Foreign Secretary at the United Nations General Assembly Friends of Yemen Ministerial

Foreign Secretary William Hague makes the opening remarks at the fourth meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Friends of Yemen Ministerial.

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The Rt Hon William Hague

Good morning and welcome to the Fourth Friends of Yemen Ministerial. I am grateful to my fellow Co-Chairs His Excellency President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen and his Royal Highness Vice Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. We are honoured to be joined today by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Last year the Yemenis signed a political agreement to bring greater peace and stability to the country, brokered by the GCC, who have shown irreplaceable leadership, and the United Nations. A National Unity Government has been formed; and Interim presidential elections held, in which President Hadi was chosen by the Yemeni people to lead them through their historic transition.
President Hadi has already begun to lay the foundations for a successful transition. The recent success of the campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is testament to that. Tackling the threat from Al Qaeda in Yemen must remain a priority and we must work together to address the conditions that breed conflict in Yemen if we are to build a safe and stable environment in which civil society can flourish.

It will soon be the one year anniversary of the signing of the GCC Initiative and, whilst the Yemeni government continues to make progress, time is running short. Given this urgency, I believe we must focus on three priorities today.

First, we must address the launch of the National Dialogue. This will define the future of Yemen. The technical committee will report to President Hadi shortly on what the range of the dialogue should be if it is to gain legitimacy. We would suggest that it must be as inclusive as possible to succeed; it should be forward looking and any proposals should be realistic and benefit all of Yemeni society.

Second, we must turn the international community’s recent pledge of $6.4 billion into firm commitments that support effective and meaningful action that benefit the Yemeni people both now and for the foreseeable future. I would like to thank my fellow Co-Chair Saudi Arabia for hosting the very successful Donors Conference earlier this month, which we will hear more on later this morning.

Finally, we must begin the preparation for forthcoming elections. 2014 may seem distant but in order for these elections to be successful and credible, constitutional reform and voter registration must begin in earnest now.

There are those who wish to stand in the way of Yemen’s progress; who fear a stable and successful Yemen or are unwilling to let go of the past. We should remain firm in the face of such opposition. United Nations Resolution 2051made clear that the international community would not accept such negative behaviour and we should be prepared to consider further measures, including a Chapter VII UN Security Council Resolution, under Article 41, if such disruption continues.

The Yemeni people have made clear that they want to see change and we have seen progress on reform by the Yemeni government, but there still remains much more to be done if there is to be permanent, lasting change and fulfilment of people’s basic rights to freedom and democracy.

Yemen has undergone a tumultuous 18 months. The Yemeni people hope for a better future. We can understand their heartfelt desire for decent jobs, education and basic services; things which for many decades have been denied to them by those keen to keep their own interests safe, and we pay tribute to them for all their efforts.

It is incumbent on the international community to support the Yemeni people to rebuild their economy, address the increasingly concerning humanitarian situation and develop the brighter future that their desire and ambition deserves.

I hope that we can help provide that assistance to the Yemeni people and support them in their efforts build a safe and democratic society in which all may prosper, both now and in the decades to come.

I will now hand the floor over to His Excellency President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Published 27 September 2012