Guinea-Bissau: On 1 April the Council issued a press statement expressing concern about military incidents which took place that day in Guinea-Bissau (i.e. the temporary detention of the prime minister and removal of the head of the armed forces from his post by his deputy). Council members urged all parties to avoid acts of violence, uphold constitutional order and respect the rule of law in the country. On 6 April the Council was briefed in informal consultations by the Secretariat on the situation in the country.
Western Sahara: On 9 April the Council held a meeting with countries contributing troops and police to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (S/PV.6295). On 6 April, the Secretary General’s report (S/2010/175) noted that the presence of MINURSO remains indispensable for the maintenance of ceasefire in Western Sahara. He also urged both parties to the dispute, Morocco and Frente Polisario, to continue to negotiate in good faith and without any preconditions under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s personal envoy Christopher Ross. At press time, the Security Council was scheduled to extend MINURSO’s mandate until 30 April 2011 at a meeting on 29 April.
Support for Peacekeeping: Council members were briefed by Under-Secretary-General Susana Malcorra, the head of the Department of Field Support, on the current status of cooperation with the AU in the area of peacekeeping operations during informal consultations on 12 April. It seems that members were encouraged by the efforts being made by the joint task force of the UN and AU secretariats but urged that the task force establish priorities and develop further strategic thinking on the role of regional organisations in peacekeeping. Members seemed to be waiting for the report, due no later than 26 October under as per S/PRST/2009/26, before taking any specific action.
Middle East: On 14 April the Security Council held on open debate on the Middle East and was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe who said that a crisis of confidence between the parties had prevented a resumption of peace talks (S/PV.6298 and resumption 1). Pascoe reiterated the UN’s call for a settlement freeze as per Roadmap obligations, described the Israeli approval of a military order giving the IDF power to evict a broad category of Palestinians from the West Bank as a worrisome development, expressed concern about the volatile security situation in Gaza where there were exchanges of Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes, and reported that some materials were being allowed into Gaza for UN reconstruction projects but that it fell far short of what Gaza requires (SC/9906).
Pakistan: The report of the UN Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was transmitted to the Security Council on 15 April 2010 in an unpublished letter. Among its conclusions were that the security arrangements made by Pakistan’s authorities to protect Bhutto were “fatally insufficient and ineffective” and that her death could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been taken. It also said that subsequent investigations into her death were prejudiced and involved a whitewash. Among the recommendations were that the Pakistan government consider undertaking police reform measures and conduct a review of its intelligence agencies and security arrangements.
Peacebuilding: On 16 April the Council held an open debate on peacebuilding (S/PV.6299 and resumption 1). The meeting was chaired by Katsuya Okada, the foreign minister of Japan. The Council adopted a presidential statement on the issue during the meeting (S/PRST/2010/7).
Working Methods: On 22 April the Council held an open debate on Council working methods. The debate was guided by a concept paper (S/2010/165) prepared by Japan, the chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, and was broadly focused on the implementation of and follow-up to the 2006 presidential note that compiled Council’s practices and understandings relating to working methods. The debate showed a growing interest of member states at large in the issue of Council working methods with 38 non-Council members participating in the all day debate (in the 2008 debate, 29 such members had participated). Most speakers focused on issues related to transparency and Council interaction with the rest of the UN membership. Among several specific recommendations put forward by participating delegations was a suggestion that an open debate on this topic should be held annually or biannually. (S/PV.6300 and resumption 1; SC/9910)
Women, Peace and Security: On 27 April, the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, Rachel Mayanja, presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on women, peace and security (S/2010/173) outlining measures intended to track the implementation of resolution 1325. In addition, the new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, also briefed the Council on her recent visit to the DRC and urged the Council to make the prevention of sexual violence a top priority, while stressing the need to end impunity for sexual violence (S/PV.6302). On 5 March, the Secretary-General appointed a civil society expert group to assess the impact of resolution 1325 on women in the context of armed conflict over the past decade. The group is co-chaired by the former Irish president and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and the Executive Director of Femmes Africa Solidarité, Bineta Diop.
Lebanon: At press time it was expected thaton 29 AprilCouncil members would be briefed in informal consultations by Special Envoy Terje Rød-Larsen on the Secretary-General’s latest 1559 Report (S/2010/193). The annual report of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was also transmitted to the Security Council (S/2010/159).