SRSG Natalia Gherman's essay published in the VantagePoints website
"This is a very exciting time to be in Central Asia. Since achieving independence from the Soviet Union about 25 years ago, the five countries have each sought to find their own way in the world. Their focus was often building national identities. Sovereignty was new and there was not much of an appetite for regional cooperation. In the past two years...
Thank you, Mr. President.
Less than a month ago, when I last briefed the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine, I brought to the Council’s attention the reports of increased tensions in the Sea of Azov and underlined the need to avoid any risk of escalation, provocation or miscalculation. Regrettably, a serious security incident took place near Crimea, close to the Sea of Azov, only yesterday. I wish to underline that the United Nations currently cannot independently verify the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, reports indicate that on 25 November, an incident involving three Ukrainian vessels and at least one Russian vessel took place near the Kerch Strait when the former attempted to enter the Sea of Azov. A number of Ukrainian sailors, though the exact number remains unclear, were reportedly injured in the event. Ukraine claims that it had previously notified the Russian Federation of its intent to sail these vessels to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, which requires entry through the narrow Kerch Strait. The Russian Federation, meanwhile, claims that Ukraine has provoked the incident and that Russia acted in accordance with international law. According to media reports, the Ukrainian ships and their personnel are currently being held by the Russian authorities. Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council has since recommended the declaration of Martial Law. We understand that the decision remains subject to ratification by the Verkhovna Rada which, is meeting today.
The waters of the Sea of Azov were claimed as being historically internal waters of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, where vessels of the two countries have enjoyed freedom of navigation. However, tensions have risen in and around these waters since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, which has been the subject of several General Assembly resolutions. In September 2016, arbitral proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) were instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation with regard to a “dispute concerning coastal state rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait”. The Russian Federation argues that the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait are not subject to the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal.
The United Nations is deeply concerned about this escalation of tensions, which is taking place in the broader context of the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. In our last briefing to the Council, we urged all parties to avoid any unilateral steps that could deepen the divide or depart from of the spirit and letter of the Minsk Agreements. In that context, I wish to reiterate that the UN fully supports the lead role of the Normandy Four, the Trilateral Contact Group, the OSCE and other key actors to find a peaceful settlement. I also wish to reiterate our call for renewed and constructive action by all concerned to overcome the apparent impasse in diplomatic negotiations. The UN underlines the need to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.
Regrettably, yesterday’s incident only threatens to cause the situation in and around Ukraine to deteriorate further. We strongly urge both the Russian Federation and Ukraine to refrain from any ratcheting up of actions or rhetoric and remind both of the need to contain this incident so as to prevent a serious escalation that may have unforeseen consequences.
At this juncture, the immediate de-escalation of tensions in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea is required. It is critical that earnest attempts are made to find a peaceful settlement to the situation, based on the legal means available and in accordance with the UN Charter.
Monsieur le Président,
Je voudrais vous féliciter sur l’occasion de votre présidence et vous offre tous mes encouragements.
Monsieur le Président,
Distingués Membres du Conseil de sécurité,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Le rapport que j’ai l’honneur de présenter au nom du Secrétaire général, sous la cote S/2018/1028, passe en revue la situation au Burundi, ainsi que mes activités et celles de mon équipe durant la période du 10 août au 30 octobre 2018. Dans les considérations politiques du rapport, le Secrétaire général fait le point sur les tensions qui secouent la classe politique et qui se focalisent entre le Gouvernement et l’opposition. Le rapport évoque notamment le déficit de confiance et de dialogue entre le pouvoir et les partis de l’opposition, lesquels s’avèrent pourtant indispensables à la résolution de la crise en cours.
Depuis la parution du rapport, la situation politique a été dominée, au plan interne, par quatre faits majeurs : premièrement, le rejet par le Ministre de l’Intérieur, invoquant la violation de certaines dispositions de la loi sur les partis politiques, de la demande d’enregistrement du parti Front National de Libération/Amizero y’Abarundi, du leader de l’opposition Agathon Rwasa ; deuxièmement, l’appel lancé à l’Union Africaine et à l’ONU [le 9 Novembre] par la plateforme des partis de l’opposition extérieure CNARED (Conseil national pour le respect de l’Accord d’Arusha pour la paix et la réconciliation au Burundi et la restauration de l’Etat de droit), leur demandent de prendre en main le processus du dialogue inter-burundais, pour éviter notamment le recours aux armes prôné par certains membres de l’opposition ; troisièmement, le renouvellement, jusqu’en octobre 2019, de mesures restrictives adoptées par l’Union européenne à l’encontre d’un certain nombre d’officiels et d’officiers burundais, pour « violations graves des droits de l’homme, ainsi que pour obstruction à la démocratie et aux efforts de paix en cours » ; et, enfin, le renouvellement, jusqu’en 2022, par l’Assemblée nationale burundaise du mandat de la Commission Vérité et Réconciliation, avec comme principale mission d’examiner les actes de violence commis de 1885 à 2008.
Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs Membres du Conseil de sécurité,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Plus fondamentalement, la situation politique a été largement dominée ces dernières semaines par la tenue de la cinquième session du dialogue inter-burundais sans, malheureusement, la présence du gouvernement, du parti majoritaire et de ses alliés. Les participants ont adopté leur feuille de route, rejetant ainsi de facto celle du Gouvernement adoptée en août, pour des raisons diverses, notamment l’absence de consultations préalables à son adoption.
Sur la base d’une synthèse des différentes propositions, le facilitateur, Monsieur Benjamin Mkapa, ancien Président de la République Unie de Tanzanie, a soumis au Médiateur le rapport final du processus de dialogue qu’il a mené.
Je saisis cette occasion pour réitérer l’hommage soutenu du Secrétaire général au facilitateur et au médiateur, pour leur engagement inlassable, en dépit du fait que cet engagement n’ait pas encore abouti à la conclusion d’un accord entre les parties intéressées.
Monsieur le Président,
La situation sécuritaire au Burundi est restée relativement calme pendant la période couverte par le rapport du Secrétaire général. Cependant, au début de ce mois, précisément, les médias on fait état de combats meurtriers à Uvira, en République Démocratique du Congo, qui ont opposé les Forces de défense nationale du Burundi à un groupe de rebelles armés, le Red Tabara. Et, ces incidents, confirmés par la RDC auraient fait de nombreux morts.
Le Secrétaire général relève dans son rapport que la situation des droits de l’homme au Burundi reste préoccupante. Il rappelle que le gouvernement n’a toujours pas repris la coopération avec le Haut-Commissariat des Nations unies aux droits de l’homme. Les violations des droits de l’homme et autres abus, tels que les arrestations arbitraires, les disparitions forcées, et autres actes d’intimidation, persistent, tout comme les discours de haine, notamment à l’endroit des acteurs de l’opposition. L’espace démocratique, sauf pour certains partis alliés au gouvernement, reste restreint. S’agissant du dernier rapport de la Commission d’enquête sur le Burundi, le Secrétaire général déplore les propos inacceptables des représentants du gouvernement burundais contre ce rapport et ses auteurs.
Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs Membres du Conseil de sécurité,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
La situation humanitaire demeure préoccupante. En effet, on estime à près de 1,7 million le nombre de personnes menacées par l’insécurité alimentaire. Et je voudrais ici, réitérer les préoccupations du Secrétaire général face à la détérioration continue la situation socio-économique du pays et à l’insécurité alimentaire qui affecte de nombreux Burundais. Le Secrétaire général se réjouit des démarches déjà entreprises par le gouvernement et les ONGs internationales pour relancer leur coopération. À cet égard, nous continuons à encourager le gouvernement à faire preuve de flexibilité, pour le bien-être des populations les plus vulnérables.
De janvier à octobre 2018, près de 52,260 réfugiés sont retournés au Burundi, dans le cadre du programme de rapatriement volontaire, notamment de la Tanzanie. Il resterait encore un peu plus de 380,000 Burundais dans la région, dont 227,510 en Tanzanie. A cet égard, le Secrétaire général encourage le gouvernement à poursuivre sa collaboration avec le HCR, à garantir le caractère volontaire du rapatriement et un retour dans la dignité, et à assurer la réinsertion des personnes concernées dans leurs communautés d’origine ou d’accueil.
Monsieur le Président,
En un mot, il ressort du rapport du Secrétaire général que la situation au Burundi demeure fragile, en raison notamment de l’absence d’un dialogue politique inclusif, mais du fait aussi des difficultés humanitaires, économiques et financières, et aussi des menaces sécuritaires. Après plus de trois années d’efforts inlassables, à travers le processus de dialogue inter-Burundais, il est nécessaire que les Nations unies, l’Union africaine, la sous-région et les partenaires du Burundi réévaluent les voies et moyens pour aider le Burundi à sortir de la crise politique actuelle. Cette réflexion devrait être amorcée, en tout premier lieu, par les Burundais eux même et ensuite par la région.
