Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 22 December 2015.

Thank you Madam President,

We also thank Special Envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed, High Commissioner Zeid and Assistant Secretary General Kyung-wha for your briefings. We welcome the update on the first round of talks in Switzerland and we welcome also the forthright nature of the briefings on the human rights and humanitarian situations in Yemen.

All of us here would have wished to see greater progress made in the past week’s talks. Even so, it is welcome that the parties have found some important areas of agreement and that there is a commitment to resume talks in mid-January. It is vital that both sides remain committed and engaged without preconditions to achieving a negotiated solution to this crisis, and working towards ensuring progress towards this goal at the next round.

We agree with the Special Envoy that the Security Council must support his efforts.  We call on all sides to engage meaningfully.  Those who may seek to undermine the talks or the ceasefire should know that there will be consequences.

The violations of the temporary ceasefire on both sides are very disappointing.  We commend, however, the efforts of humanitarian agencies to reach those in need during the window provided. It is important now that the ceasefire is extended and respected, both to facilitate further humanitarian access and to provide the resumed talks with the best prospects of success. Given the fragmented nature of the forces on the ground, we call on all sides to exercise restraint in responding to potential provocations in the weeks ahead, to give the ceasefire a chance to take hold.

Madam President,

The situation in Yemen has deteriorated very seriously during 2015.  A country that was already seriously impoverished has now suffered egregiously through serial failures in its leadership and sectarianism. The longer this conflict continues, the more the Yemeni people suffer, and the greater the threat to the stability and security of neighbouring countries. 

It is in the interests of all sides in the conflict to end the fighting and instability as soon as possible and work towards an inclusive and sustainable political solution.  Only then can the work of the political transition resume and the country’s leadership begin to address the multitude of political, security, economic and humanitarian challenges that await. 

Hostilities in and around civilian areas, including the use of heavy weapons and cluster munitions, as well as air strikes and anti-aircraft fire, have inflicted an unacceptably high toll on the civilian population.  Weapons flows from Yemen into Somalia and elsewhere threaten regional stability. There is mounting evidence that extremist groups, such as the Yemeni incarnations of al Qaeda and ISIL, are the prmary beneficiaries of continued instability and conflict.  Yemen cannot afford this conflict.  Neither can its neighbours.

Efforts to prevent the flow of arms into the country continue to inhibit access for desperately needed imported goods.  New Zealand supports, both politically and materially, the development of the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism and hopes that with its implementation the passage of the commercial supplies into Yemen will be significantly improved. We are very encouraged that the parties have agreed to remove barriers to the safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian supplies to all parts of Yemen. These commitments must be honoured and by all sides.

Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed as we have heard.  To avoid deepening the divisions within Yemeni society, it is essential that the national Commission of Inquiry independently and thoroughly investigates violations by all sides and shares its findings with the international community. 

Against this background, the focused discussion today by the Security Council is significant.  Since the beginning of its political transition in 2011, the United Nations and the Security Council have played a significant political role in Yemen.  And since April this year, resolution 2216 has been prominent in the Yemeni political discourse. 

Ultimately, there will have to be an inclusive solution which provides for broad participation in governance arrangements.  And any agreement will necessarily have challenging and complicated security arrangements which provide for the disarmament of armed groups and the reestablishment of state authority.  This Council must be ready to support those efforts with the same commitment we have been able demonstrate on other regional issues.

I thank you.