Jane Marriott, British Ambassador to Yemen

Jane Marriott

British Ambassador to Yemen

Part of UK in Yemen

14th September 2013 Sana’a, Yemen

International Day for Democracy – what does it mean for Yemen?

This year’s UNGA-led International Day for Democracy (15 September) falls close to the scheduled end of Yemen’s National Dialogue, set up under the GCC Initiative to provide a framework for Yemenis to resolve the issues that led to the Youth Revolution in Yemen two years ago.

It is a remarkable achievement that Yemen has managed to maintain a dialogue that will, we hope, soon set out a clear path for Yemen’s future – a democratic future – and continue to find peaceful ways to avoid the conflicts and setbacks that we have seen in other countries of the region.

But I have no illusion that democracy can grow to maturity in a week, a month, or even a year.  In my country, and in most of the west, democracy has taken decades and centuries to develop. Democracy is not perfect – in the words of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others which have been tried [which are even worse].”  So Yemen – and its friends – have to be realistic about what can be achieved and what we can expect.

It is right that the old political order and its politicians should be challenged sooner rather than later in elections – but the challengers, if they are going to be effective – will have to be united and have clear programmes, so that people know what they are voting for, as well as who they are voting for.  Those involved in the National Dialogue and others who want their voice to be heard need to look at other, peaceful, ways of expressing their opinions and harnessing the power of civil society. They will need to set out realistic programmes and have a clear idea of where they will generate the technical and administrative expertise to run this complex country in the interests of all its citizens, north and south.

What I would like to see is a democratic Yemen in which there is transparency and accountability in all levels of government. I would like to see fair treatment for all – north and south, highland and lowland, men and women, city and village, and without distinction of religion or sect.  It will not be easy to get there; and even mature democracies make mistakes.  The key is patience – to recognise that the best outcome may take time; to understand that if elections produce a disappointing outcome, another election will come along in time, which people can peacefully chose change.

I am optimistic that Yemen will capitalise on this unique opportunity to build a democratic future. The UK and Yemen have a long history of friendship, which continues to this day. The UK is providing over £11 million in support to the National Dialogue Conference and elections process, working with our partners in the United Nations. We look forward to maintaining our strong friendship with Yemen and its people throughout the long journey – and the many challenges – ahead.

4 comments on “International Day for Democracy – what does it mean for Yemen?

  1. Thank you for your interesting of this issue as long as we looking for how we should get out of it by the best results,
    We consider the UK initiator country always support the cause of Yemen.

  2. Thank you Jane, as you said that Yemen and UK have long history of friendship and hope this will continue, Yemen is in need for help in regard to democracy,transparency and law&order the UK has all this, will the British Government help more in this side? I am very optimistic of her excellency Jane Morriot that she will continue her positive activity in Yemen.

  3. As Yemeni , I would like thank UK for all helping and supporting.In fact , I share your vision about the democracy in Yemen.Every Yemeni want to see Yemen in which there is transparency and accountability in all levels of government. Finally, I hope the best for your Excellence in Yemen.

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