On 27 September 2013 (S/PV.7037), Mr. Jamal Benomar – Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Yemen, and Mr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zavani – Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Yemen. These briefings took place as the National Dialogue Conference neared its conclusion. The briefings and subsequent debate focused on progress made on political transition and inclusivity within the National Dialogue, yet were contextualized within the broader economic, security and humanitarian challenges that persisted.
Women, peace and security concerns were raised within the Special Advisor’s briefing, in particular that of women’s inclusion and participation. Mr. Benomar noted several of the recommendations developed during the National Dialogue, which included measures to ensure more open and accountable governance; greater participation of women in decision-making; and improved protection of human rights. He also referenced a meeting with the women’s caucus, in which they informed him of their satisfaction at having achieved key objectives within the dialogue, including acknowledgment of and protection for human rights, integration of these rights into the constitution, and a guarantee of 30 percent women’s representation within the three branches of government. Several of the Security Council members similarly commented on the importance of women’s inclusion. Additionally, France and Luxembourg highlighted human rights protection concerns, including the rights of the child and established a minimum age for marriage (Luxembourg) and women’s rights especially around forced marriage (France).
The emphasis on women’s inclusion in national dialogue and political transition was encouraging, but as the representative from Argentina notes, women’s full participation in economic and social life should have also been promoted. Further, although the Special Advisor and several members of the Security Council explicitly recognized the important role of women in a future Yemen, the representative from Yemen – the Minister for Foreign Affairs – made no mention of women in his address. Although he did speak generally about the framework for a new Constitution that provided justice for all and the equitable distribution of wealth. Outside of comments from France and Luxembourg (although Luxembourg was more child-specific), there was no gender-differentiated analysis of human rights concerns in the country, despite frequent mentions of security challenges and terrorist threats, poverty, economic insecurity (with 13 million people, more than half the entire population, requiring some form of humanitarian aid), and a humanitarian crisis, where 13 million were without access to safe water and sanitation, 6 million were without access to healthcare, 3 million children were malnourished, and more than 300,000 were internally displaced.
In correspondence with the February 2013 MAP, the Special Advisor did stress that women were active participants within the National Dialogue Conference. However, the Special Advisor did not provide information about a commission of inquiry or investigation into violations of human rights or humanitarian law (although there is reference to an action plan designed to redress past injustices).
The previous briefing on the situation in Yemen occurred in June 2013 (S/PV.6976), when the National Dialogue Conference was halfway through its deliberations. In this briefing (S/PV.7037) the Special Advisor made similar points to the June 2013 briefing, highlighting the inclusiveness of the Dialogue process and the contributing role of women therein.