Case Studies

Assessing the EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions in Yemen

This case study was produced by the Political Development Forum (PDF) in Yemen and presents research findings about the ongoing European Union (EU) intervention in the cluster of Multi-track diplomacy (MTD). This study is based on both desk review and field research, including interviews with local and foreign stakeholders. It contains a broad insight into Yemen's national context and the EU's policy, including EU-Yemen relations. Further it provides an overview of Yemen's Arab Spring and the EU's response to it. In this regard, it evaluates and assesses the EU's MTD efforts and concludes with lessons to learn and concrete improvement suggestions. The report largely ignores the EU's interventions in the cluster of Security Sector Reform (SSR) and Governance reform mainly due to the fact that the country is currently undergoing a massive military operation that has led many actors to flee Yemen. Another factor are the travel restrictions within the country and difficulties of communication. Nevertheless, this report offers a broad grass-roots perspective on the EU's contribution to Yemen's transition process and on how to improve.

To access the full case study, Assessing the EU’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions in Yemen, please follow the link provided. 

case study


War in Yemen

Since March 2015, a civil war has been raging in Yemen involving several outside military powers. April Longley Alley, International Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for the Arabian Peninsula, explains how Yemen reached this destructive impasse.

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Federalism, conflict and fragmentation in Yemen

In this interview, Peter Salisbury explores whether federalism is the solution to Yemen's divisions and what needs to happen to build a sustainable peace in the country.


Le conflit au Yémen comme matrice du terrorisme islamique

Si la montée en puissance de Daech depuis 2011 semblait corrélée d'un affaiblissement général d'Al-Qaïda, la branche yéménite du groupe terroriste, AQPA (Al-Qaïda dans la Péninsule Arabique) a su s'installer durablement dans le pays. Actuellement au Yémen, les djihadistes de Daech se comptent par centaines, ceux d'AQPA par milliers. David RIGOULET-ROZE, chercheur à l'IFAS (Institut Français d'Analyse Stratégique) et rédacteur en chef de la revue "Orients stratégiques" revient sur le développement d'Al-Qaïda au Yémen et décrypte les enjeux de contre-terrorisme dans la région.

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Interview with Amat al-Alim al-Soswa on Yemen’s National Dialogue

“The national dialogue's importance lies in the fact that it is the one which will hopefully lead to stability and peace in Yemen,” said Amat al-Alim al-Soswa, a former minister and ambassador for Yemen who until 2012 was assistant secretary-general, assistant administrator for the United Nations Development Programme, and director of its regional bureau for Arab states.

“Peace and stability will only be the result of the discussion on all the issues, including not only the buildup of the structure of the system, meaning the political system, but also, it will discuss issues of the Southern movement, the issues of Sa’ada, the issues and relations to the transitional justice, and the preparations, really, for the country that respects the human rights of its citizens,” she said of the dialogue, which is due to start March 18.

“In addition to that, there will be, of course, a very important discussion in depth of the future regarding not only the political well-being, but also, it will have to discuss all the tensions that Yemen suffered from, including the northern Sa’ada issue.”

She said the discussion will also address the "whole philosophy behind economic and social development...especially because of the nature of the challenges which face Yemen, in particular the poverty issues, the scarcity of the water, and other major vital issues.”

Mrs. al-Soswa stressed the importance of continuing to hope that a common rationale will emerge from the dialogue and move Yemen through this challenging transition.

“I think we should hope that with the engagement of the Yemeni youth and women, that we will see a different level of transition,” she said.

The interview was conducted by Amal al-Ashtal, research assistant at the International Peace Institute.


How to support the fragile peace process in Yemen?

The devastating war in Yemen has already lasted four years. Recently the United Nations warned that the death toll of the war in Yemen could soar to nearly quarter of a million by the end of 2019 and called the conflict one of the “greatest preventable disasters facing humanity”. In this episode, CMI discuss on what is now needed to support the fragile peace process and what is CMI’s role in different peacemaking efforts. 

