posted on Tue 15 Jan 2019 7:29 PM
Yemen: Council to authorise UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement

Tomorrow morning (16 January), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution establishing the UN Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA). After initial consultations among the P5, the UK shared the draft resolution with the full Council on 11 January. That same day, Council members met for an initial read through of the text. Members had until yesterday afternoon (14 January) to submit comments. The draft resolution passed a silence procedure earlier today (15 January) and is now in blue.

The new special political mission is based on the Secretary-General’s proposal, submitted in a letter and an attached annex to the Council on 31 December 2018, on how the UN will support the implementation of the 13 December 2018 Stockholm Agreement, which set out the three different agreements that the Yemeni government and Houthis reached during last month’s consultations in Sweden. These include: an agreement for a cessation of hostilities in Hodeidah governorate and the mutual redeployment of forces from Hodeidah city and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa; an executive mechanism to implement the exchange of prisoners; and a statement of understanding on the city of Taiz.

The Secretary-General proposed establishing a UN mission to support the “Hodeidah Agreement”, comprising up to 75 UN monitors and other support staff. It would be headed, according to the proposal, by General Patrick Cammaert as chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC), which includes representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthis and was established by the Hodeidah Agreement to supervise its implementation. Cammaert arrived in Yemen last month with an advance team that the Council authorised in resolution 2451 for 30 days to begin monitoring and supporting implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.

The draft resolution approves the Secretary-General’s proposed composition and operational aspects of the mission, and establishes UNMHA for an initial period of six months with the following four-point mandate:

    1. to lead, and support the functioning of, the RCC, assisted by a secretariat staffed by UN personnel, to oversee the governorate-wide ceasefire, redeployment of forces, and mine action operations;
    2. to monitor the compliance of the parties to the ceasefire in Hodeidah governorate and the mutual redeployment of forces from the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa;
    3. to work with the parties so that the security of the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif, and Ras Issa is assured by local security forces in accordance with Yemeni law; and
    4. to facilitate and coordinate UN support to assist the parties to fully implement the Hodediah Agreement.

UNMHA will report to the Secretary-General through the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Yemen and the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

The Hodeidah Agreement, which is considered significant to addressing Yemen’s humanitarian crisis, foresaw a UN role in supporting the Yemeni port authorities’ management of the three ports, and in possibly assisting in the channeling of port revenues to the Hodeidah branch of the Yemeni Central Bank. These are functions that will be provided by the UN Country Team (UNCT), as indicated in the Secretary-General’s proposal, which further notes that the UNCT will assist UNMHA with support and training for a police force and the rehabilitation of police infrastructure/stations in Hodeidah. The UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) is also deploying personnel to the ports to enhance monitoring of incoming commercial shipments, while the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) has already been providing support to the advance team. In this regard, the draft resolution underlines the importance of close collaboration and co-ordination among all UN entities operating in Yemen in order to prevent duplication of effort and to maximise the leveraging of existing resources, including by the OSESGY, the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, the UNCT, UNMHA and UNVIM.

Council discussions on the draft resolution went smoothly. The UK, as penholder, sought a concise resolution, based on the Secretary-General’s proposal, and other members seemed to share the objective of avoiding negotiations on broader, potentially contentious issues, to ensure UNMHA’s authorisation before the expiration of the mandate of the advance team.

Among members’ questions and comments, there was some discussion, prompted by one member, about possibly providing more detail on UNMHA’s mandate. It seems, however, that the UK and others felt that it would be better not to go beyond that which was outlined by the Secretary-General in his letter, since this risked prescribing elements that the UN is still in process of getting the parties to agree on. The same member also wanted to confirm that the Council was only approving the proposals of the Secretary-General on “the composition and operational aspects” of UNMHA as set out in the annex to his letter, as opposed to approving the entire proposal, since it seems that it did not share some of the Secretary-General’s analysis of the situation. The UK confirmed that this was indeed the case, alleviating that concern. Very few changes were thus made to the draft circulated on 11 January. One change involved the inclusion of language to a paragraph that calls on the parties to the Hodeidah Agreement to ensure unhindered and expeditious movement “into and” within Yemen of UNMHA personnel and equipment, provisions and supplies. The addition of the language “into” Yemen was suggested by one member in light of some of the issues the UN has flagged regarding delays by the Houthis in approving visas for personnel and equipment that the UN requires.

The Secretary-General is requested in the draft in blue to report to the Council on a monthly basis regarding the resolution’s implementation, including on any obstructions to the effective operation of UNMHA caused by any parties, and on resolution 2451, including any non-compliance by any party. The reporting cycle thus reduces the frequency of the Secretary-General’s reporting on the implementation of resolution 2451 which he has been providing on a weekly basis since its adoption on 21 December. The Council further requests the Secretary-General to present it with a review of UNMHA in five months from the date of the resolution’s adoption.