May 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2007
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The United States will have the Council presidency in May. At this stage, no thematic debates are planned. The new US Permanent Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, who comes to the UN with recent experience as an ambassador in two countries on the Council agenda, will be the chair.

Open meetings of the Council expected in May include:

  • a debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina will include a briefing by the High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement;
  • there will be an open briefing by the chairs of the three committees dealing with terrorist issues, the Al-Qaida and Taliban (1267), the Counter-terrorism (1373) and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (1540) Committees;
  • adoption of a resolution extending the mandate of the operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUC (the only mandate renewal envisaged for May); and
  • the regular monthly briefing on the Middle East.

Additional open meetings are likely to be added to the programme of work as various situations evolve. The Council is also likely to be briefed in May on the humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa and Somalia by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes following his trips to those areas.

Consultations are expected on:

SomaliaTimor-Leste and Children and Armed Conflict could possibly also be added to the list.

The US and the European members will be eager to proceed with drafting and the adoption of a resolution that would implement the proposals for Kosovo, recommended by Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari.  In the first days of the month, the Council will hear an oral report from the Council mission, led by Belgium, to be followed by a written report. But it is unlikely that events will unfold quickly. Russia has been unwilling to endorse the plan and has repeatedly signalled its desire for a more deliberate process and more attention to whether Council resolution 1244 of June 1999 has been fully implemented. South Africa and Indonesia have also signalled misgivings. Prior to the mission it seemed that a majority of the Council was not persuaded of the case for independence. It may be that, initially at least, substantive discussions will be centred in the Contact Group.

The issue of sanctions will continue to hover over the Council as members watch closely for rapid progress with Khartoum’s compliance on its commitments regarding the hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur.  Another issue that will be scrutinised closely, in light of recent reports, will be the implementation of Sudanese commitments regarding humanitarian access and delivery of aid.
As this issue went to print there were hints emerging from a meeting between the chief negotiators from the EU (Javier Solana) and Iran (Ali Larijani) that a way may be found to resolve the impasse over re-opening negotiations, due to the preconditions established by both sides.  It remains to be seen whether this opening will bear fruit.  It seems unlikely that a major breakthrough will occur before 23 May (the due date for the next IAEA report). An adverse report is therefore expected.  However, if the Solana/Larijani process is continuing this will increase the probability that Iran will not be on the Council’s active agenda in May.

Although Council action on Somalia seems unlikely in May, it will be very much on Council members’ minds.  Ethiopia and the US (and to a lesser extent the AU members on the Council) will be advocating behind the scenes for a UN operation as the exit strategy for both Ethiopia and the currently highly exposed Ugandan peacekeepers.  In the absence of a real political reconciliation process and while the prospect of major armed conflict remains, other members of the Council, remembering the UN disaster in Somalia in 1993/94, are becoming increasingly worried.

Several issues will converge in May. Early in the month Council attention will be focused on the establishment of a tribunal to prosecute the suspects in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. An agreement between the government and the UN was signed in February but the matter has stalled due to the political crisis in Lebanon. The Council will likely hear from the Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs on the recent meetings in Lebanon and perhaps new proposals on how to move the issue forward. There is also going to be a discussion on the implementation of resolution 1559. Perhaps the Secretary-General will participate. A presidential statement seems likely. It will be interesting to see whether the Council takes up the underlying issues of political reconciliation. Finally, there could be a report from the assessment mission on Lebanese-Syrian border monitoring and a discussion on the reinforcement of monitoring the border for illegal arms shipments.

The Council is expecting a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal. While several positive developments took place in the recent months there has been a growing concern about the feasibility of holding the elections by the June deadline, something the briefing is likely to highlight. The Council will not need to take any formal action at this stage, though the initial 12-month duration of the mission in Nepal will most likely need to be extended and discussion on this may start in May, along with possible revision of the mandate.

Though there is no formal requirement, such as a mandate renewal or an upcoming report, the Council is likely to hold consultations on Haiti. A briefing from Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno, who could visit the country in May, is a possible focus. In the past several months, the UN operation there, MINUSTAH, has achieved several successes in addressing the problem of gang violence and a briefing may be desirable.

Full forecast


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