Top UN body demands Houthis cease Red Sea ship attacks

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Ever-increasing attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by rebel Houthis saw the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this week demand cessation of attacks on commercial and merchant vessels.

Houthi attacks began at the end of last year in what the militant group said was an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, following Israel’s offensive – itself a response to the 7 October Hamas-led terror attack on southern Israel.

Adopting Resolution 2739 of 2024, with 12 votes in favour and three abstentions (Algeria, China and Russia), the UNSC requested monthly reports from the Secretary-General on the Red Sea crisis until January 2025. This is a renewal of UNSC Resolution 2722.

The UNSC stressed all member states “must adhere to their obligations in regard to the targeted arms embargo” against key Houthi leaders, set out in Resolution 2216 of 2015.

Additionally, it reiterated condemnation of Houthi attacks against shipping in the Red Sea and demanded the immediate release of the merchant vessel Galaxy Leader and its crew.

Operated by a Japanese company, Galaxy Leader was seized in November last year and contributed to escalating tensions throughout the Middle East resulting from the war in Gaza.

In a separate decision, the UNSC extended the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan for six months until 31 December 2024.

It requested Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to ensure UNDOF has the required capacity and resources to fulfil its mandate “in a safe and secure way”.

Unanimously adopting Resolution 2737 of 2024, the 15-member Council stressed Israel and Syria are obliged to “scrupulously and fully respect” the terms of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement.

It further urged both sides to exercise maximum restraint and prevent ceasefire breaches, using UNDOF’s liaison function to address issues of mutual concern.