The Security Council today unanimously decided to renew a travel ban, assets freeze and arms embargo against those threatening peace and security in Yemen, rejecting an alternate draft, vetoed by the Russian Federation, that would have spotlighted specific non‑compliance by Iran identified by the expert panel mandated to monitor those measures.
By the terms of resolution 2402 (2018), the Council renewed until 26 February 2019 the travel ban and assets freeze first imposed in resolution 2140 (2014). It also reaffirmed the arms embargo — as laid out in resolution 2216 (2015) — against several individuals, including the late former Yemeni President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, designated by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014), also known as the “2140 Committee”. It extended until 28 March 2019 the Panel of Experts’ mandate.
The text, submitted by the Russian Federation, prevailed over another tabled by the United Kingdom, which was defeated by a vote of 11 in favour to 2 against (Bolivia, Russian Federation) with 2 abstentions (China, Kazakhstan).
That draft would have reaffirmed the applicability of sanctions to activities related to ballistic missile use in Yemen, the provision or transfer of related goods or technologies to listed persons or entities, and the provision of financial, material or technological support to those persons and entities.
It also would have called on all parties to the conflict in Yemen to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law; cease attacks directed at civilians and civilian objects; take all feasible precautions to avoid or minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects; respect and protect medical facilities and personnel; and end the recruitment and use of children.
The United Kingdom’s delegate, prior to the two votes, said attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia were unacceptable and raised concern over the Panel’s findings that Iran had provided short‑range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, in breach of paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 (2015). Urging the Council to stand firm against such violations, he said that while the United Kingdom had sought to ensure a balanced and impartial text, it also had not shied away from calling out those who had violated international agreements.
The Russian Federation’s representative, also speaking before the votes, said he could not support the United Kingdom‑sponsored draft, as he did not agree with its inclusion of unverified information. Assessing the Panel of Experts’ work in the manner mentioned in that draft was misguided. That text would be detrimental to the Council and destabilizing to both Yemen and the region. There was a grave danger in toying with geopolitical maps, he warned, especially with regard to relations between the Shiite and the Sunni communities. Instead, the resolution should be technical in nature, and as such, the Russian Federation had presented an alternate text.
The representative of the United States, calling the Russian Federation’s statement “perverse”, said the Panel had presented evidence of Iran’s involvement, its arms embargo violations and its failure to prevent the transfer of banned arms to Houthi rebels. Those weapons were being used to target the capitals of Yemen’s neighbours; the United Kingdom’s draft had provided a common sense solution. Today, preventive diplomacy had failed and the principles of the United Nations Charter had been violated. Iran was entrenching itself in other nations and making the world a more dangerous place, she said, adding that “we will not stop until Tehran is stopped.”
Bolivia’s delegate said he had voted against the United Kingdom‑sponsored draft because it had not taken into account the concerns of several delegations. Bolivia would not apologize to anyone for standing up for its principles, including that of the sovereignty of States. It was irresponsible to call out other regional actors without evidence, he said, warning the Council against pursuing narrow political agendas in breach of the United Nations Charter.
Also speaking were representatives of France, China, Peru, Sweden, Netherlands and Kuwait.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom), explaining his delegation’s position before the vote, said the conflict in Yemen had caused the world’s largest crisis, posed global security threats and fuelled regional tensions. While the focus was often on Syria, he said, “this Council must not ignore the appalling situation in Yemen”. Calling for unity of effort and purpose to end the conflict, he said the United Nations sanctions regime was a critical tool that must be used to pressure those bent on undermining Yemen’s stability. It was vital that the Panel of Experts’ work be continued, he stressed, adding that the Council must not ignore the grave ballistic missile threat now emanating from Yemen. Attacks against civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, such as those on 22 July 2017, 4 November 2017 and 19 December 2017 were unacceptable, he stressed, also raising concern over the Panel’s findings that Iran had provided short‑range missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, in non‑compliance of paragraph 14 of resolution 2216 (2015).
