Thank you, Mr. President. Let me also congratulate you on assuming the presidency for December and thank Ambassador Puri and his team for their leadership of the Council last month. Let me also thank you, Special Adviser Benomar, for your briefing. We appreciate your hard work to support the National Dialogue and the broader transition process in Yemen.
My remarks today will focus on three areas. First, the United States remains committed to working with President Hadi, the people of Yemen, and the international community to support a successful National Dialogue. Second, the international community must work to translate recent Friends of Yemen pledges into concrete aid through the Mutual Accountability Framework, and third, we must continue to oppose those who seek to undermine Yemen’s progress.
November 23 marked the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative that laid the groundwork for Yemen’s political transition. To meet the goals laid out one year ago, President Hadi and the people of Yemen must move forward with an inclusive, transparent, and timely National Dialogue to build consensus on issues fundamental to Yemen’s future, including the structure of the government and constitutional reform. We welcome the recent announcement regarding progress on the composition of the National Dialogue, and we look forward to hearing more details and a timeframe for the Dialogue to commence. We also commend the efforts of the Preparatory Committee and the UN Special Adviser to ensure that the Dialogue includes representatives from all elements of Yemeni society, including political parties, Southerners, Houthis, women, and youth. Special Adviser Benomar, your outreach and support will continue to be important as Yemen turns its attention from the preparations for a dialogue to substantive questions of reform.
Beyond the National Dialogue, we also need to consider several other issues that are important for a successful political transition. We welcome President Hadi’s November 29 decree naming the new Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum. We hope the commission will be empowered to update Yemen’s voter rolls and complete other steps necessary for the constitutional referendum in 2013 and elections for the presidency in February 2014. Separately, focusing on transitional justice would promote accountability, the rule of law, and reconciliation—further reinforcing stability in Yemen. We look forward to hearing more regarding progress in these areas.
With nearly half of Yemen's population lacking adequate food and basic services, humanitarian assistance remains critical to achieving stability. In September, the Friends of Yemen pledged over $7 billion to bolster the ongoing transition and address Yemen’s basic needs. We commend the generosity of our international partners and call on them to follow through on their pledges in support of the priorities the Yemeni government laid out in the Mutual Accountability Framework. We also urge donors to contribute to the UN’s 2012 Humanitarian Response Plan, which, as we heard earlier, remains only 57 percent funded, as well as the 2013 appeal expected this month. For our part, the United States has more than doubled its assistance to Yemen, including over $117 million in humanitarian assistance in fiscal year 2012.
While humanitarian assistance is critical in the near term, there can be no lasting stability in Yemen without economic progress. The United States is partnering with the Yemeni government, private sector, and civil society to promote long-term, sustainable development, boost economic activity and reform, and strengthen investment opportunities. Our Ambassador to Yemen recently brought a trade mission to the United States, during which Yemeni business leaders met with companies and organizations throughout the United States to explore potential cooperation in areas such as renewable energy and water resources. We are also partnering with Yemeni ministries to expand essential services, improve efficiency, combat corruption, and enhance transparency. Progress in these areas could do much to solidify Yemen’s transition.
Mr. President, the international community must also remain resolute in confronting violent extremists and others who attempt to block Yemen’s progress. Attacks on government officials and other civilians cannot be justified, and we condemn such acts of terrorism in the strongest possible terms. We also recognize the enormous personal sacrifice and commitment of the Yemeni military and police, who have helped turn the tide against those who attempt to use violence as a means to block positive change. In line with the terms of the GCC implementation mechanism, we strongly support President Hadi’s decrees to restructure Yemen’s military and security institutions, which this Council also called for in Resolution 2051.
We call on all Yemenis to show that they will put Yemen's national interests ahead of parochial concerns and abide by the letter and the spirit of the GCC agreement. In May 2012, President Obama signed an executive order that allows the United States to take action against those who seek to undermine the transition. Shortly thereafter, Resolution 2051 affirmed this Council’s willingness to consider measures under Article 41 of the UN Charter for the same purpose. We will continue to follow closely any efforts to undermine the Government of National Unity and the political transition, and we are ready to consider further action as appropriate.
Last year, hundreds of thousands of Yemeni men and women took to the streets to courageously demand reform. Their courage initiated an historic transition. The United States is committed to doing its utmost to continue supporting these aspirations for a democratic, stable, and prosperous Yemen. I thank you.
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