Le Secrétaire général se félicite de la tenue projetée d’un sommet ordinaire de la Communauté d’Afrique de l’Est, et espère ardemment que la question burundaise y sera examinée. En fonction des conclusions et surtout des recommandations qui en émaneront, la Communauté de l’Afrique de l’est, les Nations unies, et l’Union africaine devront procéder à une réévaluation de leurs engagements pour aider le Burundi à sortir définitivement de la crise surtout dans la perspective des élections de 2020.
Je tiens à remercier les autorités burundaises, pour les égards apportés à mon bureau et à ma personne et, de façon plus générale, à la famille des Nations unies au Burundi.
Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs Membres du Conseil de sécurité,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je vous remercie de votre aimable attention.
Thank you, Mr President, and good to be with all of you
Since my last time I briefed you, the Secretary-General had announced that Mr Geir Pedersen of Norway, a good friend of mine - and an excellent choice if I may say - will be the new UN Special Envoy for Syria, following my own announcement that I will be moving on in the near future. The precise date will be determined by the Secretary-General in light of all relevant circumstances. I therefore anticipate briefing the Security Council once again in December.
The Secretary-General has asked me to complete one final task: to verify whether the Sochi Final Statement can be implemented or not, and either to convene – which I hope to do – or leave clarity exactly why we have not convened -- a UN-facilitated, Syrian-owned, Syrian-led constitutional committee that is credible, balanced and inclusive, and contributes in the context of the Geneva process to the implementation of Security Council resolution 2254.
This work is therefore, as far as I am concerned - and I am sure you will share with me - absolutely urgent. It is vital to make progress in the political process, particularly on the constitutional committee. It is also central to the Secretary-General’s considerations on the upcoming sequence of events. And I am not the only one to emphasise the urgency of advancing this work: on 27th of October, we saw a quadrilateral summit taking place in Istanbul, between the Presidents of the Republic of Turkey, the French Republic, the Russian Federation and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. I did attend the meeting and briefed the four leaders.
That summit was important, because it was composed of two groups of countries with influence – some of the guarantors of the Astana Group, and who also had been convening the Sochi meeting in January, and the members of the so-called Small Group. I saw how much importance the four leaders and their own teams gave to the issue of the constitutional committee – hours of tough negotiations, including at the highest level.
The four leaders were able to find common ground. They took many of my own messages on board. And they produced a final declaration that I saw as positive and helpful. Other governments have also thereafter welcomed it. Let me highlight three aspects in particular.
First, the declaration “commended the progress” made on implementing the Idlib memorandum. We all know how concerned we were just a month ago - more than a month ago now luckily - about the developments in Idlib. We too also assess therefore that there is and continues be progress on the implementation of this memorandum. We acknowledge that there have been occasional setbacks, including reports of violations from both sides. But, it is still holding and it is holding much better than we ever dreamt, so we should be keeping our fingers crossed. But any civilian in fact, from either side of the front-lines will definitely tell you that the overall situation is improved to that of few months back. This should be preserved and built upon. Therefore, we echo the emphasis of the Istanbul Summit final declaration on the “lasting ceasefire” in Idlib.
Second: the declaration called for “creating conditions for safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their original places of residence in Syria.” The guarantors underlined that “returnees need security from armed conflict, political persecution or arbitrary arrests, as well as humanitarian infrastructure, including water, electricity, health and social services”. Let me translate that for the Council, if you allow me to: it is clear that we need to establish basic conditions, basic conditions of a safe, calm and neutral environment which will help the realisation of the conditions conducive for safe and voluntary return of both millions of IDPs and refugees, and this in any case, is a fundamental element of a political package to implement in fact resolution 2254.
Thirdly, and frankly perhaps most importantly, the declaration outlined very concrete steps towards that political package, calling for the “establishing and early convening, considering the circumstances, by the end of the year - this year, 2018 - of the constitutional committee in Geneva that would achieve the constitutional reform, paving the way for free and fair elections under UN supervision and in compliance with the highest international standards of transparency, accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate”.
