UN Office for Central Asia
Expected Council Action
In January Council members are expecting the semi-annual briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Asia and head of UNRCCA, Miroslav Jenča, in informal consultations. This will be the fifth such briefing since the establishment of UNRCCA in December 2007. The January briefing will provide Council members with an update on the Centre’s activities in the past six months.
Key Recent Developments
Council members received the most recent briefing from Special Representative Jenča on the Activities of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia (UNRCCA) on 5 August 2010. At the time Kyrgyzstan was highlighted, given the tense situation after the eruption of ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in June that killed more than 400 people. Following the briefing, members of the Council issued a press statement expressing appreciation for the work of the Centre, “in particular in the context of recent developments in Kyrgyzstan”.
Kyrgyzstan has continued to be an important focus for UNRCCA. On 17 December 2010 Kyrgyzstan became Central Asia’s first parliamentary democracy when it completed its constitutional reform by naming Social Democratic Party leader Almazbek Atambayev as the new prime minister and forming a coalition government. The development ended weeks of political uncertainty following the October 2010 elections.
On 22 November 2010, Jenča undertook a joint visit to Kyrgyzstan with Special Envoy of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Zhanybek Karibzhanov and EU Special Representative for Central Asia Pierre Morel. In a statement following the visit, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the normalisation of the situation in Kyrgyzstan, the protection of human rights, the development of interethnic dialogue and the process of national reconciliation.
The envoys also welcomed the start of activities of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, established by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic to explore the facts, circumstances, causes and aftermath of the outbreak of ethnic violence in the south of the country in June 2010. The commission will prepare a public report by the end of February with an assessment of the events and recommendations designed to help the authorities, Kyrgyz society and the international community to build peace and stability and foster reconciliation.
The first summit-level meeting of the OSCE in eleven years was held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 1 and 2 December 2010. Summit participants managed to agree to a commemorative text reaffirming the group’s principles, but failed to agree on an ‘Astana Framework for Action’ intended to improve the security group’s reaction to future conflicts. At the Summit rifts between Central Asian countries were exposed as Uzbek officials criticised the OSCE’s reaction to the Kyrgyz crisis, rejected OSCE reforms proposed by Kazakhstan and ruled out Uzbekistan’s involvement in collective efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan. Tensions between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan over trade issues and water rights also surfaced.
On 7 August 2010 the Kyrgyz government signed an agreement with the OSCE in Bishkek launching a comprehensive OSCE police assistance programme to establish community policing, improve the quality of criminal investigation, increasing police capacity in combating drug trafficking and strengthening the emergency response capacity of the Kyrgyz police force. The programme was developed at the request of the Kyrgyz government and is the first of its kind in Central Asia.
On 19 September 2010, 23 Tajik soldiers were killed when insurgents ambushed them in the Rasht Valley of Tajikistan. Tajik authorities blamed the attack on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a militant group affiliated with Al-Qaida.
Background on UNRCCA
In May 2007 the Secretary-General informed the Council of his intention to establish a UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This initiative came as a result of a proposal from the governments of the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to address common security threats faced by their region, including international terrorism, drug trafficking, organised crime and environmental degradation.
UNRCCA was officially inaugurated on 10 December 2007. It was set up as a special political mission by the Department of Political Affairs with the aim of assisting the countries of the region in building their conflict prevention capacities. The Centre’s programme of action for the period January 2009 to December 2011 identifies three priority areas:
cross-border threats from illicit activities (terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking);
environmental degradation and management of common resources such as water and energy; and
implications for the region from the precarious situation in Afghanistan.
Another issue is how best to approach the general security situation in the region, considering threats to security posed by ethnic conflict, resource management concerns, terrorism and instability in neighbouring Afghanistan.
One option is for Council members to simply receive the briefing.
Another option, following recent practice, is for Council members to issue a press statement following the briefing and consultations reaffirming support for UNRCCA’s activities in the region and welcoming the positive political developments in Kyrgyzstan.
Assessing a Transitional Justice Approach for Kyrgyzstan, International Center for Transitional Justice, August 2010.