Baird Hails Breakthrough in Yemen

January 29, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued the following statement congratulating the Yemeni people on the National Dialogue Conference:

“I applaud President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and the delegates to the National Dialogue Conference on their historic breakthrough in Yemen’s political transition. While the country faces extremely difficult economic and security challenges, the people of Yemen have clearly spoken for a more open society that respects freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

“Canada congratulates Yemen on the Conference’s important recommendation to ban child, early and forced marriages, a subject on which I co-hosted a signature event during the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. This and other recommendations, including those to establish an anti-corruption agency and to ensure that more women are included in public office, are key steps in building an inclusive democracy and assuring the rule of law.

“Canada remains staunchly supportive of Yemen in this transition. Yemen’s new commitment to federalism is a key step toward free and fair democratic elections, one that Canada strongly supports.”

A backgrounder follows.

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Backgrounder - Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference

The National Dialogue Conference was established to chart the way forward in Yemen’s democratic transition, which began in 2011 with the ousting of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years. The Dialogue invited the participation of all Yemeni political parties and a wide cross-section of non-governmental organizations. The Dialogue concluded on January 25, 2014, after 10 months of discussions. It provided approximately 1,400 recommendations that will guide the drafting of Yemen’s new constitution.

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) funded a series of workshops across Yemen organized by the Ottawa-based Forum of Federations. The workshops discussed federal models of government in Canada and other countries; the first was held in December 2012.

These workshops responded to Yemenis’ interest in redesigning their political structure and adapting it toward greater decentralization while maintaining national unity—a theme that has come out strongly in the conclusions of the National Dialogue. In addition, the Forum of Federations will provide technical assistance and training to Yemenis engaged in drafting their new constitution.

DFATD, through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, also supports local projects that promote ending child, early and forced marriages in Yemen and that seek to create norms that more broadly support the rights of women.