Central African Republic
On 3 January, Council members were briefed in informal consultations by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on recent developments related to the uprising by the Seleka rebel alliance in CAR. The following day, Council members issued a press statement calling for a cessation of hostilities and for parties to engage in political dialogue (SC/10877). On 11 January, the Council was briefed by Margaret Vogt (Nigeria), the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of BINUCA via videoconference from Libreville, Gabon where she had been participating in peace talks (S/PV.6899). The Council also heard from Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura (Sierra Leone) during the same briefing on her recent visit to the country. The same day, Council members issued another press statement (SC/10880)—the fourth over a period of four weeks—welcoming the signing of the Libreville agreements and calling for their implementation. On 24 January, the Security Council adopted resolution 2088 extending BINUCA for twelve months and requesting the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation on the ground, as well as an assessment of the implementation of the mission’s priorities by 31 March, possibly allowing for an adjustment to the mandate.
On 15 January, the Council held an open debate on a comprehensive approach to counterterrorism chaired by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar (S/PV.6900). The Secretary-General, the EU, and 32 member states in addition to Council members participated. The Council adopted a presidential statement stressing that counterterrorism requires a sustained and comprehensive approach with active participation and collaboration of all states, international and regional organisations (S/PRST/2013/1). It also took note of the recommendation by the Secretary-General to appoint a coordinator for all UN counterterrorism activities.
On 17 January, Council members were briefed in informal consultations on the latest UNFICYP report (S/2013/7) by Special Representative and head of mission, Lisa Buttenheim (US). (Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser who assists the two Cypriot parties in their negotiations, did not brief on this occasion.) The Council adopted resolution 2089 on 24 January, renewing UNFICYP for six months. It was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention by Azerbaijan (S/PV.6908). The text closely resembled resolution 2058 (2012), on which both Azerbaijan and Pakistan had abstained. In its explanation of vote, Azerbaijan said that it fully supported the renewal of UNFICYP. Its concern was that the resolution contained “outdated” elements and that references to the move towards “intensive” negotiations were obsolete as talks had come to a substantive halt by mid-2012. It also claimed that the resolution contained references which were “no longer an issue” and lamented that the bulk of its proposals had not been taken into account. (The UK is the lead on Cyprus and had several meetings with Council members to discuss the text.)
On 17 January, the Council was briefed by Albert Gerard Koenders, Special Representative and head of UNOCI, followed by consultations (S/PV.6902). The briefing focused on the key issues raised in the most recent UNOCI report (S/2012/964), in particular the current status of the reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as in the areas of security sector reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. Following Koenders’ briefing, the Permanent Representative of Côte d’Ivoire addressed the Council, underlining his country’s concern about the crisis in Mali, not only in terms of the threat of spillover across the border it shares with Côte d’Ivoire but also in the context of President Alassane Ouattara’s current role as Chairman of ECOWAS.
On 18 January, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and OCHA head Valerie Amos briefed Council members in consultations on, respectively, the human rights and humanitarian situations in Syria. Amos reported that there were as many as 4 million in need within Syria, including 2 million internally displaced persons, and 650,000 Syrian refugees negatively impacting the economic and political situations in host countries. She also highlighted the indiscriminate nature of the violence, distressing reports of sexual violence and the need for unhindered humanitarian access. Pillay reiterated the findings of an independent study commissioned by her office that more than 60,000 people had died in the Syrian conflict and repeated her call for the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC. (On 14 January, Switzerland submitted a letter to the Council requesting that it refer the situation in Syria since March 2011 to the ICC [S/2013/19]. The letter was co-signed by 56 other member states including Council members Australia, France, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and the UK.) The five Council members who signed the letter urging a referral to the ICC made a joint statement to the press following the Pillay and Amos briefing that without accountability there will be no sustainable peace. On 29 January, Council members were briefed in consultations by the UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, on his efforts towards a political solution to the Syrian conflict. Brahimi reported that the international community was facing a scenario of a failed state in Syria, putting the stability of the region at risk. It seems Brahimi urged the Council to take the lead in forging an initiative that would bring the opposition and the government together in talks based on the Geneva Communiqué’s call for a transitional government with full executive powers and that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s legitimacy had been too severely damaged to be a credible partner in such talks. It seems Brahimi also suggested the Council might want to set up inquiries into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria to complement the work being done by the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry.
