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The Fate of the UNSC Resolution 2216 About Yemen


Thu, 11-05-2023 02:04 PM, Aden

"Any new agreement will be issued in the form of a new resolution that would amend the previous one without revoking it".

Raad Alrimi (South24) 

In April 2015, UNSC issued Resolution 2216 which decisively classified the crisis in Yemen on the basis of the internationally recognized government (IRGY) represented by former President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government and a coup represented by the Houthis and their former ally Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The resolution set broadlines for the subsequent years regarding imposing sanctions on the Houthis and Saleh and banning supplying them with weapons. The resolution along with the Gulf Initiative and the National Dialogue constitute the three references for IRGY.

UNSC issued several resolutions about Yemen including Resolution 2140 in 2014 which put the country under Chapter VII of the UN Charter along with other resolutions related to the Yemeni crisis.

Over the past period, all attempts to separate the Yemeni crisis from its real context collided with these resolutions that constituted an important privilege for the IRGY as it does not equalize between the parties of the Yemeni crisis.

The discussions regarding Resolution 2216 and others took an important space in the talks and effort. Some consider the resolutions as a safety valve for the IRGY's camp that prevents Yemen’s fall into chaos by the Houthis. However, others look at those resolutions as being a real barrier to the efforts for a solution and peace.

Since IRGY and the Saudi-led Coalition failed to overcome the Houthis in North Yemen, the attempts to bypass Resolution 2216 have been clearer over the past years. The declared bilateral talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis constituted the most advanced moves in this direction. 

Prior to that, there was an attempt to replace Resolution 2216 with a new one. In May according to British Ambassador to Yemen Richard Oppenheim who talked about a new draft resolution submitted by Britain during a discussion session.

Today, questions arise more than ever about the fate of the Resolution 2216 and others amid leaks about an upcoming agreement and whether the deal would override the Resolution in favor of the Houthis and what will mean for IRGY.

International law expert, Dr. Tareq Qarda told "South24 Center" that Resolution 2216 is linked to the IRGY's international legitimacy. 

He said: "The UN Charter gives the Security Council, the executive organ of the organization, wide powers in the field of international peace and security, the most important of which are issuing decisions and taking the necessary procedures and measures when a threat to international peace and security occurs".

He added: "The Security Council issued this resolution under Chapter VII which requires taking and applying non-military coercive measures to stop violations. The resolution called for the Houthis to take several moves including withdrawing their forces from all areas under their control, stopping provocations and threats against neighbors, releasing all war prisoners, and handing over their missiles to IRGY".

Qarda pointed out that the resolution included a list of international sanctions. The sanctions. It identified the names of Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, Abu Ali Al-Hakim, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh, Abdulkhaleq Al-Houthi and all parties which work on their behalf. Moreover, the resolution banned supplying weapons to the Houthis and their ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Saudi-Houthi talks

American expert Fernando Carvajal who served on the UN Security Council Panel of Experts of Yemen believes that bilateral talks between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis "will flip Resolution 2216 on its head".

He told "South24 Center": "Just over a year ago in February 2022, the UN Security Council (UNSC) condemned the Houthis as a terrorist group for the first time.” UNSC Resolution 2624 (2022) came close to efforts to renew the listing of Sanaa-based Houthi rebels as a Foreign Terrorist Organization".

He added: "Yet recent developments have renewed the debate not only over the need to amend UNSC Resolution 2216 (2015), but over whether it remains relevant today". He pointed out that "as optimism fades following talks in Sanaa between Saudi Arabia and Houthis, observers express concern over that".

Carvajal continued by saying: "In particular, there are three issues to discuss: the reference to the “legitimate Government of Yemen” and its authority; sanctions on Abdulmalik Al-Houthi, Ali Abdullah Saleh; and the arms embargo. Questions already surfaced over the relevance of 2216 following an agreement to lift restrictions on vessels entering the Red Seaport at Hodeida under Houthi control".

The expert noted that "This particular issue, believed to have been negotiated without direct participation by the successor to President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi".

According to him "Yemenis opposed to Houthis as a center of authority insist the international community must fulfill its obligations under 2216, which recognized Houthi threats to peace and security under Chapter VII of the UN Charter ''.

He concluded: "Criticism of recent efforts by Saudi Arabia, and even the UN Envoy Hans Grundberg, focus on the consequences of the hybrid or split sovereignty approach to conflict resolution at the hands of the hegemonic coalition and UN institutions. The debate has just begun, and there is little confidence any criticism will influence the outcome in the short term".

It is worth mentioning that the latest release of Yemeni Defense Minister Major General Mahmoud Al-Subaihi and others came as part of an exchange war prisoner exchange operation between the Yemeni government and the Houthis. The names of Al-Subaihi, Major General Nasser Mansour Hadi and Major General Faisal Rajab were included as part of Resolution 2216 that demanded the Houthis to release them

Upcoming agreement 

Bypassing Resolution 2216 may actually give a strong push towards reaching an agreement in Yemen, but it is in the interests of the Houthis ultimately. However, observers believe that the incoming agreement would replace the current references including Resolution 2216.

In this regard, Yemeni academic Dr. Olfat Al-Dubai told "South24 Center" that "any upcoming deal accepted by all Yemeni parties that would achieve peace, guarantee broad partnership and prevent the armed group from controlling the decision making will be welcomed by the international and regional community and will serve as a new reference accepted by all parties".

In response to a question about whether UNSC failed to apply Resolution 2216, Al-Dubai said: "Failure and success can't be reduced in just a short answer. What Yemen has passed through should draw the attention of researchers and those interested in the Yemen issue to avoid repeating it".

She added: "As long as the consensus between the political forces leads to building the Yemeni state, broad partnership, and the adoption of a new constitution that absorbs the stage and achieves the goals of the Yemeni (revolution), then this means that the coup has ended and peace has been achieved, even if the bill paid by the Yemeni people was exorbitant and costly".

She believes in the importance of securing international, regional, and national guarantees to implement the peace agreement to avoid the recurrence of what happened".

As for the possibility of reaching an agreement without abolishing Resolution 2216, Al-Dubai said: "Any new agreement will be issued in the form of a new resolution that would amend the previous one without revoking it as the international resolutions can only be abolished if there is consensus among the political components of the Yemeni scene because the international guarantees should continue anyway".

It is important to refer to the repeated statements by the PLC’s Chairman Rashad Al-Alimi about the concessions made to the Houthis for the sake of peace and people in the Houthi-controlled areas. These statements suggest that parties within IRGY may be ready to override Resolution 2216, especially if this coincides with the Saudi willingness to do that.

Over the last months, there have been disputes and divisions within PLC regarding giving more concessions to the Houthis. Southerners, led by STC, refuse this. The latter has problems with some IRGY's old references which ignored the real participation of Southerners including the outcomes of the "National Dialogue" in 2013.

Raad Alrimi 

Journalist at South24 Center for News and Studies in Aden

South YemenYemenUnited NationsSecurity CouncilHouthisIRGYResolution 2216