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COMMITTEES

Sir Mutha MUN Conference

UNSC

United Nations Security Council


The Security Council has a primary responsibility which is the maintenance of international peace and security. The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression. It calls upon the parties in a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods

Agenda

Crisis in Yemen

LETTER FROM THE CHAIRPERSON

Dear Delegates,

Welcome to the 2nd Edition of the Sir Mutha Model UN conference, 2019. The topic of discussion is one that is of high importance to the global community. As delegates in the UNSC, you will be expected to provide effective solutions to the on-going crisis. You will be broadly judged on the following criteria during your stint at SMMUN 2019.


i. Adherence to foreign policy
ii. Debating skills
iii. Lobbying skills
iv. Resolution making skills
v. Knowledge on topic/content


While there is no strict marking scheme providing weightage to each of the above-mentioned criteria, importance ought to be given to all of the above. Furthermore, kindly use this background guide merely as a starting point for your research. The guide should not be used as an all-encompassing document. I strongly urge you all to use the footnotes in this document to read further on several aspects of the topic. Most importantly, remember to have a great learning experience, both leading upto the conference and during the conference. I wish you all the very best.


Yours sincerely,

Ashwin Shanbhag
Chairperson/President UNSC

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL-INTRODUCTION AND MANDATE

Primary Role

The United Nations Security Council (“UNSC”) is one of the six main organs of the United Nations, charged with two main missions:

  • Maintenance of international peace and security under the chapters VII of the Charter of the United Nations
  • and a substantial institutional role, having a role in the nomination of the members of the International Court of Justice, of the Secretary General of the United Nations and in the admission of new Member States to the United Nations.

Voting

For any resolution or procedural change to be passed by the SC, it must have 9 positive votes, and no P5 nation may vote against it. This unique “veto power” is granted to them by the Charter of the United Nations. However, as the UN is about consensus, the veto power is rarely invoked; the country may simply choose to abstain from the vote instead. A list of every veto in the SC can be found here: http://research.un.org/en/docs/sc/quick.

Mandate And Legality Of The Security Council

In accordance with Chapter V of the Charter of the United Nations, the powers and functions of the Security Council defined in Article 24, 25 and 26. The United Nations confers the UNSC with the primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security and allow the Council to act on its behalf whilst performing the aforementioned functions. The council works within the boundaries of the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations, as enshrined in Chapters VI, VII, VIII and XII of the Charter. Furthermore, to shed light on the specific powers bestowed on the Council, a mere perusal of Article 39, Chapter VII, which states, "The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression…", the council has exclusive powers to recognize aggressors and the following article, Article 40 calls upon the involved parties to comply with "provisional measures". Article 41 authorizes the Council to take measures not involving the use of armed forces (i.e.: trade sanctions, embargoes, etc.) whereas the succeeding article, Article 42, clearly states, "Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security…". Hence, these articles comprised within Chapter VII of the UN Charter provide guidance to the Council, on it's working and probable course of action during an international conflict (that fits the given criteria). Legal positivists argue that an individual (and individuals comprising of or representing a state) has a moral duty to obey the law. But what is the law? According to Article 38(I) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, international norms are legally binding if they are incorporated in "a. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; b. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law…". Although this Statute is technically only binding on the International court of Justice, it is widely accepted as the authoritative statement of the sources of international law.

Background

Over the course of the last three-four years, the country of Yemen has been in a deadly civil war that has consumed the lives of more than 10,000 people and has internally displaced a significant lot more. The country has far crossed the threshold of a humanitarian crisis, and with every passing day, the people move closer to starvation. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/02/1032811


The entire conflict emanated during the Arab Spring of 2011, when Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s long term authoritarian president to handover the reigns to his then deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi . While many thought this move would bring stability to Yemen, little did it change. Even since President Hadi took over, he struggled to deal with various problems which inter-alia included militant attacks, corruption , food insecurity, and continuing loyalty of many military officers to Saleh.

