Security Council Renews Arms Embargo, Travel Ban, Asset Freeze Imposed on Those Threatening Peace in Yemen, by 11 Votes in Favour, None against, 4 abstentions
The Security Council decided today to renew for one year the arms embargo on Yemen, as well as the travel ban and asset freeze against those threatening peace in that country.
By the terms of resolution 2624 (2022) (to be issued as document S/RES/2624(2022)), adopted by 11 votes in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Norway), the 15-member Council extended, until 28 February 2023, the measures first imposed by its resolution 2140 (2014), relating to the travel ban and asset freeze, as well as the provisions in resolution 2216 (2015) relating to the targeted arms embargo, while noting that those are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for Yemeni civilians.
Also by the text, the Council extended, until 28 March 2023, the mandate of the associated Panel of Experts.
Further by the text, the Council strongly condemned the cross-border attacks by the Houthi terrorist group, including attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that struck civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Several delegates welcomed the adoption, with the representative of the United Arab Emirates highlighting its call for an end to the suffering of civilians in Yemen and the wider region. The text seeks to limit the capacity of the Houthis and end attacks on international navigational waters, she said, expressing support for a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations, in accordance with the Gulf Initiative, National Dialogue Conference and relevant Security Council resolutions.
However, Mexico’s representative, who abstained from today’s vote, was among delegates expressing concern about the resolution’s characterization of the Houthis as a terrorist group, despite the absence of an internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Such a characterization must be maintained within the regimes established under Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001), and not through resolutions relating to sanctions regimes, he emphasized.
Norway’s delegate, who also abstained, expressed support for the imposition of targeted sanctions, but cautioned against the unintended humanitarian consequences of designating the Houthis as a terrorist group. In the absence of a declared definition, such labelling may have negative impacts on efforts to facilitate a political solution and address the country’s large-scale humanitarian needs, she said. Welcoming the Council’s action to limit the Houthis’ capacity to harm civilians, she condemned the group’s cross-border attacks against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The Russian Federation’s representative, while expressing support for the resolution’s adoption, emphasized that restrictive measures should not lead to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Also speaking were representatives of India, Ireland, Brazil, Kenya, Ghana, China and Albania.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 10:45 a.m.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), thanking the United Kingdom for respecting all views during the negotiations, welcomed the adoption of resolution 2624 (2022), saying it aims to limit the capacity of the Houthis and to stem escalation of the war. It calls for an end to attacks on international navigational waters and seeks to end the suffering of civilians in Yemen and the region, she added. Calling upon the Houthis to cease their terrorist attacks and return to the negotiating table, she emphasized that there is no military solution to the crisis and expressed support for a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations, in accordance with the Gulf Initiative, National Dialogue Conference and relevant Security Council resolutions.
AMARNATH ASOKAN (India), unequivocally condemning cross-border attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the actions taken to hold Ansar Allah (Houthi) accountable through the arms embargo. India supports calls to enhance maritime cooperation and strengthen Yemen’s coast guard so as to ensure maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, he said, emphasizing the need to deter threats to safe navigation along the coast of Yemen. India affirms the designation criterion, he added. Expressing concern about the suffering of the Yemeni people caught in the protracted conflict, he voiced support for a Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political process, to pave the way for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
JIMY KELLY (Ireland), expressing full support for the work of the “2140 Committee", said a politically negotiated solution is the only path forward and is vital for Yemenis on the brink of famine and facing extreme food insecurity. Noting the recent escalation of the conflict, he condemned Houthi cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, the persistent Houthi offensive against Marib is reprehensible, he said, calling for its immediate end. He went on to explain that his delegation abstained from the vote on the resolution. Pointing out that there is no internationally agreed definition of “terrorism” or “terrorist groups”, he cautioned that the use of those terms in a resolution dealing with sanctions in Yemen may have unintended consequences for Yemenis living under Houthi control. Stressing the importance of protecting humanitarian space, he said more time for consideration of the language and its implications would have been valuable. He urged States to continue to ensure that all their measures to implement the resolution comply with their obligations under international law.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), acknowledging the valuable work of the Sanctions Committee and its Panel of Experts, said his delegation abstained from the vote due to the lack of an internationally agreed definition of terrorism. Emphasizing that terrorism must be fought in full compliance with international law, including international human rights law, he expressed concern that the characterization of the Houthis as a terrorist group might have a negative impact on humanitarian actors. Whereas the sanctions proposed against the Houthis are limited to the arms embargo, they might nevertheless affect humanitarian operations, including the importation of essential goods, he cautioned. Stressing the importance of maintaining the characterization of terrorist groups within the regimes established under Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1373 (2001), he said such characterizations should not be made through resolutions relating to sanctions regimes.