Recent developments on the situations covered in the Forecast are addressed in the relevant briefs. Interesting developments in the Council on other issues included:
Middle East: The Council on 22 January held an emergency meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, following a request by Saudi Arabia in its capacity as Chairman of the Arab Group (S/2008/31). Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe first briefed the Council on the recent escalation of violence in Gaza – Israeli incursions following rocket attacks against Israeli civilian areas – and an open debate followed (S/PV.5824 and resumption 1). Libya introduced a draft presidential statement expressing concern at the deterioration of the humanitarian situation due to the continued closure of the border crossings by Israel, and calling upon Israel to abide by its obligation under international law and to cease all illegal measures against civilians in Gaza. After six days of negotiations, the Council failed to reach a consensus, although it came close to it. A first negotiated draft was acceptable to all Council members except the US, who believed that any statement should also condemn daily rocket attacks against Israel as well as all acts of terrorism, and express concern at the humanitarian impact on Israeli civilians. A second negotiated text including US amendments was acceptable to all Council members except Libya. Frustration and disappointment at the Council’s inability to respond to the situation were reflected in a majority of delegations’ statements during the monthly debate on the Middle East held on 30 January (S/PV.5827). On 26 February, the Council held its next monthly debate on the Middle East. Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, and John Holmes, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Council. Serry gave an assessment of the situation in light of the peace process and Holmes discussed his recent trip to the region, focusing on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
Security Sector Reform: On 23 January, the Secretary-General issued his long-expected report on security sector reform (SSR). The report includes a definition of the scope and content of SSR, a summary of UN experience, and lessons learned from UN engagement in SSR. It further lays out the basic principles for a UN approach to SSR, and proposals for a potential UN role as well as for developing a coherent UN approach in that regard (A/62/659—S/2008/39).
Ethiopia/Eritrea: On 30 January, the Council extended the mandate of UNMEE until 31 July and demanded that the government of Eritrea immediately remove restrictions on fuel supplies to the mission (S/RES/1798). On 4 February the Council reiterated this demand in a press statement (SC/9240). The Secretary-General decided to start relocating UNMEE by land from Eritrea to designated sites in Ethiopia on 11 February. On 15 February the Council condemned Eritrea’s lack of cooperation with UNMEE, including the stoppage of fuel supplies which had made the mission’s temporary relocation from the country inevitable, and stated that it held Eritrea responsible for the safety and security of UNMEE while also expressing its determination to consider “further steps” in that regard (S/PRST/2008/7). Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on 21 February on the relocation process. Since then there have been mixed reports regarding Eritrea’s cooperation with UNMEE’s relocation of personnel and equipment which had been re-routed through Asmara for airlifting.
Western Sahara: On 4 February, the Council held consultations on Western Sahara following the Secretary-General’s latest report on the status and progress of the negotiations (S/2008/45), which noted that “although the parties … in a certain measure interacted with each other, they did not examine specific elements included in each other’s proposals.” The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy Peter van Walsum briefed the Council during the consultations and discussions seem to have focused on the issue of confidence-building measures. The Council then adopted a press statement welcoming the report, supporting the next round of talks and agreeing on the need to move the process into a more substantive phase of negotiations (SC/9241).
Secretary-General’s Briefing: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Council on the situations in Kenya, Chad and Darfur on 5 February. In comments to the press after the briefing, he reiterated his support for the “mediation efforts (in Kenya) of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by…Kofi Annan,” stated that he had urged the Council to work toward a quick resolve to the crisis in Chad and urged UNAMID troop contributing countries to expedite their preparations for the mission in Darfur.
Timor-Leste: On 11 February, the Council adopted a statement condemning attacks against Timorese President José Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão carried out hours before. The Council also called on the Timorese government to bring those responsible to justice and urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means (S/PRST/2008/5). On 21 February, the Council held an open debate on Timor-Leste, which included a briefing by Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno. Amongst the issues raised by members were the need for progress with security sector reform, institution-building, political reconciliation and accountability (S/PV.5843). On 25 February, the Council renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) for twelve months and requested the Secretary-General to develop a medium-term strategy for UNMIT with appropriate benchmarks (S/RES/1802).
Children and armed conflict: After an open debate on 12 February (S/PV.5834), the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2008/6) calling for the full implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict and invited the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to continue adopting conclusions and proposing effective recommendations. It also expressed its readiness to review the relevant provisions of its resolutions on children and armed conflict and to build on resolution 1612.
Kosovo: On 14 February, the Council held a closed meeting on Kosovo following Serbia’s request for an urgent meeting to discuss the expected declaration of independence by Kosovo (S/2008/92). Russia supported Serbia’s request in its letter to the Council calling for a meeting under article 35 of the UN Charter (S/2008/93). Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic of Serbia asked the Council to oppose a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo and called on the Secretary-General to order that the proclamation be declared null and void. He also said that the EU-led mission to Kosovo needed a mandate from the Security Council. On 17 February, at the request of Russia, following Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the Council held an emergency closed door meeting where it was briefed by the Secretary-General on the latest developments. On 17 February, Serbia asked for an emergency public meeting (S/2008/103) which was supported by Russia (S/2008/104). The public meeting was held on 18 February with the Secretary-General and Serbian prime minister, Boris Tadic, participating (S/PV.5839). In a press statement on 21 February, the Council condemned mob attacks on embassies in Belgrade (SC/9260).
ICTY: The Council on 20 February adopted resolution 1800, providing the Secretary-General the authority to appoint “additional ad litem Judges upon request of the President of the International Tribunal in order to conduct additional trials …”