"Yemen Between War Challenges and Opportunities for Peace" Conference Declaration

Statement of Istanbul First Conference on Yemen calls for deliberate and responsible actions to end the war, restore peace, and preserve Yemen’s security and sovereignty. All actions must be based on the content of the National Dialogue Conference outcomes, the Security Council resolutions, and the GCC Initiative. Istanbul First Conference on Yemen, “Yemen: between War Challenges and Peace Opportunities” convened in Istanbul on Thursday, 8 November 2018 under the auspices of Tawakkol Karman Foundation.

While acknowledging the need for the international community, led by the United Nations, to undertake its responsibilities towards Yemen, there is a need to adhere to the following basic principles to guide future efforts to end the conflict and bring sustainable peace to Yemen:

1. Respect for Yemen’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity. Any proposed solutions should not impact Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This principle requires that the Yemeni government have full authority over its political, economic, and security decisions which entails the restoration of Yemeni control over ports, economic resources, and military and security forces.

2. Support of the Yemeni State. The Yemeni state is the ONLY guarantor of security and stability; chaos, war and the spread of non-state armed groups are natural consequences of the absence of the state and the weakness of its institutions. The first step to strengthening the Yemeni state is by granting it the monopoly on violence which requires a no-tolerance policy towards the existence or legitimization of non-state armed groups. This is the only guarantee to bring sustainable peace to Yemen after the war; otherwise, peace will be too fragile and the re-eruption of war will be inevitable as the Yemeni history has showed.

3. Upholding Justice. Sustainable peace goes beyond the end of war. Accountability and reparations must be insured in all reconciliation and reconstruction efforts. This requires the establishment of an International Court on Yemen to consider all crimes committed by local and international parties to the conflict.

4. Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation. To improve the humanitarian situation in Yemen, the following is needed. First, immediate lift on the blockade of Yemeni ports and airports and an end to the siege on Taiz, the largest populated governorate in Yemen. Second, protection of Hodaida city which has the only functioning port for food and aid access. Third, provision of salaries according to the official payroll list of public servants before the 21st September 2014 coup. Fourth, improvement of health care system and electric power supplies. Finally, immediate release of all political detainees by both Houthi militias since their takeover of the government in September 2014 and by, or under the auspices, of the Saudi-Emirati led coalition since their intervention in March 2015.

5. Holding a referendum on the draft constitution followed by general elections. To move Yemen through the transitional period, the outcomes of the National Conference agreed by all parties and supervised by the international community, must be held. Under the supervision and monitoring of the UN and designated international organizations, preparations for the constitutional referendum and preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections must start to ensure a peaceful and legitimate power transition.

6. Commitment to a reconstruction project. Countries involved in the conflict, in addition to friendly states, shall undertake all necessary steps to assist Yemen in the reconstruction process.

Issued in Istanbul,
8 November 2018