Security Council Briefing: Yemen

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 11 September 2018

Thank you very much, Madame President.

First, let me thank Special Envoy Martin Griffiths for his realistic to us today. And for his persistence and resilience.

Madame President, I will address three issues today:

  • Firstly, the political process;
  • Secondly, the effects of the conflict on the civilian population; and
  • Thirdly, the humanitarian situation.

1. The political process

My first point: the political process. We share Mr. Griffiths’ disappointment that one party did not make it to the highly anticipated consultations in Geneva last weekend.

However, the beginning of these kind of consultations is never easy. Especially not as this follows two years of growing distrust between the parties since the last negotiations took place in Kuwait.

Confidence has to be rebuilt one step at a time, and we commend the Envoy’s efforts in making this happen. Confidence building measures as proposed and discussed in Geneva are focused on the most crucial of issues that we face in Yemen: the wellbeing of ordinary Yemeni citizens. Issues like resuming medical flights out of Sana’a airport, issues like addressing Yemen’s failing economy.

We strongly support this approach. We call on the parties to show good faith at this critical juncture. We should engage with the Envoy by taking meaningful steps to achieve them.

This weekend’s minor setback can and must be overcome. It should not be used to justify escalation on the battlefield. A sustainable peaceful political solution is the only way forward.

Unfortunately, already we have seen an increase in clashes in Hodeidah as well as enhanced tensions in Aden. We call on all sides to demonstrate their commitment to peace. They should show restraint, they should de-escalate and they should engage without preconditions with the UN facilitated process.

Let me take this opportunity also to express our particular appreciation for the Envoy’s efforts in strengthening female participation in this process, as he just elaborated on.

2. The effects of the conflict on the civilian population

Madame president, my second point: the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Last time the Council met in consultations, we discussed the concerning spike in civilian casualties as hostilities increased.

Since then we have witnessed more violations of International Humanitarian Law. These violations include an attack on a WFP food truck, an airstrike in al-Duraihimi, and the injuring of civilians as a result of a shot down Houthi missile. We condemn these practices.

As a Council, we must continue to send a clear signal that all parties must comply with international humanitarian law and should address its violations.

Accountability must continue to feature high on our agenda, also to sustain a future political agreement.

3. The humanitarian situation

Madame president, my third point: the humanitarian situation. The concerns raised by the Special Envoy about the devastating humanitarian impact of any further escalation in Hodeidah and Aden are as prominent as they’ve ever been. And this Council has expressed itself several times on this.

In line with the Presidential Statement of March, we continue to insist on the full and sustained opening of the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, as well as the unimpeded distribution of supplies throughout the country. This includes access for ships carrying containers and fuel, as facilitated by UNVIM.

Conclusion

Madame president, in conclusion: reinvigoration of the political process and bringing it to a successful resolution will likely be a long process. The first steps have now been taken.

In order to keep the process moving all parties need to take their responsibility. They need to move beyond words and show their commitment by taking concrete steps to restore confidence. 

We will stay closely engaged as your work, Mr. Griffiths,  progresses. Let me express the hope that this Council will stay united in supporting you in finding a peaceful, political and sustainable solution in the interest of the people of Yemen.

Thank you, Madame President.

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