Since Istanbul, Mr. President, I have been proactively in touch with relevant players. I have been as you know in various places, and in London I hosted a consultation within the context of the Geneva process, with senior officials of the Small Group comprising Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the United States. I also had a bilateral meeting with the SNC head Hariri, who briefed me on the SNC in-depth discussions on constitutional issues in Riyadh – in fact they indicated they are ready to move, and to be participating to any meeting called by the UN in that context. I have been in contact with officials from Russia, Turkey the US and other countries. An Iranian delegation saw me just a few hours ago here in my office in Geneva on that subject after they have been themselves in Damascus. Senior Russian, Iranian and US officials have also been travelling the region recently. Presidents Erdogan and Putin are meeting—as far as I understand it—today and tomorrow in Istanbul.
Regarding the broader atmospherics - since this is, this briefing is predominantly a political brief - so let me briefly, if you allow me refer to some bullet points:
Let me note, apart from all what I said, the announcement, going back to the political context, that the three guarantors– the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey – will meet again in Astana at the senior level, on 28th and 29th of November. We believe this should be an opportunity for them to consolidate the efforts on the implementation of the Idlib Memorandum of Understanding. And on the issue of detainees, abductees and missing people, we strongly urge that we will see in that context the kind of progress that we have so far not seen and which has been forecasted - which so many thousands of families in Syria are asking for.
And it is also clear that this meeting in Astana will be taking place against the backdrop of the efforts underway by the same three countries, in their own capacity as the conveners of the Sochi meeting almost a year ago – yes, it was in January this year that the Sochi declaration made clear that they wanted and we all wanted a constitutional committee - to begin the implementation of their own Final Statement. Well, I will be closely monitoring if the progress in these efforts will help usefully to inform the preparation for the meeting in Astana in the connection also with the constitutional committee.
There are many strands of work underway, and we will only draw final conclusions in December. By that time, the President of the Russian Federation and the United States of America will also have met in the margins of the G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires, where presumably they will also be discussing Syria. And many other important consultations will have taken place by that time. As I told the Council from Beirut, on the issue of the constitutional committee the UN welcomes - and indeed encourages - constructive and moderate suggestions, as long, as long as they maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy of the Middle Third list.
Let me unpack what I mean by this. I mean that the Middle Third list must fulfil the Sochi declaration criteria of I quote, “Syrian experts, civil society, independents, tribal leaders and women”, with “adequate representation of Syria’s ethnic and religious components”.
I mean that the Middle Third list cannot just become a vehicle for political representatives – particularly eminent political leaders - of the political sides, either side—the government or the opposition. Civil society, the Syrian people, deserve a voice in a process that will determine their future. And the first and the second list do include the political representatives, so here we should have other, the other Syrians. To be credible and productive, the constitutional committee should contain experts who are known, not only for their own relevant technical prowess, but who are broadly acceptable and known for their skills at bridge-building between the sides.
I also mean that there must be a balance of political orientations – including space for people who do not identify with either the government or the opposition.
Finally, a key part of legitimacy, which I consider to be very important to me and I know to the Secretary-General, is for the committee to contain a minimum 30% of women. The government and opposition lists fell short of that standard - in fact the government did better than the opposition. We need this Middle Third list to make up for that. The UN facilitated Middle List as it stands is on the table and encompasses all these dimensions.
Of course, credibility, balance and international legitimacy also relate to the overall package: voting, mandate, chairmanship, and the role of the UN. For instance, for us, credible rules of procedure mean that they do not make it possible for any single party to dictate, but also not encourage paralysis.
Mr President, these are some of the criteria I had in mind when I constructed the elements that are currently on the table. And they will remain the litmus test for how I would be assessing any suggestions regarding a credible, balanced and legitimate constitutional committee. If that was not going to happen - well we may have to conclude that it may not be possible to form a constitutional committee credible and inclusive at this stage. In such an unfortunate case, I will certainly be ready to explain to the Council why. However, let me be clear: our aim is and remains for the UN to issue invitations - latest we believe mid of December - and convene a first meeting of the constitutional committee within December, before the 31st of December which is the date indicated in the Istanbul very constructive declaration.
