04 December 2012Statement by Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council Open Debate on the situation in Yemen
Thank you Mr President,
First, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you and the Moroccan delegation on the assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of December and also, to warmly thank Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri and his delegation for the excellent stewardship by India of the Council in the course of a busy November. I should also like to express particular appreciation to Special Adviser Jamal Benomar for his briefing and his remarkable efforts and tireless commitment since his appointment to this position.
Much has been achieved in Yemen since the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative on the 23 November 2011. The international community’s focus, as demonstrated through the Secretary-General’s visit last month and the continued hard work of Mr Benomar, is paying dividends. The next crucial steps need to build on the reforms by the Yemeni government and ensure a permanent, lasting change which fulfils the people’s basic rights to freedom and democracy.
Yemen’s immediate challenge is to begin a transparent and inclusive National Dialogue Conference. The United Kingdom welcomes President Hadi’s 30 November announcement of the imminent start of the National Dialogue Conference, and of the allocation of seats for the participants. The challenge now is threefold:
- Firstly, to ensure that the National Dialogue begins, and begins this year;
- Secondly that it addresses all of Yemen’s key challenges;
- And thirdly, that it is representative of women, youth and all political parties. Outcomes should benefit the many not just the few. All those who want a part in shaping Yemen’s future must do so via the National Dialogue Conference.
The appointment of a new Electoral Commission and the subsequent preparations for the constitutional referendum and 2014 elections is also central to the transition process. Updating the voter list must not be delayed. There is a genuine risk of the Yemeni government not being prepared in time for a referendum next autumn. This could cause delays to full elections in early 2014. Such a scenario would have significant implications for the political transition.
President Hadi has led a successful military campaign in southern Yemen, regaining much of the country lost to Al Qaeda. Despite these successes, there is a worrying increase in attacks targeting military and political personnel. The United Kingdom condemns these cowardly acts which inevitably hurt ordinary Yemenis. Those responsible must be sought out and brought to justice.
We continue to see negative actions and hear inflammatory statements from certain individuals, who Mr Benomar called “spoilers”, who wish to derail the political transition and deny the Yemeni people what is rightfully theirs: change, stability and a prosperous future. The United Kingdom reminds those intent on disrupting peaceful transition that this Council will not hesitate to implement measures under Article 41 to ensure that transition remains on track as stated in resolution 2051. The Yemeni people demand no less.
The 2013 UN humanitarian appeal estimates that over 12 million Yemenis – around half the population – are now in acute need of assistance. It is vital that the international community enhances its support. The United Kingdom government recently launched a $56m nutrition programme and a $13m food security programme, which will support 2 million Yemenis.
In September, the Yemeni government received significant international political and financial support in the shape of both the Riyadh Donors Conference, and the Friends of Yemen Meeting held here in New York. These demonstrate that the efforts by President Hadi so far have the strong support of the international community. The United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, as Co-Chair, said in conclusion at the Friends of Yemen Ministerial in New York that the challenge now is to turn the pledges into action, to ensure rapid and effective implementation on the ground in Yemen, so that the pledges start making a difference to the Yemeni people quickly. This remains an urgent task.
In conclusion Mr President,
Let me echo what the Special Advisor has just said about how far things have moved in Yemen over the last year. We have progressed from a situation of acute division, political stalemate, daily disturbances and armed clashes, to one in which a process of dialogue and transition is now underway. There are formidable challenges remaining and the Special Advisor is right to highlight these challenges. They demand the continued close scrutiny of this Council, but these challenges should not obscure the progress that has been achieved. Yemen demonstrates the value of the Security Council engaging actively in conflict prevention and of the Council coming together in a united way in support of the effective application of the Secretary-General’s good offices. Notably through Security Council resolution 2051, which both lends strong support to the transition process and made clear the Council’s readiness to consider further measures in response to actions aimed at undermining the political transition.
Through hard work, determination and perseverance by President Hadi and his unity government, backed by the United Nations, the Friends of Yemen and the international community, a more positive future for generations of Yemenis is now within reach.
I thank you.