UN Security Council urges end to Yemen violence

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[JURIST] The UN Security Council [official website] on Sunday called on Yemen to end ongoing violence [press release] related to attacks on unarmed, peaceful protestors and urged the nation to comply with international law. Ambassador Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, on behalf of the 15 Security Council member nations, advised Yemen officials to proceed with “an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition” that adheres to an initiative supported by the Gulf Cooperation Council [official website]. The member nations expressed their concern for the decline in economic and humanitarian stability in the country. The council also indicated that threats from al Qaeda in parts of Yemen have contributed to the country’s “worsening security situation.” The announcement comes in response to recent violence that has resulted in the deaths of at least 49 people [Al Jazeera report] since Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh [official website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] returned from a three month absence on Friday.

A delegation from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] released a report [text, PDF] earlier this month announcing a humanitarian crisis in Yemen [press release] that requires immediate intervention [JURIST report]. Rights groups have also criticized Yemen for its handling of pro-democracy protests that have persisted since February. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [text; PDF] in April urging the international community to pressure Yemeni authorities to investigate protestor deaths [JURIST report]. Just days earlier, the OHCHR urged the Yemeni government [JURIST report] to stop using force against peaceful protesters. The Yemeni Parliament enacted several emergency measures [JURIST report] in March at the request of Saleh in an effort to end anti-government protests. Saleh, who agreed to step down in April [JURIST report], and his party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), had caused mounting political tensions due to attempts to remove presidential term limits [JURIST report] and expand their political power. In December, the parliament stoked outrage among opposition parties and independents when it amended the constitution [AFP report] to eliminate provisions requiring that opposition parties be represented on the high election commission. The protests in Yemen have been analyzed in two recent JURIST op-eds: Constitutional Enforcement in Tunisia, Yemen, and Egypt by L. Ali Khan, Professor of Law at Washburn University, and The Middle East protest movements: each with a story, all with uncertainty by Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, Vice President of Research, Foundation for Defense of Democracies [advocacy website].

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