January 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 21 December 2012
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ASIA

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In January, Miroslav Jenča, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), is scheduled to brief Council members in consultations. A press statement is likely.

Key Recent Developments

Jenča last briefed Council members on the work of UNRCCA on 7 August.  In a press statement issued on 8 August (SC/10739), Council members welcomed UNRCCA’s role as a preventive diplomacy mechanism and expressed their appreciation for its efforts in responding to regional challenges, such as water- and energy-resources management and implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and in monitoring developments in the region. They also welcomed UNRCCA’s role in facilitating Central Asian states’ assistance in addressing the situation in Afghanistan and encouraged further cooperation between the Centre, states in the region and relevant regional organisations.  

In cooperation with the government of Kyrgyzstan, UNRCCA on 18 October organised the fourth annual meeting of Central Asian deputy ministers of foreign affairs to discuss how it could assist the participating countries to more effectively address existing and emerging threats to stability and security in the region. The meeting also considered the potential impact on the region of the expected withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan and possible measures to meet this challenge.

On 20 November, UNRCCA, in cooperation with the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, organised a seminar in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, entitled “Mutually Acceptable Mechanism on Integrated Use of Water Resources in Central Asia through Applying a Scenario Approach”, as part of a project aimed at studying the interdependence of water, energy and agriculture in the Aral Sea basin.

UNRCCA also co-organised a conference with the government of Turkmenistan on 11 December on “Neutrality and Preventive Diplomacy: Bases for Peace and Stability”. The conference, which marked UNRCCA’s fifth anniversary, was attended by high-level officials from the region as well as representatives from the UN system, including the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and the heads of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and Office for West Africa (UNOWA). Discussions focused on lessons learnt, best practices, prospects and challenges in the field of preventive diplomacy.

Background on UNRCCA

Based in Ashgabat, UNRCCA was inaugurated on 10 December 2007 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. UNRCCA’s latest programme of action for 2012 to 2014 focuses on three areas:

  • impact of trans-boundary threats facing the region (terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking);
  • implications of national developments on regional stability; and
  • management of common natural resources and environmental degradation.

UNRCCA’s mandate includes liaising with the governments of the region and, with their concurrence, other parties about issues relevant to preventive diplomacy; monitoring the situation on the ground and providing the Secretary-General with relevant information; maintaining relationships with regional organisations and encouraging their peacemaking efforts and initiatives; providing a political framework and leadership for the preventive activities of the UN country teams and resident coordinators across the region; and maintaining close contact with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Key Issues

A key issue for Council members is whether opportunities may exist to enhance UNRCCA’s role as a preventive diplomacy tool.

Another issue is the general security situation in the region, including threats posed by ethnic conflict, resource management concerns, terrorism and general instability. In particular, disputes over water resources linked to the building of the Rogun dam in Tajikistan seem to be a key concern as Uzbekistan, a downstream neighbour, opposes the dam project.

An emerging issue is the potential impact for the region of the withdrawal of most of the international troops from Afghanistan, expected in 2014, and UNRCCA’s role in this context.

Options

One option for Council members is to simply receive the briefing.

Another option for Council members is to issue a press statement, as it has done on several occasions in the past, reaffirming its support for UNRCCA’s activities in the region. This would also provide an opportunity to acknowledge its five-year anniversary.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the work of UNRCCA, particularly in light of the Council’s expressed intention to strengthen its work on preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention. They seem to find the semi-annual briefings to be a useful tool for facilitating discussion about the situation in Central Asia as a whole. At this stage they seem particularly interested in how UNRCCA can contribute in supporting the region’s engagement in issues concerning Afghanistan.

Russia is the penholder on UNRCCA press statements.

UN Documents on UNRCCA

Security Council Press Statement  
8 August 2012 SC/10739 This was the latest statement on UNRCCA.
Security Council Letters  
15 May 2007 S/2007/280 This was a letter from the President of the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s intention to establish a United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat.
7 May 2007 S/2007/279 This was a letter from the Secretary-General on the establishment of a United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat.