On 4 September, in a horizon scanning briefing in consultations, Jeffrey Feltman, head of the Department of Political Affairs, reported on his discussions with Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the situation in Syria and preparations for Geneva II peace talks. On 16 September, the Secretary-General briefed Council members on the results of the UN investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August (S/2013/553). Although the UN inspectors’ mandate did not cover the attribution of blame for the attacks, many Council members, particularly the P3, in remarks to the press following the consultations were of the view that the report provided detailed information on delivery systems which pointed to government culpability. Also in September, there was a flurry of high-level diplomatic activity, particularly between Russia and the US, regarding Syria. On 19 September, Russia and the US transmitted to the Council their framework for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons agreed in Geneva on 14 September (S/2013/565). On 24 September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry met on the sidelines of the General Assembly to discuss a draft resolution on the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. At press time, it seemed the Council was poised to adopt a resolution on the chemical weapons issue by month’s end.
On 5 September, the chair of the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Gary Quinlan (Australia) presented his 90-day report on the work of the Committee to the Council (S/PV.7028). He said the Committee on 8 August had adopted its programme of work for the period 1 July to 31 December 2013 and had otherwise continued to consider the recommendations presented in the latest report from the Panel of Experts assisting the Committee (S/2013/331) along with other outstanding issues. However, the Committee had not been able to agree on any of the recommendations and remained divided on a number of other issues, including over whether the ballistic missile launches during the so-called “Great Prophet” exercise in July 2012 were in violation of resolution 1929.
On 5 September, Council members were briefed in consultations by Special Representative Jose Ramos-Horta on the latest report of the Secretary-General on the restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau (S/2013/499). On 11 September, the Security Council issued a press statement urging credible and transparent presidential and legislative elections to be held within the established transitional period by the end of 2013 (SC/11118).
On 10 September, the Council was briefed (S/PV.7029) by Karin Landgren, the Special Representative and head of UNMIL, on the most recent UNMIL report (S/2013/479). Ambassador Staffan Tillander (Sweden), the chair of the Liberia configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, also briefed the Council, as well as Defense Minister Brownie Samukai of Liberia. The briefing was followed by consultations. On 18 September, the Council adopted resolution 2116 renewing the UNMIL mandate for a year and authorising the second phase of the drawdown plan to further reduce the military component by September 2014.
On 16 September, the Council was briefed by Special Representative Tarek Mitri and by the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Eugéne-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), followed by consultations (S/PV.7031). Mitri presented the latest UNSMIL report highlighting the internal and regional dynamics that continue to place a huge strain on the political processes in Libya, as well as the deteriorating security situation (S/2013/516). Gasana briefed on the interim report of the Panel of Experts, including the establishment of the first end-user certificates for security assistance by the Libyan government. He also transmitted the Panel’s concern over arms proliferation within Libya and the increasing reports of arms trafficking to Syria by sea and air.
The Council had a briefing, followed by consultations, on 18 September on the most recent UNIPSIL report (S/2013/547). Briefers were Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, the Executive Representative and head of UNIPSIL, and Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski (Canada), the chair of the Sierra Leone configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. Foreign Minister Samura Kamara of Sierra Leone also addressed the Council, focusing on the government’s new poverty reduction strategy launched in July (S/PV.7034). Separately, on 26 September the SCSL appeals chamber upheld the fifty-year jail term of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Council members were briefed in consultations on 19 September by DPKO on the Secretary-General’s report on UNDOF (S/2013/542). Council members were informed that the ceasefire between Israel and Syria was generally maintained although there were violations attributable to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
On 26 September, the Council held a high-level meeting (S/PV.7036) and adopted resolution 2117 on small arms by a vote of 14 in favour and Russia abstaining. It was the first thematic resolution on small arms adopted by the Council and the first formal meeting on this issue since April 2008. Australia circulated a concept note on 6 September to guide the discussions (S/2013/536). The meeting was chaired by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and featured a briefing by the Secretary-General on his 22 August report on small arms (S/2013/503). ICRC Vice-President Christine Beerli also spoke. The resolution focused on the illicit transfer, destabilising accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. Its main provisions included strengthening the implementation of Council mandated arms embargoes; encouraging greater coordination and information-sharing among key stakeholders; supporting stockpile management and DDR programs; and strengthening capacity-building. Moreover, the resolution stressed the need for full implementation of the UN programme of action on small arms and urged states to consider signing and ratifying the Arms Trade Treaty adopted by the General Assembly earlier this year.
On 27 September, the Council was briefed by Special Adviser Jamal Benomar and the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani (S/PV.7037). Both Benomar and Al-Zayani addressed the last stages of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference and challenges to the political transition, including threats posed by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.