8348th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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11-Sep-2018 01:11:39
Global community must commit to supporting dialogue in preventing Yemen’s further decline into chaos, Special Envoy stresses, while briefing Security Council at 8348th meeting.

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Amid escalating violence and lack of participation by one party in Yemen’s recently relaunched peace talks, the international community must commit to supporting dialogue, protecting civilians and preventing the country’s further decline into chaos, the senior United Nations official tasked with shepherding the negotiations stressed today as he briefed the Security Council.

“This is no longer a race between political and military solutions, it is instead a race to salvage what is left of State institutions as quickly as possible,” emphasized Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, via videoconference from Amman, Jordan. Noting that the conflict has been escalating on all fronts — and that one side failed to join the negotiations he convened recently in Geneva — he said Yemen’s formal peace process has nevertheless resumed, with solid support from the country’s people and the international community.

While the peace talks will continue to see ups and downs, he urged international partners to nurture it with the aim of delivering tangible results to the people. Expressing relief that the port city of Hodeidah has not yet suffered the calamity of military operations, he nevertheless voiced concern over intensive fighting on the city’s outskirts and described escalations elsewhere in the country. He said that, as part of his work in the coming weeks, he will hold meetings with parties in Muscat and Sana’a with the aim of building confidence and securing firm commitments for continued talks.

A number of Council members underscored the fact that there is no alternative to a political resolution of Yemen’s downward-spiralling conflict. While some expressed concern about the absence of Houthi delegates at the Geneva talks, several others said the groundwork for a peaceful solution has nonetheless been laid and pledged their support.

Bolivia’s representative, urging all Yemeni parties to “get on board” and refrain from any escalation of violence, warned that any campaigns targeting civilians contravened international law. All actors must adhere to the principles of proportionality and distinction while ensuring the protection of civilians. She called upon the parties to cease all hostilities, abandon any preconditions for dialogue and abide by the Council’s various resolutions on the matter, while emphasizing that all international efforts must be carried out with full respect for Yemen’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.

Kuwait’s representative, meanwhile, expressed regret over the intentional Houthi absence from the Geneva consultations, despite all efforts to address hurdles to their participation. The talks would have been an opportunity to distinguish which party wants a political solution and which one does not, he said, adding that the Houthis’ absence demonstrates their indifference to Council resolutions. Urging Council members to shoulder their responsibilities and insist on implementation of their decisions, he described the 2014 Houthi coup against Yemen’s legitimate authorities as the root cause of the conflict.

The representative of the United States, echoing the expressions of frustration over the Houthis’ failure to attend the Geneva talks, warned against any attempts to undermine United Nations-led peace efforts. Emphasizing that the stakes are high, she warned that “we are potentially one missile strike away from a full-blown crisis”. Indeed, with the international community losing patience, there should be no question of the Council’s confidence in the Special Envoy and all parties must commit to working with him, she said.

Yemen’s representative said his country’s Government sent a delegation to the Geneva consultations in good faith, hoping that they will lead to improvement in the lives of Yemen’s people. Vowing to support the Special Envoy’s efforts, he voiced the Government’s determination to end the Houthi coup which overthrew an elected president. Supported by Iran and its proxies, the Houthis continue their efforts to entrench an Iranian model of governance in Yemen, he said, calling upon the Council to ensure full implementation of its resolutions and compel the Houthis to respect the will of Yemen’s people.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Sweden, Peru, Kazakhstan, Poland, Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Russian Federation, China and Ethiopia.

The meeting began at 3:09 p.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.
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