Map of Yemen (courtesy of Wiki Commons)
In 1990, North and South Yemen united as The Republic of Yemen under President Ali Abdullah Saleh. However, tensions built up until 2011 when the Arab Spring uprising sparked mass protests calling for the end to corruption and human rights violations (Amnesty, 2015). Saleh, President of 33 years was forced to hand over power to his deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi who, as the only candidate, was elected president in 2012. However due to government corruption, loyalties to Saleh, and Al Qaeda attacks, the hope to restore stability did not last. The anti-government Houthi rebel movement led by the Zaidi Shia Muslim minority rose up and took control of the northern Saada province, backed by Iran. The Houthi took over the capital Sanaa in 2014, backed by Saleh supporters, forcing President Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia in 2015. A Saudi-led coalition then began, made up of 10 mainly Arab states who launched an air campaign, backed by the US, UK and France, aimed at restoring Hadi’s government (BBC, 2018).
In December, 2017 Saleh was killed in an attack on his convoy when fleeing the capital. While President Hadi remains in exile, his troops have successfully stopped Houthi rebels gaining control of Aden, although they control territory in most of West Yemen, and have control of the southern city Taiz where they fire missiles and mortars at Saudi Arabia (BBC, 2018). In retaliation, Saudi Arabia has increased its blockade on Yemen, who imports more than 90% of its food supplies (GCR2P, 2018). Meanwhile, ISIL and Al Qaeda have taken advantage of the countries instability and launched attacks in the south. Armed conflict continues, with all parties committing war crimes and other violations of international law. The Saudi-led coalition has bombed civilians indiscriminately, as have the Houthi, in Taiz and Saudi Arabia (Amnesty, 2018).
The implications of the current situation of Yemen indicates that around 8.4 million individuals are at risk of famine, with circa 22.2 million individuals in need of humanitarian assistance – of these 22.2 million, there are at least 2 million people that have been forcibly displaced (UNHCR, 2018).
The UN’s consultations that were scheduled for September 2018 failed and led to the escalation of fighting on the outskirts of Houthi-held city of Hodeida which increased the risk of conflict worsening in October 2018 (Crisis Group, 2018).
At the individual level
Civilians are bearing the brunt of the crisis, with 22.2 Yemenis now in need of humanitarian assistance (UNHCR, 2018). As of December 2017, 2,014,026 people had been internally displaced by the crisis (UNHCR, 2017), on top of the 190,352 people that have fled to other countries (UNHCR, 2017). The UN Secretary-General’s annual report 2018 on children and armed conflict documented that there were 552 known children killed in Yemen in 2017, whilst also highlighting that the Saudi/UAE coalition were responsible for killing and wounding at least 670 children, while the Houthis were responsible for 324 casualties (UN,2018). Almost 2,500 child soldiers have been recruited in Yemen since 2015 (UNICEF, 2018).
The UN documented the deaths of 502 children due to armed conflict in Yemen in 2016, and 517 cases of recruitment of child soldiers (UN, 2016). 5.4 million people are in need of shelter or core relief items (UNHCR, 2018), and a cholera outbreak in 2017 put people at risk (UNHCR, 2017). International aid workers themselves have also fallen victim to the crisis, with a Medecin Sans Frontieres hospital targeted in August 2016, killing 19 people (HRW, 2018).
At the state level
Indiscriminate attacks from all parties have taken place in Yemen, including ballistic missiles and explosive munitions such as mortars and artillery shells (Amnesty, 2018). These attacks have destroyed residential areas and civilian infrastructure (for instance 1,600 schools have been damaged because of conflict (UNHCR, 2017)), and has weakened the economy (UN, 2018). ISIL has also targeted Shia mosques (GCR2P, 2018).
Additionally, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Yemen, limiting the imports of petrol and food via air, sea and land. As a consequence, petrol prices have quadrupled in some areas, in some parts of Aden water has been cut off completely, and much of the population is at risk of famine (Oxfam, 2018). The pressure on the state is exacerbated by the fact that Yemen has welcomed a large number of refugees fleeing conflicts in the horn of Africa. As of Febuary 2018 Yemen was welcoming 280, 692 refugees (UNHCR, 2018).
At the regional level
The crisis has been a source of instability in the region. 190,352 forcibly displaced people have fled to neighbouring countries, including Oman (51,000), Somalia (40,044), Saudi Arabia (39,880) and Djibouti (37,428) (UNHCR, 2018). Tensions have increased as a result of the crisis between the two major powers of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran. While Saudi Arabia has performed airstrikes to back the Hadi government, Iran has been accused of backing the Houthi rebels, and supplying them with the ballistic missiles which were fired at Saudi territory (BBC, 2017). Additionally, the instability within the region has given way to increased attacks by Al Qaeda and ISIL, who have taken advantage of the conflict to gain territory.
At the global level
The situation in Yemen once again challenges the international community which has failed to resolve the crisis over the past 3 years, hence undermining the legitimacy of key global institutions like the UN. Although the UN has attempted to negotiate three organised peace deals, all of them have failed (BBC, 2018).
Since the beginning of the conflict, “all parties committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law with absolute impunity” (Amnesty, 2018). 58 unlawful airstrikes and 16 banned cluster munition attacks have been documented by Humans Rights Watch since the beginning of the campaign (HRW, 2018). This is particularly problematic for the international community, since countries like the US have backed, and supplied weapons to this coalition. Although there has been a UN arms embargo (2015), the UN has failed to enforce it.
The crisis in Yemen also constitutes a threat to international peace and security as the regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia risks exacerbating after Iran allegedly backed the Houthi rebels (BBC, 2018). The gaining territory of ISIL and Al-Qaeda in Yemen also constitutes a serious concern for the international community.
What has the international community done about it?
The United Nations
Since the 2011 uprisings, the UN has been engaged with Yemen to find a peaceful solution, through the Secretary-General (United Nations Department of Political Affairs 2017). The UN Security Council established an arms embargo in 2014 and later reiterated it in 2015, declaring that all Member States shall immediately take measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment to Yemen (United Nations Security Council 2015). These sanctions remain in place, and were most recently renewed on 26 Feb 2018 (UNSC 2018).
