On 8 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the Sahel (S/PRST/2015/24). The statement covers challenges facing the region and highlights the different regional and international security and development initiatives. Compromises were reached to resolve contentious issues regarding the reporting cycle of the Secretary-General and recommendations on the location of the Special Envoy’s office, which had delayed the statement’s adoption at the Council’s briefing on the Sahel in November 2015.
On 8 December, Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative and head of UNOCA, briefed the Council (S/PV.7572) on the latest UNOCA report (S/2015/914). Jackson Tuwei, Special Envoy of the AU for the Lord’s Resistance Army, also addressed the Council via video teleconference from Nairobi.
On 8 December, Council members met in consultations on Western Sahara. The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy ,Christopher Ross, briefed, stating that the negotiation process meant to facilitate a solution to the conflict over Western Sahara remains stalemated, with a solution needed more urgent than ever. He said that while the Polisario is ready to resume face-to-face talks, Morocco remains unready to do so without significant preparation through shuttle diplomacy. Ross concluded that much more can be done by means of a sustained effort by the Council, including a reiteration of his freedom of movement. Special Representative and head of MINURSO Kim Bolduc also briefed.
Youth, Peace and Security
At the initiative of Jordan, on 9 December, the Council adopted resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security which recognised the contribution of youth in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and warned against the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism amongst youth.
International Criminal Tribunals
On 9 December, the Council held a debate on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) in which the presidents and prosecutors of these bodies briefed along with the president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (S/PV.7574). The meeting focused on the completion strategy reports submitted by both Tribunals (S/2015/874 and S/2015/884) and the Residual Mechanism’s review report (S/2015/896). On 22 December, the Council adopted resolution 2256 extending 17 ICTY judges’ terms and the ICTY prosecutor’s term for up to a year, with Russia abstaining.
On 10 December, the Council held a meeting on the human rights situation in the DPRK, with briefings by High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman (S/PV.7575). The meeting was convened in response to a joint request from Chile, France, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the US (S/2015/931). It was the second formal Council meeting on the human rights situation in the DPRK, following its decision on 22 December 2014, to add “the situation in the DPRK” to its agenda as a separate item from the non-proliferation issue, in response to the findings of the February 2014 report of the Human Rights Council commission of inquiry (A/HRC/25/63). At the beginning of the meeting there was a procedural vote to adopt the agenda at the request of China, who said that the Security Council was not the right venue for discussing issues of human rights and that the human rights situation in the DPRK did not constitute a threat to international peace and security. The agenda was adopted by a vote of four against (Angola, China, Russia and Venezuela), two abstentions (Chad and Nigeria) and nine in favour.
On 11 December, the Council met on the situation in Ukraine at the request of Lithuania, who was represented by its foreign minister (S/PV.7576). Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson briefed along with the head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Ertugrul Apakan (via video teleconference); Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Ŝimonović; and OCHA official John Ging. The foreign Minister of Ukraine also participated.
Council members issued two press statements condemning Taliban attacks near the Spanish embassy in Kabul on 11 December (SC/12158) and another near Bagram Air Field on 21 December (SC/12181). On 21 December, the Council adopted resolution 2255 which contained language clarifying how the 1988 Afghanistan sanctions regime functions and reflecting changing conflict dynamics in Afghanistan. The Council held its quarterly debate on Afghanistan on 21 December (S/PV.7591) with Special Representative Nicholas Haysom briefing on the most recent UNAMA report (S/2015/942).
On 11 December, Council members were briefed in consultations under “any other business” by Special Adviser Jamal Benomar on the situation in Burundi. Council members also discussed Burundi under “any other business” on 14 December. On 19 December, Council members issued a press statement, noting the AU decision to deploy an African prevention and protection mission in Burundi, and called on all Burundian stakeholders to fully comply with it (SC/12174). The statement also highlighted the importance of UN contingency planning to develop options for the international community to respond to any further deterioration in the country.