The year 2014 saw the Houthi Shia Muslim rebel movement take advantage of the new regime’s weaknesses as stated above, and immediately seized control of Northern Saada Province and other nearby areas. The Houthis went on to take the capital Sanaa, forcing Mr Hadi into exile abroad, who eventually returned . However, the conflict escalated drastically in March 2015, when Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states - backed by the US, UK, and France - began air strikes against the Houthis, with sole aim of restoring Mr Hadi's government

Needles to state, the Saudi-led coalition’s aim was to ensure that the continued success of the Houthis at that point in time would create a regional imbalance, with there being a Shia-majority state in the midst, backed by Iran. There were allegations regarding Iran supplying weapons and other forms of logistical support to the Houthis, which the Iranian government has out rightly denied

Both sides have ever since engaged in a bloodbath of civil war that has resulted in countless damages. The Houthis, on 4th December 2017 assaulted residents of Sanna and took control over most of Sanna by extreme use of force. Furthermore, the Houthis had informed the world that Saleh was killed on his way to Ma'rib while trying to flee into Saudicontrolled territories after a rocket-propelled grenade struck and disabled his vehicle in an ambush and he was subsequently shot in the head by a Houthi sniper. This news was subsequently confirmed by his close aides.

However, the fate of Yemen was worsening with the stalemate producing an unrelenting humanitarian crisis, with at least 8.4 million people at risk of starvation and 22.2 million people - 75% of the population - in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN

In June 2018, Saudi-backed government forces began an assault on the key rebel-held port of Hudaydah, the entry point for the vast majority of aid going into Yemen and a lifeline for the starving. Aid agencies warned the offensive could make Yemen's humanitarian catastrophe much worse.


https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/nov/24/yemen-aliabdullah-saleh-resigns
https://globalnews.ca/news/4804380/yemen-corruption-famine-food/
https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/about-20-million-yemeni-citizensare-food-insecure-report-says
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/21/world/middleeast/who-are-thehouthis-of-yemen.html
https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/yemeni-president-hadi-inaden-after-nearly-6-months-in-exile/article7678052.ece
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32061632

Timeline Of Events

The following is a timeline of the Yemen’s country’s tryst with violence and how the conflict has developed.


