20 November 2018

From November 04 to 07, Oxford Research Group (ORG) and its local partner Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies held a workshop on building collective strategic capacity for 27 high-level local representatives from the Yemeni governorates of Hadhramaut and Marib. Convened in Amman, Jordan, the workshop provided training in the ORG-pioneered collective strategic thinking model. ORG Senior Fellow Professor Oliver Ramsbotham presented on the methodology and helped participants to amend and develop it according to their needs. The safe space created by the workshop allowed participants to build cohesion within their governorate groups and develop investment in the broader political process by identifying key issues and corresponding pathways for how they would like to see them addressed. 

In addition to the training, ORG and SC were delighted to welcome Martin Griffiths, UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, to meet with participants and listen to their concerns and recommendations for peacebuilding in Yemen. Mr. Griffiths stressed the importance of track II efforts being parallel to official track I diplomatic efforts and stated that “the real work in Yemen starts the day after we reach a political deal. We should all work to prepare for that day.” 

ORG also convened a policy roundtable discussion on 07 November which saw over fifteen representatives from international institutions and donors join the workshop to meet the Yemeni participants and hear an update on peacebuilding within Hadhramaut and Marib. High-level attendees included the British Ambassador to Yemen, and representatives of the French Embassy to Yemen, the Delegation of the European Union to Yemen, UK government, US State Department as well as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and UNICEF. 

The workshop took place against the backdrop of the United States calling for the Yemen War to end within a month’s time. This intention was echoed by Martin Griffiths who said he hoped to have the two warring parties attend peace talks in Sweden before the end of 2018. However, November also saw an escalation in fighting in Yemen, including intensified fighting around the port of al-Hodeidah.  

ORG has been working with inclusive groups of local participants from Yemen’s Marib and Hadhramaut governorates since mid-2018 to develop their capacity to engage strategically with the Yemen peace process. This aims to complement and feed into the work of the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General (OSESGY), based in Amman. Funding for the pilot year of the project has been provided by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund. 

Image credit: Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies.