8439th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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21-Dec-2018 00:46:06
Security Council authorizes immediate deployment of advance team to monitor force withdrawals, ceasefire in Yemen, adopting Resolution 2451 (2018) at 8439th meeting.

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Calling on the parties in Yemen to implement their new agreement to halt combat in zones critical for delivery of life-saving aid, the Security Council today authorized the immediate deployment of an advance team to monitor compliance.

Adopting resolution 2451 (2018) unanimously, the Council endorsed the so-called Stockholm Agreements reached by the Government and the Houthis on 13 December 2018 on the mutual redeployment of forces from Hodeidah and its ports, as well as a mechanism for activating prisoner exchange and a statement of understanding on the city of Taiz. As a priority, the Council insisted that the parties fully respect the ceasefire in Hodeidah governorate, which came into force on 18 December, and complete force redeployment by 21 January.

By other terms, the Council authorized the Secretary-General to establish the monitoring team for an initial period of 30 days from the adoption of this resolution. It also authorized him to fulfil the request for the United Nations to chair the Redeployment Coordination Committee, and requests he update the Council weekly on progress and develop a proposal for full support to the Agreements by 31 December.

The Council called on the Government and the Houthis to remove bureaucratic impediments to flows of aid and commercial supplies, including fuel, and on the parties to ensure effective functioning of all of Yemen’s ports and supply lines and the secure reopening of Sana’a airport for commercial flights.

It further called on the Government, with support from the international community, to transparently strengthen the economy, calling also on the parties to work with the Special Envoy to strengthen the Central Bank of Yemen and to deliver payment of pensioners and civil servant salaries. It invited international financial institutions to provide appropriate assistance on the Envoy’s request.

Expressing deep regret at the loss of life and injuries caused by the conflict, including those caused by land mines and the killing, maiming, recruitment and deployment of children, the Council stressed the importance of all parties ensuring the protection of civilians and allowing their safe movement.

Welcoming the parties’ constructive engagement in Stockholm, it further called on them to continue to engage in good faith with the Special Envoy on immediate measures to be taken and by participating in a next round of talks in January 2019, following up on their renewed commitment to work on a durable political solution to the crisis, facilitated by the Envoy. It underlined the importance of full participation of women and the meaningful engagement of youth in the process.

Following the text’s adoption, Council members welcomed the unity shown in reaching consensus on the issue and called on the parties in Yemen to strictly abide by their obligations under the Stockholm Agreement, stressing that its signing has not by itself alleviated what remains a dire humanitarian situation, including the risk of famine.

Karen Pierce (United Kingdom) added that the resolution reiterates the Council’s full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and the political process he is driving in Yemen. She also highlighted the importance of international humanitarian law in the crisis, calling for those who violate it to be held accountable. The parties must now deliver real improvements on the ground to make a tangible difference for the people of Yemen, she emphasized.

Olof Skoog (Sweden), pledging his country’s readiness to participate in the United Nations presence to be established in Hodeidah, acknowledged that the resolution does not address all the issues making up the multifaceted crisis, but the implementation of the ceasefire and the other measures laid out will provide much-needed steps in that direction. He called on the parties to continue negotiations in January with the same level of commitment that they exhibited in Stockholm, noting that his delegation will co-host a pledging event for the United Nations humanitarian response for Yemen on 26 February.

Rodney M. Hunter (United States), similarly expressed hope that the Agreements represent a first step to a political solution to the crisis, which depends on the parties fulfilling their obligations. While welcoming the adoption, he urged the Council to show the courage to call out those responsible for fomenting conflict and regretted that it did not call Iran to account for its responsibility for the suffering in Yemen, and its violation of international law with impunity.

Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Alotaibi (Kuwait) similarly said he voted for the resolution to support the Special Envoy’s work and to alleviate the plight of the Yemeni people, despite that it did not address many other concerns he had. He hoped that all would respect the agreement in Gulf Council framework, the results of the national dialogue and relevant Security Council resolutions.

Lise Gregoire Van Haaren (Netherlands) stressed the need for women to be included in the way forward. She also underlined the need for accountability, notably investigations into violations of international humanitarian law. She thanked all Council members for placing the Yemeni people at the centre of their deliberations.

Verónica Cordova Soria (Bolivia), also appreciating the hope that the resolution presents for the people of Yemen, regretted, however, that in the last 24 hours, Council negotiations evidenced the lack of transparency and the lack of respect for non-permanent members that she witnessed many times. Those principles were sorely lacking in its activities.

Ma Zhaoxu (China), welcoming the political will of the parties to accomplish a breakthrough in the Yemen crisis, said that going forward, the Council should fully consider the views of the regional countries, respect the sovereignty of Yemen, and make use of the United Nations good offices. The international community should help meet the basic needs of the population. “We have taken the first step in a 10,000 mile journey”, he said, adding that China stood ready to support the parties in reaching a lasting solution.

Francisco Tenya (Peru) underlined the Council’s clear responsibility to help a population facing some of the worst threats in the world today. It is necessary to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the conflict in Yemen, he stressed, adding that Yemenis will need international support to overcome the challenges ahead.

François Delattre (France), remarking that the adoption through an English text must only be seen as exceptional given the importance of multilingualism in the United Nations, nevertheless said the adoption demonstrated the concern of the international community to alleviate the situation in Yemen. The Council must closely watch developments to ensure that the parties strictly abide by their commitments, and it must continue to help the population overcome its immense challenges. Upholding Council unity will be essential, he added, pledging France’s efforts to that end.

Leulseged Tadese Abebe (Ethiopia) also called the Agreement a positive step in a long journey that must be facilitated by the United Nations. At the same time, parties must continue dialogue to reach a political solution to the crisis. Ensuring a step-up in the humanitarian response is critical, he added, stressing that the Council’s unity remains essential to ending the unspeakable tragedy in Yemen.

Kamil Krzysztof Mielus (Poland), also welcoming unity in the Council, urged parties to cease all indiscriminate use of weapons in civilian areas and employ proportionality and distinction in their use of force, taking all possible measures to protect civilians and infrastructure. Violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated, he emphasized, and the peace process must continue with the participation of all important groups, including women.

Dmitry A. Polyanskiy (Russian Federation), appreciating that the Agreement is supported by the Yemeni parties, welcomed the Council’s unity exhibited on the issue. Further support to the mediation work of the Envoy is now needed.

Abdullah Ali Fadhel Al-Saadi (Yemen), speaking last, thanked all those Council members who were instrumental in the adoption of today’s resolution, as well as States of the alliance that supported his country. He expressed hope that the Council’s unity will last until an end is brought to the coup d’état that had ravaged his country, and all resolutions are implemented. He welcomed that the new resolution reaffirms the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen and the need to base a solution on previous agreements, and calls for withdrawal of Houthi militia from the ports and other necessary measures.

Right from the outset in Stockholm, he recalled, his Government had tabled proposals to alleviate the humanitarian situation but the Iran-supported Houthis remained stubborn on those points. His Government is ready to implement the complete Agreements, he stressed, adding that lasting peace is not possible until the national Government is allowed to resume its legitimate position.

The meeting began at 1:16 p.m. and ended at 2:02 p.m.

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