Year Description
1990 Unification of north and south Yemen to form a single state under president Ali Abdullah Saleh
1994Civil war in which Saleh prevents south, angered by what it sees as its lower status, from splitting with north
2003-09 Houthi group in north protests marginalisation of thelocal Zaydi Shi’ite Muslim sect and fights six wars with Saleh’s forces and one with Saudi Arabia
2011Arab Spring protests undermine Saleh’s rule, lead to splits in the army and allow al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to seize swathes of territory in the east
2012Saleh steps down in a political transition plan backed by Gulf states. Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi becomes interim president and oversees a “national dialogue” to draft a more inclusive, federal constitution.
2013AQAP survives military onslaught and drone strikes,staging attacks across the country while retaining apersistent presence. Saleh and his allies undermine the political transition
2014The Houthis rapidly advance south from Saadeh and seize Sanaa on September 21 with help from Saleh. They demand a share in power.
2015
  • Hadi tries to announce a new federal constitution opposed by the Iran-aligned Houthis and Saleh,who arrest him. He escapes, pursued by the Houthis, triggering Saudi intervention in March along with a hastily assembled Arab military coalition.
  • Months later the coalition, aiming to restore Hadi’s ousted government, drives the Houthis and Saleh loyalists from Aden in south Yemen and Marib, northeast of Sanaa, but the front lines solidify, setting up years of stalemate.
2016
  • AQAP takes advantage of the chaos to establish a mini-state around Mukalla in east Yemen, raising fears the war will lead to a new surge in jihadist activity. The UAE backs local forces in a battle that ends the group’s rule there.
  • Hunger grows as the coalition imposes a partial blockade on Yemen, accusing Iran of smuggling missiles to the Houthis through Hodeidah alongside food imports, something it denies.
  • Coalition air strikes that kill civilians prompt warnings from rights groups, but Western support for the military campaign continues.
2017
  • The Houthis launch a growing number of missiles deep into Saudi Arabia, including at Riyadh. Seeing a chance to regain power for his family by reneging on his Houthi allies, Saleh switches sides, but is killed trying to escape them.
  • Friction also develops between fighters in Aden backed by Saudi Arabia, and those backed by its Emirati coalition partners.
2018
  • Coalition-backed forces, including some flying the southern separatist flag, advance up the Red Sea coast against the Houthis, aiming to take the port of Hodeidah. Hodeidah handles the bulk of Yemen’s commercial and aid imports and is critical for feeding the population of 30 million.
  • Military stalemate ensues: the Houthis control the port and coalition-backed Yemeni forces mass on the outskirts.
  • In the first major breakthrough in peace efforts, the warring parties agree at December talks in Sweden, the first in two years, on a ceasefire and troop withdrawal from Hodeidah. Work on a prisoner swap also begins.
2019
  • The Stockholm Hodeidah truce largely holds but the withdrawal has yet to materialize amid deep mistrust between the Houthi movement, which controls Hodeidah, and the Saudi-led coalition massed on its outskirts.
  • Violence continues in parts of Yemen outside Hodeidah
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-iran/exclusive-iransteps-up-weapons-supply-to-yemens-houthis-via-oman-officialsidUSKCN12K0CX
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/saleh-fate-unknown-housebombed-houthis-171204095843076.html
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/houthi-media-ali-abdullah-salehkilled-sanaa-171204123328290.html
https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13442.doc.htm
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-44463749
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-yemen-security-timeline/timelineyemens-slide-into-political-crisis-and-war-idUSKCN1R20HO
https://www.unocha.org/yemen/crisis-overview

Parties Involved In The Conflict

i. INTERNAL

Hadi government:

The Hadi government fled from Sana’a and is currently established in Aden. Hadi himself fled the country in 2015 when Houthi forces entered Aden however, once Saudi Arabia intervened and re-took the city, Hadi returned and has remained there. The government is currently supported by the Saudi intervention and backed as the official government on Yemen.


Houthis:

The Houthis started in the late 1980s as a cultural and religious movement among believers of Zaydi Shi’ism in northern Yemen.The Zaydis are a minority in Yemen, but prevalent in the northern highlands, where Zaydi imams ruled much of the region until 1962. Zayid is a different school of Shi’a than that practiced in Iran. In 2003, Saleh decided to back the U.S.- led invasion of Iraq. At this point the Houthis turned into a political militia. The Houthis fought the Saleh regime intermittently until the Arab Spring. In 2009, they also fought the intervening Saudi forces. The Houthi movement grew due to its criticism of the UN-backed transition and was able to expand beyond its original northern area. Former President Saleh has become more popular with the Yemeni citizens due to the deteriorating hope of a strong new government. Both Saleh and his son have the loyalty of some parts of Yemen’s military, tribal networks, and large parts of the General People's Congress (GPC) political party. Nonetheless, the Saleh-Houthi alliance is purely tactical. Saleh’s loyalists oppose Hadi’s government as they lost power due to the transition and the Houthis likewise do not support the new government. Saleh was killed in December 2017 after he had changed his mind and wanted to establish links to Saudi Arabia. Violent clashes broke out between the Houthi armed groups and military supporters of Saleh. The situation is getting more complicated.


Supreme Political Council/ Revolutionary Committee:

Commonly referred as Houthis. Consists of Houthi forces, ProSaleh Security Forces and the Republican Guard. Iran reportedly provides weapons support and logistical support for the Houthis while Hezbollah also provides military and logistics support too.Due to Shia majority, conflictalso resembles sectarian violence since there is a clear separation between Sunni Pro- Hadi forces and Shia Houthis. Houthis are considered a significant military force due to their sheer numbers and moderate/advanced weapons systems. Houthi forces are operating Iranian arms, several light armored troop carriers, suicide boats and anti-ship missiles that also struck Coalition naval vessels multiple times.With the cross-border incursions by Houthis against Saudi forces, conflict also occurs in the Saudi-Yemen border.


