It seems that this afternoon (Wednesday, 19 October) Council members will begin discussing at expert level a draft resolution on Yemen. The draft text was circulated by the UK yesterday to all 15 Council members. Apparently the P5 have had initial discussions on the draft which was circulated among them late last week. It appears that following further negotiations at permanent representative level later this week, the draft resolution may be put to a vote early next week.
The draft resolution apparently condemns the continued human rights violations by the Yemeni authorities, including the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors and urges the opposition movement to refrain from violence. It also stresses that those responsible for such violations should be held accountable.
A key focus in the draft is likely to be the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative. In its 24 September press statement Council members urged all parties to commit to this initiative. (The GCC initiative calls for a peaceful transition of power from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Yemeni Vice President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, during the transition period in the lead up to elections. The initiative also apparently provides immunity to Saleh and his family.) it appears that the draft resolution reaffirms the importance of all parties, including Saleh, signing and implementing the initiative and calls for a political settlement based upon this initiative.
Other areas that are likely to be covered in the draft are the Council’s concern over Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and its determination to address the threat as well as the need for humanitarian assistance.
There have been increasing calls for a stronger UN role and for the Council and GCC to take action both from opposition figures and from army personnel who have defected recently and reportedly joined the ranks of General Ali Mohsen, (who had defected in March this year). Yesterday Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakul Karman, led a demonstration in New York outside the UN headquarters calling for action against Saleh while rejecting any immunity for him.
Council members last discussed Yemen on 11 October following a briefing by Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser on Yemen. Benomar, who was in Yemen from 19 September to 3 October, expressed grave concern at the human rights violations allegedly committed by both government and opposition supporters. He also noted that the sudden return of Saleh from Saudi Arabia, following medical treatment, made reaching an agreement on a political transition more complicated. In his briefing, Benomar also highlighted the worsening security situation in Yemen, indicating that the government’s preoccupation with domestic political pressure has greatly benefited Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The P5 appear to have come to an understanding that the Council needs to send a signal on the situation in Yemen. However Council members seem to be aware that they need to exercise caution in using language related to the transition of power and on immunity issues.
The draft text circulated yesterday is apparently acceptable to all the P5 members. While it remains to be seen if there will be any strong opposition from the elected members, most Council members do not seem to be anticipating any major disagreements.