Narrative progress overview on activities (January 1-June 30, 2018)

IATI Identifier: BE-BCE_KBO-0550758080-4000001303
Published in IATI IATI
  • date_range Jan 01, 2018
  • autorenew Implementation (Status)

Overall Goal Contribute to a more inclusive peace process in Yemen. Specific Objective UN/Track 1 process has an informed understanding of the issues and actors that affect the south of Yemen and is able to call on southern leaders to participate in the official peace process Outcomes 1. By December 2019, assemble the actors and the issues that affect the south of Yemen and feed them into the UN peace process; 2. Decrease the risk of further polarization and fragmentation of political and military actors in the south of Yemen; Outputs The EIP’s project will have the following outputs: 1.1 Throughout the project period, Issues of common concern to the south are identified and agreed upon by southern leaders; 1.2 Up-to-date overview of actors influential to stability in the south established and available for use by the OSESGY; 2.1 Mediation and facilitated dialogue applied in eight cases to reduce polarization and fragmentation in southern Yemen. 2.2 Throughout the project period, southerners’ political views are channelled into the Yemen national peace process. Context Update Over the course of the reporting period, Yemen has witnessed a number of significant developments which span the political, security, and diplomatic aspects of the conflict. Developments on the Track 1 stage saw Martin Griffiths assume his position as Special Envoy and dedicate an initial period to meeting with relevant conflict parties and listening to their perspectives. Stating that ‘a political solution to end this war is indeed available’, Griffiths announced during his inaugural briefing to the Security Council that he would launch a new framework for negotiations within two months. Undoubtedly, the southern issue has become more prominent since the UAE-backed secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) gained control of Aden in January, and effectively became the south’s de facto governing body. It did so following two days of clashes with pro-Hadi forces in the port city. However, STC leadership has not been conducive to assuaging tensions between the diverse political parties operating in the south. Issues such as the extent of secession and the role of Hadi’s government, including the presence of Islah figures in key government positions, continue to sow discord. Meanwhile in the north, the Saudi-led coalition has continued its campaign to oust Ansar Allah, with the recent advance on Hodeida sparking fears of a humanitarian catastrophe. In late June, it was announced that the offensive had been paused in order to allow a window for the Special Envoy (SE) to reignite negotiations and find a diplomatic solution. Reports have emerged that the conflict parties are coming close to an agreement that would see the port of Hodeidah placed under UN supervision and for the Houthi forces to retreat from the city. As the SE continues to engage in shuttle diplomacy with all parties in an attempt to quash further military action, the residents of Hodeida are suffering from a lack of fundamental supplies and services, with an estimated 35,000 families having fled the city since June (as of 16.07). Yemeni civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict, with local infrastructure across the country decimated, state institutions inoperative, and aid agencies warning of another potential cholera outbreak. Activities contributing to Outputs 1.1 and 1.2 under Outcome 1 Activity 1: Strategic Dialogues with Southern Leaders: In line with our planned 4 strategic dialogues with southern leaders for 2018, EIP has implemented 3 separate dialogues during the reporting period, and has started preparations for the next, scheduled to take place in September 2018. These dialogue sessions continue to prove invaluable opportunities for Yemenis to voice their concerns in the context of the ever-evolving political climate, and present their vision(s) for a future Yemen. At least two members of the OSESGY have been present at each workshop, the impact of which is visible from all participants’ eagerness and willing to share their perspectives and put forward actionable ways in which they feel that they can contribute to peace efforts. 1. Southern Yemen: War and Peace – The role of media in promoting peace and security (I) This strategic dialogue took place on 27-28 March in Amman, Jordan, and convened a number of influential southern Yemeni media personnel, journalists, and social media influencers based outside the country to discuss ways in which the media can play an active role in terms of contributing to a society accommodating to peace. This included informative and interactive presentations delivered by three external resource people. After two days of lively debate, participants agreed upon a vision statement, detailing their common concerns around the southern media landscape. The statement emphasized the issue of false reporting; it was clear that southern Yemeni society has become susceptible to information overload and ‘fake news’. A shared media platform was suggested as a potential means of collaboratively reporting on issues of common concern in a conflict-sensitive manner. Four members of the OSESGY were in attendance, one of whom gave an update of the peace process and how the introduction of the new Special Envoy will impact upon the OSESGY’s southern approach. Due to unforeseeable immigration related issues experienced by a number of participants, only eleven Yemenis were able to attend, including only one woman. To counteract this unfortunate underrepresentation, EIP ensured that during consequent dialogue sessions, sufficient time was dedicated to discussing women’s perspectives and how to meaningfully augment inclusion in the peace process. A number of additional recommendations were put forward, such as: • Training institution in the South to build capacity of journalists in objective reporting skills (professionalise the media); • Hire a specialist organisation to train a number of Yemeni journalists; • Promote critical, impartial media with more training and qualifications to acquire analytical skills; • Prioritise positive stories and topics of human unity even from a war-torn environment; • Joint declaration against hate speech and promoting the importance of dialogue and coexistence. 