When Martin Griffiths, the outgoing United Nations special envoy for Yemen, gave his final briefing to the U.N. Security Council on June 15, he painted a “bleak picture” of stalled efforts to broker a cease-fire and initiate talks over ending the country’s 6-year civil war. Since former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed the U.N.’s first special representative to Yemen in 2011, the country has undergone a precipitous transformation, with successive envoys overseeing an unsuccessful political transition and the eruption of a civil war, with little progress toward peace.
With news that European Union Ambassador to Yemen Hans Grundberg has been tapped to take over the role, what issues should be top of the new special envoy’s agenda? How has the situation in Yemen changed since the appointment of the first U.N. envoy, and have mediation efforts kept pace with the evolution of the conflict? What lessons can be gleaned from the efforts of previous special envoys? And what recommendations can be made to Grundberg as he takes over the role?