IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsYemeni National Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yemeni National Dialogue: Challenges and Prospects

In the lead-up to the Yemeni National Dialogue due to begin March 18th, IPI hosted a roundtable discussion on the topic on February 13th with Amat al-Alim al-Soswa, former Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Programme; and Gregory Johnsen, former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen. Cathy Shin, Special Assistant to the UN Special Adviser on Yemen, also offered her observations.

The following are highlights from the discussion:

1. Political Fragmentation and Uncertainty: Division, fragility, and weak governance characterize most areas outside Sana’a, while in the capital, several factions dominate the political landscape. Participants viewed the status of the ruling General People’s Congress party as weak but also pointed to a lack of coherence in the opposition coalition, as new alliances form and newcomers enter the scene.

2. Humanitarian and Security Challenges: With alarming water scarcity, almost half the population living under poverty line, 5 million children suffering from malnutrition, and increasing IDPs, the humanitarian situation in Yemen is dire. Security is deteriorating amid several small wars, internal tribal disputes, and assassinations. The president has made bold efforts to restructure the armed forces, which may provoke a backlash.

3. National Dialogue Agenda: Key issues that need to be addressed include the formation of a new political system; the thorny Southern question (complicated by divergent voices within the Hirak movement); and tensions in the northern Sa’ada province (beyond a limited focus on Houthis).

4. Representation and Inclusivity: Key governorates like al-Jawf, Shabwa, and Marib, as well as key constituents like tribes and businessmen, are not adequately represented in the National Dialogue. There is a need for mechanisms to secure buy-in from those not represented.

5. Consensus and Trust: Reaching consensus in the National Dialogue will be difficult, but multiple mechanisms can be employed to attain it. Nonetheless, there is a perceived lack of trust, as groups continue to jockey for power behind the scenes.

6. Role of Regional and International Actors: The international community is expected to support the National Dialogue and help ensure it is a “national” process. The UN continues to coordinate international assistance as per the Implementation Mechanism and reference in Security Council Resolution 2051, and it has played a key role in providing technical and political facilitation. Concerns remain that regional powers could increasingly be drawn into the situation, providing weapons and financial support for different groups.

In general, participants expressed concern about the lack of a back-up plan should the National Dialogue fail. It was also stressed that the government should pave the way for a successful dialogue by ensuring proper representation and with the appropriate support of the international community.

Download this text as a meeting brief

The Global Observatory

CWhat Makes a Terrorist Stop Being a Terrorist?
A close look at terrorist de-radicalization programs shows that it is still unclear whether they work, and if so, how.

Key Global Events to Watch in November
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

November 25, 2014
Independent Commission on Multilateralism Launched in Vienna
The Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) was launched officially in Vienna on November 25th. The event was held at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and opened by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

November 13, 2014
Experts Forum: Assessing Links Between Peacebuilding and Organized Crime
Organized crime and peacebuilding can be seen as separate issues, but recent research and practice suggest the two are deeply linked—conflict is increasingly fueling crime, and crime in turn makes peace harder to achieve.

November 05, 2014
Top-Down Governance Hurts Women, Youth Participation
Governments in the Sahel and Maghreb are still using top-down approaches to governance that make it hard for women and youth to have a say in public life, even though their participation can help their governments’ struggle against instability and extremism.

View More