December 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 December 2011
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Status Update

Counter-terrorism: On 5 November, the Council issued a press statement in which it condemned the 4 November terrorist attacks, which killed or injured numerous people in Damaturu and Potiskum, Nigeria (SC/10437). On 14 November, the chairs of the three counter-terrorism committees—the 1267/1989 Committee, the 1373 Committee and the 1540 Committee—briefed the Council, followed by a debate (S/PV.6658).  During the briefing, the chair of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Baso Sangqu (South Africa), emphasised the importance of coordination and cooperation among the three committees and their expert groups. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo: On 8 November, the Council was briefed by Roger Meece, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC and head of MONUSCO, and Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, on the situation in the DRC (S/PV.6649). Following the briefing, the Council issued a press statement (SC/10441) expressing deep concern about the persistent high levels of violence, especially sexual violence, and human rights violations and abuses against civilians. The Council also reiterated the DRC government’s primary responsibility in ensuring that the 28 November presidential and national assembly elections are both credible and peaceful. On 21 November, Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil) briefed the Council as chair of the DRC Sanctions Committee. On 29 November, the Council renewed the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts for a period of 12 months (S/RES/2021).

Protection of Civilians: On 9 November, the Council held its biannual debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict (S/PV.6650 and Resumption 1). It was chaired by Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and featured briefings by the Secretary-General, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg and Philip Spoerri, the Director for International Law and Cooperation at the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition to Council members, more than 25 member states participated. There was no outcome. In preparation of the debate, Portugal in cooperation with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) organised a workshop on 1 November, entitled “Accountability and Fact-Finding Mechanisms for Violations of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law: The Role of the Security Council—Past and Future”.

International Court of Justice: On 10 November, the Security Council, independently from, but concurrently with, the General Assembly, elected four judges to the ICJ for nine-year terms, beginning on 6 February 2012 (S/PV.6651, 6652, 66536654 and 6655). Out of a list of eight candidates, the Council elected Giorgio Gaja (Italy); Hisashi Owada (Japan); Peter Tomka (Slovakia); and Xue Hanqin (China). Both bodies failed to elect a fifth judge, as Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone) received the required majority in the Council, while Julia Sebutinde (Uganda), received the required majority in the General Assembly. On 22 November, the Council and the General Assembly convened again to fill the fifth vacant spot on the ICJ. Yet, the Council and the General Assembly failed to fill the fifth spot as the Council repeatedly elected Koroma and the General Assembly continued to choose Sebutinde. A meeting for further balloting has yet to be scheduled.

Israel/Palestine: On 11 November, the Security Council’s standing Committee on Admission of New Members transmitted its report to the Security Council (S/2011/705) on Palestine’s application for UN membership. The report indicated that the Committee had concluded its work but was unable to reach a unanimous recommendation. At press time, the Council had not taken any decision on the application. On 21 November, Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator on the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Council (S/PV.6662). Serry reported on recent diplomatic activity by the Quartet to restart direct peace talks and emphasised that without a credible process the two-state solution could not be taken for granted.

LRA/UNOCA: On 14 November, the Council heard a briefing (S/PV.6657) from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Central Africa and head of UNOCA, Abou Moussa, on the first report of the Secretary-General on UNOCA (S/2011/704) and the report of the Secretary-General on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)-affected areas (S/2011/693) pursuant to Security Council press statement. The Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States and the Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN also addressed the Council. Following the meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2011/21) demanding an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA, and commending the AU’s efforts to regionally engage the LRA issue, including through its efforts to establish a regional task force, a joint operations centre and a joint coordination mechanism. It further called on the AU to promptly appoint a special envoy for the LRA-affected areas (Francisco Caetano José Madeira was appointed as the AU Special Envoy on the LRA on 23 November). The Council requested that the Secretary-General keep it informed on LRA-related developments in a single report on the LRA and UNOCA, to be submitted by 31 May 2012.

Myanmar: On 14 November, Council members were briefed in informal consultations by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Vijay Nambiar, on political developments in Myanmar. (Nambiar had just returned from an early November visit to the country where he met with Aung San Suu Kyi and several high-ranking government officials, including Vice President U Tin Aung Myint Oo, Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, as well as with representatives from opposition parties and civil society.)

Bosnia and Herzegovina: On 15 November, the Council was briefed (S/PV.6659) by High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko who reported that there was still a need for his office to remain in place, and that given the continued negative trends and political instability, it was essential for EUFOR to remain in place. The Council met (S/PV.6661) again on 16 November to authorise a one year extension of EUFOR’s mandate (S/RES/2019). On 3 November, the Council received the most recent report on the implementation of the peace agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina (S/2011/682).