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Policy and Research Papers

Rebuilding Yemen: Roadmap for a National Dialogue

This paper is a summary of the discussions which took place at the roundtable event on 'Rebuilding Yemen: Roadmap for a National Dialogue’ held at Chatham House on 14 March 2012. The meeting brought together key Yemen Forum stakeholders, including academics, journalists, private-sector representatives, NGOs and members of the UK-based Yemeni diaspora. The discussion addressed two of the major challenges Yemen currently faces: the ‘Southern question’; and developing a ‘national dialogue’ process as stipulated by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement.

Click here to see the pdf at Chatham House:


Reforming the Yemen Security Sector

This paper reviews the process of security sector reform taking place in Yemen during the transitional period after the 2011 uprising.

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Violence in Yemen: Thinking About Violence in Fragile States Beyond the Confines of Conflict and Terrorism

This article examines the different forms of criminal violence that affect fragile states, with special reference to Yemen. The article is particularly interested in analysing the relationship between violent offending with no clear political motive, underdevelopment and conflict. It does so by conducting an in-depth evaluation of conflict and crime in Yemen, using publicly accessible data to suggest new ways of understanding violent criminal behaviour in Yemen and elsewhere. This article is written in response to a prioritisation of political violence, insurgency and terrorism in international development and stabilisation strategies, which has emerged alongside the broad securitisation of international aid. Common forms of criminal violence have been overlooked in a number of fragile contexts, as they have been in Yemen. In light of rising levels of insecurity, resulting from poor relationships between the state and its citizens, there is a need to re-evaluate this unstated omission if the new Yemeni Government is to gain increased legitimacy by being seen to prioritise the protection of its citizens.


Planning Ahead for a Postconflict Syria: Lessons from Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen

Though the conflict in Syria shows no signs of abating, and hopes for the Geneva II talks in January are dim, this paper argues it is never too early to start planning for peace. The paper examines three recent post-conflict transitions in the Middle East—Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen—and draws lessons for Syria. Among them are the following:

  • Drawing from the US experience in Iraq, Bennett argues that while elements of the current regime in Syria may need to go, the state must remain strong to promote stability and encourage post-conflict economic growth.
  • Drawing lessons from the Taif Agreement in Lebanon, Bennett argues that Syrians must avoid official sectarianism and focus on establishing a cohesive national identity.
  • Drawing from the role of the GCC in the Yemen transition, Bennett argues that regional cooperation, especially on the issue of Syrian refugees, will be critical to ensuring long term security and stability in the Middle East.

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Injustice Begets Violence, and Violence Begets More of Both: The Case of Yemen

This piece is part of the project “From the struggle for citizenship to the fragmentation of justice: Yemen from 1990 to 2013.” You can read the main report here.

After the momentous events of 2011, Yemen sadly has become a kind of backwater of the Arab Spring in the international media. What rare news headlines surface usually include the word “drone,” “al-Qaeda,” or “terrorism.” Beyond the headlines, Yemen is characterized by the same ambiguity as many fragile environments: a unique process of national dialogue concluded on an upbeat note while violence intensifies. In Yemen's case, the violence is intensifying around Dammaj in northern Yemen, with the southern protest movement apparently radicalizing, and the normally peaceful Hadramaut governorate seeing a tribal war erupt.

Yet beyond both headlines and recent events, one finds the deep structural factors that have shaped the Yemeni polity over the past decades. The difficulty ordinary Yemenis face in obtaining justice through peaceful and legal means is one such factor that contributes significantly to creating the raw matter of current violence.


Yemen’s future: like Tunisia or Libya?

The recent conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen might seem to point to progress in that fractured state. But the absence of the rule of law and impartial authority is allowing violence to fester and the international community needs to act decisively.