The European Union
The European Union strongly emphasises that there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen (Europen External Action Service, 2017). It therefore highlights the importance of political negotiation and cooperation between all parties involved in the crisis (European External Action Service, 2017). The European Union has made considerable financial contributions to those affected by the conflict. In 2017, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, pledged €116 million of EU support for Yemen (European External Action Service, 2017).
Key declarations by the United Nations
United Nations Security Council. 2018. “Security Council Press Statement on United Nations Consultations with Yemeni Parties”. September 2018. Accessed November 1, 2018.
A press release issued by Council President Nikki R. Haley (United States), expressing support for the upcoming Geneva consultations, and reiterating the need for a political solution to the Yemeni crisis. Representatives from the United Nations will lead consultations with Yemeni parties, seeking to “de-escalate tensions”. The statement calls on all parties to support the consultations, and on the participants to “seize this opportunity” to take meaningful steps towards a solution.
United Nations Security Council. 2018. “Security Council meeting: the situation in the Middle East” United Nations Security Council. September 2018. Accessed November 1, 2018.
A briefing on the humanitarian situation in Yemen by Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs Mark Lowcock. The briefing outlines the deteriorating situation in Yemen, highlighting the impacts of food insecurity and the cholera outbreak. Lowcock also commends the humanitarian relief efforts of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the United States and “many European countries”, which between them have pledged over US$2.6 billion for the relief effort. However, two key issues are raised: first, the depreciation of the Yemeni rial, and its impact on access to food and fuel for insecure populations who are not reached by humanitarian aid. Second, the conflict occurring around the port of Al-Hudaydah which is restricting the movement of essential imports such as food aid and fuel.
United Nations Security Council. 2018. “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: draft resolution.” United Nations Security Council. February 26. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This Security Council report reaffirms its strong commitment to the ‘unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen’. The Security Council expressed their concern at the continuous political, security, economic and humanitarian challenges in Yemen. They urge all Yemeni parties to resolve their differences through internal political dialogue and halt violence, according to international human rights law.They also expressed serious concern for the areas of Yemen under the control of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) due to their violent extremist ideological and debilitating actions for the stability of Yemen.
High Commissioner for Human Rights. 2018. “Yemen: Civilians at mercy of sniping, shelling and airstrikes – Zeid .” United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner. February 12. Accessed March 14, 2018.
This report outlines the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, disdain for the constant and continuing civilian casualties in Yemen. Zeid portrayed specific concern about the upsurge in fighting in the south-western Governorate of Taizz. Houthi and other forces from all sides, including the Saudi-led Coalition, are carrying out sniper attacks and indiscriminate shelling on civilians. Zeid notes the killings of three children and a field monitor for the Yemen National Commission of Inquiry, in Usayfrah, in Al Qahirah district in Taizz by Houthi shells. Recent increased armed clashes have arose in Taizz between Houthi-affiliated forces and those loyal to President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi. In the first week of February alone the UN Human RIghts Office announced 27 civilian kills and 76 injured in Yemen.
UN rights experts. 2018. “Death sentence of Bahá’í follower in Yemen must be quashed – UN rights experts.” United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner. January 25. Accessed March 14, 2018.
This report announces UN human rights experts, Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Ms. Agnes Callamard, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Mr. Fernand de Varennes RP, Doyen, and Mr. Ahmed Shaheed’s proclamation for the authorities in Sana’a to annul the arbitrary detention and death sentence of Hamid Kamali bin Haydara, because he is a supporter of Baha’i. The experts argue that the persecution of the Baha’i’is by the Yemeni Government cannot continue as it opposes basic fairness. “Right to life, and freedom of conscience, thought, religion or belief cannot be taken away from people, regardless of the circumstances”.
United Nations Secretary-General. 2018. “Statement by the Secretary-General on Yemen.” United Nations. 25 January 18. Accessed March 13, 2018.
This is a statement by the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, where he announced as part of the Coalition’s wider plan to facilitate humanitarian action, five tankers carrying 180,000 litres of fuel have reached Marib on the 24th of January. Gueterres claimed the fuel will be delivered to health facilities and water stations for live-saving services. The 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP) seeks $2.96 billion to assist 13.1 million people in Yemen, and has committed to increase humanitarian fuel deliveries to 1 million litres per week. This is with help of the $1 billion pledge by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to support humanitarian action in Yemen.
Special Envoy of the SecGen for Yemen. 2017. “Note to correspondents: The Special Envoy for Yemen calls for halting violence acts and supporting efforts to resume the political process.” United Nations Secretary-General. December 20. Accessed March 19, 2018.
This report outlines the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemens’ concern about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen of violence against civilians. Following international Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, the special envoy urges all participants to suspend their acts of violence that are aggravating the conflict, for instance in the ballistic missile attack on the city of Riyadh. They welcome the decision of the Arab Alliance to deliver humanitarian assistance in the port of Hodeidah. They also reiterated that the crisis in Yemen will no be solved by military intervention, but through a Yemeni-owned (not foreign intervened) political process with the help of the UN.
Dujarric, Stephane. 2017. “Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Yemen.” United Nations Secretary-General. December 3. Accessed March 19, 2018.
This is a statement by the Secretary-General’s Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, who expresses the SecGens deep concern about escalating armed clashes and airstrikes in Sana’a recently. The conflict has resulted in hundreds of injuries of civilians and has restricted the movement of people and life-saving services, as ambulances, aid workers and food necessities cannot access the vulnerable. Yemen is now caught up in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, and recent outbreaks of violence are fueling conflict and blockade has caused shortages of critical supplies and safe water, sso millions remain at risk of hunger, disease and death.
United Nations Human Rights Office. 2017. “Yemen: An “entirely man-made catastrophe” – UN human rights report urges international investigation.” United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner. September 5. Accessed March 14, 2018.
This UN Human rights report urges international investigation into the continual human rights violations and abuses in Yemen, following violations of international humanitarian law. Between March 2015 and 30 August, the UN Human Rights Office recorded over 5,000 deaths, and nearly 9,000 injured. The Saudi-led Coalition is the leading cause of child and civilian casualties. Airstrikes have hit markets, hospitals, schools, residential areas, public and private infrastructure. Committees affiliated with the Houthis and the army units loyal to the former President Abdullah Saleh were responsible for 67% of the the recruitment of children for use in armed hostilities. The humanitarian crises has grown so large in Yemen that nearly 18.8 million people are now in need of humanitarian aid and 7.3 million are on the brink of famine, because of a myriad of indiscriminate attacks, sieges and blockades.
