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Model United Nations

Security Council Topic 1

Role of Intervention in the Yemen Conflict

Council President Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom and members of the Security Council, “express [ed] their grave concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the devastating humanitarian impact of the conflict on civilians, and call[s] on all parties to the conflict to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access.” (UN Security Council)

In 2011 following the Arab Spring uprising, authoritarian President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to abdicate power to Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi - a move which should have brought stability to Yemen. Unfortunately, the combination of attacks by al-Qaeda, a separatist movement in Southern Yemen, corruption, unemployment, and food insecurity created weakness in the new presidency (BBC). Houthi rebels exploited this weakness and together with military forces loyal to Saleh, (the rebels were backed by Saleh who hoped to regain his power from President Hadi) attempted to take control of the whole country. On March 26, 2015, Saudi Arabia, with the support of Egypt and other regional allies, launched a coalition strike against the Houthi rebel forces which started the current conflict and humanitarian crisis we have today.

Civilians have been caught up in the conflict and have suffered immensely from the fighting - as of November 2017, at least 5,295 civilians have been killed and more than 8,873 wounded since the start of the escalation (HRW). The fighting has displaced over 3 million people, and three quarters of the Yemen population, 22.2 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance (OCHA, 2017). According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), due to lack of access to health facilities and clean water 500,000 people are suspected to have cholera. The Saudi coalition imposed a partial aerial and naval blockade to stop the Houthi rebels from receiving shipments of arms. Consequently, this blockade has restricted commercial imports of essential goods, including food, medicine, fuel, and humanitarian aid to reach many Yemenis who rely on it to survive. Already, nearly 2,000 people have died since the cholera outbreak (WHO, 2017). Ongoing fighting, blockades, and the destruction of crucial infrastructure has hindered the delivery of aid and has allowed pervasive food insecurity and the continuing prevalence of cholera. According to the UN, four out of five Yemenis need some form of humanitarian assistance, and among them 7.4 million are severely food insecure. The blockading of food and humanitarian aid violates Article 25 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”

The Saudi coalition airstrikes have been documented 85 times to have hit homes, hospitals, markets, schools, and mosques and accruing approximately 1,000 civilian deaths in total from these attacks (HRW). In 2017, Saudi Arabia pledged to reduce civilian casualties in coalition attacks, yet Human Rights Watch has documented six coalition attacks that have killed a total of 55 civilians, including 33 children. The Saudi coalition continues to use banned cluster munitions, including some from the US and Brazil. Cluster munitions have been banned internationally due to their wide path of destruction, which could include innocent civilians. Some countries have suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but other countries led by the US and the UK still continue to supply coalition members with advanced military equipment. Both Houthi rebels and government aligned forces are guilty of killing and wounding innocent civilians. The goal of this committee is to decide what kind of, and how much, intervention is necessary for member states to provide to help bring an end to the Yemeni crisis.

Questions to Consider:

  • How does your country view events happening in Yemen and what policies has your country enacted, if any?
  • How much intervention is acceptable to assist a sovereign state?
  • What is considered as intervention?
  • What limits should there be on providing weapons and military support?
  • Has intervention by the US, UK, and Saudi coalition made the situation in Yemen better or worse? Why?
  • What new tactics should be considered to help bring an end to this continuing crisis?
  • Should countries intervene in internal domestic conflicts?
  • How should the situation with Southern Yemen be handled?

Resources to Consider:

“Global Conflict Tracker.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations,!/conflict/war-in-yemen.

“Yemen Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 15 Apr. 2018,

“Yemen: The Forgotten War.” Palm Oil and Human Rights: What You Need to Know, Amnesty International,

“Yemen Crisis: Who Is Fighting Whom?” BBC News, BBC, 30 Jan. 2018,

Al Jazeera. “UAE-Backed Separatists Launch ‘Coup’ in Southern Yemen.” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 28 Jan. 2018,

Gasim, Gamal. “What Is Going on in Southern Yemen?” Israeli–Palestinian Conflict | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 29 Jan. 2018,

Deutsche Welle. “UN: Civilian Death Toll in Yemen Exceeds 5,000 | DW | 05.09.2017.” DW.COM, Deutsche Welle,

“Yemen 2017/2018.” Palm Oil and Human Rights: What You Need to Know, Amnesty International,

“World Report 2018: Rights Trends in Yemen.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch , 18 Jan. 2018,

“Yemen in Crisis.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations,

“Largest Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal for Yemen to Provide a Lifeline to 13.1 Million People.” OCHA, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 13 June 2018,

“Yemen Conflict: How Bad Is the Humanitarian Crisis? - BBC News.” BBC, BBC, 28 Mar. 2017,

“UN’s ‘List of Shame’ Goes Easy on Saudi-Led Coalition.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch , 27 June 2018,

“Saudi Arabia/Yemen: Houthi Missile Attacks Unlawful.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch , 2 Apr. 2018,


“Yemen: The Forgotten War.” Palm Oil and Human Rights: What You Need to Know, Amnesty International,

“Yemen Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 15 Apr. 2018,

“Security Council Press Statement on Yemen.” ReliefWeb, UN Security Council, 28 Mar. 2018,

“World Report 2018: Rights Trends in Yemen.” Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, 18 Jan. 2018,

“Yemen 2017/2018.” Palm Oil and Human Rights: What You Need to Know, Amnesty International,

“Yemen Crisis: Who Is Fighting Whom?” BBC News, BBC, 30 Jan. 2018,

“Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, United Nations,

“Largest Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal for Yemen to Provide a Lifeline to 13.1 Million People.” OCHA, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 13 June 2018,

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