On 18 January, Council members issued a press statement condemning a deadly hostage situation at the In Amenas natural gas facility in Algeria, which began on 16 January (SC/10887). Terrorists claiming to be affiliated to the Islamist militants operating in northern Mali occupied the facility and held hundreds of people hostage. About 37 hostages were killed before and during an assault on the facility by Algerian forces in an attempt to free them. Though the hostage-takers claimed that they were acting in reaction to the emergency military intervention by France in Mali, Council members did not draw the connection in the press statement.
On 21 January, the Council held a debate on “UN Peacekeeping: a Multidimensional Approach” which was chaired by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefing (S/PV.6903). The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2086 emphasising the relationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. This marked the first time the Council has adopted a thematic resolution on peacekeeping since resolution 1353 (2001).
On 22 January, Council members were briefed in consultations by Mariano Fernández Amunátegui (Chile), the outgoing Special Representative and head of MINUSTAH. During his final briefing to Council members after 20 months as Special Representative, Fernández provided a frank overview highlighting key issues confronting Haiti and MINUSTAH today, including progress in the electoral process and the urgent need to conduct local, municipal and legislative elections, as well as building the capacity of the Haitian National Police and the reduction in MINUSTAH troops currently underway and due for completion by June 2013. In a 28 January press statement, Council members recognised MINUSTAH’s contribution to progress achieved in the area of security while emphasising remaining challenges in strengthening the rule of law and security sector reform. They also echoed Fernández’s call for the holding of elections by the end of 2013 and urged all political actors to increase their efforts to preserve stability in Haiti (SC/10901). At press time, there was no indication of who would replace Fernández.
On 23 January the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on the Middle East. Following a briefing by Special Coordinator Robert Serry (Netherlands), who reiterated the need for “concerted action…to salvage the two-state solution”, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki along with more than 40 states made statements in either their national capacity or on behalf of regional organisations or groupings (S/PV.6906). This was the first time the observer mission of Palestine addressed the Council as a state since the General Assembly conferred non-member state status to Palestine on 29 November.
On 25 January, Said Djinnit, Special Representative and head of UNOWA, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2012/977), followed by informal consultations (S/PV.6911). Djinnit focused on Mali and the risk that the conflict may spread to neighboring states as a result of infiltration by militants fleeing the emergency military intervention by France. Djinnit reported that, though Ghana and Sierra Leone recently conducted peaceful elections, overall the region continues to face significant challenges to governance, peace consolidation and conflict prevention. He cited the ongoing crisis in the Sahel, especially in Mali, as well as in Guinea-Bissau, and the overall threat posed by transnational organised crime and terrorism.
On 29 January, the Council was briefed on the situation in Libya by Tarek Mitri (Lebanon), Special Representative and head of UNSMIL, followed by informal consultations (S/PV.6912). At press time, it seemed that the briefing and consultations would serve as an opportunity to discuss the UNSMIL mandate in the lead-up to its renewal in March. On 17 January, Saïf Al-Islam Qaddafi—an ICC indictee—made his first appearance in a Libyan court since his capture more than a year ago.
UNRCCA (Central Asia)
On 29 January, Miroslav Jenča (Slovakia), Special Representative and head of UNRCCA, briefed Council members in informal consultations. In a press statement following the briefing, Council members, while noting the Centre’s fifth anniversary, expressed their appreciation for its work as a preventive diplomacy tool contributing to strengthening peace and stability in the region, fostering good neighbourly relations and cooperation and assisting Central Asian States to respond to domestic and transnational threats to peace and sustainable development of the region. In particular, Council members welcomed the Centre’s role in facilitating the implementation of the UN Global Counterterrorism Strategy and facilitating assistance by Central Asian states to normalising the situation in Afghanistan to boost broader stability and development in the region (SC/10903).
Rule of Law
At press time, the Council was expected to be briefed by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on 30 January (S/PV.6913), followed by informal consultations. The Secretary-General’s next rule of law report was due on 19 January, however it seems its submission may be delayed by several months (S/2012/958 and S/2012/959).
At press time, the Council was scheduled to hold a private meeting on 31 January under the agenda item “Implementation of Note S/2010/507”. The meeting was convened by Pakistan—Council President in January—as a wrap-up session of its presidency. Such sessions are not a common fixture on the Council’s monthly programme of work, but it is not unprecedented. Several were held in the early 2000s, though the practice seems to have disappeared by 2005. During a November 2012 open debate on working methods, several member states encouraged holding such sessions as a means of increasing Council accountability and transparency (S/PV.6870).