Guterres, António. 2017. “Closing remarks to the high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.” United Nations Secretary-General. April 25. Accessed March 19, 2018.
Here Antonio Guterres announces that of the 2.1 billion dollars needed for support, more than half has been reached to help the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Gueterres predicted the full implementation of the programme later on as he expects member states and NGOs to pledge the full amount necessary. Gueterres also thanks the contributions from the World Bank who have helped Yemen through grants, cash interventions, and new innovative facilities for allowing the private sector to do food imports. Guetterres states that access is the key for success in Yemen, for humanitarian actors/aid.
UN News. 2016. “UN strongly condemns attack in Yemen that killed over a hundred people.” UN News. October 9. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This news article conveys Senior United Nations officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, condemnation of an airstrike attack by the Coalition, that killed more than 140 people and injured over 500 more, in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital. The Secretary-General acclaims that any attack on civilians is unacceptable and requires investigation to bring those responsible to justice. He once again urges all parties in Yemen to abide by international humanitarian law including proportionality, distinction and precaution. Four out of Five Yemeni people are in immediate need of assistance, according to the UN Office for Coordination of HUmanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Stephen O’Brien, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that the horrendous chemical attacks displayed an utter disregard for human life.
Raji, Charbel. 2016. “United Nations Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed Welcomes the Start of the Cessation of Hostilities in Yemen.” Ogesgy: Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen. April 11. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This statement announces the United Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed welcome of the start of cessation of hostilities. He urges all parties to ensure the cessation of hostilities is respect to create a conducive environment for the peace talks scheduled to resume in Kuwait on 18 April. The Envoy announced that both sides were committed to adhere to the terms for the cessation of hostilities which he presented, including the commitment for the unhindered access for humanitarian supplied and personnel to all of Yemen.
United Nations Secretary-General. 2015. ” Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Yemen.” United Nations Secretary-General. March 26. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This report notes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s announcement that, at the request of the Yemeni Government, specifically President Abd Rabbuh, it began military operations in Yemen, to secure the return of the Government.
United Nations Security Council. 2015. “Resolution 2216 (2015) Adopted by the Security Council at its 7426th meeting, on 14 April 2015.” United Nations Security Council. April 14. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This Security Council report reiterates the arms embargo of 2014, declaring that all Member States shall immediately take measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Yemen, including weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment. The Security Council condemns growing number of attacks by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The AQAP criminal and unjustifiable acts of terror benefit from the deterioration of the political and security situation in Yemen.
United Nations Security Council. 2014. “Resolution 2140 (2014) Adopted by the Security Council at its 7119th meeting, on 26 February 2014 .” United Nations Security Council. February 26. Accessed March 20, 2018.
This Security Council Resolution reaffirms its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen. It condemns the engagement of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in assisting the political transition in Yemen, and welcomes the comprehensive National Dialogue Conference signed by all political parties for a democratic transition.The Security Council announces its Sanctions Committee for Member States to monitor the implementation of the Travel Ban in Yemen and freeze all funds, financial assets and economic resources in outlined territories in Yemen.
Key declarations by the European Union and EU member states
European External Action Service. 2018. “EU Protects World Heritage in Yemen”. Accessed 1 November 2018.
This press release announces a pledge of €10 million by the European Union to address the lack of opportunities for Yemeni youth in urban areas, whilst preserving UNESCO world heritage cities. EU Head of Delegation, Ambassador Antonia Calvo Puerta describes the initiative as “a very important element of EU efforts in Yemen”. The project aims to provide income to young people through projects such as urban regeneration and the restoration of areas that have been damaged in conflict. The project, in partnership with UNESCO, aims to reduce “exposure and vulnerability to shocks and disasters” of vulnerable populations, including women and young people.
European Union declarations on Yemen
European External Action Service. 2017. “Rethinking Yemen’s Economy- A Track Two Initiative”. Accessed 12th March 2018.
In this press release, the European Union Yemen Delegation as well as the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Yemen announce the launch of an initiative designed to identify the major economic and developmental priorities in Yemen. The aim of this initiative is to engage Yemeni development leaders involved in the private sector and economic experts in order to identify Yemen’s main economic priorities during and following the conflict.
European External Action Service. 2017. “Council Adopts Conclusions on Yemen”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
In this statement, the EU clearly lays out its conclusions on how to tackle the situation in Yemen. It condemns the violations of the rights of children, such as the recruitment of child soldiers. It also highlights the importance that parties involved in the conflict take resolute action against terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. It also details that there is no military solution to the conflict and stresses the importance of the negotiation process involving all parties. The EU also calls for all parties in Yemen to respect the international human rights law and to refrain from attacking civilians. Finally, the EU states that it will increase its efforts to support the actions of the UN in order to produce a political settlement to the crisis.
European External Action Service. 2017. “Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the situation in Yemen”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
In this statement Federica Mogherini condemns the missile which was launched by the Yemeni Ansar Allah at the Saudi capital Riyadh. The statement describes how 136 civilians have been killed in Yemen in 10 days, constituting a “dire humanitarian situation”. The European Union therefore calls for all parties involved in the conflict to cooperate with the United Nations in order to resume peace talks.
European External Action Service. 2017. “High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
The document recalls the speech of Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, at a pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen at the UN in Geneva. Stylianides emphasises the extent of children suffering in Yemen, with over 2.2 million children acutely malnourished. He brands the crisis as at a “critical moment”. He therefore pledged €116 million of EU support for Yemen. This includes €46 million which will be used for urgent humanitarian aid as well as €70 million in order to support resilience.
European External Action Service. 2016. “Head of EU Delegation to Yemen Antonia Calvo Puerta: Yemen needs peace now.” Accessed 15th March 2018.
This document discusses how women are those who are suffering the most due to the conflict in Yemen: “gender equality and inclusion have become a luxury that Yemen cannot afford anymore”. The document stresses the importance of empowering women and ensuring gender equality in Yemen. It also highlights that the EU does not believe in a military solution to the crisis in Yemen but rather there should be political agreements which focus on the rights of women which can contribute to enhancing post-conflict recovery. The EU also calls for state employees’ salaries to be paid in order to combat suffering and poverty in Yemen.