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):

Al-Qaeda has been present in Yemen since early 2000s with American forces repeatedly targeting Al Qaeda organized operations in Yemen. Once the Civil War broke out in 2015, AlQaeda managed to use the confusion created by the conflict and capture the city of Mukalla, and has used the city as its base of operations. The city has since been recaptured by Hadi forces in 2016, however pockets of Al-Qaeda forces still exist and are active participants in the conflict. The terrorist organization is one of the main concerns in the conflict due to their use of terror tactics and prevalent radicalist ideology. So far Al Qaeda has targeted both sides in bombing campaigns and open conflict, and is a serious threat to the stability of the region.


Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):

In March 2015, ISIL carried out its first major attacks in Yemen with two suicide bombings, which targeted Shia mosques in Sanaa and killed 137 people.110 ISIL also claimed major attacks in May and June, including a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 army recruits in Aden.111 However, ISIL remains a smaller, newer, presence in Yemen compared to AQAP. Whereas Al-Qaeda’s tribally-entrenched presence in Yemen holds thousands of members, ISIL’s ranks are still in the hundreds.112 Both the emergence of an ISIL presence in Yemen and the expansion of AlQaeda in the region are a testament to the environment of political instability and its consequences, and have been of great concern to the international community


South Yemen Separatists:

Another small but resurgent group are the South Yemen separatists, who reformed in 2007 and have since actively been protesting and establishing a political party. Their goal is to restore the former republic of South Yemen, prominent figures include the governor of Aden, Al-Zoubaidi. So far, the movement is mostly political and supporters are with Hadi’s government forces.

ii. INTERNATIONAL PARTIES

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen began when Hadi was forced to flee the country in early 2015. The Saudi response was Operation Decisive Storm, a coalition of Saudi Arabia and nine other Middle Eastern nations that primarily conducted airstrikes to counter the rapid expansion of Houthi control. Operation Decisive Storm lasted approximately a month before Saudi Arabia ended the campaign claiming it had “achieved its military goals.”95 However, Saudi and coalition airstrikes, ground forces, and naval troops have since continued to maintain a presence in Yemen in hopes of restoring the Hadi government to power.

Operation Decisive Storm was declared over in April 2015 with a statement that Saudi Arabia had successfully pushed back on Houthi expansion. However, at the end of Operation Decisive Storm, Hadi had not been restored to power, nor had most of the Houthi-controlled territories been regained. Saudi coalition spokesperson General Ahmed al-Asiri stated that the campaign was ending on the grounds that “the rebels no longer posed a threat to civilians,” but that the coalition would “continued to prevent the Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen [through] a combination of political, diplomatic, and military action.”96 Operation Restoring Hope, which succeeded Operation Decisive Storm and originally aimed to focus on political settlements and counterterrorism, has since involved Saudi Arabia in far more military action than political or diplomatic talks. It should be noted that this is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has been militarily involved in combatting the Houthis in Yemen. Indeed, during the Saleh regime’s 2009 Operation Scorched Earth, Saudi Arabia openly entered the conflict with significant military operations against the Houthis following reports of Houthi incursions in Saudi territory that killed several Saudi border guards.


Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

The GCC, comprised of Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar so far has promised to facilitate humanitarian aid into Yemen. Most members of the council also participate in the Saudi-led intervention, with the exception of Oman, and Qatar recently has stopped its support of the coalition after its diplomatic crisis in 2017. The UN has agreed to cooperate with the GCC to oversee the transition to political stability and enforce the arms embargo on rebels in Yemen, to an extent supporting the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen.


