United Nations Security Council briefing on the Middle East: Yemen

28 September 2013

Speech, E&OE, (check against delivery)

28 September 2013

I thank Foreign Minister Al-Qirbi and GCC Secretary General Zayani for their briefings. Both are making important contributions to Yemen's political future. I also acknowledge the contribution of UN Special Adviser Benomar and thank him for his briefing today.

This meeting takes place at a crucial moment in Yemen's history. Yemen has embarked on a peaceful political transition process and must be commended for doing so.

Under interim President Hadi's leadership, Yemen has made progress with political dialogue and undertaken important reforms to the security sector. It is important the current spirit of inclusiveness and participation continues, as a foundation for Yemen's democratic future.

We do not underestimate the challenge of identifying a new basis for national governance in the face of serious security, economic and humanitarian challenges.

Continued participation in the National Dialogue by southerners able to speak with authority, and who are prepared to contribute constructively to the transition process, is essential to the shaping of the nation. Outreach to and engagement with all Yemenis will be vital to ensure broad support for the future Yemen.

While significant progress has been made in the National Dialogue, we note the delay to its conclusion. Any slippage in the political transition timetable must be minimised and managed effectively to avoid disengagement by any party from the transition process.

There remain spoilers, both inside and outside Yemen, who wish to undermine the political process and derail Yemen's political transition. Their actions risk Yemen's stability and security and that of the region. It is vital that no further actions be taken to undermine the Government of National Unity or the transition.

Yemen's security risks must not be underestimated. Sectarian and tribal clashes, and the activities of terrorists, including kidnapping for ransom, continue to destabilise and undermine the security of Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.

We deplore the cowardly attacks this past week that took the lives of more than 40 members of Yemen's armed forces.Such attacks underline the importance of firm resolve by Yemenis to see through a successful transition.

As Chair of this Council's Al Qaida sanctions Committee, Australia will continue to work with others – including Yemen – to address the terrorist threat.A unified and integrated armed force is also important to Yemen's future security.

Yemen's political and security challenges are compounded by a dire humanitarian situation. Over 13 million people are without access to safe water and sanitation, more than 6 million are without access to health care, and more than 300,000 are internally displaced.An estimated 3 million children are malnourished.

Yemen's regional partners have an important role in helping Yemen to address the considerable political, economic and humanitarian challenges it faces.

Regional support is also essential for Yemen's successful political transition. The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) has played an important leadership role in brokering Yemen's political transition agreement. Long-term constructive engagement with Yemen by GCC member States will remain crucial.

The Friends of Yemen plays a valuable role in fostering international coordination and information sharing to support the Yemeni-led process of political transition and national development.

It is crucial this Council continues to engage actively and constructively to support the Yemeni-led political transition. We stand by this Council's readiness to consider further measures, including possibly sanctions, against those who seek to interfere in the transition process.

This Council's engagement in Yemen has already demonstrated the value it can bring through preventive diplomacy measures. It is essential this success be translated into continued support for a democratic, stable and prosperous Yemen.

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