European External Action Service. 2016. “Statement by the HR/VP Spokesperson on the situation in Yemen”. Accessed 11th March 2018.
This statement discusses how UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced a nationwide ceasefire in Yemen the week prior to this statement. UN facilitated negotiations are also due to resume on 18th April in Kuwait. This document emphasises that all parties should capitalize on the progress made in order to achieve a decrease in violence as well as military activity in the border areas between Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The document also highlights how provisions of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2216 are highly important in order to secure peace.
European External Action Service. 2016. “EU pledges additional €40 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen at United Nations General Assembly”. Accessed 12th March 2018.
This statement discusses how the European Commission stated at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that it intends to allocate €40 million of emergency humanitarian assistance in order to provide life-saving aid to those people who are in need in Yemen. Christos Stylianides stresses that the whole of Yemen is suffering from a lack of basic necessities such as water, food and fuel: “Civilians are paying the highest price for the conflict, as their resilience has reached its limits”.
European External Action Service. 2016. “EU & UN pledge support for upcoming Yemen ceasefire & peace talks”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
This article discusses the talks which were held between Federica Mogherini and UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, discussing ceasefire which was announced for 10 April. Mogherini emphasised that only a political solution would be a sustainable solution to the conflict in Yemen and so all parties must cooperate in order to support the peace. Mogherini also discussed the suffering of the Yemeni people, and the consequential necessity for humanitarian aid in order to support the 80% of the population which is in need of this support.
European External Action Service. 2016. “Yemen Strategy Paper (2007-2013)”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
This document lays out the European Union’s strategy in Yemen between the years 2007 and 2013. It states the European Union’s main goals of supporting democratization in Yemen, the promotion of human rights and civil society and supporting Yemeni government reforms. It also states that the EU aims to strengthen the Yemeni government’s ability to fight poverty through sustainable development of the agriculture and fisheries sector as well as human capital development. The document is broken down into considering the policy agenda of Yemen, analysis of the political, economic, social and environmental situation, overview of past and present and ongoing cooperation, coordination and coherence and the European Community’s response.
European External Action Service. 2016. “EU gives €12 million in new humanitarian aid for the crisis in Yemen and its impact in the Horn of Africa”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
This article details how the European Commission will increase its humanitarian aid for those affected by the crisis in Yemen by €12 million. This support will be used in order to help the most urgent needs of the population. €10 million of the money will provide nutrition, water, health, food, sanitation, emergency household supplies and protection to the people of Yemen. Of the remaining €2 million, €1 million each will go to Somalia and Djibouti in order to help thousands of refugees and returnees fleeing from Yemen to the countries of the Horn of Africa.
European External Action Service. 2015. “Joint statement on the proposed truce in Yemen by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
This statement details how the authorities in Saudi proposed a five-day humanitarian truce in Yemen. The truce would commence 12 May 2015. The following is a statement by Commissioner Stylianides about the truce. She states how the truce is “an important opportunity to tackle the dramatic humanitarian situation in Yemen”. She stresses the importance of all parties abiding by the truce and how this is important to protect the stability of the region. She stresses how the EU will continue support efforts in order that political negotiations amongst parties in Yemen are able to resume.
European External Action Service. 2015. “Statement on the bombings in Yemen of port facilities in Hodeida”. Accessed 15th March 2018.
This is a joint statement by Federica Mogherini and Commissioner and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides with regards to the bombings which took place in Yemen of port facilities in Hodeida. They detail how the airstrikes created an obstacle to the import of food, medicines and fuel to the suffering population. In this statement, the EU therefore calls upon all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from targeting civilian infrastructure and end the conflict. The EU states that it supports the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed to resume inclusive negotiations.
Key declarations by member states
Reuters. 2018. “France weighing possible minesweeping operation at Yemen port – ministry”. Accessed 1 November 2018.
An article outlining the French Defence Ministry’s considerations of a minesweeping operation around Hodeidah in an effort to alleviate access issues which are currently preventing humanitarian aid from reaching populations in need. The action would aim to facilitate safe movement of these goods, following the occupation of the crucial port by Houthi rebels.
Department for International Development and the Rt. Hon. Alistair Burt MP. 2018. “New UK aid package to provide life-saving help to millions of Yemeni children at growing risk of famine”. Accessed 1 November 2018.
This press release announces the provision of a UK aid package, aimed at the screening and prevention of malnutrition in Yemen. The package aims to screen 2.2 million children under the age of five, as well asp providing treatment. The press release also records the statements of Alistair Burt, Minister for the Middle East on World Food Day. He expresses the UK’s concern with the scale of the humanitarian crisis, and calls upon all parties to support UN peace talks.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Rt Hon Boris Johnston MP. 2018. “Foreign Secretary statement on attempted missile attack against Saudi Arabia”. Accessed 13th April 2018.
This is a statement from Boris Johnston on the 12th April 2018, regarding the Houthi missile launches the previous day, on the 11th April. Following suit with other missile launches seen over the preceding months, the missile launches threaten densely population civilian areas and infrastructure, such as Riyadh. The UK will call upon the UN to investigate how these ballistic missiles reached Yemen. Emphasising the need for a political solution to the conflict, Johnston also calls upon those responsible for launching the missiles (and those responsible for supplying the missiles) to immediately cease such action.
Federal Foreign Office. 2018. “Federal Foreign Office on renewed missile attack on Riyadh and other cities in Saudi Arabia”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This is a press release from the 12th April 2018. Germany condemns the missile attacks launched by the Houthi rebels against Saudi Arabia on the 11th April. The cities targeted were Riyadh, Najran and Jizan. Germany regards such action as “unjustifiable”, and emphasises the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict. As such, Germany calls for an immediate ceasefire by all parties, and resumed negotiations.
Reuters. 2018. “France’s Macron defends Saudi arms sales, to hold Yemen conference”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This article discusses a speech made by France’s President Macron, in which he defends the selling of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition by France. (These arms sales have drawn heavy criticism by many groups.) Macron states that all sales of military equipment are individually assessed, and that the criteria for this assessment reflects a respect for international humanitarian law and considers the risk of harm to civilian populations. He goes on to reiterate France’s “full support” for the security of Saudi Arabia, and condemns missile attacks launched by the Houthis. Macron also states that he is concerned by the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and intends to hold a conference on the issue before the summer.
