posted on Mon 10 Oct 2011 4:25 PM
DPA Briefing on Abyei and Yemen

It seems that Council members will receive a briefing tomorrow (Tuesday, 11 October) in closed consultations on the situation in Abyei and Yemen. It appears that the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous will brief on Abyei and Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, will speak on the latter situation. Benomar was in Yemen recently trying to broker a solution to the political crisis. Following the DPA briefing Council members are scheduled to hold consultations on the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA).

It seems that the Abyei briefing was requested following the 6 October briefing on UNISFA. Some Council members had at the time expressed concern about the lack of clarity over whether South Sudanese forces had withdrawn from Abyei. (During that briefing, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, indicated that both Sudanese and South Sudanese forces had not withdrawn from Abyei. The acting Permanent Representative of South Sudan, David Buom Choat, later on stated that his country’s forces had withdrawn from Abyei, while Sudanese Permanent Representative, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, indicated that the Sudanese Armed Forces would withdraw from the region once UNISFA was fully deployed.)

The Secretary-General’s recent report on the situation in Abyei proposes UNISFA’s mandate be adjusted to include a border monitoring support role. This would require the Council to adopt a resolution detailing the changes to UNISFA’s mandate. There appears to be support in principle among Council members for giving UNISFA a border monitoring support role. However, some Council members seem to be reluctant about beginning negotiations on a resolution adjusting the mission’s mandate without clear, accurate information about the security situation in Abyei and the consultations tomorrow appear to be aimed at getting a better understanding of the situation.

The Yemen portion of the DPA briefing is likely to focus on the deteriorating political and security situation, particularly since President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Sanaa on 23 September. There is likely to be interest in the developments over the weekend, including Saleh’s declaration that he would step down soon and the call by some opposition figures asking for a stronger UN role in ending the political deadlock.

It seems that a possible next step on Yemen would be for Council members to consider a draft resolution which may be introduced following tomorrow’s briefing.

The last time the Council took action on Yemen was on 24 September when Council members issued a press statement urging all parties to commit to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative for power-transition which Saleh had backed out of signing several times. The statement also highlighted Council members’ grave concern at the worsening economic, humanitarian and security situation in Yemen.

The first press statement issued on Yemen by Council members was on 24 June. Council members expressed grave concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation and urged all parties to show maximum restraint and to engage in an inclusive political dialogue. They also welcomed the mediation efforts of the GCC.