Averting Environmental Catastrophe in Yemen: Diplomatic Success Amidst a Civil WarVIEW EVENT DETAILS
The United Nations General Assembly Comes to Asia Society
Last month, a UN-led operation removed 1.1 million barrels of oil from the decaying FSO Safer supertanker off Yemen’s coast, averting an environmental, economic, and humanitarian catastrophe for the region. A broad international coalition conducted years of political groundwork, fundraising, and complex project development, to enable the complex maritime operation. The Safer operation serves as a strong model for future international coordination and proves proactive action on this scale is possible.
Please join the Asia society for a discussion on this triumph of diplomacy, part of a series of programs with world leaders visiting New York during the annual United Nations General Assembly.
H.E. Dr. Ahmad Awad BinMubarak is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen. He holds a PhD in Business Administration from the University of Baghdad and received the Distinguished Graduate Shield from the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies (NESA) of the National Defense University in Washington, DC. He worked as an Assistant Professor in several Yemeni universities, and headed the Business Administration Centre for Graduate Studies at Sana’a University. In 2012, he was appointed as a member of the Preparatory Committee in charge of preparing for the biggest turning points in the Yemeni transitional process as an independent representative, and was elected as committee rapporteur. He was Secretary General of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, and along with the United Nations, chaired the Steering Committee and the Peacebuilding Fund and played a facilitating role for many crucial sessions in the Conciliation Committee as well as the Southern Issue committee .During the final stages of the conference, he was appointed as a member and rapporteur of the Territory Determination committee that defined the parameters of the proposed new federal Yemen. In 2014, he was appointed Director of the Presidential Office (i.e., Chief of Staff) and in the same year appointed to be Prime Minister for which he declined in accepting the position. He was kidnapped in January 2015 by the Houthi militia while carrying the original new draft constitution to present it to the National Authority to Monitor the Implementation of the Outcomes of the National Dialogue. In July 2015, he was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Yemen to the United States of America, in Washington, DC, and has also functioned as non-resident ambassador to Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. He was also appointed as the Permanent Representative of Yemen to the United Nations during the year 2018.
H.E. Liesje Schreinemacher is the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, serving for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is presently a Dutch lawyer and politician of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) currently serving in the fourth Rutte cabinet. In her early career, she served as an assistant to Dutch MPs Johan Remkes and Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. She then went on to become an adviser at the Dutch Ministry of Defence until 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, she worked as a lawyer, specialising in construction law and contract law. She was elected to the European Parliament in the 2019 European Parliament election, as Member of the European Parliament for the Netherlands.
William David Gressly is Assistant Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 15 February 2021 his appointment, with the host Government’s approval. He also serves as Humanitarian Coordinator. He brings to the role more than 40 years of international experience in peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and development, including a wealth of humanitarian leadership and extensive political and security knowledge in complex emergencies and conflict situations. At the United Nations, he held several leadership positions, including, most recently, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Protection and Operations with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). He also occupied the posts of United Nations Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Stabilization and the Rule of Law as well as Humanitarian Coordinator with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Head of Mission for the United Nations Office in Mali (UNOM) and Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the 2012 food crisis in the Sahel. Before that, he served the United Nations for more than 20 years, including as Regional Coordinator covering South Sudan. He also held managerial positions in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, India and Nigeria within the Organization, working in the development and humanitarian fields.
Timothy Lenderking is the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen. He previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Peninsula Affairs in the Near East Bureau at the U.S. Department of State. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He served previously as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 2013-2016. He served as the Director of the Pakistan Office at the Department of State from 2010-2013. From 2008-2010, he completed two tours in Baghdad, the first as the Senior Democracy Advisor at the U.S. Embassy, and the second as the Policy Advisor to LTG Charles Jacoby, Commanding General of Multi-National Forces Iraq (MNF-I), based at Camp Victory. Before his Iraq tours, he served as the Economic Counselor and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Kuwait. He was also the Political Counselor at Embassy Rabat from 2002-2006. His other tours in the Foreign Service include serving as the Special Assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Marc Grossman 2001-2002, as the Lebanon Desk Officer 2000-2001, and as a Watch Officer in the Operations Center. He also served in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and in Damascus, Syria. He joined the Foreign Service in 1993 after a career in the refugee field, where he held numerous positions with American NGOs and with the United Nations in New York, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Thailand. He is the recipient of the Presidential Merit Award, nine Superior Honor Awards from the Department of State and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Army for his service in Iraq.
Nadia Bilbassy-Charters (moderator) is a veteran journalist and Washington Bureau Chief for Al Arabiya News Channel, one of the most watched satellite news network in the Middle East. She reports daily on major U.S. events and breaking news from Washington and has interviewed a number of world leaders, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Presidents Yasser Arafat, Nelson Mandela, Mahmoud Abbas and Secretaries of State John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell , Mike Pompeo and Tony Blinken among others. Prior to her current role, she was the Nairobi Bureau Chief for Middle East Broadcasting Center, MBC where she reported from the frontlines of conflicts, including the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the 1997 military coup in Zaire and the civil war in Southern Sudan. She has also worked for other major international news organizations around the world, among them AFP and The Independent. Her work as a reporter and her role as Washington’s first female Bureau Chief for an Arab satellite news channel has merited recognition and speaking engagements. She is a regular guest on NPR 1A program.