Department for International Development. 2018. “UK to save 50,000 people from threat of landmines worldwide”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This is a press release from 4th April 2018. It notes that the UK has cleared landmines from 140 million square metres of contaminated land across the world, in countries such as Yemen. It goes on to states that the UK will provide £60.4 million for demining programmes in places such as Yemen over the financial years 2018/19 and 2019/20. It does not clarify what proportion of this figure will be used in Yemen.
Department for International Development and the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP. 2018. “UK gives more emergency food for Yemen as number at risk of starvation reaches all time high of 8 million”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This is a press release from 3rd April 2018. It announces that the UK will provide a new aid package to Yemen, in light of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country. The number of Yemeni people at risk of starvation has increased by 1.5 million within the last year, with the figure now standing at 8 million. The aid package will provide life-saving food, medicine, clean water and sanitation, with the Rt Hon Alistair Burt noting that UK aid should provide enough food to meet the immediate needs for 2.5 million people. Burt also notes his concern regarding the high level of rainfall expected in Yemen during the coming weeks, as this will likely lead to another serious outbreak of cholera (cholera is a waterborne disease). The press release also states that 2017/18 saw the UK has previously provide nutritional support to 1.7 million people, and clean water and sanitation to around 1.2 million people. The webpage ends by giving an overview of some key aid figures, e.g. that for 2018/19, the UK will give £170 million of funding to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, since the crisis began over £400 million worth of bilateral support has been given by the DFID, and that the UK is the largest donor to Gavi (a global vaccine alliance).
Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Rt Hon Boris Johnston MP, and the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP. 2018. “Yemen needs inclusive peace talks, UK says as conflict enters its fourth year”. Accessed on 13 Apr. 2018.
This webpage details a statement made by Boris Johnston and Penny Mordaunt regarding Yemen, on the 26th March 2018. This date marks four years since the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in Yemen. The statement describes the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, and notes that the UK is the third largest donor to Yemen. The statement emphasises the need for resumed negotiations and a political solution to the crisis, and calls on regional countries and the international community to work towards restoring peace in Yemen. Regarding specific nations involved in the conflict, the statement notes that Saudi Arabia has a right to defend itself against security threats (from the Houthis), and reiterates the UK’s support of the Saudi-led coalition. Conversely, the statement criticises Iran. This is due to Iran continuing to supply Houthi rebels with ballistic missiles. In doing so, Iran is exacerbating the conflict and compromising the security and peace of the region.
Federal Foreign Office. 2018. “Statement by the Federal Foreign Office on the missile attack on Saudi Arabia”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This is a short press release from the 26th March 2018, concerning the missile launches by the Houthis on the 25th March 2018. These missiles targeted various areas of Saudi Arabia, including Riyadh. Germany condemns the launches as escalating the conflict and undermining the work of the Special Envoy in trying to reach a political solution. Given the “catastrophic” humanitarian crisis seen in Yemen, such as solution is increasingly urgent.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2018. “United Kingdom-Saudi Arabia Joint Communiqué”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from 10th march 2018, denoting a joint communiqué issued by the UK and Saudi Arabia. The most notable section is 5.3, which discusses Yemen. The two countries agree upon e.g. the importance of reaching a political solution to the crisis, ensuring the security of Saudi Arabia, Iran ceasing its support of militias and withdrawing Iranian elements and Hezbollah from Yemen, and maintaining humanitarian access into Yemen. The UK also welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to adhere to international law when carrying out its military campaign in Yemen.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2018. “Call for a Political Settlement to Address the Humanitarian Crisis and Security Threats in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a speech by Stephen Hickey, UK Acting Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Security Council Briefing on Yemen on 27th February 2018. Hickey notes that Yemen has caused the world’s most devastating humanitarian crisis, with more than three quarters of the population in humanitarian need. More than half of this number will die without immediate assistance. He goes on to note that the UK is the second largest donor to the UN’s Yemen Appeal, contributing $286 million during the Financial Year of 2017/18. He then notes that aid alone will not solve the crisis, as hindered humanitarian access into Yemen is significantly contributing to the country’s lack of e.g. food and medicine. He then focuses on how the crisis has allowed terrorist groups to flourish, posing a threat to international security and commerce. Concluding his speech, he emphasises the importance of the international community focusing on reaching a political solution to the crisis
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2018. “Joint Statement by France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
From the 27th February 2018, this is a joint statement by France, Germany, the UK, and the US. It discusses findings published in a report by the Panel of Experts on Yemen, a panel established as a result of Security Council resolution 2140. The statement expresses concern about Iran’s non-compliance with the arms embargo established in paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 2216, through the direct and indirect supply of weaponry to groups such as the Houthis. There is evidence that such weaponry has been used against Saudi Arabia, and the statement notes that this has the potential to destabilise the security of the region and fuel a broader conflict. The statement goes on to emphasise the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, and the need for all parties to abide international humanitarian law, and allow aid organisations unhindered access into the country.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2018. “France welcomes the renewal of the sanctions regime in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Released on 26th February 2018, this is a statement by Mr. François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations. In this, he explains the vote for Security Council resolution 2402. This resolution renews the Yemen sanction regime, through enacting a travel ban, an assets freeze, and an arms embargo. He emphasises that the renewal of sanctions was a priority for France. He also reiterates France’s concern about Iran not complying with the arms embargo established in Security Council resolution 2216, and goes on to state that France will continue to be mobilised on the issue in the coming months. Delattre also notes the growing humanitarian emergency in Yemen. Civilian casualties are a key issue, along with a lack of food and basic necessities. As such, it is paramount to ensure that humanitarian aid has unhindered access into Yemen. Moreover, the (Saudi-led) coalition’s humanitarian plan for Yemen should be put in place. The statement ends with Delattre encouraging all parties and countries to engage in new political negotiations.
Federal Foreign Office. 2018. “Preventing crises: a structured dialogue with Iran”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article from the 22nd February 2018 discusses a structured dialogue between Iran and key figures in the European community. Specifically, the Foreign Ministers of the UK, Germany, and France, along with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. This dialogue focused on creating new lines of communication in order to tackle regional issues, most notably the crisis in Yemen.
