On the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the European Union reaffirms its commitment towards democracy as a fundamental right of every human being. Every woman and every man has to be free to participate to the political, economic and social life of her or his country. No one should fear to speak up, to demonstrate peacefully, to go to vote or to expect fair and inclusive policies from a government. Democracy can only function if participation and trust between democratic state institutions, governments and citizens are guaranteed.
"Women in politics… if they are not strong and effective… they cannot prove themselves to others at the political party level or the community. Therefore I appeal to every woman wanting to enter politics, to work hard on themselves. To be accepted by others, they must stand on solid grounds", stressed Wahiba Ahmed Sabrah, Vice President for the Yemeni Center of Studies and Research at an EU supported meeting on women in the peace process which took place in Cairo earlier this year. More recently a large group of Yemeni women gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a second meeting to discuss how to pave the way for a peace process. They identified options and areas of consensus for such an agreement and the subsequent transitional period in Yemen.
On this first International Day commemorating the victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief, we pay tribute to all those around the world who lost their lives and suffered attacks because of their religion or belief. Persecution as a response to religious belief or affiliation, or lack thereof, is a violation of international law and requires joint work to combat it.
Yemen is known for its unique historic urban centres. These urban environments are not only important for being an integral part of the Yemeni cultural heritage but they also contribute to fostering Yemenis’ social cohesion and their sense of national identity. Preserving these urban environments is a matter of particular importance to the EU, which recognises how these heritage sites are vital for Yemen’s sustainable development. Therefore, it is currently funding two complementary projects focusing on preserving historic heritage sites and promoting a development-oriented urban recovery process. Implemented by UN-Habitat, the EU supports the comprehensive profiling of seven Yemeni cities and the elaboration of urban recovery strategies. In addition, an EU-funded project implemented by UNESCO combines the creation of livelihoods for Yemeni youth with the maintenance and rehabilitation of historic urban heritage.
Violence in Aden has been escalating since the brutal attacks perpetrated last week, with reports of incitement to violence against Yemeni institutions and accounts of retaliatory attacks. The Yemeni population has already suffered too much.
As we mark the International Criminal Justice Day, the European Union reaffirms its longstanding support towards the international criminal justice system and in particular its unwavering commitment to the International Criminal Court (ICC), as part of the EU's wider commitment to a rules-based international order.