Mr President, respecting Syria’s sovereignty has never been called into question, and I would like remind Ambassador Jaafari - who is there and reminding us always about it - it has never been put in question by the UN. Resolution 2254 is explicitly prefaced by the strong commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity, and it makes clear that the process must be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led. But, let us also remember this is a constitutional discussion in a context of one of the most tragic, brutal, cruel and merciless armed conflicts of this century. The Syrian people therefore must be enabled independently and democratically to determine their own future—that is called sovereignty of the people. For this reason, this Council – in that same resolution - gave the UN a mandate to convene the political process and that political process must, inter alia, identify a process and schedule for drafting a constitution. And Sochi itself, as I have repeatedly stated, appealed to the UN to convene the constitutional committee in Geneva – and was accompanied by a firm understanding in that regard.
At my last briefing in December, Mr President, it would be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee and leave a clear and clean ground to my successor regarding it.
In other words, Mr President, we are in the last days of the attempts to implement the constitutional committee in line with resolution 2254 and the Sochi Final Statement. The weeks to come will be of crucial importance in this regard. The UN remains and is ready for the establishment of the constitutional committee. It is prepared to do its part, and I personally, Mr President, will spare no efforts until the final day of my tenure to work towards this aim. Thank you.
KABUL - Media interested to follow the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, 27-28 November 2018, will be able to view all proceedings through a live webcast at http://webtv.un....
The conflict continues, and rages on. We see Hodeidah as the center of gravity of the war. And for this reason, we deeply welcome recent reports of the reduction of violence on Hodeidah fronts.
And we need it to last.
I am extremely grateful to all leaders and others who have called for a cessation of hostilities. There must be no temptation to restart that battle. As the mediator in this conflict, I strongly believe that nothing should be allowed to impede the chance of dialogue and negotiation.
This Council has consistently called on all the parties to avoid any humanitarian catastrophe. And Secretary-General Guterres recently reminded us of our fears in that regard, the other day. But the situation in Hodeidah is fragile and unstable. We need to take urgent action. As you recall, we made some progress over the summer to reach a negotiated handover of the port of Hodeidah to the United Nations. I plan to visit Hodeidah next week along with my colleague Lise Grande, not least to revisit a UN supervisory role for the port and to draw attention to the continued need for a pause.
I am encouraged by the recent calls from all parties, the Government of Yemen in particular, and Ansar Allah, in addition to the Coalition, for the UN to step forward at this time on this issue. Let us build on this rather than retreat.
With increased international attention has come a renewed commitment from the Yemeni parties to work on a political solution. I welcome President Hadi’s announcement to move swiftly to a political solution. And I know from my contacts in Sana’a that Ansar Allah is also committed to this. And with this in mind, I intend to reconvene the parties shortly – and to do so in Sweden. I thank the Swedish government, through the representative of Sweden present here, for their offer to host the consultations. I believe we are close to resolving the preparatory issues that will allow to make this happen. I am grateful to the Coalition for agreeing our proposed logistical arrangements, and to the Coalition and Oman for their agreement to facilitate the medical evacuation of some injured Yemenis out of Sana’a.
This is a crucial moment for Yemen. I have received firm assurances from the leadership of the Yemeni parties; the government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, that they are committed to attending these consultations. I believe they are genuine and I expect them to continue in that way, and to appear for these consultations, and indeed so do the Yemeni people, who are desperate for a political solution to a war in which they are the main victims.
I have spent the last two months seeking support from the parties for an updated version of the Framework for Negotiations that I briefed you in this Council on 18 June, where I believed you orally on the elements of such a framework. The Framework is based upon the three references, SCR 2216, as well as the progress made particularly in Kuwait, and I repeat again, as I have done in previous meetings of this council, gratitude to the Government of Kuwait for hosting those talks in 2016. After careful listening to the parties over the last few months, I am confident that this framework is in line with both the requirements of this Council, and the new realities of the conflict in Yemen. The Framework, however, is my vision. But its ideas are not mine alone. Every conversation, every negotiation which has gone before has, I hope, become the basis for this document. I have, as you would imagine, shared it with the parties, for their views, and ultimately, I hope, their acceptance, just as a basis for negotiation, and not to negotiate the text itself. That would be the matter that would bring the parties together in the coming weeks and months. And when the parties have had the opportunity to brief me on their views on that Framework, I would like to put it in front of this Council, and seek your endorsement, so that we can use it as a basis for the upcoming consultations on substance, and to agree a roadmap, ideally in the next round of consultations, towards a Transitional Agreement.