Reuters. 2018. “No sign of France reviewing weapons sales to Saudi-led Yemen coalition: sources”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article from 9th February 2018 notes that, unlike some other European nations (e.g. Norway, Germany), France shows little sign reducing or suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which could then be used by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
Al Jazeera News. 2018. “Germany stops arms exports to Yemen combatants.” Accessed 14 Mar. 2018.
During talks with the centre-left Social Democrats Party in January 2018 (to create a new government), the German government announced that Germany will halt all arms exports to countries involved in the ongoing war in Yemen. This primarily concerns Saudi Arabia. Germany has previously admitted that €450 million worth of arms was sold to Saudi Arabia and Egypt in late 2017, a figure almost five times higher than the €86 million seen only a year before.
Federal Foreign Office. 2018. “The Federal Foreign Office on the situation in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a short statement given by a Federal Foreign Office spokesperson on the 18th January 2018, concerning the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The statement praises the fact that the World Food Programme was able to install a number of cranes at Hodeida Port, opening up humanitarian aid access. Sustaining and expanding this is a key issue in tackling the crisis given the severe food shortage Yemen is experiencing. The statement also condemns the missile attacks launched against Saudi Arabia by the Houthis, and follows this by emphasising the need for a political solution to the conflict.
Federal Foreign Office. 2018. “2017– record high for Germany’s humanitarian assistance”. Acessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article, published on 5th January 2018, denotes the fact that 2017 saw the Federal Foreign Office provide €165 million towards humanitarian projects in Yemen. Moreover, an additional €40 million is being made available to UN humanitarian aid programmes. The article also notes that 22 million Yemenis rely on humanitarian assistance, with the ongoing fighting, the severe food shortage, and the outbreak of cholera all being particularly important issues.
Reuters. 2017. “France’s Macron presses Saudi king to lift Yemen blockade – Elysee source”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article details a phone call between French President Macron and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on 24th December 2017. In the call, President Macron urges King Salman to completely lift Saudi Arabia’s blockade on Yemen. President Macron emphasises how it is vitally important it is that aid organisations can access Yemen, given the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2017. “Yemen programme: 2016 to 2017”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Published on 14th December 2017, this document is an annual review of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CCSF) programme in Yemen, from 1st April 2016, to 31st March 2017. It details that the British government’s overseas aid budget (Official Development Assistance) for Yemen was £2.48 million. A further £70,000 was provided from non-ODA sources. Along with providing a summary of progress, lessons learnt, and actions taken, the document also makes recommendations for the next year of the programme. This latter section includes things such as creating a public opinion survey to better understand the needs of the population, slightly reducing its funding of the UN Special Envoy’s Office given that the peace process has stalled, and working more on informal dialogue and problem-solving.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2017. “Yemen: a zone of all dangers”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
The document is an account of remarks made to the press by Mr. François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on 5th December 2017. Firstly, he notes that recent events have increased the danger of the crisis, on both military and humanitarian fronts. As such, he prioritises military de-escalation, and emphasises the importance of unhindered humanitarian aid into Yemen.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “The Federal Foreign Office on the situation in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from the 1st December 2017. In it, the Federal Government condemns a missile attack launched against Saudi Arabia by the Houthis. The government emphasises that only a ceasefire and political discourse can solve the conflict. As such, the statement goes on to note Germany’s ongoing support of the
Reuters. 2017. “France says Saudi coalition must boost aid efforts to Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article from 16th November 2017 discusses France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, calling upon the Saudi-led coalition to increase their humanitarian effort in Syria. Drian noted that it was particularly important that international aid had access to civilian populations in Yemen. In this, he also criticised the Houthis for blocking aid supplies and besieging civilian communities.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2017. “Yemen: a focus on the humanitarian emergency”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
The document covers remarks made by Mr. François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on 8th November 2017. On behalf of France, Delattre emphasises that political negotiation is the only viable solution to the crisis. He also, again, underscores the need for unhindered humanitarian access into Yemen. Following this, he condemns the recent missile launch against Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi Arabia. In this, Delattre states France’s support of Saudi security, and that France is in “close contact” with the US, so as to determine the origin of the missile.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “Humanitarian appeal: Foreign Minister Gabriel calls for increased funding”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
In this article from 8th November 2017, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel calls on the international community to provide a greater amount of humanitarian aid. It is noted that the international community provides less than half of the funding needed globally. While Germany already provides €1.5 billion in aid across the globe, Gabriel argues that this must be increased if human catastrophes in countries such as Yemen are to be averted.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2017. “Yemen: the Security Council supports a political solution”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
From 10th October 2017, this document covers statements made by Mr. François Delattre (President of the Security Council and Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations) on behalf of the Security Council. While Delattre notes the lack of progress made in political negotiations, he continues to emphasise that it is only through such political negotiations that the crisis in Yemen can be resolved. As such, he encourages all parties – particularly the Houthis – to abide international law and engage with the UN’s peace efforts. Moreover, Delattre reiterates the importance of implementing Security Council resolutions (e.g. resolution 2216), so as to ensure unhindered humanitarian aid into the country, especially via Hodeida port and Sana’a airport.
The Department for International Development. 2017. “DFID – Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Published on 20th July 2017, this is a profile of Yemen created by the Department for International Development (DFID). It details things such as why DFID is investing in Yemen, what UK aid has achieved, what UK aid expects to achieve, what is being achieved for the UK, and which organisations the UK is working with. For example, it states that the (planned) budget for 2017/18 was £82 million, while the (planned) budget for 2018/19 is £72 million. For 2017/18, this primarily focused on providing humanitarian assistance, with the most substantial sum (£25 million) going towards tackling malnutrition. It notes DFID’s continuing support of the UN-led peace process, and DFID’s work with e.g. various NGOs, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund. Working in this way to tackle the conflict in Yemen is important for the UK and the international community. Not only does the conflict threaten to destabilise the wider region, it also fuels the existence of terrorist organisations which may directly attack the UK.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2017. “CSSF Programme Summary”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Published on 19th July 2017, this document is a summary of the CSSF programmes in Yemen, the Middle-East, and North Africa during the 2017-18 financial year. It details the different programmes being implemented, along with the lead department (invariably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), the implementing organisation, and the budget for each of these programmes. The overall budget is £5 million, £4.5 million of which comes from the ODA. The document then focuses on de-escalation and expansion of political dialogue, and stabilisation. The document also states why UK support is needed, and what the UK expects to achieve.