Iran

Iran has been accused by Saudi Arabia of being involved in the conflict through arms dealing and training of the Houthi Rebels since 2009. Iran has denied any involvement in the conflict since its start, but has also stated that it is sympathetic to the Houthi case. It has recently been confirmed that the missile launched by Houthi rebels aimed at Riyadh in 2017 was from Iranian origins, however the sale of arms cannot be traced back to Iran. Nonetheless, United Nations has called it a violation of the arms embargo for Iran, as they have not attempted at stopping the arms trade to rebels in Yemen. So far there has been no proof of direct Iranian involvement in the conflict other than Saudi accusation, but it is plausible given the current proxy-conflicts Iran and Saudi Arabia have in the Arabian Peninsula to expand their respective spheres of influence (such as the Syrian Civil War).


USA

The United States originally backed the Saudi-led coalition reluctantly, conjoint with the UK and France. US interests involve securing the Saudi borders and creating stability in Yemen. An important economic goal for the US is the free passage through the Bab al-Mandeb, the connection between the Arabian and Red Seas, which is used to move millions of barrels of oil daily. Another fundamental goal for the US military program is the insurance of a government in Sana’a that will cooperate with US counterterrorism programs. During the infancy of the US Yemen mission, Washington mainly provided the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence support. Since that point, it has increased its role in the region, first starting drone strikes and later putting special forces on the ground.

The US is also the biggest provider of Saudi arms. Of the USD 8.7 billion Saudi Arabia and the UAE spent on arms in 2014, USD 8.4 billion went to the US. While the Obama administration has continuously supported coalition operations, US officials have pushed the Saudis for restraint, expressing that the intensity of the bombing campaign was undercutting shared political goals. Since the conflict began, the US and UK have together transferred more than USD 5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, more than 10 times the USD 450 million that the US State Department and the UK’s Department for International Development have spent or budgeted for aid to Yemen. With the Trump Presidency, the southern rural area has found that drone strikes are far more frequent and, in addition, direct US air strikes have become a regular feature. It should be expected, that the Trump government will take a more active role in aiding the Saudi/GCC coalition. More recently, the Trump administration has involved special forces ground troops, such as the now notorious Yakla ground attack in al Baidha.


United Kingdom

The UK considers itself one of the largest donors to aid the Yemen humanitarian missions, having spent Sterling 130 million last year for aid. However, it sold weapons worth USD 3.3 billion to Saudi in the same year– over 25 times that which it spent for humanitarian causes. More alarming even, is that some of the cluster bombs used by the Saudi alliance have been determined to be of British origin. While Britain would be violating the Convention on Cluster Munitions, neither the US, Saudi Arabia nor Yemen have signed or ratified the document. After this information came to light, the Saudi alliance switched from British to Brazilian cluster bombs. Due to the predicted British recession on account of Brexit, analysts doubt whether the May administration will stop selling weapons to the Saudi coalition.

Humanitarian Crisis In Yemen

According to an article published by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs[ https://www.unocha.org/yemen/crisis-overview] (“UNOCH”), the key problems faced are as follows:


i. Massive increase in food insecurity rates

ii. Increasing need for water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance

iii. Nearly half of all health facilities are non-functional

iv. A malnutrition crisis of immense proportions

v. On-going displacement and returns fuelling widespread shelter needs

vi. Millions of children out of school and scores of teachers unpaid

vii. Livelihoods and community resilience devastated as public sector grounds to a halt.

FURTHER READINGS

The below mentioned links are merely to aid you in the preperation. The executive bord urges you to research over and above what is stated hereunder to have a thorough working knowledge of the topic.


Profile of Chairperson:

UNSC : Ashwin Shanbhag

Served in different capacities such as Chair, delegate, organised and advisor. chaired at Oxford University twice and Harvard once and London International MUN once. Served as a Chairperson in several other top National MUNs. Presently operating as CEO/President at Intermind Global (educational enterprise) and practising as a lawyer in commercial side of Madras High Court.