Thank you, Mr. President. I thank Under-Secretary Lowcock and Special Envoy Griffiths for their briefings.
For millions of people around the world, this is a season of hope. This is the time of year that brings out the idealist in many of us. We are reminded that we are all – every one of us – flawed and fallen human beings. But we see a light in the darkness. And we hope that our best instincts can triumph over our worst.
It’s difficult to imagine more convincing proof of mankind’s worst instincts than the pictures coming out of Yemen today. Innocent children and babies slowly starving to death and succumbing to disease.
I’ll be honest. This may be the season of hope, but hope alone does not make us feel better when we see the pictures of suffering in Yemen. The world’s worst humanitarian crisis demands more than hope from the Security Council that peace will come to Yemen. It demands that we take action to hold all the warring parties accountable. It demands that we address the Iranian aggression at the root of the crisis. It demands that life-saving assistance reach the Yemeni women and children who are suffering the most from this conflict.
Special Envoy Griffiths has brought us encouraging news. We congratulate him on convening the parties in the Yemen conflict and bringing them together face-to-face for negotiations for the first time since 2016. These talks have produced concrete outcomes, including an agreement for a prisoner exchange. The progress made in Sweden should build on the political will necessary for more progress in the future. We welcome the willingness of all parties, including Saudi Arabia, to participate in these confidence building measures.
Most hopeful of all is the news of the ceasefire around the port city of Hudaydah. The success of this ceasefire is critical to addressing the acute, immediate need for humanitarian assistance in Yemen. All parties – including the Coalition – must exercise restraint in line with the ceasefire. It is critical this ceasefire holds to allow the space for continued conversations.
We expect that, in the coming days, the parties will begin withdrawing forces in accordance with the agreement. The agreement calls for weekly reports to the Security Council. These reports must show continued political progress and commitment from all parties. The members of the Security Council will be monitoring the situation very closely. We must be ready to act if one or more of the parties fails to follow through. The next step is to expand the ceasefire to include the entire city of Hudaydah. We call on all the parties to take this step and to show the world they are serious about achieving peace in Yemen. Ultimately, the success of the ceasefire must lead to an agreement on the Special Envoy’s framework for a final political settlement.
This is the outcome toward which all these confidence building measures and negotiations are directed: a realistic political framework for peace in Yemen. And the Security Council should not stop focusing on this conflict until that is received.
In this season of hope, the international community doesn’t have to be satisfied with just hope for the people of Yemen. We have the ability to change their reality. Human beings created this crisis. Human beings can end it. Life and death are on the line, and we are not powerless.
We call on all of our colleagues in the Security Council to take the next step. To build on what has begun. And to find the simple, political will to save lives – lives of millions – and bring about peace in Yemen.