DPRK (North Korea): On 16 November, the chair of the DPRK Sanctions Committee (1718 Committee) Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal), provided a regular briefing to Council members in informal consultations. The midterm report of the Panel of Experts, which supports the Committee, was submitted to the Committee in November and it will consider the report in a meeting in early December before it is presented to the Council (prior to 12 December).

Timor-Leste: On 22 November, the Council held a debate on Timor-Leste (S/PV.6664). Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister Zacarias Albano da Costa participated in the debate as did seven other UN members at large. Ameerah Haq, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMIT, briefed the Council and introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report. Haq said that next year’s elections were “widely expected to lead to a peaceful transition to a new Government in Timor-Leste by the third quarter of 2012.” Noting that the overall trend in Timor-Leste was positive, Haq encouraged international partners to show commitment to Timor-Leste by sending observers for the elections and providing financial support. Albano da Costa said that there were positive signs that political leaders on all sides in Timor-Leste were committed to promoting peace and defending the democratic values of liberty and tolerance. He said that that climate must continue to prevail as UNMIT draws down at the end of 2012.

New Challenges to International Peace and Security: On 23 November, the Council held a high-level briefing (S/PV.6668) on a number of inter-related issues constituting “New Challenges to International Peace and Security”. This was the first time that the Council addressed these “new challenges” together rather than as separate issues, under the rubric of maintenance of international peace and security. The Secretary General, as well as Portugal’s Foreign Minister Paulo Portas, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yuri Fedotov, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres and Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other high-level participants, all briefed the Council. While there was general agreement that the issues under consideration were salient, there was disagreement about whether the Council was the appropriate forum to deal with some of the issues, in particular climate change. No action was taken.

Yemen: On 28 November, Special Adviser Jamal Benomar and Philippe Lazzarini of OCHA briefed Council members in informal consultations on the situation in Yemen. (The briefing had previously been scheduled for 21 November but was postponed due to political developments. On 23 November, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative agreeing to transfer power within 30 days to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi.) After the briefing, the Security Council issued a press statement welcoming the signing of the GCC initiative, supporting elections within 90 days, urging all parties to reject violence and calling for humanitarian access (SC/10460). Members of the Council expect a further update on the situation within 30 days. 

Kosovo: The Council held a debate on 29 November on the situation in Kosovo. The Council was briefed (S/PV.6670) by the head of UNMIK, Farid Zarif, who presented the most recent report of the Secretary-General on Kosovo (S/2011/675), which covered the period of 16 July to 15 October. Both Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić and Enver Hoxhaj, Foreign Minister of Kosovo, participated in the debate. Several Council members expressed grave concern at the violence in northern Kosovo in recent months, including the clashes on 28 November which resulted in the shooting and wounding of two NATO soldiers and the injuring of more than 20 others. Council members called on both parties to exercise restraint as they sought a peaceful resolution to the dispute. (Officials from Belgrade and Pristina were to have met in Brussels for a new round of talks on 30 November.)

Lebanon: On 29 November, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernández-Taranco, and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Edmond Mulet, briefed Council members in informal consultations on the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the implementation of resolution 1701 (S/2011/715). The report portrayed the situation in southern Lebanon, where UNIFIL operates, as relatively stable. However, early in the morning on 29 November and subsequent to the report’s distribution, four rockets were launched from southern Lebanon into northern Israel. Israel returned fire. UNIFIL deployed extra patrols while the IDF went on full alert but at press time the situation had not escalated further and there was no expected response from the Council to this incident.

Working Methods: At press time the Council was set to hold an open debate on 30 November on Security Council working methods and the implementation of last year’s presidential note (S/2010/507). As chair of the Council’s informal working group on working methods, Bosnia and Herzegovina was expected to provide a summary of the group’s work. As with the last open debate on working methods in April 2010, there was considerable interest among UN members at large in participating in the open debate and approximately 25 states were on the list of speakers. The focus during the open debate was to have been the implementation of presidential note 507, which is seen by many states as unsatisfactory. Several participants in the open debate were expected to emphasise that improvement of Council working methods was a separate issue from Council enlargement and that there was widespread agreement for the need for further progress. Issues which participants were expected to raise included greater Council openness through more public briefings and debates, transparency, efficiency and enhanced interaction with non-members and parties with a legitimate stake in Council deliberations.

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