The Council must stand firm against such violations, he said, also voicing concern over the worsening humanitarian situation. The impact of restrictions on humanitarian access had been made clear by the Panel of Experts; in response, the text his delegation had presented called for unimpeded humanitarian access. Calling on all parties to redouble efforts to resolve their differences through dialogue, he said that, until that time, sanctions must be maintained. The United Kingdom had sought to present a balanced and impartial text which nonetheless did not shy away from calling out those who had violated international agreements. The Council relied on many independent Panels of Experts, and while members might not always like their conclusions, they were bound to respect them. Anyone voting against the draft resolution presented by the United Kingdom today was failing to do everything they could to hold those who violated Council resolutions to account.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his delegation could not support the United Kingdom‑sponsored draft to extend the Panel of Experts’ mandate. While the Russian Federation fully endorsed the majority of its provisions, it could not concur with unverified information that needed to be discussed. In principle, the Russian Federation objected to a technical rollover amid complex political realities. Three days ago, the Russian Federation had requested details on the use of weapons in Yemen and had yet to receive an answer. Assessing the Panel of Experts’ work in the manner mentioned in the draft resolution was misguided.
He said such a draft was detrimental to the Council and destabilizing to both Yemen and the region, leading to conflict among regional players. There was a grave danger of toying with geopolitical maps, especially as related to relations between the Shiite and the Sunni communities. A first, constructive step would be to seek inclusive discussions in the region. In order to not undermine unity, draft resolutions should be technical in nature. While supporting the mandate extension of the Panel of Experts, information must be verified. With that in mind, he proposed such a draft resolution, inviting the Council to vote on it today.
KELLEY A. ECKELS-CURRIE (United States) called the statement by the Russian Federation’s delegate “perverse”. The Council’s Panel of Experts had presented evidence of Iran’s involvement, its arms embargo violations and its failure to prevent the transfer of banned armaments to the Houthis. Those weapons were being used to target the capitals of Yemen’s neighbours. The United Kingdom’s draft resolution had provided a common sense solution. Today, preventive diplomacy had failed and the principles of the United Nations Charter had been violated. Iran was entrenching itself in other nations and making the world a more dangerous place, she said, adding that “we will not stop until Tehran is stopped.”
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) welcomed the adoption of resolution 2402 (2018). Expressing regret over the Council’s disunity on the first tabled draft, he said France supported a renewed mandate for the Panel of Experts and had already voiced grave concerns about attacks on Saudi Arabia and emphatically condemned any flouting by Iran of arms embargoes. The humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate alarmingly, he said, calling efforts to provide assistance a first positive step. The priority must remain addressing the crisis. “We must remain galvanized to breathe new political life” into the situation so all stakeholders could engage in negotiations. The aim must be to arrive at peace, including through United Nations‑led inclusive dialogue, he said, emphasizing the critical importance of unity in the Council.
MA ZHAOXU (China) said the deteriorating situation in Yemen raised deep concerns, requiring the international community to support efforts to get negotiations back on track. Renewing the targeted sanctions and Panel of Experts’ mandate would serve the interests of Yemen and countries in the region. Resolution 2402 (2018) accomplished that goal, he said, reflecting the broadest possible consensus in the Council. While welcoming the draft resolution that the United Kingdom had proposed, he said Council members had held differing views. Members must continue to discuss issues and “meet each other halfway”. A political settlement was the only way to achieve lasting peace in Yemen, he said, calling on all parties to work towards a solution.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) thanked delegations for the unanimous adoption of the draft resolution, which aimed to improve the situation in Yemen. The Russian Federation respected relations with all stakeholders in the region. His delegation had voted against the United Kingdom’s proposal only because consensus could not be reached on some provisions, he said, adding that the statement of the United States representative had demonstrated that the Russian Federation’s concerns were not for naught.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), expressing regret that the first draft text had not been adopted, said the sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts’ mandate needed to be renewed. He also voiced regret that France’s concerns about the humanitarian situation had not been adequately addressed.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), Council President for February, spoke in his national capacity to express support for the first draft resolution because it proposed to renew the sanctions and mandate of the Panel of Experts, and contained language that focused on the situation in Yemen. Condemning the Houthis’ ballistic missile launches against Saudi Arabia, which were a clear violation of the arms embargo, he called on all Member States to respect the sanctions.