Hope and Action

Mwatana for Human Rights convened its first annual meeting

Monday, January 8, 2024
Hope and Action

Sana'a -

On Monday, January 8, 2024, Mwatana for Human Rights convened its first annual meeting under the theme "Hope and Action." This gathering marked the first occasion that the entire Mwatana for Human Rights team, comprising field and central researchers, lawyers, senior management, donors, supporters, and individuals passionate about human rights, came together.

Commencing the meeting, Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, extended a warm welcome to all attendees, including the organization's field and central teams, as well as esteemed guests. Special recognition was given to the ambassadors of the European Union and Germany to Yemen, along with other partners and donors, both local and international.

In her inaugural address, Radhya Al-Mutawakel conveyed her profound gratitude for the unwavering efforts and dedication exhibited by the entire Mwatana for Human Rights team. She lauded their exceptional contributions during years of conflict, navigating through challenging conditions and high risks. Al-Mutawakel emphasized the team's unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional work for the benefit of civilian victims and the advancement of rights and freedoms in Yemen. Additionally, she extended heartfelt appreciation to all of the organization's partners and donors, recognizing their pivotal role in the success of Mwatana.

Radhya Al-Mutawakel stated, "Since its inception, Mwatana for Human Rights has set challenging goals amidst the conflict in Yemen. We have remained committed to independence, professionalism, and precision, fortifying our work with values, ethics, skills, and constructive approaches at legal, administrative, and financial levels. We have taken significant steps toward institutional work and governance."

Mohammed Al-Salwi, the Executive Director of Mwatana, reviewed the organization's operational areas from 2015 until it successfully reached the majority of Yemen's regions in 2023. Through its field team of researchers and lawyers, Mwatana's activities were reflected in the performance indicators of the strategic plan for the past three years. Mwatana surpassed 95.35% of the completion rate in documenting incident information during this period. Additionally, it published 19 human rights reports, conducted 5 research studies, maintained 88 blogs, released 121 statements, and produced 19 human rights films. Addetionally, the organization provided legal support in 1961 cases, implemented no fewer than 53 advocacy activities, engaged in 38 accountability initiatives, and organized 13 awareness events.

Dua'a Faroq, Human Resources and Operations Manager at Mwatana, outlined the organizational structure, analyzed challenges faced by the organization, and discussed the decision of the top management of the organization to move to a new phase of institutional development. This involved restructuring leadership positions and other roles. She detailed the functions and responsibilities of the organization's ten units and departments, concluding with the decision made to reorganize the Board of Trustees on December 14, 2023.

Gabriel Munuera Viñals, the European Union Ambassador to Yemen delivered a speech expressing pride at Mwatana's enduring partnership with the European Union for approximately ten years. He affirmed that Mwatana is an integral part of the human rights landscape in Yemen as a non-governmental organization. Furthermore, he added, "Allow me to reiterate the European Union's stance towards Yemen. The European Union is a long-term partner and friend to the people of Yemen. We are committed to political and diplomatic efforts, extending to the humanitarian field. Since the onset of the conflict in Yemen in 2015, we have allocated over 1.5 billion euros, and we remain one of the prominent donors to Yemen."

Ambassador Gabriel affirmed, "The European Union stands in support of the United Nations' initiatives, led by the UN Special Envoy, aiming to overcome all obstacles and bring an end to the conflict in Yemen through a fair and comprehensive peace-building solution. In pursuit of this goal, we leverage our full diplomatic and political capacities to engage with all parties involved, endorsing regional and international efforts by communicating with conflicting parties and key stakeholders in Yemen. Additionally, we support peace-building programs and efforts made by non-governmental organizations and institutions in this regard."

Ambassador Gabriel added, "Human rights are a fundamental component of our policy, inseparable from the core values of the European Union. We utilize all available capacities to address human rights violations, including issuing both public and private messages to conflict parties and actors in Yemen. We support Mwatana's projects aimed at protecting human rights and documenting human rights violations, specifically focusing on safeguarding the rights of children and women, as well as promoting the freedom of movement for women in Yemen. Additionally, we collaborate with international non-governmental organizations and other UN entities, and we remain committed to working on all these issues."

The EU Ambassador to Yemen concluded his speech by stating, "The European Union remains committed to supporting Yemen and assisting its people with all the human, diplomatic, and political capabilities at our disposal. This includes our support for the United Nations' efforts to achieve peace and our collaboration with various active governmental and non-governmental entities. We coordinate with numerous partners and friends of Yemen to address challenges related to human rights and social justice in Yemen. All these efforts are at the core of our policies and initiatives, with Mwatana playing a crucial role as a valued partner for the European Union. I am pleased to address you today and reiterate the significance we place on these issues and our collaboration with Mwatana in confronting human rights violations and human rights matters."

Safia Alsayaghi, Projects Manager at Mwatana, stated in her presentation, "The projects at Mwatana are built upon a set of principles. For example, projects must be built upon human rights principles, and the project design is linked to Mwatana's strategies and contributes to the strategic objectives of the organization. These objectives involve creating a human rights memory for violations in Yemen, advocating for justice for victims of human rights violations, holding perpetrators accountable, fostering awareness of human rights culture, and building and enhancing the capacities of the most affected groups in the field of human rights. The projects are community-centered, reflecting the needs of the society and local context, not solely designed based on calls for proposals from donors. The project activities are consistent with Mwatana's vision, on-the-ground situations, and specific priorities. All Mwatana projects are target-specific, directed towards the needs of the beneficiaries who are victims of human rights violations and their families. Moreover, these are constructive projects, aligning with the organization's guiding principles, and throughout its years of operation, Mwatana's interventions have consistently adhered to these directions."

During the sessions of the first annual meeting, Mwatana's team focused on evaluating the organization's work over the past period and the challenges they face in the field. This includes the complexity arising from multiple conflict parties and changing control dynamics in various operational regions. Discussions also revolved around the patterns of ongoing violations despite the ceasefire, with notable examples such as arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, military vehicle ramming, child recruitment, landmines, explosive remnants of weapons, restrictions on freedom of movement, unlawful levies, violations at military checkpoints, and other forms of violations that different conflict parties continue to commit. Additionally, the team reviewed the objectives and indicators of the previous strategic plan as part of a collaborative process to inform the upcoming strategic plan of the organization.

On his part, Abdulrasheed Al-Faqih, the Vice Chairperson of Mwatana, stated, "Ambassadors and those working for peace should be aware that the ceasefire achieved significant gains for civilians in the past months. The results, favoring civilians, are enticing for more efforts to transform the ceasefire into a lasting peace agreement."

At the conclusion of the first annual meeting, Al-Faqih reiterated Mwatana's commitment to continuing its work alongside the victims until they achieve justice, redress, and accountability for the perpetrators. He affirmed Mwatana's support for all efforts aimed at achieving peace, emphasizing that human rights issues, victims' concerns, and the plight of millions of civilians, both men and women, should be a top priority in diplomatic endeavors for peace in Yemen. He called for these efforts to ensure that the settlement leads to a modern, civil, and democratic state for Yemenis, based on the principles of the rule of law, respect for human rights, political pluralism, freedom of belief and expression, press freedom, freedom for civil society, and the values of justice and equal citizenship.