Yemen: progress achieved in Stockholm is potentially a breakthrough [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 14 december 2018
First of all, I would like to thank Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Martin Griffiths and Under- Secretary-General Mark Lowcock for their briefings, which provide us with a comprehensive update after the Stockholm discussions.
I would like to start by joining my voice to those of the other members of the Security Council to commend the outstanding efforts and commitment of Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, who convinced the parties to gather around the negotiating table and successfully complete the Stockholm discussions in a truly constructive spirit. Let me also enthusiastically thank the Secretary-General for his personal commitment, which really made the difference, as Mr. Griffiths said.
France welcomes the commitment of the parties, which has made it possible to achieve these initial positive results. We warmly thank the Swedish Government for hosting these talks, and all regional and international partners that supported the discussions.
The holding of these talks is in itself an important first step. Decisive progress has been made on three fronts: the exchange of 4,000 prisoners, a withdrawal of the armed forces from the port and city of Al-Hudaydah in the coming days — and a ceasefire throughout the province — and, finally, the establishment of a mechanism for de-escalation at Taiz. The agreement on Al-Hudaydah, in particular, is essential to progress on the path towards a comprehensive cessation of hostilities. Its implementation must have a positive impact on the whole country, by facilitating the humanitarian response that Mark Lowcock has just stressed as absolutely necessary.
The significant progress achieved in Stockholm is potentially a breakthrough that can mark the turning point towards the end of the Yemeni conflict. The Stockholm talks show that peace is possible in Yemen. Their full implementation requires the firm commitment of all and the unity of the Security Council in support of Martin Griffiths.
This progress should not obscure the fact that the Yemeni people are still facing an emergency humanitarian situation, which is my second point. And I would like to thank Mark Lowcock and his teams for their exemplary work and for their absolutely clear message. While Yemen is experiencing, as Mark Lowcock just pointed out, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with more than 22 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance, or nearly 75 per cent of the population, and a still very high risk of famine, the positive momentum at work in Stockholm must now be translated into reality. We call on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular with regard to the protection of civilians. We also call on them to respect human rights. France will be both active and vigilant on this subject.
The discussions also allowed progress to be made on other crucial issues, such as the reopening of Sana’a airport and the implementation of economic measures to restore the country’s economy. We hope that these discussions can continue very soon on these points, which must converge to create the momentum we are looking for. It is essential that the progress made in Stockholm quickly has a beneficial impact on the ground for the populations in order to create and maintain this impetus towards peace. We call on all States in a position to do so to continue to use their influence to help ensure that all parties comply with the guidelines that have been defined.
In this context, and this is my last point, it is more essential than ever to respond to the requests made by Mark Lowcock and Martin Griffiths. Only a political solution will be able to ensure lasting peace and put an end to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen. We therefore call for further political discussions to be held as soon as possible in order to build on the momentum generated in Stockholm without delay. In this context, we believe it is important for the Security Council to put all its weight in the balance. Our meeting today demonstrates the strong unity of the Security Council. Let us use it without delay as a lever for action in support of the ongoing efforts.
That is why we are ready to work now with the United Kingdom as penholder on an updated draft resolution, to express our support for the efforts of Martin Griffiths and the important results achieved in Stockholm, but also to respond to the humanitarian emergency by endorsing Mark Lowcock’s requests. I would like to echo what my British colleague has just said on this point. This draft resolution will mark the unity of the Council and the international community in support of United Nations humanitarian and political action. We are ready to move very quickly on the subject because, as my British colleague said, we have no time to lose. Be assured, Mr. President, of France’s full mobilization in this regard, in support of United Nations mediation and in conjunction with all interlocutors in the region.