On 10 December the Council heard a briefing from the Chairman of the 1737 Sanctions Committee. The US, France, the UK and Italy noted with concern the findings of the latest IAEA report, in particular that Iran’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA was getting worse. China and Libya said that a peaceful solution to the Iran nuclear issue lies in diplomatic negotiations (S/PV.6036).
On 16 December, a meeting of the E3+3 with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue was held at the margins of a Security Council meeting on the Middle East. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief and the E3+3 representative, gave a briefing on recent developments in his contacts with Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Middle East: On 25 November the Council held its monthly meeting followed by consultations on the situation in the Middle East. Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe briefed the Council on recent developments in the region (S/PV.6022).
On 3 December the Council held a meeting at the request of Libya (S/2008/754) to discuss the interception by Israeli gunboats of a Libyan ship carrying humanitarian aid bound for the port of Gaza. The Council held consultations, followed by a debate (S/PV.6030) with the participation of Israel and Palestine but took no action.
Following the convening of the Quartet in New York, on 16 December the Council held a meeting on the situation in the Middle East (S/PV.6045) with the presence of the Quartet principals (Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana). The Council adopted resolution 1850, declaring its support for the Annapolis peace process and its commitment to the irreversibility of bilateral negotiations. The resolution also called on both parties to fulfill their obligation under the Annapolis Joint Understanding and urged an intensification of diplomatic efforts to foster just and lasting peace. The resolution was a significant departure from recent Council practice and was the first resolution on the issue since resolution 1544 of 2004. Libya abstained. It had proposed amendments, including a reference to the need for the end of the Israeli 1967 occupation.
On 18 December the Council held its monthly meeting on the Middle East. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry briefed the Council. He described the current period as one of transition with Israeli general elections scheduled for 10 February, a new US administration to take office on 20 January and internal challenges on the Palestinian side. He said the unprecedented level of closure of crossing points into Gaza has caused unacceptable hardship to the civilian population. In the West Bank, he said, although security was improving, illegal Israeli settlement activity has continued, as well as the construction of the Israeli wall, and Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem have remained closed.
Golan Heights: On 26 November, the Council received a Secretary-General’s report on recent activities of UNDOF (S/2008/737). On 12 December the Council adopted resolution 1848 renewing UNDOF’s mandate until 30 June and adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2008/46) noting the Secretary-General’s observations that the situation in the Middle East would remain tense until a comprehensive settlement on all aspects of the Middle East can be reached.
Lebanon: On 26 November the Secretary-General submitted his third report on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicating that he would be making a decision regarding the commencement of the Tribunal on 1 March after a transition period starting on 1 January. The Council subsequently held consultations on this issue on 4 December.
On 2 December the Council received the eleventh report of the International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) looking into the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (S/2008/752). Because the Special Tribunal is expected to start its activities on 1 March, the Commission requested an extension of its mandate (due to expire on 31 December) to 28 February to allow for a transitional period. The Office of the Prosecutor will continue to gather evidence that will support indictments. In a letter (S/2008/764), the Lebanese government supported extending the Commission’s mandate for two months. UNIIIC Commissioner Daniel Bellemare briefed the Council on 17 December (S/PV.6047) and the Council adopted resolution 1852 extending UNIIIC’s mandate until 28 February.
Cyprus: On 28 November the Council received the latest report on UNFICYP (S/2008/744). In it the Secretary-General noted that negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders were moving ahead. However, he added, the issues to be addressed are difficult and may lead to differences. It will be necessary for the parties to explain to their respective communities that compromise is indispensable. On 5 December, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus Tayé-Brook Zerihoun gave a briefing to the Council, (S/PV.6032). On 12 December the Council adopted resolution 1847 extending UNFICYP’s mandate until 15 June 2009 urging intensification of negotiations and preservation of the current atmosphere of trust and goodwill and welcoming the announcement by the parties of additional confidence-building measures, such as the cancellation of military exercises.
Somalia: On 2 December the Council unanimously adopted a resolution (S/RES/1846) authorising states and regional organisations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat piracy for a further period of 12 months. It called on states to coordinate anti-piracy operations and cooperate on issues related to jurisdiction. Furthermore, it requested the Secretary-General to report within three months on ways to ensure long-term maritime security off the coast of Somalia, including a possible UN coordinating role and to report within 11 months on the implementation of the resolution. The Council expanded the anti-piracy authorisation to include operations on land at a meeting on 16 December attended by the Secretary-General and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, deciding that states may take “all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia” to counter piracy (S/RES/1851), pursuant to a request from the TFG and provided that all such measures are consistent with international humanitarian and human rights law. It also reiterated the call for more coordination, encouraging establishment of an international cooperation mechanism and a regional centre to coordinate information. Rice announced that the US intends to create a contact group on Somali piracy. On 19 December the Council renewed the mandate of the monitoring group tasked with monitoring the sanctions regime for Somalia (S/RES/1853), adding a fifth expert and expanding its tasks in line with resolution 1844.
Central African Republic (CAR): On 2 December the Council considered the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in CAR and the activities of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (S/2008/733). The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in the CAR, Francois Lonseny Fall, and the Chair of the CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission and Permanent Representative of Belgium, Jan Grauls, briefed the Council (S/PV.6027). Grauls said clarification of the Peacebuilding Commission’s role in helping the CAR government stabilise the country would be released in February.
Afghanistan: On 4 December the Permanent Representative of Italy Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata provided a briefing on the Council mission to Kabul and Herat from 21 to 28 November (S/PV.6031). Sant’Agata said Afghanistan was faced with daunting and multifaceted challenges. He said the impact of the conflict on civilians was the subject of in-depth discussions during the visit and the international community was expected to show more transparency and to better coordinate its development assistance efforts in line with the Paris declaration. The report of the Council mission is expected in late December.
