Recent developments on the situations covered in this Forecast are addressed in the relevant briefs. Interesting developments on other issues in the Council during February included:
Pakistan: On 2 February the Secretary-General informed the Council (S/2009/67) he had agreed to the Government of Pakistan’s request for an international commission to determine the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The three-member commission of inquiry will operate for a period of six months. Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile will head the commission.
Iraq: On 3 February the Security Council released a press statement (SC/9587) welcoming the holding of provincial elections in Iraq on 31 January and congratulating Iraqis. On 20 February the Secretary-General released his quarterly report on Iraq (S/2009/102). The Special Representative for Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the Council on 26 February in an open meeting.
Sudan: On 3 February the Council was briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet on the continued fighting between Justice and Equality Movement forces and the Sudanese military in Muhajeriya in southern Darfur. On 5 February the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ashraf Qazi, briefed the Council (S/PV.6079). On 12 February Council members had a private meeting with an AU and Arab League delegation led by AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, to discuss the ICC proceedings. On 17 February, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy briefed the Council in closed consultations on the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/83) on Darfur and progress regarding the deployment of AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the implications of a possible ICC warrant against Sudanese President Omar al Bashir. On 23 February the ICC announced that its decision on an arrest warrant against al Bashir is likely on 4 March.
Sierra Leone: On 9 February, the Council held an open debate (S/PV.6080) to consider the first report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/59) on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Michael von der Schulenburg, the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, briefed the Council. The Council was also briefed by Netherlands’ Ambassador Frank Majoor, chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Sierra Leone configuration.
On 25 February, the Special Court for Sierra Leone found three leaders of the rebel Revolutionary United Front, Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao, guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Middle East: On 10 February the Secretary-General told the Council in consultations that he had established a UNinvestigation into incidents involving death and damage at UN premises in Gaza between 27 December and 19 January and that he would report back to the Council when the investigation is completed. On 12 February he announced that the Board of Inquiry, led by Ian Martin and composed of four members, had begun its work. On 13 February the president of the Council, Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu, conveyed to the press Council members’ views on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including their concern for full implementation of resolution 1860 and that there was convergence of views to welcome the establishment of the Board of Inquiry and the Secretary-General’s intention to report its conclusions to the Council.
On 18 February, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the Council (S/PV.6084). He emphasised the challenges facing the region, in particular: the repercussions of the Gaza crisis; continued Palestinian divisions and lack of reconciliation; the new political situation in Israel; unmet road map obligations, especially regarding settlements; and the freeze in indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations. He emphasised the need for a permanent Gaza ceasefire. A return to violence was always possible. He said Israel had not made all crossings into Gaza available for humanitarian convoys.
Georgia: On 13 February, the Council adopted resolution 1866 extending the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 15 June. The resolution also called for provisions set out in paragraph 2(a) (relating to armed forces and heavy military equipment in the security zone and restricted weapons zone) of the 1994 Moscow agreement on a ceasefire and separation of forces to be respected, and it welcomed the six-point agreement of 12 August 2008 and implementing of measures of 8 September 2008. The resolution asked to report to the Council on the implementation of the resolution and the situation on the ground by 15 May.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): On 17 February the Council was briefed (S/PV.6083) on the humanitarian situation in the DRC by Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes. Subsequently, the president of the Council conveyed to the press the Council’s concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the eastern parts of the DRC, the priority of the protection of civilians, condemnation of the brutal attacks by the Ugandan rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army, in North Kivu and called on governments to cooperate with UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) in the planning and execution of joint operations.
On 19 February the Secretary-General wrote to the Council (S/2009/105) to inform it about the recently revised concept of operations and rules of engagement for MONUC.
Timor-Leste: On 19 February, the Council held an open debate (S/PV.6085) of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/72). The Secretary-General told the Council that Timor-Leste had made remarkable progress since the attacks on the leaders of Timor-Leste a year ago and that in 2009 it could devote its attention to building the foundations for long-term stability. He said that one of the key priorities should be reforming the security sector and the resumption of policing responsibilities by the national police. The Council is expected to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) on 26 February.
Myanmar: On 20 February, Ibrahim Gambari, the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Myanmar, briefed the Council in informal private consultations on his 31 January-3 February visit to Myanmar. Following the briefing, Gambari said that he had told the Council that although there was no tangible outcome from his visit, there was some movement. On 23 February Gambari briefed the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General, in remarks to the press following the meeting, noted the amnesty announced by Myanmar on 20 February, which reportedly includes 23 political prisoners, but reiterated his call for the release of all political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi. He also said that he was willing to visit Myanmar again to build on his May 2008 visit. Special Rapporteur on the situation on human rights in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana, visited Myanmar from 14-19 February, where he met with a number of political prisoners and called for the “progressive release of prisoners of conscience”.
Sri Lanka: At press time, the Council was expected to be briefed on 27 February by John Holmes, Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka following his visit to that country.