Speech of Assistant UN Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar in
Closing Ceremony of the National Dialogue Conference
Your Excellency, President of the Republic, Abed Rabou Mansour Hadi,
Your Excellency, President of Djibouti, Isamil Omar Guelleh
Your Excellency, First Deputy Prime Minister of Kuwait, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah,
Your Excellency, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr. Abdullatif AlZayani,
Your Excellency, Deputy Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Ben Helli
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over ten months ago, on 18 March 2013 on the anniversary of the Friday of Dignity, we convened to launch the National Dialogue Conference (NDC). I said then that I was looking at a wide spectrum of Yemeni women, men and youth and saw hope for a new Yemen. A Yemen they decided to take part in shaping its future through an unprecedented dialogue process in the history of this country and region – as established by the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism – that put an end to a painful era in Yemen’s modern history.
We meet again to celebrate the building of the founding pillar of the political transition and peaceful change. I congratulate you all: members of the National Dialogue, Chairs of the Working Groups, the Presidium, President Hadi and the NDC Secretary-General, Ahmed Awadh Ben Mubarak, and all Yemeni women and men on your wisdom and bravery.
I congratulate you. I support you and say: Be proud of your great achievement. You have entered history through its wide open door and proved to yourselves and to the people in the Arab region and around the world that you are capable of making miracles happen.
You have put your weapons down and were determined to break from the past of conflicts, oppression, corruption, and abuse of power and wealth. You resolved to open a new chapter and give a break to a country that is thousands of years old and to a patient and ancient nation that is known for its wisdom throughout history. A break to build a strong modern, and civil state and a just, safe and prosperous society.
You have presented an opportunity to create a new social contract and to meet the aspirations of Yemeni women and men for a country governed by the rule of law, justice, human rights, equal citizenship, democracy and good governance.
I invite you now to seize the opportunity and invest in it to the largest extent possible for the sake of the future of your sons and daughters.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Dialogue was no picnic but an onerous journey interrupted by considerable obstacles and challenges that sometimes reached the extent of sacrificing life; like what happened since the youth embarked on the process of change and took to the streets. Yemen has lost, in a period of a few months, some of its finest men, the last of whom was Dr. Ahmed Sharafuddin, when he was on his way to the NDC final plenary session.
A number of delegates were subject to intimidation, threats, and assassination and kidnap attempts, and even attempts to buy their conscience. These are just drops in the ocean, reflecting the practices some used to in a desperate attempt to shake the resolve of Yemenis, thwart dialogue and undermine the process of change. Rest assured, this is no longer possible because Yemenis have consensually agreed that there will be no going back to the past.
The NDC was a difficult birth, indeed. However, it yielded consensual, clear and detailed principles and a road map to a new Yemen. The NDC Working Groups toiled hard to produce many outcomes, including those on Sa’ada and the Southern Question. I am pleased to see the commitment of the delegates to reach a fair solution to the Southern Question under a new unified state on federal and democratic basis.
This is a historic triumph for the Southerners and their cause, as well as to all Yemenis. It is the fruit of tough negotiations following two decades of violations and marginalization. I take the opportunity to underscore my confidence that Southerners will be immune to calls for violence, which aim to force them into a dark tunnel and shield them away from the essence of their just cause. I call upon the Southerners to be responsive to the Agreement for the Just Solution of the Southern Question, which was agreed and signed by all constituencies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Participants in the National Dialogue Conference have presented a high-class example of a transparent and participatory process with broad representation of political and social constituencies. This example will become a reference point, guiding similar dialogue processes in the world. The final Outcome Document is an ideal and promising covenant for embarking on a new beginning, embarking on a new state built by the hands of the women and youth who called for change; and here they are today, launching the project of the “Dream State.”
The Outcome Document manifests a victory for the project of peaceful change as opposed to fighting and war; a victory of the future of Yemen against the past and those who cling to it. As President Hadi said on the day the Outcome Document was adopted: “the journey continues until the objectives of the sons of Yemen are realized. We are aware that there is a long way to go with plenty of challenges. Hence, your journey must not end here. You are now the ambassadors of consensus, tolerance, national reconciliation and building to the entire country.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Security Council awaits my briefing on 28 January in which I will give an overview of the story behind such an unprecedented achievement in the history of Yemen, or as President Hadi called it, “the miracle.” I will tell the world about a civilized Yemeni scene that we have witnessed closely over the past period. It has become an inspiration to many other nations, particularly in light of the disorder, uncertainty and tragedies other countries in the region continue to suffer.
I must applaud the wise and brave leadership of President Abed Rabou Mansour Hadi in such a crucial phase and the leading role of the GCC and its Secretary-General Abdullatif AlZayani.
You must know that the United Nations and the international and regional communities will continue to support and stand by your side – the side of those who hold high the torch of hope, prosperity and growth just like the Queen of Sheba, Bilqis, did and passed to subsequent civilizations. A torch, I trust, you will tirelessly uphold and pass to new generations for a better future.
Congratulations again. Thank you.