This messy panorama is characteristic of the kaleidoscope of violence in Yemen, with its multiple, overlapping issues and complex relations between power-brokers. It also typifies the associated impunity: with little to fear by way of legal repercussions, acts of violence are attractive instruments in pursuit of partisan agendas. As @BaFana3 tweeted, “Laws must be designed with the underlying assumption that they will be violated & have to be enforced. That concept is missing in #Yemen.”

You can find the paper here.


From the struggle for citizenship to the fragmentation of justice Yemen from 1990 to 2013

This report analyses the many grievances that underpin these strains and tensions from the perspective of how the ability of legal remedies to resolve disputes peacefully infl uences the prospects of violence and state formation. It examines, in particular, how the state-basedlegal system and tribal customary law have developed, who uses them, and to what effect they function. It undertakes this inquiry within the broader framework of Yemen’s political economy that is characterised by exclusive governance and declining social justice since the country’s unifi cation in 1990. This focus enables the report to contribute a much needed analysis of Yemen’s ‘state of justice’ and what can be done to improve it.

You can find the full report under the following link: 


Waiting for Change: The Impact of Transition on Local Justice and Security in Yemen

This report looks at the political transition and government reform in Yemen following the Arab Spring upheavals. It provides a snapshot of how the changing dynamics have affected local security and justice conditions in four politically and geographically diverse regions of Yemen.


Transition et négociations au Yémen. Le rôle de l'ONU

Il s’agira avant tout pour nous de lever deux ambiguïtés de la « révolution yéménite », puis de nous s’interroger sur l’approche onusienne. La « révolution yéménite » s’apparente plus, selon nous, à un règlement de compte entre prédateurs locaux qu’à un véritable soulèvement populaire, spontané et autonome. De ce fait, les « accords de Riyad », signés fin 2011, étaient surtout destinés à régler rapidement une question de « partage du pouvoir » entre factions rivales plutôt que d’entamer un vaste processus de refondation politique dans un pays profondément fragmenté par ses divisions tribalo-religieuses et de multiples conflits intérieurs larvés. Il faut ensuite se pencher sur la réponse, inadaptée selon nous, que la communauté internationale, en la personne de l’ancien conseiller spécial du Secrétaire général de l’ONU, a apportée à la crise. Analyse erronée de la situation sur le terrain, méconnaissance ou négligence des rapports de force réels, cadrage impropre du processus de dialogue national et de ses acteurs, absence de volonté politique d’agir dans les temps prescrits : les méprises semblent nombreuses pour celui qui a voulu préempter et diriger un processus qui lui a finalement échappé, avant qu’il ne soit forcé à démissionner.

Lien vers Transition et négociations au Yémen. Le rôle de l'ONU


Crumbling States: Security Sector Reform in Libya and Yemen


This paper by Yezid Sayigh from the Carnegie Middle East Center explores the evolution of the security sectors in Libya and Yemen in the years following the popular uprisings of 2011. The author argues that, as struggles for control over the security sectors became central to transitional politics, the security institutions collapsed by 2014 instead of being reformed and upgraded to enhance the legitimacy of the interim governments.

The paper first looks at the similarities in the security sector dynamics in both cases and the challenges of security sector reform, before going on to an in-depth account of the security sector of Libya and then Yemen. Finally, political lessons from the countries' experiences as well as recommendations are presented and conclude the paper. 

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Yemen's Forgotten War: How Europe can Lay the Foundations for Peace

The article focuses on the conflict in Yemen, which is is on the verge of absolute collapse.The EU and its member states have a moral and strategic interest in ending the conflict. Failure to act could result in Yemen becoming a new hub for globally oriented terror groups, and could spur a new wave of refugees into Europe.

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Untangling the Web: A Blueprint for Reforming American Security Sector Assistance

The United States transformed its approach to national security after the attacks on September 11, 2001. As terrorist organizations spread across the globe, so too did the U.S security presence. Now, after more than a decade and a half of costly war, the United States has turned to foreign militaries and police to fight threats before they reach America’s borders.

For full access to the report Untangling the Web: A Blueprint for Reforming American Security Sector Assistance, kindly follow the link.