This Framework establishes the principles and parameters for UN-led, inclusive Yemeni negotiations to end the war, and restart a political transition process. It includes a set of interim security and political arrangements, including mechanisms, sequencing and guarantees for implementation. It is a very broad document, as it only intends to be a basis for detailed negotiations. But I do believe that the arrangements outlined and referred to, will allow for an end to the fighting inside of Yemen, the return of Yemen's friendly relations with neighboring states and the restoring of state institutions.
And I believe that this Framework reflects, in fact and in words, the resolutions of this Council, and in no way derogates from them. My task is to fashion a road towards principled compromise, which allows the people of Yemen to live again in peace, and to set out a political solution that is available, and as I said before, it is there for taking.
A mediator’s principal task is to bring the parties together to resolve their differences through dialogue and compromise rather than combat and conflict. This is what I hope we will soon, as we move forward.
We are doing all that we can to achieve these goals. But as I said, in April, in this chamber: events of war can always take peace off the table. We must not let that happen now.
We are working very hard to finalize the logistical arrangements. I will go to Sana’a next week for this purpose. I shall meet the Ansar Allah leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, with whom I have had detailed discussions in previous months, about the need for engagement, consultations, and ultimately negotiations. It will be useful for me to hear again his leadership on these matters. I will also be happy to travel myself, if necessary, with their delegation to the consultations, if that is needed.
For a political settlement to be sustainable it must be inclusive, and it is a requirement of the resolutions affecting this conflict. And it must enjoy the support of the Yemeni people. I am fortunate to have the support of the Yemeni women advisory group, which not only came with us to Geneva, but is providing specific ideas on tactics and strategies as we move forward towards consultations.
We are also looking at using technology to strengthen inclusivity to provide an interactive platform for these voices which cannot travel, for the voices of those in Yemen, to be heard as we gather the parties around the table. In the 21st century, physical presence is not the only way to strengthen inclusion.
The Southern question is always on our minds. We are currently enjoying a period of calm, but the threat of violence, destabilization and instability is ever present. I have spent a lot of time listening to southern groups and exploring ways to address their concerns. Ultimately, the just resolution of the southern issue should be achieved, in my view, during the transitional period. It should meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of Yemen, and ensure that they enjoy the benefits of good governance.
Southern actors will clearly have a crucial role in safeguarding the outcomes of the peace process we are working on now and it is vital to secure their buy-in. It is my responsibility however to alert you that that there is unfinished business in the south of Yemen.
I would like to take the opportunity to announce to members of this Council that we are about to conclude an agreement between the parties on the exchange of prisoners and detainees, it may well be the first signed agreement between the parties in this conflict. We made great progress. President Hadi was the first to urge us to focus on this, and I also had the support of Abdel Malek Al Houthi when I first met him. I welcome the commitment of all parties who have engaged in good faith; the Coalition, the Government of Yemen, and Ansar Allah. It is an important humanitarian gesture and a timely message of hope to the Yemeni people. I had hoped that we would have been able to announce the formalization of this agreement today, but I am sure it will happen in the coming days.
I strongly believe that the parties need to get together without condition, under our auspices, to jointly address the dire economic situation in Yemen including the rapid deterioration of the Yemeni Rial – a key contributing aspect of famine. It is useful to note, and important to give credit to the Government of Yemen, that the depreciation of the Rial which was alarming, has now flattened out. This should not be a matter subject to political consideration when the victims are the Yemeni people. This is not indeed a confidence-building measures. It is a moral responsibility and obligation of the parties to the Yemeni people. I am planning to convene soon a meeting of the Central Bank of Yemen, to be facilitated by the IMF, to agree on an action plan which would allow the Central Bank of Yemen to discharge its responsibilities across the country and for all the people of Yemen.
Finally, Mr. President,
We must seize this positive international momentum on Yemen. Attention to Yemen is a great asset, as is the unity of this Council.
I strongly believe that this is an opportunity at a crucial moment to pursue a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement to the conflict.
Yemen can no longer afford to be referred as a forgotten war.
What I would ask you to consider, Mr. President, is that all our efforts should be directed towards at least two things. Firstly; the humanitarian priority, that Marc and David will refer to in a minute, which is the most important priority to the people of Yemen. And secondly; let us hope that there will be no acts which prevent the convening of the parties for consultations, in Sweden, in the coming weeks. This is an opportunity which has long been awaited by the people of Yemen. It is an opportunity which this council has long asked of the parties. I think we are almost there. We need to focus to make sure that nothing disrupts the path to that meeting.