Middle East: Following Israel’s military intervention in Gaza on 27 December, the Council adopted a press statement on 28 December expressing serious concern at the escalation of the situation and calling for an immediate halt to all violence (SC/9559). On 8 January, the Council adopted resolution 1860 calling for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. It also condemned violence against civilians and acts of terrorism. On 21 January, following a briefing by the Secretary-General on his recent trip to the region (S/PV.6072), and after a ceasefire was finally secured, the Council adopted another press statement emphasising the need for full implementation of resolution 1860 (SC/9580). For more information, please see our 26 January Update Report on Gaza.
Western Sahara: On 6 January the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to appoint Christopher Ross of the United States as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, to succeed Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands (S/2009/19).
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: On 14 January, the Council held an open debate and heard a briefing by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes on this issue (S/PV.6066 and resumption 1). Holmes’s remarks focused on the conduct of hostilities and the need for strict compliance with international humanitarian law with particular reference to the situation in Gaza, as well as the DRC, Somalia, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Forty-nine countries participated in the debate. The Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/1) endorsing the revised Aide Memoire on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict that had been drafted by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in consultation with Council members. The first meeting of a Security Council Expert Group on the Protection of Civilians was convened by UK on 16 January. Its establishment was recommended by the Secretary-General in his last report on protection of civilians.
Chad/CAR: On 14 January, the Council adopted resolution 1861 extending the mandate of UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) until 15 March 2010 in Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). The resolution also authorised the deployment of a 5,200 strong military component of MINURCAT to follow up EUFOR in both Chad and the CAR after its mandate expires on 15 March 2009.
Djibouti/Eritrea: On 14 January the Council adopted a resolution (S/RES/1862) urging Djibouti and Eritrea to solve their border dispute peacefully and demanding that Eritrea withdraw its forces from the disputed area no later than five weeks from its adoption. It also requested the Secretary-General to report on the situation by 25 February.
LRA Affected Areas: On 16 January, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes briefed the Council on the humanitarian situation in the areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Council released a press statement (SC/9576) strongly condemning the recent attacks carried out by the LRA which resulted in over 640 dead and over 400 abducted, as well as the displacement of 104,000 people. The Council demanded the LRA cease all attacks on civilians and urged them to surrender, assemble, and disarm, as required by the Final Peace Agreement.
UN Office for West Africa: On 21 January, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Said Djinnit, briefed the Council on the latest developments in the subregion and introduced the latest report of the Secretary-General on UNOWA (S/2009/39). The report highlighted cross-cutting and cross-border developments in the subregion and the activities the office had undertaken since July 2008. It expressed concern about regional food insecurity, the impact of the global financial crisis, election-related issues, as well as security sector reform, human rights and transitional justice, and the rule of law in the West African subregion.
Peacekeeping: January saw the launch of a French-British initiative to improve the handling of peacekeeping issues. On 22 January, Council members participated in an informal seminar on peacekeeping and on 23 January the Council held a public thematic debate (S/PV.6075). During the debate Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy said that there was a need to find new and innovative ways to tackle the challenges of modern peacekeeping. Under Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra noted that there was a need to find a more strategic approach and explore more efficient ways of working. A French-British non-paper grouped the main issues into three categories: effective strategic oversight; addressing the resource constraints; and lessons of implementation. Among the other areas raised during the debate was greater involvement of the Council in planning and follow-up; strengthening dialogue with the Secretariat; strengthening military expertise and better management of available resources. Representatives from the troop-contributing countries (TCCs) stressed the importance of triangular consultations involving the Council, the Secretariat and TCCs. The French-British initiative is expected to continue over the next several months with possible outcomes in mid-2009.
Nepal: On 23 January, the Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for another six months at the request of the Nepalese government (S/RES/1864). In adopting resolution 1864 the Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s report which recommended a phased, gradual withdrawal of UNMIN staff and concurred with his view that the current monitoring arrangement could not be maintained indefinitely. On 16 January, the Council heard a briefing from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ian Martin (S/PV.6069) and considered the report of the Secretary-General on Nepal (S/2009/1).
Côte d’Ivoire: On 27 January, the Council adopted resolution 1865 extending the mandate of UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) for six months. The resolution authorised the reduction of UNOCI’s troop level from 8,115 to 7,450 in line with the Secretary-General’s recommendations and urged the Ivorian political actors to quickly find agreement on a new and realistic time frame for free, open, fair, and transparent elections.
International Humanitarian Law: At press time the Council had scheduled a private meeting for 29 January on Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Respect for International Humanitarian Law. This is a French initiative, conceived as a thematic issue rather than with a country-specific focus (and before the violence in Gaza). The meeting will focus on possible measures the Council can consider to more effectively prevent and stop violations of international humanitarian law. The ICRC, OCHA, the UN Office of Legal Affairs, OHCHR and UNHCR have been invited to brief the Council. France has prepared a concept paper for the meeting and has also proposed that the Council might adopt a presidential statement.
Subsidiary Bodies—elections to fill Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) vacancies: The Council elected Mexico and Burkina Faso to fill the two vacancies for Council members on the PBC. (At time of writing the official document was not available.)