November 21, 2016
The Security Council’s discussions on the situation in Yemen have historically failed to reflect important gender dimensions, despite multiple meetings of the Security Council Informal Expert Group on WPS (S/2017/627, S/2017/1040, S/2019/253) and briefings by civil society in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Council should consider the report of the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE), which echoed what women’s groups have been vocal about in the last few years on arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence against women and girls, and more importantly hold perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence and child recruitment accountable (GEE). The emergence of COVID-19 in the region has exacerbated the already dire humanitarian situation and fragile health infrastructure in Yemen. Fatality rates are 10 times higher than the global average and are among the highest in the region, with public health officials warning that extreme vulnerability combined with low general immunity puts Yemen at exceptional risk (OCHA). Ongoing violence in Yemen, including the recent escalation of violence in the Marib governorate (What’s in Blue), has undermined the ability of humanitarian actors to provide assistance and to respond to outbreaks of COVID-19 and other preventable diseases, resulting in increased rates of violence, including gender-based violence. The Council should support women’s calls for local ceasefire in Marib (Women Solidarity Network).
The conflict remains the largest driver of food insecurity in the country, which has disproportionately affected women and children (Oxfam). As of September 2020, 1.4 million pregnant or breastfeeding women suffered from malnutrition due to food insecurity in Yemen (Oxfam). In its discussion following the Secretary-General’s briefing on the implementation of Resolution 2201 (2015), Resolution 2451 (2018), and Resolution 2505 (2020) and recent developments in Yemen, the Council should focus on the urgency of upholding and supporting a sustainable and nationwide ceasefire in line with Resolution 2532 (2020) that would support viable conditions for protecting civilians including women, prioritizing the release of women arbitrarily detained without conditions, enabling the delivery of humanitarian aid and lead to a resumption of peace negotiations.
Renewed negotiations for a political settlement, in keeping with the principles of WPS, necessitate women’s full, equal and meaningful participation, and active engagement with women and women’s organizations on the ground. The Council must support Yemen’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security, taking into consideration women-led civil society recommendations in ensuring accountability and inclusion in the implementation of the plan. The Council must continue to pressure all parties to implement the Stockholm Agreement and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate impartial, rapid and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such assistance must be gender-responsive, account for the needs of frontline health workers, and be developed in partnership with local civil society. It should consist of a full range of medical services, including psychosocial and sexual and reproductive health services, as well as access to legal assistance, education and employment, and other health and sanitation services before, during and after armed conflict (S/RES/2122 (2013), CEDAW/C/YEM/Q/7-8). The Council must support the Riyadh peace agreement signed in November 2019 with a resolution to support its implementation and prioritize women’s calls to relocate military camps and depots from cities. The Council must continue to emphasize the necessity of women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in formal peace and political processes, as well as in parallel or complementary processes taking place at the local level, and must ensure no less than the 30% quota of women in all processes as a matter of urgency (WILPF). The Council must consider supporting the appointment of a woman mediator to replace the current UN Special Envoy as his term is coming to an end.