Ross, A. 2017. “UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia can continue, high court rules”. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.
This article from the 10th July 2017 discusses a high court ruling which allows the UK to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia, finding the sales to be legally sound. The case was brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), concerned by the civilian death toll caused by the military actions of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. This is an issue which has been particularly scrutinised since the Sana’a funeral airstrike in October 2016.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “Human Rights Commissioner on the worsening of the crisis in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from the 29th June 2017, in which Bärbel Kofler (the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office) discusses the worsening situation in Yemen. Attacks against civilian communities, the difficulty aid organisations face in accessing many communities, and the outbreak of cholera are all significant issues. As such, she prioritises the need for a ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian access into the country, and an investigation into alleged violations of international law. The page also notes the amount of humanitarian assistance Germany provided to Yemen in 2017 (€125 million), the financial support given by Germany to the Berghof Foundation (in supporting informal communication and negotiation in Yemen), and the fact that Kofler is patron of the #nichtvergessen (translates to ‘don’t forget’) initiative.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “Human Rights Commissioner Kofler on the attack on journalists in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from 1st June 2017. In it, Bärbel Kofler (the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid) discussed the deaths of three journalists in Yemen. She emphasises that the freedom of the press must be respected, calls for a ceasefire, and emphasises the need for unhindered humanitarian aid access into Yemen.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “Statement by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel prior to his meeting with Prime Minister of Yemen Ahmed bin Dagher”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a statement made by Foreign Minister Gabriel on 16th May 2017, before his meeting with the Yemeni Prime Minister. He notes that Germany is the third largest donor in providing funding for humanitarian aid in Yemen, and that Germany is willing to take an active role in initiating the peace process in the country. He also states that the international humanitarian community has shown solidarity in helping Yemen, and is unified in calling for a ceasefire.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. Food crisis in Yemen: Germany pledges more than 100 million euros. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article discusses a donor conference held in Geneva on 26th April 2017. The conference aimed to stimulate humanitarian aid and action in Yemen, due to the deteriorating conditions in the country. At the conference, it was announced that Germany intended to contribute €50 million towards humanitarian assistance in Yemen in 2017, with a further €55 million going towards development cooperation.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2017. “Yemen: there is only a political solution to the conflict”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
The document covers remarks made by Mr. François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on 29th March 2017. Delattre notes with concern that political negotiation have reached a stalemate, and that no military solution is viable. He once again reiterates support for special envoy Cheikh Ahmed. The document also touches of the “Hodeida issue”. Hodeida is a large port city in Yemen, which is of vital importance given the country’s reliance on food imports. At this time, the UN was concerned about how to keep the port open and out of the conflict. Asked whether the UN should take control of the port, Delattre was noncommittal. He did stress the importance of such discussions though.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2017. “Yemen – Human Rights Priority Country 2015 to 2016”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This webpage links to three key documents detailing Yemen as a Human Rights Priority Country during 2015-16. The Human Rights Priority Country report is produced by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The first document notes that the situation in Yemen vastly deteriorated in 2015, with widespread human rights violations. This included the use of child soldiers, attacks on human rights defenders, destruction of civilian infrastructure, damage to cultural heritage, gender-based violence, and inadequate rights for women. Indeed, the Red Cross noted that civilian suffering reached “unprecedented levels”, with Yemen constituting one of the four most severe humanitarian crises in the world. The document also notes that the UK is the fourth largest donor in response to the crisis (providing £85 million of humanitarian aid), that the UK continues to support the UN-led peace process, and that the UK calls for improved humanitarian access. The next document provides a more detailed account of the situation in Yemen from January to June 2016, with the third document covering July to December 2016.
Federal Foreign Office. 2017. “Humanitarian help for Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article from 25th January 2017 discusses the humanitarian challenges Yemen faces and the aid Germany has/ is providing in response to this. It is noted that Germany has provided aid to Yemen since before the most recent crisis began. This aid was increased in 2016, with Germany providing €33.3 million for humanitarian aid and €1.4 million for crisis management.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2016. “Government response to Parliamentary Committee reports on the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This webpage from 14th November 2016 provides links to the UK government’s response to Parliamentary Committee reports on the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen, via the Saudi-led coalition. One of these reports was produced by the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees, while the other was produced by the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Federal Foreign Office. 2016. “Humanitarian crisis in Yemen: German aid provided under difficult conditions”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This article discusses the deteriorating crisis in Yemen, and the aid Germany provided in 2016. It notes that Yemen has become one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with things like famine, cholera, a lack of infrastructure, and the destruction of cultural heritage prevalent throughout the country. Providing aid is difficult due to things like under-funding, violence against aid workers, failed ceasefires, and incoming refugees from other countries in the region. Germany provided €28 million in humanitarian assistance, more than quadrupling the amount donated in 2015.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2016. “The humanitarian situation in Yemen is extremely serious”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a statement from Mr. François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on 31st October 2016. The statement begins by condemning the Sana’a funeral air raid on the 8th October 2016. In this, the Saudi coalition wrongly targeted a group of civilians, killing at least 140 people and injuring over 500 more (BBC, 2016).
Delattre then addresses the broader humanitarian situation. Partly due to the near-total collapse of the health care system, around 80% of the population does not have easy access to drinking water or basic sanitation. This has gone on to contribute to the rise of cholera, with more than a million people potentially contaminated. Additionally, many Yemenis live on the brink of famine. Over half of the population is classified as food insecure, with around half of this number living in a food emergency situation.
In such a critical situation, Delattre emphasises the need for unimpeded humanitarian assistance in Yemen, and condemns the disregard shown towards ceasefire agreements. He also praises the work of the special envoy, and encourages the international community to support political negotiations and work towards a peace settlement in Yemen.