On 15 December, the Council adopted resolution 2251 which extended the mandate of UN Interim Security Force for Abyei until 15 May 2016.
Appointment of the Secretary-General
On 15 December, the presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly sent a joint letter on the appointment process of the next Secretary-General to member states. The letter was agreed on 14 December following a month of discussion, and was in line with General Assembly resolution 69/321 adopted on 11 September. Among the most controversial areas were the inclusion of a timeline for different steps in the appointment process, how to specify qualities expected of a UN Secretary-General, references to geographic balance and who can present candidates. The next phase of the Secretary-General appointment process requires members of the Council and General Assembly to examine the qualifications of the candidates and conduct informal dialogues or meetings with candidates. The General Assembly president has indicated that he will hold these meetings by the end of March, while the Council has yet to specify when it is likely to do so.
On 15 December, the chair of the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Román Oyarzun (Spain), briefed the Council (S/PV.7583). While noting that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme came into effect on 18 October, he stressed that all current Council resolutions on Iran would remain in force until implementation day. Oyarzun said the 1737 Committee had received a report on 11 December from its Panel of Experts on the 10 October missile launch by Iran, which concluded that the launch was a violation of resolution 1929. The Panel said in a 9 December report on Iran’s attempted procurement of titanium alloy bars, that it had not reached a definitive conclusion on whether the incident constituted a willful violation. Oyarzun also mentioned that the Committee had recently submitted its annual report to the Council (S/2015/947) along with the Panel of Experts’ 6 November mid-term report, which had been considered by the Committee at a 24 November meeting.
On 16 December, the Council was briefed on the trafficking of persons in situations of conflict by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (S/PV.7585). Two civil society briefers also participated: the head of Freedom Fund, Nick Grono, and Nadia Murad Basee, an Iraqi woman of the Yazidi faith. The Council adopted a presidential statement focused on human trafficking by terrorists, especially on how ISIS generates revenue through trafficking and the slave trade, with a particular impact on women and children (S/PRST/2015/25).
On 17 December, the Council held their annual briefing from subsidiary body chairpersons from member states finishing their two-year term on the Council: Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria (S/PV.7586).
1267/1989 Sanctions Committee
On 17 December, the Security Council held a ministerial-level briefing on the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida sanctions regime, chaired by US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew (S/PV.7587). The Council was briefed by the Secretary-General and Je-Yoon Shin, President of the Financial Action Task Force. At the meeting, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2253, strengthening the Al-Qaida sanctions regime and focusing on the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (known as ISIS or ISIL). The sanctions list was also renamed as the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions List to reflect this focus.
On 18 December, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed (S/PV.7589) the Council on Iraq’s complaint regarding the Turkish deployment of an armoured battalion to the Ba’shiqa region near Mosul (S/2015/963). On 8 December, at the request of Russia, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča briefed Council members on the same issue in consultations under “any other business”.
Golan Heights (UNDOF)
On 22 December, the Council adopted resolution 2257 renewing UNDOF for six months after considering the Secretary-General’s latest report on the observer mission during 17 December consultations (S/2015/930).
On 22 December, the Council received briefings from Special Envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, OCHA Assistant Secretary-General Kyung-wha Kang and the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (S/PV.7596). Departing from usual practice, Council members also delivered their statements publicly, expressing strong support for the parties to engage in negotiations and a ceasefire, as well as concerns over the humanitarian crisis and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all sides of the conflict. The meeting occurred just two days after the conclusion of a new round of political talks from 15-20 December between the Yemen government and a joint Houthi-General People’s Congress delegation. On 23 December, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the Yemeni parties’ participation in recent peace talks (SC/12184).
On 22 December, the chair of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Román Oyarzun (Spain), briefed the Council on the work of the Committee (S/PV.7597).
At press time, Council members were negotiating a draft presidential statement drafted by Chad on cooperation among the Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries with regard to peace operations.
On 22 December, Council members issued a press statement stressing the importance of peaceful and credible elections (SC/12183).