Yemen: Security Council’s unity is our greatest asset [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 15 April 2019
I warmly thank our four briefers for their enlightening interventions. I would also like to welcome the presence of Mr. Norbert Röttgen, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament. I would like to make three points today.
First of all, I would like to strongly reaffirm France’s support for the tireless efforts of the Special Envoy and of Lieutenant General Lollesgaard, the latter within the Redeployment Coordination Committee and as Head of the United Nations Mission in Support of the Al-Hudaydah Agreement. We must stress that only a political solution can put an end to the conflict in Yemen. We are sending that message to all our interlocutors, including regional interlocutors.
The Special Envoy has told us, and we share his analysis, that the window of opportunity to put an end to the conflict is still open and must urgently be taken advantage of by the parties. We also support the proposals submitted to the Yemeni Government and the Houthis to facilitate the implementation of the Al-Hudaydah agreement. We call on both parties to respect their commitments and start redeployment operations without delay or seeking to exploit any redeployments that may be carried out by the other party. Achieving results in Al-Hudaydah must indeed enable us to recreate a virtuous cycle for a political solution and forge bonds of trust between the parties, which is an absolute must. The military solution is less of an option than ever.
Secondly, we remain very concerned about the situation on the ground. The relative holding of the ceasefire in Al-Hudaydah is a positive development, which should be welcomed. Nonetheless, the intensity of hostilities has increased throughout the rest of the country and the humanitarian situation remains extremely worrisome. The parties must therefore maintain their commitment to the Special Envoy and General Lollesgaard and play a responsible and constructive role in order to avoid jeopardizing the process. Against that backdrop , the role played by the United Nations Mission in Support of the Al-Hudaydah Agreement, deployed in January, and the strengthening of the United Nations presence on the ground are essential. It is important that the remaining observers provided for in the Mission’s mandate be able to arrive as soon as possible. We expect the parties, in accordance with their commitments, to ensure the security and free movement of United Nations personnel.
The parties must also do everything necessary to ensure that humanitarian actors can work safely and have the required access. Bureaucratic impediments, threats, harassment, arrests and defamation campaigns, in particular in Sana’a, must stop. Infrastructure — especially hospitals, which have been damaged by hostilities in Taiz and Saada — and schools, where children are particularly vulnerable, must also be protected.
I would like to draw the Council’s attention in particular to the situation of children in Yemen. Children are among the first victims of the conflict and are widely recruited and used. The Secretary-General’s next report on that subject should shed light on that unacceptable situation. In Yemen, as in other conflict situations, every effort must be made to put an end to serious violations against children in particular.
After the hope created by the Stockholm agreements, the impact on the people of a further failure of the political process would be catastrophic and would push us into unknown territory. It is therefore urgent to make progress in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement in order to create the necessary confidence to resume discussions with a view to a comprehensive political agreement. But the political process cannot be conditioned on the implementation of the Al-Hudaydah agreement alone; the two processes must move forward in parallel in order to fuel genuine momentum. Resuming the discussions on a comprehensive and inclusive political agreement that takes into account the diversity of Yemen’s political and civil society actors is the only real prospect for putting an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people. The Special Envoy’s attention to the role of Yemeni women is essential in that regard. Strengthening women’s participation in peace discussions, in Yemen as it is elsewhere, is an essential condition for success.
The Council, after unanimously adopting resolutions 2451 (2018) and 2452 (2018), must at all costs avoid the trap of letting the hope generated in Stockholm die. We simply cannot allow it. Our collective efforts are needed now more than ever, and the Council’s unity on the arduous path towards peace in Yemen is our greatest asset. That is not the case, as we know, in all crises, to put it diplomatically. Therefore, let us leverage that unity in order to put the full weight of the Security Council behind seeking a political solution, which today, despite the magnitude of the challenges, is within our grasp.