Secretary-general's remarks on the first anniversary of the conclusion of the Yemen peace and transition agreement, Sana'a, YemenNov 19, 2012
I am very pleased to be here today, nearly a year after you concluded the historic agreement for a peaceful transition in Yemen.
I am honoured to be able to see for myself your remarkable achievements.
I recall my meeting with President Hadi this past September at the United Nations in New York, and I highly commend his leadership.
Yemen is a diverse society with an astonishingly rich history and culture. It is a dynamic country whose people deserve prosperity, stability and security.
Only a year ago, Yemen came perilously close to wide-spread conflict.
Youth movements were out in the squares, campaigning for peaceful change.
The streets of Sana’a and other major cities were the scene of armed confrontation, including shelling.
Across the country, unrest and strife were on the rise. Civil war seemed on the horizon, with implications for the security of the entire region.
Today, calm has returned to most parts of the country. Ordinary people -- who suffer first and worst during times of upheaval -- can again go about their business.
President Hadi, this turnabout has been made possible in part because of the courage you have shown in shouldering the burden of leadership during the transition. I congratulate you on the strong endorsement you received in the elections of February.
I commend the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which launched the GCC initiative early last year.
I would also like to acknowledge the constructive role played by members of the United Nations Security Council, who spoke with one voice in addressing the crisis, as well as the efforts of the diplomatic community in Sana’a.
I am also pleased by the political and financial support provided to the country by members of the “Friends of Yemen,” whose important meeting I attended in September.
And I add my appreciation for my Special Adviser, Mr Jamal Benomar, and his team, who played an important role in helping you fashion the transition agreement and are assisting in its implementation.
The November transition agreement helped to overcome the country’s political deadlock and defused the armed standoff in Sana’a and other parts of the country.
However, it was also clear, even a year ago, that signature would not by itself end the crisis.
The agreement is noteworthy because it offers a clear roadmap for the more profound transformation that the country is now undertaking.
Whenever a society is divided and faces the abyss of civil conflict, there is a need to return to wisdom, mutual respect and peaceful interaction. These are the principles with which you have armed yourself and which you continue to demonstrate.
The freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are also of direct relevance. As the Declaration stipulates: ‘the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government’.
Where the link between the governed and the government has been disrupted, it is necessary to renew the constitutional consensus on which the state is based.
You are now launching a highly important National Dialogue process. This process must be open to all -- including those who have agitated for change in the streets and representatives from all regions of the country, including those facing significant challenges. The process must also lead to meaningful outcomes that can restore trust in the state and ensure that its institutions operate on the basis of the rule of law.
I am encouraged by the important work that is being done in relation to the promotion and protection of human rights for all.
Any transition to democracy also requires an open engagement with the past. The agreement of November rightly points to the need for transitional justice and national reconciliation.
Let me also stress that a transition cannot be carried forward by only half of society. Women must exercise a prominent and meaningful role in any process of change and beyond.
It is also necessary to respect the views and aspirations of Yemen’s youth. We should not forget that it was young people who were among those in the vanguard of those calling for change.
Transitions are difficult. Yemen faces profound challenges.
The United Nations is working hard with other partners to help overcome the current humanitarian crisis.
The spectre of violent extremism and terrorism has not disappeared.
Many critical tasks, including the reform of the armed forces, remain.
Moreover, it is not easy for those accustomed to power to realize that space must now be given to new actors on the political scene -- men and, I emphasize, women.
The United Nations will continue to support you in overcoming these challenges and ushering in a more peaceful era for all the people of Yemen.
Thank you again for welcoming me here today.