In the dying days of 2018, our campaign for peace in Yemen took two important steps forward.
At the start of December, Stockholm hosted peace talks between the warring factions. These were the first peace talks in years, and resulted in an agreement for a ceasefire around the vital port city of Hodeidah. And just before Christmas, following Stockholm, the UK successfully tabled a new resolution on Yemen at the United Nations Security Council, resulting in the new Resolution 2451.
Throughout our Power of Your Pen campaign, we’ve been calling on the UK Government to make greater use of its position as the ‘penholder’ on Yemen at the Security Council. We have been asking them to table a new resolution to help forge a pathway to a political solution to the conflict, and deliver peace for Yemen’s children.
The agreement, and the accompanying resolution, offers an important glimmer of hope that there may be a way to bring an end to the conflict.
A NEW RESOLUTION ON YEMEN
The new resolution is a significant step towards peace in Yemen.
Resolution 2451 was written to support the peace talks that kicked off in Stockholm earlier in the month, and to put UN resources behind making the Stockholm Agreement a reality on the ground.
It does five important things:
- The resolution formally endorses the ongoing peace talks and the Stockholm Agreement
- It calls for the UN to support the ceasefire in Hodeidah by bringing in UN monitors to ensure the deal is held to by all sides.
- It calls on all sides of the conflict to support, without preconditions, the work of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, including on stabilising the Yemeni economy and on reopening Sana’a airport to commercial traffic.
- It tasks the UN with playing a leading role in managing and inspecting all Red Sea ports, including Hodeidah, Ras Issa, and Salif.
- It also endorsed the importance of involving women, and ensuring meaningful engagement of young people, in the peace process.
These are all important steps and reflects several of Save the Children’s main campaign calls and should be contained in any new Security Council product.
This is not to say the resolution is perfect.
There are some important shortcomings that still need to be addressed:
- The language used in the resolution is not strong enough in compelling parties to the conflict to comply with International Humanitarian Law. The language used in the final version was significantly weaker than had been seen in earlier drafts of the resolution. Text underlining the need for transparent, credible and timely investigations into violations and for those responsible to be held accountable was missing, significantly weakening calls for abiding by international laws and accountability for perpetrators.
- There were also virtually no references to investigating violations of international law committed in Yemen, or for those who have committed those crimes to be held accountable.
SO WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Of course, even though the resolution has been passed, this doesn’t mean the campaign is over.
The new resolution is a hopeful start to securing peace, but we need to see the UK continue lead the way on Yemen and use its powers at the Security Council to turn political promises into reality on the ground.
Now, implementation of the agreement, and addressing the humanitarian crisis, are the two core imperatives going forward.
WHAT SHOULD THE UK GOVERNMENT DO NOW?
The UK must continue to use its powers at the UN to:
- Ensure implementation of the Stockholm Agreement. This includes sustained pressure on parties to implement all aspects of the peace agreement, and support to the UN to conduct their role in monitoring and facilitation of the agreement;
- Call on parties to engage constructively in the ongoing peace process, and to work with the UN Special Envoy in good faith, without preconditions;
- Ensure parties to the conflict take tangible steps to address the country’s humanitarian crisis, including supporting the work of the UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock, and delivering his five recommendations to prevent famine;
- Ensure humanitarian access so that aid and commercial goods, including food, medicine, and fuel, gets into and across the country, to everyone that needs them.
- Demand that all parties abide by their obligations under international law, including the protection of children and civilians more broadly. Where there are alleged violations of international law, call for independent investigations and ensure anyone found guilty are held accountable for their crimes.