NDC: Q & A
What is the National Dialogue Conference?
The NDC represents the next step in Yemen’s transitional political process aimed at sustaining a peaceful transfer of power. It was designed to enable political parties and groups from all over Yemen to collectively draw a new vision for Yemen’s future.
How was the conference decided on and engineered?
With the international community, it was decided on as part of a two-year transitional process that started on November 23, 2011 when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Initiative in Riyadh, following a political uprising that began in Yemen in early 2011. By signing Saleh received immunity but transferred power to his then Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.
The conference was initially supposed to begin November 15, 2012 but was delayed several times.
The details of the conference were designed by the Technical Preparatory Committee for the National Dialogue Conference which was created by a presidential decree on July 14, 2012.
Why is the conference going to last for six months?
The parties behind its design created the time frame considering the complexity of the topics to be discussed during the conference and the political history between participants.
How were the 565 members of the conference selected?
The United Nation’s Special Envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, was tasked with allocating seat numbers to the major stakeholder groups outlined by the GCC Initiative. The Technical Committee then approved the allocation numbers.
Each selected group then presented a list of proposed names to fill the seats to the Technical Committee. As for the independent youth, women and civil society organization seats, the Technical Committee created a short list from applicants that answered an advertisement. The president selected the final independent participants from these lists.
The President was allocated 62 seats to fill in with participants from groups who were not otherwise represented.
The entire conference, including the political parties’ representatives are stipulated to be 50 percent from the South, 30 percent women and 20 percent under 40 years of age.
Are there any criteria for the participants?
Yes, they must:
Be a legally competent Yemeni citizen
Be an approved candidate from the group he or she represents
Be responsible and committed to international humanitarian law
Not face credible allegations of human rights allegations or crimes against humanity
Not be subject to penalties from the United Nations Security Council
There are additional special criteria for the youth component. They must:
Not belong to any political party or group
Have participated in activism and community organizing during the revolution
Be under 40 years of age.
And an additional criteria for the independent women is they must have demonstrated experience in the advancement of women and societal development.
Are there participants in the conference who are not members?
Yes, Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa and representatives of the United Nation’s Special Envoy can attend any of the general sessions they want and without notice. They can attend the working group sessions by invitation.
International ambassadors can attend the general sessions as observers after coordinating with the Presidium and they can also attend the working group sessions by invitation.
Members of the Parliament and Shoura Council, ministers, diplomats and prominent figures in society can attend the general sessions by invitation from the Presidium.
However, all non-members are granted observer rights only and are not allowed to vote or participate in discussions.
How is a decision made at the conference?
At least a 90 percent consensus must be reached between present members, while maintaining the condition that the opposition are not exclusively representative of one of the eight groups mentioned in the GCC Initiative’s implementing mechanism: General People’s Congress, the Joint Meeting Parties Coalition (Islah, Socialist Party, etc.), Houthis, Hirak, women, youth, civil society organizations and new political parties and other groups.
If a 90 percent consensus is not possible, the Consensus Committee can mediate between the various groups to reach an agreement.
If the Consensus Committee fails to achieve a 90 percent agreement, a consensus of 75 percent of the attendees will be accepted.
If 75 percent of the participants cannot agree, the issue will be thrown back to the Consensus Committee for a second attempt at negotiations.
If this doesn’t work, the Consensus Committee will present the issue to President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi who will personally work with the various groups on reaching an agreement.