Today morning (Tuesday, 24 February), the Security Council will adopt a resolution that extends the Yemen assets freeze and travel ban sanctions measures until 26 February 2016. The new resolution also extends the mandate of the Panel of Experts responsible for assisting the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee until 25 March 2016. Expert level negotiations were held on Wednesday 18 January. The UK circulated a revised draft the following day, and it was put in blue on Friday.
Negotiations appear to have gone smoothly. The UK, as penholder, decided to delink the draft resolution from the political situation by removing from the text issues regarding the political process. This apparently was done in order to avoid a more complicated negotiation with Russia and to ensure the renewal of the sanctions by 26 February when they are due to expire since the Council has had difficulties agreeing on how to refer to Yemen’s current crisis, in particular to the Houthis. A further consideration may have been the adoption of resolution 2201 on 15 February in response to the political crisis which addresses the political context. The draft resolution, therefore, is considerably shorter than last year’s resolution 2140 that established the sanctions and does not include any significant changes to the sanctions regime.
During negotiations, a proposal by Lithuania on the threat posed by illicit weapons in the country was incorporated and new language was added to reflect the critical role that regional states play in ensuring the sanctions’ effective implementation. Members have often noted that regional states are where most of the foreign financial assets to be frozen are kept, and the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee over the past has held meetings with the participation of Gulf Cooperation Council states.
In renewing the sanctions, the resolution reaffirms the measures in paragraphs 11 and 15 of resolution 2140 (the assets freeze and travel ban respectively), and also reaffirms that these shall be applied to individuals or entities that the 2140 Committee designates as engaging in or supporting acts that threaten Yemen’s peace, security or stability.
In renewing the Panel of Experts’ mandate, the draft requests the Secretary-General “to re-establish” the panel. During the negotiations some members questioned the necessity for such a formulation. It seems the intention may have been to signal an intention to name new members to the Panel amidst criticism over its performance during the past year. For example, both the Panel’s mid-term and final reports were criticised for not including recommendations on specific individuals that the committee could consider for designations. The new resolution requests that the panel provide the Committee a mid-term report by 24 September 2015 and a final report to the Council by 24 February 2016. It also repeats the Council’s request from resolution 2201 for the Secretary-General to propose options for strengthening the office of the Special Adviser in order to fulfill his mandate.
The situation in Yemen continues to evolve. On 19 February, Yemeni parties agreed during continuing UN-mediated talks on the formation of a new legislature that would retain the existing parliament while establishing a separate body called a “people’s transitional council.” The latter would be comprised of groups underrepresented in the current parliament, including youth, women and southerners.
On Saturday, 21 February, President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi was reported to have escaped from house arrest to Aden. From Aden, Hadi issued a statement denouncing the Houthis’ actions as illegitimate, calling for the international community “to reject the coup and demanding the release of government officials still under house arrest. He also called for the resumption of negotiations in either Taiz or Aden, cities that are outside of the Houthis’ control. Despite having submitted his resignation on 22 January, Hadi signed the statement as the “president of Yemen”. This has led to speculation that an alternative government could be established in Aden with the Houthis remaining in control of the capital Sana’a. The next briefing to the Council by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar, is expected in early March.