Chad/CAR MINURCAT: On 4 December an Arria style meeting was held during which representatives from the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam International provided briefings to the Council on the humanitarian situation in eastern Chad and northeastern CAR and proposed measures for the Council to take to improve the security situation. On 12 December the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINURCAT Victor da Silva Angelo briefed the Council on the updated planning for the UN military force to replace EUFOR Chad/CAR upon its mandate expiry of 15 March (S/PV.6042). The Secretary-General’s accompanying report, which was expected by 15 November, was released on 4 December (S/2008/760). The resolution authorising the follow-on military force, which was expected to be adopted by 15 December, is likely to be adopted in early January.
Iraq: On 4 December Iraq ratified the Status of Forces Agreement governing the presence of US troops in Iraq to take effect following the expiration of the UN authorisation for the multinational forces in Iraq on 31 December. On 12 December the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to conclude a detailed agreement with the US government to ensure US forces in Iraq continue to provide security support to the UN in Iraq (S/2008/783). On 22 December the Council, at the request of the Iraqi government, adopted resolution 1859 extending the arrangements related to the Development Fund for Iraq and its monitoring body, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, until 31 December 2009. The Council also requested the Secretary-General to review previous resolutions pertaining specifically to Iraq, beginning with resolution 661 (1990). Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, addressed the Council.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: The High Representative and EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina presented his third report to the Council (S/2008/705) on 5 December (S/PV.6033). Miroslav Lajcak expressed concern that while there were some encouraging signs, “negative and nationalist” rhetoric threatened to slow down Bosnia and Herzegovina’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integration. Nikola Spiric, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented a different assessment and provided reasons for why he felt 2008 had been a successful year for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Terrorism: On 9 December Croatian President Stjepan Mesić presided over an open debate on global security and international terrorism (S/PV.6034). The meeting was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and included 46 speakers. The Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2008/45) reaffirming its determination to combat threats to international peace and security caused by acts of terrorism by all means in accordance with the Charter of the UN and emphasising the central role of the UN in this endeavour. The Council emphasised the need for enhancing dialogue and broadening the understanding among civilisations and expressed its significant concern with terrorist safe havens.
Iraq/Kuwait: On 10 December Gennady Tarasov, the High-level Coordinator for the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals and the reparation of Kuwaiti property, briefed the Council in closed consultations on the latest report of the Secretary-General on the matter (S/2008/761). The Council issued a press statement (SC/9529).
Burundi: The Council was briefed by Charles Nqakula, Facilitator of the Burundi Peace Process and Minister of Defence of South Africa on 11 December 2008 (S/PV.6037). He told the Council that a “significant step” had been made in resolving the differences between the Burundi government and the Parti pour la Liberation du Peuple Hut-Forces Nationales de Liberation (Palipehutu-FNL). He said that the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement should be fully in place by 31 December. On 22 December the Council adopted resolution 1858 extending the mandate of BINUB till 31 December 2009. Among the new elements in this resolution was a request for the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General to facilitate dialogue among national and international stakeholders, particularly in the context of the upcoming elections.
Guinea-Bissau: The Council was briefed on the situation in Guinea-Bissau and on the activities of the UNOGBIS on 11 December by Representative of the Secretary-General Shola Omoregie. In a press statement (SC/9530) the Council welcomed the 16 November legislative elections and called on authorities to ensure the formation of a new parliament and government as soon as possible. It also reiterated its deep concern over the security situation and its support to the security sector reform programme. In addition the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations on transforming UNOGBIS into an integrated office.
International Tribunals: On 12 December the Council heard briefings from the presidents and prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and for Rwanda (ICTR) on the implementation of the tribunals’ completion strategy and the safeguarding of their legacy (S/PV.6041). Patrick Robinson, president of the ICTY, said that the priority of the international community should focus on the arrest of the remaining fugitives. He also informed the Council that while the Tribunal was still on track to complete most of its trials during 2009, a number would continue into the first part of 2010, which would also affect the dates for appeals, a small number of which were thus likely to spill over into 2012 (S/2008/729). Dennis Bryon, president of the ICTR, said that the workload had increased and emphasised the importance of member states cooperating with the arrest and transfer of fugitives (S/2008/726). The Council was also briefed by the Chairman of the Security Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals. He said the working group had made significant progress on establishing a residual mechanism to carry out certain essential functions of the Tribunals after their mandates expired. During the debate a number of speakers stressed that the mechanism should remain within the UN and be small, efficient and temporary. The Council also appointed a number of ad litem judges for both tribunals (S/RES/1855and S/RES/1849).
Zimbabwe: On 15 December, the Security Council considered the situation in Zimbabwe in a closed meeting of the Council (S/PV.6044). The meeting was attended by Prime Minister of Croatia Ivo Sanader, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Council.
Northern Uganda and LRA affected areas: In closed consultations on 16 December, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army-Affected (LRA) Areas, Joaquim Chissano, informed the Council that LRA leader Joseph Kony had failed to sign the final peace agreement with the Ugandan government for the seventh time and had continued operations against civilians in the DRC and South Sudan. Chissano said this had prompted the recent military action by Uganda, the DRC and South Sudan against Kony in eastern DRC. The Council reportedly expressed sympathy and support for the military action and hoped this would pressure Kony to commit to the peace process. Some expressed concern about the impact of the military offensive on civilians. There was support for an extension of Chissano’s mandate beyond 31 December. The Council issued a presidential statement on 22 December (S/PRST/2008/48) condemning Kony and recalling the outstanding ICC arrest warrants for LRA leaders.
Liberia: On 19 December the Council renewed the sanctions regime for Liberia for a further 12 months and also extended the mandate of the panel of experts that monitors implementation of the regime until 20 December (S/RES/1854).