House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees. 2016. “The use of UK‑manufactured arms in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a report by the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees, regarding the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen. The report, published on 14th September 2016, focuses on the relationship between the UK and the Saudi-led coalition force. The report notes that there is credible evidence to suggest that the Saudi-led coalition has violated international humanitarian law in Yemen. This includes things such as the targeting of civilian areas and medical facilities, and the use of cluster munitions. Given the UK’s longstanding exportation of arms to Saudi Arabia, the report finds it almost inevitable that UK-manufactured arms have been used in committing these alleged violations. The report recommends that the UK Government offer its support to the coalition in conducting investigations where appropriate, and that the UN lead an investigation into alleged violations by all parties. Moreover, due to the UK’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (along with other European and UK law), the report also recommends that the UK stop selling any arms which could be used in Yemen to Saudi Arabia. This may be reviewed upon the completion of the UN-led investigation.
Federal Foreign Office. 2016. “Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Kofler on the attack on civilian infrastructure and first responders in Yemen”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from 14th September 2016. Dr Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, condemns attacks on civilian infrastructure and first responders in Yemen. She emphasises that all parties have a duty to uphold international humanitarian law, and encourages the different parties to re-engage with the UN peace process.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2016. “The situation in Yemen is worrying”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This a short remark by Mr François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on the 31st August 2016. He notes the worrying humanitarian situation, and the need to end hostilities. In this, he supports the work of Cheikh Ahmed, the special envoy to the secretary-general for Yemen. He encourages the Security Council to show similar support.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2016. “Yemen – in-year update December 2015”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
UN Special Envoy, and praises the progress made in achieving access to key ports and airports, in order to provide humanitarian aid throughout Yemen. It is also noted that Germany is providing a further €40 million to UN humanitarian aid programmes and the World Food Programme, and clarifies some of the ways this money will be put to use.
This is a report published on 21st April 2016, produced by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, reporting on the situation in Yemen as of December 2015. It notes that the situation in Yemen continued to deteriorate in the second half of 2015, with widespread human rights abuses. This is seen in things such as the use of child soldiers, arbitrary detentions, attacks on journalists and human rights defenders, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and damage to cultural heritage. The report notes that this has left 80% of the population in humanitarian assistance, with the Yemini authorities unable to protect the human rights of the population. The report also notes that the UK has supported the UN’s efforts in Yemen, e.g. in supporting UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/18, a resolution which requested the High Commissioner of Human Rights to provide Yemen with technical assistance addressing human rights, and to assist the national commission inquiry. It also notes the UK’s ongoing support of the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthis. The report states that the UK has encouraged all parties, including the coalition, to comply with international humanitarian law, and encourages all parties to investigate alleged violations of such law.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2016. “Yemen: the top priority for us is to get a ceasefire”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This source documents remarks made by Mr François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations on 26th January 2016. He prioritises the need for a ceasefire in Yemen, reiterates support for the special envoy Cheikh Ahmed, and presses that the crisis in Yemen can only be resolved through political discourse (and not military action).
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2015. “Yemen: a lasting ceasefire respected by all must be put in place 22 December 2015”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a speech by Mr François Delattre, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on 22nd December 2015. In this, he praises the UN-brokered peace talks held in Switzerland from 15th-20th December, and the resulting establishment of a military committee dedicated to ensuring a ceasefire in Yemen. He also, crucially, notes that the crisis in Yemen is not simply a regional threat, but an international one. The rise of groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL is key to this. As such, he reiterates the urgent need to find a political solution to the crisis, and calls on all parties and the international community to support the efforts of the Special Envoy.
Federal Foreign Office. 2015. “Humanitarian emergency in Yemen – Federal Foreign Office makes available an additional one million euros in humanitarian aid”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is a press release from 6th July 2015. It announces that Germany will provide a further €1 million in aid to Yemen, in light of the humanitarian emergency in Yemen.
Permanent mission of France to the United Nations in New York. 2015. “Yemen: the Houthi rebels keep on destabilizing the country – 14 April 2015”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
Released on 14th April 2015, this source details remarks made by Mr François Delattre (the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations) regarding France’s vote in favour of Security Council resolution 2216. Resolution 2216 intends to tackle the instability caused in Yemen by the Houthi rebel group, through enacting sanctions against key Houthi figures, and employing a targeted arms embargo. Following the Houthi’s repeated failure to abide the requests of the Security Council and the UN, Delattre hopes that this resolution will finally compel the group to engage with political dialogue and commit to negotiations. This is crucial, as Delattre notes that the actions of the Houthis has hitherto only helped terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL. Delattre also states France’s support of Mr. Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who France views as Yemen’s legitimate president.
Federal Foreign Office. 2015. “The situation is dangerous, not just for the Gulf region”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This is an interview with an interview with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier from 27th March 2015. In the interview, Steinmeier discusses how tackling the crisis in Yemen is of crucial importance to the wider region. Issues such as tribal powers, political rivalries, and the rise of Islamic extremism cannot be contained within Yemen, and are poised to destabilise the region further. The foreign Minister goes on to condemn the brutal actions of the Houthi rebels and makes note of the support the Houthis are receiving from Iran. While he also notes that he can understand the actions taken by Saudi Arabia in response, he is keen to avoid the crisis in Yemen becoming a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 2015. “Yemen – Country of Concern”. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.
This report is taken from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2014 Human Rights and Democracy Report. It denotes Yemen as a country of concern. As such, it provides useful background information about the situation in Yemen in the build-up to the most recent conflict. The report notes that human rights violations took place on a large scale in 2014. It focuses in on a number of key issues: elections; freedom of expression and assembly; human rights defenders; access to justice and the rule of law; the death penalty; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; conflict and protection of civilians; freedom of religion or belief; women’s rights; children’s rights; economic and social rights; and refugees.
To learn more
Amnesty International. 2018. “Yemen, the forgotten war”. Accessed 9 Mar. 2018.
This report from Amnesty International gives a brief overview of the events in Yemen from 1990 to 2015, explaining how the instability in the region and the country led to the current crisis. It emphasises on the human suffering, reporting testimonies from the population who lost members of their family in the war, and claiming that human rights have been violated by all sides.
It also reminds the type of attacks that are forbidden by international law in a conflict, such as targeting civilians or medical facilities.
This brief was put together by the ECR2P interns Souraya Bureau, Sophie Murphy, Fiona O’Brien, Elsa Pearson, and Kathryn Priestley under the supervision and with the assistance of Dr Eglantine Staunton.
Last updated on 25 November 2018