Mr President,

We would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Khaled Khiari for his speech detailing the succession of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea over the last few days, as well as last night's military strikes by an American-British coalition.

These developments are very worrying and once again increase the risk of regional escalation. In December, the Council members unanimously issued a press statement condemning the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea and calling for the release of all the crew of the Galaxy Leader. Then, just two days ago, we adopted Resolution 2722 reaffirming the importance of strict respect for the rights and freedoms of navigation in the Red Sea, in accordance with international law. In its statement after the vote, Switzerland shared its legal assessment of the third operational paragraph. The right referred to in this article, i.e. "the right of Member States, in accordance with international law, to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms", is strictly limited to military measures to intercept attacks against merchant vessels and warships in order to protect the said vessels and the persons on board. In this context, any military operation that goes beyond the immediate need to protect the said ships and persons would be disproportionate and thus not covered by the above-mentioned resolution.

Switzerland is concerned about the military strikes carried out by the US-UK coalition. The attacks and incidents in the Red Sea and the region are having a negative impact on maritime traffic and world trade, as well as on the civilian population in Yemen and the region. At a time when peace talks in Yemen are making significant progress, we must help to preserve these gains. Indeed, in the long term, nothing will better guarantee the security of the Red Sea than a lasting peace in Yemen that includes all the players concerned. A further deterioration in the situation must therefore be avoided, and we collectively have the means to prevent it.

Switzerland therefore calls on all parties and actors involved in the Red Sea and in the region to exercise caution and the utmost restraint, and to comply strictly with international law. In this respect, we take note of the joint declaration by the maritime coalition, in particular the stated desire to de-escalate the situation. In addition, the Council must be united: on issues of maritime security and more generally in its decisions affecting this region directly or indirectly, and by extension the maintenance of international peace and security. It is our responsibility to prevent, not exacerbate, rising tensions. Switzerland is fully committed to this.

Thank you.

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