UNSC issues Presidential Statement on Yemen

The United Nations Security Council released a presidential statement today regarding the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The statement expresses concern about the humanitarian impact of the conflict, highlighting the cholera epidemic and the risk of famine. It calls on all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between civilians and combatants in selecting targets, of allowing unhindered access for the distribution of humanitarian aid, and of ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers.

The statement also reiterates support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, with whom the Houthi-GPC authorities recently declared they would not work. In a veiled criticism of both sides’ intransigence, the Council calls on “all parties to engage in peace talks in a flexible and constructive manner without preconditions, and in good faith.”  The statement includes a strong condemnation of a recent attack on Ahmed’s convoy in San’a and calls on the Houthis and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh to investigate the incident. It implores the parties to the conflict to engage with Ahmed both on proposals to increase shipments through Red Sea ports and on negotiations toward a comprehensive political solution to the conflict.

The statement also urged the parties to keep the al-Hudaydah port functioning, stressed the importance of “navigational rights and freedoms in and around Bab al-Mandeb strait.” Specifically, it calls on the parties to “engage constructively with the Special Envoy’s latest proposals for increasing commercial and humanitarian shipments through Red Sea ports including new arrangements for the management of Hodeida port and city.” These “new arrangements” proposed by the envoy would see the Houthi-Saleh forces surrender control of Hudaydah. The proposal does not require any capitulations from the Hadi government or the Saudi-led coalition. The statement also explicitly calls on the Houthis and supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh to refrain from striking Saudi Arabia. It expresses concern about the presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State (IS) in Yemen. It also reaffirms the Security Council’s “strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen,” possibly in reference to the southern secessionist movement as well as the Houthis, and urges full funding for the United Nations 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen.

Although the statement explicitly mentions the Houthis, supporters of Ali Abdullah Saleh, AQAP, and IS, it did not implicate Saudi Arabia, the legitimate government of Yemen, or other government allies by name for their roles in the conflict and humanitarian crisis.