The UN Security Council has strongly condemned attacks by Houthi militants on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea since November 2023, saying these impede global commerce and undermine navigational rights.
The 15-nation Council adopted a resolution on Wednesday condemning, in the “strongest terms,” at least two dozen Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels since November 19, 2023, when the Houthis attacked and seized the Galaxy Leader and its crew.
The resolution demanded that the Houthis immediately cease all such attacks, which impede global commerce and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security.
The resolution was adopted with 11 votes in favour, none against, and 4 abstentions – Algeria, China, Mozambique, and Russia. It urged caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation in the Red Sea and the broader region and encourages enhanced diplomatic efforts by all parties to that end, including continued support for dialogue and Yemen’s peace process under the UN auspices.
India had last week said that it is closely watching the unfolding situation in the Red Sea, amid growing global concerns over Houthi militants stepping up attacks on several commercial ships in the region. The comments by External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal came a day after the Indian Navy said its ships and aircraft remain “mission deployed” to maintain surveillance and undertake maritime security operations in the North and Central Arabian Sea. “We attach very high importance to freedom of navigation, free movement of commercial shipping. It is an evolving situation and we are looking at all aspects of it,” Jaiswal had said at a media briefing in Delhi last week. “As you know, we have Indian Navy ships patrolling the area. They are also keeping a watch on Indian ships there. So far, we are not part of any multilateral initiative in the area. We are looking at the unfolding situation very closely,” he had said.
There have been concerns over Iran-backed Houthi militants launching strikes on several commercial ships in the Red Sea in the last couple of weeks amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Liberian-flagged vessel MV Chem Pluto, with 21 Indian crew members, was the target of a drone attack off India’s west coast on December 23 that triggered security concerns in New Delhi. Besides MV Chem Pluto, another commercial oil tanker that was on the way to India came under a suspected drone strike in the Southern Red Sea on the same day. The vessel had a team of 25 Indian crew.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in the Council that there have been dozens of attacks since November on shipping in the Red Sea, which have affected more than 40 different countries. The Houthis have also taken more than 25 hostages from ships they’ve seized in the last few months.
“And so, it is clear: the Council must speak now with a unified voice and adopt this resolution. Repeated Houthi attacks on international shipping are a security threat. They are an economic threat, increasing the prices people pay for food, medicine, and energy. And as the resolution before us emphasizes, they are a humanitarian threat, undermining the ability of the international community to deliver assistance to more than 21 million Yemeni people in need,” she said.
She added that the threat to navigational rights and freedoms in the Red Sea is a global challenge that necessitates a global response. “The basic principle of freedom of navigation is at stake. And the Houthis, and anyone who enables them, need to hear a clear message from this Council: these attacks must stop.”