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) expressed concern about the deadly military escalation triggered by the Houthi offensive against Marib, noting that, last month, the violence resulted in more than 650 civilian casualties, the highest monthly count in more than three years. As well, the humanitarian situation is deteriorating, with 21 million people in need of assistance, he said, adding that food rations were reduced in December 2021 due to lack of funding and might be further reduced or cease altogether in March 2022. He went on to deplore recent Houthi attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, saying Brazil stands in solidarity with Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and India, whose nationals are among the victims of the attacks. He went on to caution that applying an overarching counter-terrorism framework to the conflict in Yemen could affect the prospects for dialogue and de-escalation at a time when they are most needed. In the absence of a legal definition of terrorism, the Council should proceed with caution, he said, adding that the characterization of the Houthis as a terrorist group in a Council resolution will have direct and immediate repercussions on many national legal systems, affecting the capacity and inclination of exporters, banks, shipping companies and other private actors to interact with the Yemeni economy.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) said his delegation voted for renewal of the 2140 sanctions regime, emphasizing that those who engage in indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen and other countries in the region must be held to account. Since sanctions could have negative implications on humanitarian access, efforts could be made to ensure that humanitarian access is not impeded, he added. Noting that the attacks by the Houthis on civilian targets in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia cross over an acceptable threshold and contradict the Council’s efforts to help the mediation of peace in Yemen, he said the sanctions being imposed help reinforce to rebel groups that they must cease their attacks to have any hope of being accepted as legitimate political actors. The Security Council must not support the Houthis’ control of populations and manipulation of humanitarian space, he added, underlining that countering terrorism and supporting humanitarian action are not in conflict with one another. As for concerns that there is no definition of “terrorism”, he said terrorism is recognizable at an intuitive human level and called on the Council to stand together against the phenomenon.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution despite misgivings, because it is important to maintain the sanctions regime in light of the political and humanitarian situation. He emphasized the need for dialogue and diplomacy, and the importance of an inclusive, Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political process, facilitated by the United Nations and supported by regional actors. Calling for continued support from the Council in the difficult task of bridging the differences among the parties through enhanced confidence-building measures, he expressed concern about the recent military escalations and the alarming increase in civilian casualties and air strikes.
ZHANG JUN (China) expressed deep concern at the escalation of the conflict, and condemned attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. He called for the cessation of cross-border attacks and expressed support for efforts by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to defend their national security. While welcoming the updating of the mandate, he noted that his delegation’s position on sanctions is always consistent. China will keep a close eye on such measures and hopes the resolution will be conducive to helping all parties renounce the military option and return to negotiations, he said. Moreover, humanitarian work must continue, he emphasized. The Panel of Experts must provide accurate information and operate under strict impartiality, he stressed.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said her country remains alarmed by the ever‑worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen, emphasizing that reducing food rations for 8 million people and the announced disruption of a critical humanitarian programme are unacceptable. She condemned the cross-border attacks against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and expressed support for the imposition of targeted sanctions that can help support a path towards a political settlement and contribute to the protection of civilians. In that regard, Norway welcomed the Council’s action to limit the Houthis’ capacity to carry out attacks and harm civilians, she said. Commending the important work of the Panel of Experts, she expressed full support for the extension of its mandate. However, Oslo remains worried about terrorist labelling and designation, she said, noting that the use of such terminology in the absence of a declared definition may have negative impacts on United Nations efforts to facilitate a political solution in Yemen. Use of the new language could also have unintended humanitarian consequences and negatively affect United Nations efforts to address large-scale humanitarian needs throughout the country, she cautioned. While the resolution includes language aimed at safeguarding humanitarian action, it stops short of addressing Norway’s key concerns, she said explaining her country’s abstention. Stressing that there is no military solution to the conflict, she called on all parties to prioritize the needs and interests of the Yemeni people.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) expressed support for the renewal of the mandate of the “2140 Committee” and reiterated calls for a nation-wide ceasefire. Emphasizing the importance of resolving the conflict, he said the resolution supports an inclusive, Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political process, as well as the mandate of the Special Envoy. Its full implementation will guarantee greater security for Yemen, its people and the whole region, he added.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), while expressing support for the resolution’s adoption, said restrictive measures should not lead to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen. Relevant humanitarian exemptions must work, he added. In making its decision, the Russian Federation was guided by the outcomes of the Council’s consultations of 24 February with the Special Envoy, he noted. Expressing hope that peace can be achieved through negotiations, he called on the Special Envoy to step up efforts to establish contacts with all parties and to present the Council with a road map to resolve the conflict. The Russian Federation will do what it can to assist the peace process in Yemen and contribute to the broader normalization of the situation in the wider region, he pledged.