Arab Uprisings and Armed Forces: Between Openness and Resistance

Since late 2010, an unprecedented wave of protests has swept across much of the Arab world. The aim of this paper is to examine the role of the armed forces when confronted with anti-regime uprisings that demand greater political freedoms or even regime change. Drawing on the cases of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, it argues that the degree of institutionalization of the armed forces and their relationship to society at large can account for different responses to pro-reform uprisings.

To access the full report Arab Uprisings and Armed Forces: Between Openness and Resistance, kindly click on the link.

This paper is part of DCAF's SSR Papers series. Click on the link for more DCAF publications on security sector reform.


Now Is the Time: Research on Gender Justice, Conflict and Fragility in the Middle East and North Africa

This study examines the impact of fragility and conflict on gender justice and women’s rights in the MENA, as a part of an Oxfam project entitled ‘Promoting the Needs of Women in Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa’ funded through the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It specifically aims to understand how conflict and fragility in four different contexts – Egypt, Iraq, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Yemen – have impacted the realization of gender equality and gender justice in the past several years of political and social upheaval. 

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Women’s Role in Peace and Security in Yemen

This literature review was commissioned as part of research for the project ‘Enhancing women’s role in peace and security in Yemen’.  The research is being led by the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) and the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) in partnership with Saferworld, and will inform programme activities to support women’s peacebuilding efforts in Yemen by Saferworld in cooperation with the National Foundation for Development and Humanitarian Response (NFDHR) and Wogood for Human Security. The review intends to provide an overview of women’s interactions with peacebuilding efforts in Yemen, in view to informing current strategies on how to enhance their role. 

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Diplomatie nomade autour du Yémen

Avec la Syrie et la Libye, le Yémen est le troisième des pays arabes en situation de guerre civile/internationale, avec une même conséquence pour l’activité diplomatique : du fait de la fermeture des ambassades sur place et de la situation sécuritaire, les États ont dû développer une politique « nomade » de contacts en pays tiers avec leurs interlocuteurs en fonction de leurs lieux d’exil, dont l’article suivant constitue, s’agissant du Yémen, un essai de « cartographie ».

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Public protest and visions for change

Understanding how young men and women in Yemen, who make up 75 percent of the population, perceive the drivers of Yemen’s current crisis and possible solutions needs to be an integral part of finding a lasting settlement and achieving sustainable peace.

 Yemen’s civil protest movement is the largest in Yemeni history and the longest-running of the Arab Spring uprisings. Young protestors across the country have come together, giving unprecedented hope to millions of Yemenis. Building on consultations with young men and women from diverse backgrounds in four major cities in Yemen, Public protest and visions for change Yemen offers a detailed snapshot of the main grievances driving the protests, youth ideas on transition and some of the innovative solutions and surprisingly positive conclusions they are drawing. Yemeni youth are not just voicing a set of grievances; many have begun to articulate visions for a more inclusive political system. Their perspectives are supplemented by interviews with politicians, religious and tribal authorities, businessmen, youth and women leaders, and experts on Yemen.

The report is part of Saferworld’s EU-funded ‘People’s Peacemaking Perspectives’ project, a joint initiative implemented by Conciliation Resources and Saferworld and financed under the European Commission's Instrument for Stability. The project provides European Union institutions with analysis and recommendations based on the opinions and experiences of local people in a range of countries and regions affected by fragility and violent conflict.

Read the full report

Read the policy brief

Find out more about People's Peacemaking Perspectives


Addressing Security Sector Reform in Yemen. Challenges and Opportunities for Intervention During and Post-Conflict

This report is the result of a conference with the same name, with the aim of bringing together distinguished experts and practitioners from Yemen and the region as well as from Europe and the United States in order to discuss lessons learned from previous attempts at SSR in Yemen and to identify and develop practical policy options for constructive interventions during and post-conflict that aim to contribute to the stabilization of the country.

