than 3 million people have been displaced from their homes since 2015, including 2.3 million who remain displaced today. With only 45 per cent of health facilities fully functioning, the capacity of the health system to respond to disease and injuries is dangerously compromised. Erratic payment of public sector salaries is contributing to the collapse of public institutions that provide healthcare, water, sanitation and education. This collapse is one of the key drivers of the world’s largest suspected cholera outbreak, which has reported 1.2 million cases since April 2017.