February 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2014
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THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Security Council Statistics in 2013

Decreased Activity

With 47 resolutions adopted in 2013, the year saw a new decline (-11.3 percent) in resolutions relative to 2012 (53) and an even larger decrease in presidential statements from 29 to 22 (-24.1 percent). Overall, the Security Council adopted 69 decisions in 2013 compared to 82 in 2012 (-15.9 percent), hitting a new all-time low in terms of decision-making since 1991, when 63 decisions were adopted. The Council did however adopt a record number of press statements (86), which do not carry the same weight as decisions and are mainly issued to signal the opinion of Council members regarding a recent development. 

This almost record low in decision-making is surprising in that unlike 1991, when the Council had to contend with 13 peacekeeping missions and three sanctions regimes, at the end of 2013 it administered 15 peacekeeping missions and 14 sanctions regimes, not including a record number of special political missions, plus a much wider array of agenda items, both country-specific and thematic in nature.

Meetings also registered a slight decline (-3.0 percent) with the Council holding 193 in 2013, including 13 with troop-contributing countries, against 199 in 2012. As for consultations, the decrease was more pronounced, down from 175 to 162 (-7.4 percent). One possible constraint on the Council scheduling more meetings and consultations is the need to make sufficient time available for Council members to tend to the work of the subsidiary bodies: the 14 sanctions committees held 90 meetings throughout the year, with the working groups adding another 59.

The decision-to-meeting ratio, moreover, fell slightly in 2013 (0.36) relative to 2012 (0.41) as the overall decline in decisions outpaced the decrease in the number of meetings. The decision-to-meeting and consultation ratio likewise decreased from 0.22 in 2012 to 0.19 in 2013. In terms of the powers invoked, 24 resolutions (51.1 percent) in 2013 made reference to “acting under Chapter VII”, compared to 32 (60.4 percent) in 2012.

Following three visiting missions in 2012, Council members undertook two in 2013: on 27 January to Yemen and on 4-8 October to the Great Lakes Region in Africa. In terms of informal briefing formats, Council members participated in six “Arria formula” meetings and “interactive dialogues” each in 2013, compared to 12 and 10 in 2012.

Increased Consensus

Consensual resolutions were slightly on the rise relative to 2012, as only four resolutions (2089, 2114, 2117, 2130) were adopted by a vote in 2013. Contrary to 2012, when two draft resolutions on Syria were vetoed by China and Russia, in 2013 no vetoes were cast. However, one draft resolution (S/2013/660), on an Article 16 deferral of the situation in Kenya from International Criminal Court proceedings, failed to get the minimum nine votes required for adoption by Article 27(3), the first such case since S/2000/1171 in 2000. Interestingly, as in 2012, it was Azerbaijan, alongside Russia, that most frequently broke ranks with the majorities, with three abstentions each.

Breakdown by Region

As in previous years, the attention of the Council varied from region to region, with agenda items pertaining to Africa totaling 98 meetings (50.8 percent), of which 88 (45.6 percent) dealt with sub-Saharan Africa. This was a significant increase from 2012, and is not surprising considering the outbreak of sectarian wars in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan and the precarious security situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Libya, Mali and Somalia. The Council held 44 meetings (22.8 percent) on situations in North Africa and the Middle East and 46 (23.8 percent) on situations in Asia (some of which are also included in the Middle East). The Council only had 12 meetings (6.2 percent) on agenda items pertaining to Europe and only four (2.1 percent) on the sole situation (Haiti) in the Americas.

Relative to 2012, 2013 registered increased attention to situations in Africa (+3.1 percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (+5.7 percent), with decreased attention to all other regions: Europe (-33.3 percent), the Americas (-20.0 percent) and Asia (-4.2 percent), as well as North Africa and the Middle East (-17.0 percent). The increasing activity on Africa is significant as it seems to readjust the stark decline in meetings on Africa (-24.6 percent) and sub-Saharan Africa (-14.4 percent) registered in 2012.

Breakdown by Agenda Item

In 2013, the Council continued to address three of the situations arising out of the Arab Spring. It held eight meetings on Libya and adopted two decisions (resolution 2095 and S/PRST/2013/21), nine meetings on Syria, including meetings pertaining to the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), leading to four decisions (resolutions 2108, 2118 and 2131 and S/PRST/2013/15), and four meetings and one decision on Yemen (S/PRST/2013/3). Consideration of Libya and Syria were on decline relative to 2012 despite the worsening situations in both. In fact, in the case of Syria, resolutions 2108 and 2131 dealt with UNDOF only, whereas resolution 2118 was circumscribed to the chemical weapons programme, despite the more than 100,000 civilians killed by the conflict by the end of the year. Only the presidential statement addressed the dire humanitarian impact of the wider civil war. Whereas on Yemen the Council adopted one less decision in as many meetings relative to 2012, on Lebanon it adopted the annual UN Interim Force in Lebanon renewal (resolution 2115) and an additional decision (S/PRST/2013/9) in two meetings. As for the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, the Council continued to hold a significant number of meetings (12) without adopting a single decision.

