MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE FRIENDS OF YEMEN
NEW YORK. FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2010
The Friends of Yemen met at ministerial level on 24 September 2010 to review progress since the January meeting in London, agree a course of action, and plan for the next meeting in Riyadh. They gave their unequivocal support to the unity, security and stability of the country and endorsed the principle of non-interference in Yemen’s internal affairs. Ministers expressed their warm thanks to the Co-Chairs of the Working Groups on Economy & Governance and Justice & the Rule of Law for their energy and commitment. They endorsed the recommendations of the Working Groups.
The meeting praised the encouraging progress made since the high-level meeting in London in January, in a number of important areas:
- The agreement of the Government of Yemen to an IMF programme, bringing vital fiscal discipline to the management of Yemen’s serious budget deficit;
- Early introduction of measures to implement the IMF programme, including the gradual reduction in the level of Government subsidies on fuel, lowering a heavy burden on the budget, and the fast-tracking of important enabling legislation;
- Firm progress in the negotiations towards Yemen’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, which they hoped would be concluded by the end of 2010;
- The launch of a comprehensive National Dialogue; and
- The announcement in February 2010 of a ceasefire in Sa’dah.
The meeting agreed that:
Economy, Development & Governance
i) The Friends of Yemen considered the National Dialogue a Yemeni process, which they would encourage and support. It formed the best basis for building lasting security and stability. They agreed that the Dialogue should proceed speedily to substantive discussions between the main political actors and others of the issues that were sources of conflict and difference in the country. The National Dialogue was the most effective forum to take forward the urgent work needed to secure free and fair multi-party elections in 2011.
ii) A focussed, prioritised Development Plan for Yemen for 2011-15, aligned with the National Reform Agenda and the Government’s overall long-term budget planning, was the essential mechanism to guide donor contributions and enable the effective delivery of financial support to Yemen over the next five years. The Yemeni Government’s commitment to make employment the central focus of their next Development Plan was warmly endorsed.
iii) Necessary economic reforms would have an adverse impact on the poor. Friends committed to provide additional support for social protection, and to continue to explore new long-term funding mechanisms to underpin Yemen’s Development Plan, including the idea of establishing a Development Fund for Yemen.
iv) The Friends of Yemen supported the establishment of a GCC Office in Sana’a, which would help all donors to plan, co-ordinate and deliver assistance to Yemen more effectively and encouraged the participation of the Gulf funds.
v) The Friends of Yemen should step up their assistance to the vocational and technical training sector and support a programme to increase the participation of skilled Yemeni workers in local and other labour markets.
vi) Continuing decentralisation of the planning and delivery of services was essential for inclusive government. The Government of Yemen agreed to produce a prioritised action plan based on its 2008 decentralisation strategy and to begin its implementation, with Friends’ support.
vii) Support for the commitment of the Government of Yemen to implement the national water sector strategy and existing legislation in the water sector, while strengthening all efforts towards integrated water resource management
Justice, Security & the Rule of Law
viii) The efforts of the State of Qatar in supervising the implementation of a lasting peace settlement in Sa’dah were welcomed, building on the ceasefire announcement, the 2008 Doha Agreement and the work of the local Peace Committees. The safe passage of humanitarian relief to those affected by the conflict was vital. The friends of Yemen would support the long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction of Sa’dah.
ix) The Friends of Yemen supported the Yemeni authorities’ efforts to fight corruption, and urged them speedily to prosecute and try corruption cases. Corruption undermined development and investment, and contributed to social and political instability. Ministers welcomed Yemeni assurances that the first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report, addressing corruption in the oil sector, would be produced and validated by February 2011.
x) The extension of the justice system to all Yemeni citizens was vital. The Friends of Yemen agreed to support the Yemeni Government’s commitment to establish new courts in priority rural areas.
xi) The Friends of Yemen welcomed the commitment of the Yemeni Government to continue with the implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in May 2009.
xii) The comprehensive, cross-Government Counter Radicalisation Strategy for Yemen, announced at the meeting, provided a strong foundation for tackling the underlying economic, social and political root causes of terrorism and extremism, and formed a good basis for partners’ support and for the Government of Yemen’s efforts to counter terrorism and radicalisation.
xiii) Work to prepare the new ten-year Development Plan for the Yemeni Coastguard and on the Sana’a-based Maritime Information Centre were excellent examples of effective co-operation between the Yemeni authorities and multiple donors. Friends of Yemen committed to continue their support to reinforce the capacities of the Yemeni security forces to protect borders.
The Friends of Yemen thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their offer to host the next ministerial meeting of the group in February 2011. The meeting would take forward work on key reforms, and give clear direction to future work. It would follow a donors’ Consultative Group meeting to launch the next Development Plan for Yemen.
Heads of Mission in Sana’a should engage with the Government of Yemen to follow up on the outcome of the New York meeting and prepare for the Riyadh meeting.
New York, 24 September 2010