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Crisis in Yemen: A contradictory UK approach

Submission to the International Development Committee inquiry on the crisis in Yemen, December 2015


This submission outlines Saferworld’s response to the UK Parliament’s International Development Committee inquiry on the crisis in Yemen. This briefing is based on Saferworld’s experience working with Yemeni communities to promote inclusive, responsive and accountable peacebuilding and governance since 2010. This submission focuses on the Committee’s line of inquiry on the cross-departmental UK response to the conflict in Yemen, particularly focusing on arms export decisions. This submission also touches upon some of the long-term development issues that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) might support through its response.

Recommendations to the UK related to cross-departmental work and arms:

  • DFID should be consulted on any arms transfer licence application where there is likely to be an impact on sustainable development, regardless of the recipient country and including where this impact is outside of the recipient country. DFID should therefore be consulted on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and other parties to the conflict where there is a risk that they will be used in Yemen.
  • The UK Government must withdraw its public and political support for the coalition airstrikes and throw its weight behind efforts to reach a peaceful resolution. It must cease material support for the coalition by suspending arms transfers to Saudi Arabia for weapons being used in the conflict.
  • The International Development Committee should push for the immediate re-establishment of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) or formation of a similar body to scrutinise the impact and legality of the UK’s arms export practices.

Recommendations related to the UK on long-term development issues:

  • Support efforts to build a political settlement that responds to the needs of Yemeni citizens and civil society. DFID should develop and improve their mechanisms for providing support and funding to local-level, small and unregistered initiatives, empower local communities to build tangible and functional local service provision, and support the recovery of the private sector, with a particular focus on small and medium sized businesses.
  • The UK Government, in partnership with civil society, should develop a plan for involving women and civil society representatives in ongoing peace negotiations, and support efforts to build a political settlement that responds to the needs of Yemeni citizens and civil society.
  • The UK Government should strongly call for an end to all human rights abuses and for Houthi and Saleh-aligned groups to allow space for civil society and journalists; the crackdown on activists, journalists, women and youth is directly impacting the prospects of a more inclusive peace process.

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Date: January 2016
Publisher: Saferworld
Language: English
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Yemen

A political solution to this conflict is needed, and the UK Government should be using all the leverage it has over parties to the conflict to agree a ceasefire and come to the negotiating table, instead of continuing to support one side of the military campaign.