2. Southern Yemen: War and Peace – The role of media in promoting peace and security (II) EIP held a second strategic dialogue focusing on media personnel covering the Yemen conflict, this time convening journalists and social media influencers based inside Yemen. Over the course of the two day event, two external resource people led interactive sessions focusing on the differences between conflict-sensitive reporting, and adversely, reporting which fuels political and societal divisions. Three (3) members of the OSESGY were able to attend, including the Senior Press Officer, who gave participants – 20 in total, 5 of whom are women – a brief on the Special Envoy’s media strategy and the reasons behind it. Participants responded well to these sessions, and as a result achieved consensus on a number of issues in good time: They agreed that there is an unquestionable issue of bias affecting the quality of media in the south; they jointly suggested the establishment of an independent platform for publishing objective news, and the creation of a ‘southern journalists for peace’ group, taking inspiration from the success of the Southern Women for Peace (SWFP). Other suggestions include: • Empower youth to be part of an independent media; • Create safe environment for professional journalists to operate freely; • Training for journalists to contribute towards peace efforts; • Promoting the term ‘peace journalism’; • Empowerment of union of journalists to establish code of ethics and conduct based on international standards; • Develop agencies that specialise in the protection of journalists. 3. Southern Women for Peace The third strategic dialogue of SWFP focused on the advocacy role played by the SWFP across southern Yemen and assessed their peace promotion advocacy activities, based on their Peace Action Plan; ways and means to increase and improve the dissemination of their messaging and; possible future actions. During the two-day event resource people specialised in the role of women in peace-making and the relationship between media and conflict held interactive sessions with the women in order to review progress to date, set goals for the future and discuss ways to maximise the effectiveness of planned activities over the coming months. A number of actionable steps were identifies, including: • Internal capacity building: use skills possessed by each member to hold training sessions for the rest of the group; • Social media pages – develop a Facebook page; • Hold trainings in Peace/citizen media and journalism skills, digital protection; • Building coalitions through advocacy strategies. The meeting also cemented links between the SWFP and the OSESGY (through both the OSESGY’s Gender Advisor and Press Officer), which plans to improve coordination with other southern activist groups to boost inclusivity and ensure a sustainable peace. The SWFP have continued implementing activities in Yemen that raise awareness and advocate for peace, such as holding a peaceful mass rally, the filming of a documentary, and printing/distribution of brochures. All of which has gained significant media attention in the South. Activity 2: Southern Strategic Dialogue Platform: The OSESGY has judged EIP to be in the best position to support the UN in setting up a multi-lateral southern leaders’ platform. This builds on multiple avenues of collaboration with the OSESGY since 2015, as well as our role in southern Yemen, since September 2016 in partnership with The Netherlands. The platform will involve convening the leaders of different southern groups to discuss political and security arrangements during the future transitional process. The objective is to secure southern buy-in to a mechanism for participation in the UN-led peace process. This may include a joint-declaration of political and security principles and the creation of a southern advisory group to play an active role in negotiations as they resume at the end of August and allow the south to have a meaningful voice in the peace process for the first time. As part of preparing the ground, EIP has sensitised several groups on the purpose and process of the platform in a bid to build trust and momentum for the initiative. It has requested the six most influential southern political groups to nominate three participants to attend the talks. Each group must include at minimum one women in their delegation. EIP is continuing preparations for the multi-lateral meeting by engaging with each of the parties individually to explain the purpose of the meeting, present the agenda and desired outcomes. Activity 3: Continuous Consultations with Southern Yemenis: During the reporting period, EIP met with STC, SNC, and Hiraak factions as well as unaffiliated yet influential Yemeni political and business figures. As the OSESGY turns its attention towards identifying who will represent the south in talks, the significance of these continuous consultations is particularly pronounced. With this in mind, EIP used the time with these interlocutors to a) discuss their respective political stances and visions for a future Yemen; b) explore how they believe recent developments, in particular the issue of Hodeida, will impact upon peace efforts, and; c) ascertain their willingness to engage in a potential southern leaders’ platform as imagined by the OSESGY. It proved particularly difficult for many southerners to agree to put their aspirations for independence aside temporarily during the proposed intra-south talks. As such following this series of consultations it was concluded that prior to holding the intra-south dialogue EIP will meet with each group individually, to explain clearly the purpose of the meeting and the desired outcomes, while also addressing any concerns or questions the parties may have. Progress In line with EIP’s Monitoring and Evaluation Framework as outlined in the proposal, three mediated dialogues as part of the activity ‘Strategic Dialogues with Southern Leaders’ have already taken place this year, and a fourth is tentatively scheduled for September. Women representatives have been present at all workshops and provided insightful contributions to discussions, augmenting the vision papers which have all been shared with the UN and donors. At least two members of the OSESGY have been present at all