On 25 January 2021, an ad hoc group of peace and humanitarian-action non-governmental organizations issued an Appeal “The World Says No to War on Yemen.”
The Appeal hopes to build a strong momentum to end the inconclusive but highly destructive war in Yemen.
Shortly after the Saudi Arabia-led coalition (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates) attacked Yemen on 24 March 2015, The Association of World Citizens had issued its first Appeal to the combatants calling for four steps:
1) an immediate ceasefire ending all foreign military attacks;
2) humanitarian assistance, especially important for hard-to-reach zones;
3) a broad national dialogue;
4) through this dialogue, the establishment of an inclusive unity government.
The aggression of the Saudi coalition is what turned an internal Yemen struggle for power into a war with regional implications drawing Iran into the picture.
The Association of World Citizens has been concerned with three issues in the Yemen conflict:
1) The violation of international humanitarian law, involving attacks on medical facilities, medical personnel and the use of weapons banned by international treaties, especially cluster munitions. The Association of World Citizens had been particularly active in promoting a treaty on the prohibition of cluster munitions.
2) Humanitarian relief, especially food aid. With the Saudi-led blockage of ports and air fields, it has been difficult for the United Nations or relief organizations to bring in food supplies. It is estimated that some eight million people suffer from famine-like conditions and that some 17 million others are in conditions of food insecurity. The fighting makes certain roads unsafe, preventing the delivery of food and other relief supplies.
3) The creation of a Yemen confederation. While the form of State structures depends on the will of the people of Yemen (if they were able to express themselves freely), the Association of World Citizens proposes con-federal forms of government which maintain cooperation within a decentralized framework as an alternative to the creation of new independent States. In 2014, a committee appointed by then president Abu Hadi proposed a six-region federation as the political structure for Yemen. The Association of World Citizens believes that this proposal merits close attention and could serve as a base of a renewal for an inclusive Yemen government.
Today, the choice between an end to the armed conflict with negotiations for a renewal of a Yemeni State on the basis of the con-federal system proposed and continued fighting in the hope that one faction become a “winner-take-all” is relatively clear. The Association of World Citizens is resolutely for an end to the armed conflict with serious negotiations on the structure of a future State. We do not underestimate the difficulties. Creating a national society of individuals willing to cooperate will not be easy. Regional divisions will not be easy to bridge. However a start on structuring a future society should begin now. Yemen needs peace and support from the world society.
Rene Wadlow is the president of the Association of World Citizens.