Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Yemen

Dec 4, 2012

(Security Council: Statement of Ambassador Wittig as delivered in a meeting on the situation in Yemen)

"Thank you Mr. President, and many thanks to Mr. Benomar for your briefing.

This will probably be my last statement on the situation in Yemen, as my country’s Council membership comes to an end soon. Allow me to thus use this opportunity to begin with three more general observations: 

First, when peaceful demonstrations in Sanaa were met with violence in early 2011, my delegation was among those calling early on for appropriate Council action. Not all shared this sense of urgency. But in hindsight, there is no doubt that this was the right thing to do. By addressing the situation on the ground we made clear that the international community was watching. This also shows that early action by this Council can help preventing conflict from escalating further. The "horizon scanning" briefings provided by the Department of Political Affairs proved instrumental in this regard.

Second, this Council in October last year unanimously endorsed the transition plan of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which paved the way towards a democratic transition process. It is no secret that agreement among Council members was not easily reached. Some saw this as undue interference in internal matters. But again, it was the right thing to do. I am convinced that it was the Council’s united endorsement of the GCC transition plan that made the difference on the ground. Sadly, this contrasts starkly with the situation in Syria, where consensus in the Council on effective measures continues to elude us.

Third, Mr. President, what this Council says and what it does matters to the people in Yemen, and it is registered by those eager to turn back the hands of time. This is why my delegation co-sponsored Resolution 2051 of last June. In this resolution, the Council not only expressed its full support for the transition process under the leadership of President Hadi. We have also warned potential spoilers of the consequences they would face. The Council must remain closely engaged with the situation in Yemen. If necessary, it will have to take appropriate action.

Mr. President,

That we can acknowledge here today the progress achieved, is the accomplishment first and foremost of the Yemeni people -  especially the youth. They have stood up for freedom, democracy and dignity. It was their struggle that also found recognition in the Nobel Peace Price awarded to Ms. Tawakkul Karman.

We must ensure that these legitimate demands of the Yemeni people are met. The progress achieved thus far is by no means irreversible. We have already seen numerous attempts by the old guard in the political and security apparatus to resist change, or even highjack the process.

Yemen’s transition will thus require continued international support from the Security Council and beyond.

The United Nations play a pivotal role. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Special Adviser Jamal Benomar deserve our support. Their efforts were also recognized by the Government and the people of Yemen during their recent visit to Sanaa.

At the Friends of Yemen meeting in September here in New York, the international community has also underlined its commitment to supporting the Yemeni people on their path to democracy.  

Mr. President, 

A meaningful, fully-inclusive and balanced National Dialogue is a key element for the success of Yemen’s transition. Progress is urgently needed. We welcome that the Preparation Committee, with the support of  Mr. Benomar and his team, has agreed last week on the remaining outstanding issues. We encourage all relevant actors to engage constructively so that the National Dialogue Conference can start without further delay.

My country will continue to support these efforts on the ground.  

In closing, Mr. President, I want to highlight the important visit by the Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, Mr. Leila Zerrougoui, to Sanaa last week. The fight against the recruitment of child soldiers has been a long-standing concern for my government, also during our tenure here in the Council. We welcome the commitment made by President Hadi to ban the recruitment of children into the regular armed forces. And we call on all other armed groups to do likewise, as also called for in Security Council Resolution 2051.

And finally, let me assure the Yemeni people and my colleague, Ambassador Jamal Abdullah Al- Sallal, that my country will remain a reliable partner for Yemen also after December 31.

Thank you."

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