dialogues, informing participants of Track 1 developments, and bolstering the significance of the respective events by offering collaborations and coordination with other activist groups. EIP initially planned to convene eight (8) separate dialogues as part of the ‘Southern Dialogue Platform’ series over the course of 2018/2019; the first dialogue is currently scheduled for the end of August. Over the course of the reporting period, a number of southern groups have fragmented, whilst other new groups and coalitions have emerged. As a result, EIP is slightly behind schedule. However, having discussed at length the opportunities and obstacles to implementation with the OSESGY, it was decided that the optimum solution is to take the necessary time to hold a constructive dialogue, rather than rush into talks prematurely, which could only aggravate existing tensions. To prepare for the talks, EIP has undertaken extensive consultations with southern Yemeni leaders to ascertain respective parties’ willingness and pre-requisites to partake. All parties engaged have expressed eagerness to participate in intra-southern talks and contribute to the UN-led peace process. EIP now avails itself of a wide network of southern Yemeni interlocutors, which will continue to grow as more consultations are conducted over the course of the project. The bilateral consultations are a continuous process, undertaken on a needs basis. As such this remains on track. Impact Increased focus given to southern issues at Track 1 level In the absence of an inclusive formal peace process, fault lines in Yemen’s society had begun to deepen. Since late 2015 EIP has been advocating for the need to include all population groups in the Yemen peace process, including those of the south as well as women representatives. Since the new Special Envoy took up his post on the 11th March 2018, the priorities of the OSESGY have shifted towards assuring the inclusion of marginalised actors, in particular southerners and women, in an eventual political settlement. Stating in his first brief to the Security Council that ‘there will be no peace in Yemen if we do not also listen to the voices of the south and make sure they are included in the political arrangements that end this war’, the SE has continued his appointment in this vein, firstly taking time to listen to all parties, bolstered by the EIP’s resources such as meeting notes and dialogue outcomes. The Special Envoy has also endeavoured to increase the involvement of women in the peace process. The SWFP group has provided letters and statements that EIP has given directly to the Special Envoy, who is adamant that peace will not occur without the active involvement of women. With the aim of integrating southern aspirations into an eventual transition, the OSESGY has selected EIP to convene an inter-south dialogue to develop a mechanism to include the south, marginalised groups, and women in the upcoming peace talks. This has placed EIP in a unique position to shape the nature of the peace process; improve prospects for a sustainable peace; and ensure that talks are as inclusive as possible. EIP has agreed a framework (1/3 women ratio is mandatory in order to attend the south talks) that will set a new precedent for inclusivity in the Yemen peace process. Secured buy-in Working collaboratively with the OSESGY, EIP has started implementing bilateral consultations with a number of southern groups identified jointly by the OSESGY and EIP. The leaderships of STC, SNC, and Hiraak have all confirmed their willingness to engage in intra-southern talks, and have outlined what they would expect from such talks insofar as inclusion and outcomes are concerned. Improved coordination between OSESGY and SWFP Whilst briefing the Security Council in April, the Special Envoy stated that from his experience ‘it has been the women who have often spoken with the greatest clarity, as well as with generosity about those they fear and those they support’. EIP has found this to ring particularly true during the last six months, as Southern Women for Peace have continued to grow, and gain traction in the Yemeni press as a cohesive group working towards peace. The group has started implementing local level activities such as holding a peaceful rally for peace, printing and disseminating leaflets which promote their vision, and filming a documentary which highlights the humanitarian impact of the Yemen crisis and its disproportionate effect on women and girls. Interaction between the OSESGY and SWFP has soared, with the OSESGY using the June workshop as an opportunity to offer to link SWFP to other groups with shared objectives so that they might build coalitions and maximise their reach. Already, the SWFP activities have had a visible impact, with news outlets such as Aden Time reporting on their mandate and raising awareness about the importance of women’s inclusion in line with SCR 1325. A number of additional Yemeni press sources have published similar reports, including Al Ayam and Yemen Akhbar. Southern Journalists As a result of two dialogue sessions with southern journalists covering the conflict, southern journalists from various, often competing, political backgrounds have now agreed to work together toward common goals. Inspired by the sessions led by experts in the field of media, participants agreed to promote the production and dissemination of what was coined as ‘peace journalism’, i.e reporting with an emphasis on actionable steps towards peace in lieu of asserting blame to stoke tensions. As a result, southern news published since the dialogue has shown signs of shifting towards this genre of journalism. A clear example is a report written by a participant, which focuses on the presence of northern forces in Aden (Tarek Saleh’s Guardians Brigade) and examples of acts of kindness between them and southerners. This demonstrates positive reporting in that it focuses on reconciliation and trust-building in lieu of differences. A shift toward conflict-sensitive peace journalism will be vital in laying the foundations for cooperation, rather than competition, during the upcoming peace talks.

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Participating Organisations

Organisation Name Organisation Type Organisation Role
European Institute of Peace Foundation Implementing


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