A key feature for the Council in the month of November will be the approach taken by the presidency to prefer open public meetings to the use of closed informal consultations. In keeping with this approach the number of sessions of informal consultations will be strictly limited. At the time of writing, the presidency had only agreed to two such meetings, one on Kosovo and another on the Middle East.
A second feature of the Council’s work in November will be the absence of many of the permanent representatives on the Council Mission to Afghanistan andat the annual retreat to welcome newly elected Council members.
A third feature of November will be the now normal invitation to newly elected Council members to participate in informal consultations as observers pending taking up their seats in January 2009. However, given the relatively small number of consultations expected in November this might be of less significance than in previous years.
A fourth feature in November will be the elections for the International Court of Justicewhich occur every three years and will take place on 6 November in a parallel electoral process involving the Council and the General Assembly.
Two open thematic debates are envisaged in November. The first is on a new topic—the Strengthening of Collective Security. It will deal with the need to strengthen multilateral institutions and, in particular, the role of the Security Council in reducing the level of armaments. This debate will be chaired at a high level by the president of Costa Rica. A concept paper for the debate is expected to be circulated by the presidency.
The second open thematic debate is expected on protection of civilians and it may be preceded by an Arria formula meeting. It is exactly a year since the Secretary-General provided the Council with detailed recommendations on civilian protection (S/2007/643) but the Council has yet to discuss his report. On 14 October 2008, Security Council Report published its thematic Cross-cutting Report on the Security Council’s performance in implementing protection of civilians’ concepts at the detailed country-specific level.
A major question is whether the Council will discuss at all in November two of the most significant issues on its agenda from the perspective of protection of civilians. At the time of writing it seemed that November 2008 (along with September 2008) would be the only two months in over two years when there has not been at least some attention given to the crisis in Darfur. And it also seemed that, despite the dramatic worsening of the humanitariancrisis inthe DRC in recent weeks, DRC would also not be on the November programme ofwork. Council members have expressed deep concern about the serious deterioration in eastern DRC. The regional dimensions involving Rwanda have also been the subject of concern. Our brief in this Forecast discusses the growing risks to civilians in the DRC, the regional ethnic context, the recent history of genocide in the area and the fact that perpetrators of the genocide and their opponents are deeply involved in the current violence. The urgent need for political initiatives is highlighted, along with some possible options.
A public session on the Middle East is expected. In accordance with normal practice a briefing is likely. (Our Special Research Report of 17 December 2007 provides background on the history of Council involvement.) But it is unclear whether there will also be an open debate.
Open meetings are also expected on:
Bosnia and Herzegovina(renewal of EUFOR mandate);
Iraq (briefings and debate);
Sudan(discussion of the UNMIS report deferred from October—see our brief on this issue in the October Forecast);
Somalia (briefing—and perhaps further action on piracy bearing in mind the expiry on 2 December of the authorisation in resolution 1816); and
Counter-Terrorism (a joint briefing on the work of the three Council Committees, the CTC, 1267 and 1540).
Guinea-Bissau and Lebanon are also subjects that Council members will be watching and which could arise for discussion depending on developments or the timing of possible initiatives or upcoming reports. Similarly, the conclusions of the visiting mission to Afghanistan could possibly prompt a Council meeting during the month.