The papers by prolific experts on Yemen included in this publication discuss the changes, obstacles and limits for successful security sector reform in Yemen during and after the conflict and offer respective recommendations for national and international policy-makers in the field.

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Security Sector Reform as Conflict Prevention in Yemen

Security sector reform (SSR) is urgently needed in Yemen in order to prevent the resumption or escalation of armed conflict. Despite rarely being recognised, the country’s army and police are at the centre of several conflicts affecting the country.

Yemen’s southern separationist movement Hiraak was re-energized, and won international sympathy if not support, when the country’s Central Security Forces (CSF) fired on generally peaceful protests in 2013. Earlier this year, the Yemeni military’s crackdown on Al-Dhale governorate in southern Yemen had a similar effect and (however briefly) awoke international concern after army commanders denied humanitarian groups access to around 50,000 Yemenis. There is an urgent need for international actors to work with Yemen’s CSF on managing civil unrest in a manner which dampens rather than fuels tensions.

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The conflict in Yemen and EU’s arms export controls: Highlighting the flaws in the current regime

Under the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Export, which was replaced in 2008 by the EU Common Position on Arms Exports, member states of the European Union have committed themselves to achieving ‘high common standards’ and ‘convergence’ in their arms export controls. The standards are outlined in eight criteria that require member states to abide by certain standards when assessing licences  for arms exports. This includes denying licences when there is a ‘clear risk’ that the arms ‘might’ be used to commit violations of human rights or international humanitarian law (IHL) and ‘[taking] into account’ the risk that they will be diverted to an unauthorized end-user or end-use. Meanwhile, convergence in member states’ controls is promoted through systems of information sharing and—in cases where one state wishes to issue a licence for an arms export that another state has previously denied—a commitment to consult one another. However, decision-making in arms export licensing falls under states’ national competence and there is no formal mechanism at the EU level to sanction non-compliance with the Common Position. As such, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and academics have often questioned whether EU member states are applying the criteria of the Common Position correctly and consistently.

Questions about the implementation of the Common Position have been particularly highlighted by the contrasting policies of EU member states on the export of arms to states in the Saudi-led military coalition engaged in the conflict in Yemen since 2015. There have been multiple reports by United Nations agencies and NGOs alleging that the coalition has violated IHL standards, including through widespread and systematic attacks on civilian targets and a failure to appropriately distinguish between civilian and military objects. These reports will be the subject of a ‘comprehensive examinationconducted by a group of experts appointed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. They have also led some EU member states to restrict or halt arms exports that are likely to be used in Yemen to certain members of the coalition, and the European Parliament has called for the EU to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia. However, other member states have implemented no such constraints, and others have allowed exports to the coalition to increase.

For full access to, The conflict in Yemen and EU’s arms export controls: Highlighting the flaws in the current regime, please follow the link.


Gender Justice & The Law: Assessment of laws affecting gender equality in the Arab States region

Conducted by UNDP, UN Women, UNFPA, and ESCWA, this study on Gender Justice & the Law in the Arab States Region provides a comprehensive assessment of laws and policies affecting gender equality and protection against gender-based violence in Arab countries. The report is composed of 18 country profiles, each of which maps a country’s key legislative developments and gaps regarding gender justice. This introduction provides an overall summary of these country chapters followed by a summary of each country examined.

To access the full report, Gender Justice & The Law, please follow the link provided. 


Implementing Stockholm: The Status of Local Security Forces in al-Hodeidah

Implementing Stockholm: The Status of Local Security Forces in al-Hodeidah is part of a series published within the framework of Rebuilding Peace and Security, a project funded by the European Union’s Instrument Contributing to Stability and Peace and implemented by the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) between 2016 and 2019. The project builds on the premise that security in Yemen is both provided and undermined by the large number of diverse actors involved in the effort. Measures to address security concerns therefore cannot be standardized, but should instead be adapted to address local and regional challenges.

For full access to the report Implementing Stockholm: The Status of Local Security Forces in al-Hodeidah, please follow the link.