The Security Council firmly denounces the Houthi assaults on ships in the Red Sea.
Initially, Russia put forward three changes to the preliminary wording, but they were ultimately rejected, clearing the path for a ballot on the resolution. The outcome saw 11 votes in favor, none against, and four countries choosing to abstain: China, Russia, Algeria, and Mozambique.
Last week, there was an emergency briefing and consultations held to discuss the rising danger of militant attacks in a major global shipping route. The meeting is a continuation of these discussions.
Earlier today, the US announced that, in collaboration with UK naval forces, they successfully intercepted and destroyed 21 drones and missiles launched by Houthi rebels from Yemen in the southern Red Sea on Tuesday.
Since the October 7th terror attacks by Hamas that sparked Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the rebel group in control of much of Yemen has carried out more than twenty attacks on international shipping.
The Houthis have gained control of the city of Sana’a and a significant portion of the country, including the Red Sea coast. In mid-November, they started attacking ships that they suspect are heading to Israel, following previous missile and drone attacks on Israel in support of the extremist organization Hamas.
Their focus has now expanded to include all global shipping companies. They declare that Israel must permit complete humanitarian aid into Gaza, resulting in numerous companies redirecting their ships far south around the Cape of Good Hope. This is causing increased expenses and posing a threat to the overall global supply system.
The Council members have previously denounced the Houthi assaults and urged for the release of the Japanese-registered Galaxy Leader and its crew in a press statement dated December 1, 2023.
The briefing and discussions from last week took place due to a disagreement on a proposed presidential statement at the end of December.
Details of the resolution
The proposed resolution strongly denounces the Houthi’s assaults on merchant and commercial ships since November 19th, and urges the group to stop these attacks and release the Galaxy Leader and its crew.
The text emphasizes the importance of adhering to international law in order to uphold navigational rights and freedoms for merchant and commercial ships.
It further “takes note of the right of Member States”, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.
The passage praises the actions that have been taken to safeguard ships in the Red Sea during attacks and urges Member States to aid in strengthening the Yemeni coastguard’s ability to protect the nation’s sovereignty and unity.
It stresses the importance of tackling the underlying factors that led to the attack and are adding to tensions in the region, in order to provide a timely, efficient, and successful response.
The resolution denounces the supply of weapons to the Houthis and encourages caution and restraint in order to prevent further escalation of tensions in the Red Sea and surrounding areas.
It calls for ongoing backing of the UN-led peace efforts aimed at resolving Yemen’s longstanding civil strife.
Japan’s Permanent Representative, Yamazaki Kazuyiki, who drew up the resolution along with the US, denounced the Houthi attacks and demanded the release of the Galaxy Leader’s crew.
The representative urged the Council to speak with one unified stance on this matter and remained optimistic that the resolution would facilitate finding a shared solution to address the security threat in the crucial shipping passage.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia emphasized what he described as the “dangerous side” of the resolution presented by the United States.
The delegate stated that this text should not set a precedent. They also mentioned that international law focuses on freedom of navigation during times of peace, not war. The delegate expressed disappointment in the politicized nature of the text and the US’s accusations of politicization against their country.
The Russian representatives criticized the resolution, stating that it was not focused on protecting ships in the Red Sea, but rather aimed to justify the actions of the coalition led by the US and UK. They also suggested that the resolution was seeking indirect approval from the Security Council.
Mr. Nebenzia emphasized the significance of acknowledging the “direct repercussions” of Israel’s “extremely aggressive military actions in Gaza over the course of three months” in order to address the situation in the Red Sea.
China, Algeria, Sierra Leone
Algeria, China, and Sierra Leone cited the lack of a “causal link” in the wording of the resolution as their reasoning for abstaining.
“We could not associate ourselves with a text that ignores the 23,000 lives that have been taken since last October in the Gaza Strip, summed up Algeria’s top representative, Ambassador Amar Bendjama.
China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, viewed the resolutions as having “uncertainties” that could potentially escalate tensions in the region.
Upon observing that only a small number of ships were chartered by Israeli companies, the United States concluded that the issue at hand is not a specific conflict, but rather the compromise of freedom of navigation.
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield stressed that Iran’s involvement in aiding the Houthis to attack ships traveling through the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandab strait is a violation of Security Council resolution 2216 (2015). This should not be overlooked.
According to her, the endangerment of navigation rights in the Red Sea is a worldwide issue that demands a collective response.