Regarding the situations in and between Sudan and South Sudan, consideration by the Council remained on par with 2012 (17 meetings), yet dramatically lower than the 35 meetings held in 2011. However, unlike 2011 or 2012, when it adopted 13 and nine decisions respectively, in 2013, the Council adopted seven decisions (resolutions 2091, 2104, 2109, 2113, 2126, 2132 and S/PRST/2013/14), with resolution 2132 standing out for promptly addressing the ongoing political crisis that engulfed South Sudan as of 15 December and including unprecedented arrangements in terms of UN intermission cooperation to reinforce the UN Mission in South Sudan. Consideration of the situation in Somalia also remained unchanged, with 11 meetings and six decisions (resolutions 2093, 2102, 2111, 2124, 2125 and S/PRST/2013/7) as the situation on the ground continued to improve following the routing of Al-Shabaab by the AU Mission in Somalia and the swearing in of a new national government.  

Not surprisingly, in light of the continuing fallout from the 22 March and 12 April 2012 coups that affected Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the Council dedicated five and six meetings, respectively, to address the two situations while adopting one (resolution 2100) and three (resolutions 2092 and 2103 and S/PRST/2013/19) decisions. However, due to the instability threatening the wider Sahel and West Africa region, the Council also considered the Sahel in five meetings, adopting four decisions (S/PRST/2013/5, S/PRST/2013/10, S/PRST/2013/20 and S/PRST/2013/22), and West Africa in four meetings and one decision (S/PRST/2013/13). In addition, Council activity regarding Côte d’Ivoire increased just slightly in 2013 with six meetings and two resolutions (2101 and 2112) compared to five and two respectively in 2012. With progress seemingly continuing to build in Liberia and, more evidently, in Sierra Leone, the Council held five and three meetings respectively. It also adopted two resolutions on Liberia (2116 and 2128) and one on Sierra Leone (2097).

On the DRC, the Council continued to hold as many meetings in 2013 as was the case in 2011 and 2012 (8), albeit adopting less decisions (resolution 2098 and S/PRST/2013/17). However, resolution 2098 was an important breakthrough setting the stage for the routing of the March 23 rebel movement with the exceptionally robust mandate given to a novel “intervention brigade” embedded within the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC. In addition, the Council held a meeting on the situation in the Great Lakes Region, leading to an outcome (S/PRST/2013/11) urging full and prompt implementation of the 24 February 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and Region. As for the CAR and the wider Central African region, Council attention increased dramatically from four meetings in 2012 to 10 in 2013, and from two to five decisions (resolutions 2088, 2121, 2127 and S/PRST/2013/16 and S/PRST/2013/18), following the 24 March seizure of power by the Séléka rebels. Resolution 2127 was a significant development, with the Council mandating a sanctions regime, an inquiry commission and authorising France to deploy what became Opération Sangaris to support the fledgling ECCAS-led peacekeeping mission on the ground.

As regards Burundi, the Council returned to its 2011 level of activity, holding three meetings and adopting one outcome (2090) after a single meeting with no outcome in 2012. As for Western Sahara, Council attention remained unchanged relative to 2012 with two meetings and one resolution (2099). On Haiti, 2013 ended with four meetings and one resolution (2119).

Regarding the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Council met six times and adopted two resolutions (2096 and 2120) on the former, compared to seven meetings and three resolutions in 2012, and five times leading to two resolutions (2107 and 2110) on the latter, up from four meetings and one decision in 2012, in light of the worsening political situation there and the increasing humanitarian toll of the sectarian violence.

In contrast, the Council met twice as much on Cyprus in 2013, scheduling four meetings and adopting two resolutions (2089 and 2114), both of which were adopted with abstentions.  It also held three meetings on Bosnia and Herzegovina, leading to a single resolution (2123). Another agenda item without an outcome in 2013 was Kosovo, despite being considered at four meetings.

On the ad hoc international tribunals, which are gradually winding down with the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism, the Council only held three meetings and adopted one decision (resolution 2130). Finally, regarding non-proliferation in a country-specific context, there were no changes in Council activity in 2013 compared to 2012 with five meetings on Iran and one resolution (2105), and two meetings on the DPRK with an equal number of decisions (resolutions 2087 and 2094).

The thematic agenda items suffered less variation altogether. The agenda items “Children and Armed Conflict” and “Rule of Law” suffered no variations being considered at one meeting each and one decision (S/PRST/2013/8) for the former. “Threats due to Terrorist Acts” were discussed in two meetings, with one less decision adopted than in 2012 (resolution 2129 and S/PRST/2013/1). Whereas the Council dealt with “Peacekeeping” and “Peacebuilding” in three and two meetings in 2012 adopting a single decision on the latter, in 2013 it met twice and once respectively, adopting resolution 2086 on peacekeeping.  On “Women and Peace and Security”, it met three times and adopted two resolutions (2106 and 2122), compared to two presidential statements in 2012 and four meetings. As for “Protection of Civilians”, the Council met three times and adopted a decision (S/PRST/2013/2) while it only met once in 2012 without any outcome. While no new agenda items were added to the work of the Council in 2013, Australia led the reintroduction of the item “Small Arms”, its consideration at one meeting and the adoption of the first ever Council resolution (2117) on the matter. Finally, unlike 2012, when a single meeting was scheduled under note S/2010/507 to address the working methods of the Council, in 2013 it was employed once for a working methods debate and six times to allow for monthly “wrap-up sessions”.

In sum, in addition to its continuing failure to address the wider conflict in Syria, most indicators point to a continuing overall downward trend in Council activity in 2013. Beyond this general trend, the year was punctuated by significant decisions that expanded the terms of UN intermission cooperation (resolution 2132) or use of force authorisation (resolution 2098) to new heights, instituted a groundbreaking chemical weapons inspection regime (resolution 2118) and covered new ground in addressing small arms (2117).

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