Conflicts in Europe
Expected Council Action
In February, the Council will hold a ministerial-level open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security, focusing on conflicts in Europe. Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs, will chair the debate. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been invited to brief. Other briefers, though not yet confirmed, could include the representatives of the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). At press time, it did not appear that there would be a Council outcome.
Though expected to usher in a period of stability, the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in the emergence of new security threats and challenges in Europe. In the early 1990s, the breakup of Yugoslavia was followed by a series of violent conflicts in the new Balkan countries. On the eastern flank of the continent, conflicts developed in the former Soviet Republics of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia), Moldova (Transnistria) and Nagorno-Karabakh. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has been the most recent significant threat to the stability and security of the continent. Close to 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed and more than a million displaced since the conflict in Ukraine started in 2014.
The Security Council continues to be formally engaged in discussions on several European issues on its agenda (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Kosovo) and has discussed the situation in Ukraine when requested by members. In addition, annual briefings by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have provided a useful forum for discussing several protracted conflicts in Europe that the Council has not formally addressed.
By organising the debate, Ukraine wanted to draw attention to what it regards as the inability of existing mechanisms to properly address protracted conflicts in Europe, as well as incomplete implementation of relevant Council resolutions on the issue. Furthermore, Ukraine argues that the Council should pay closer attention to protracted conflicts in Europe because they have the potential to escalate and therefore threaten the overall stability and security of the region.
The debate will provide a forum for members to evaluate current threats to international peace and security posed by the conflicts in Europe while also discussing the best ways to tackle these issues. Members will be invited to provide their views on the role of the Council, as well as the Secretary-General, in addressing protracted conflicts in Europe.
Given that at the moment regional and sub-regional organisations such as the OSCE and the EU play a leading role in the conflict and post-conflict environments in Europe, Council members will also explore ways in which the cooperation between these organisations and the UN could be more effective.
The OSCE has played a crucial role in conflict resolution efforts in Ukraine through its participation in the Trilateral Contact Group. With about 700 unarmed observers, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) has been given the responsibility for monitoring certain aspects of the implementation of the 2015 Minsk agreement. In addition, the OSCE plays a leading role in international efforts regarding frozen conflicts in Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria. The EU has been actively engaged in the Balkans, where it has promoted the EU integration process, and played an instrumental role in the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, leading to a series of agreements between the two.
Considering the number of African conflicts on the Council’s active agenda, members will be invited to share lessons learned from those conflicts that could also be applied to some situations in Europe. More specifically, members could address best practices in conflict resolution and prevention achieved through the more institutionalised relationship between the Council and the AU.
Another issue that the debate will seek to address is what role the Council ought to play in situations where parties seem to obstruct existing agreements, Council outcomes or both. Among the conflicts in Europe, this has been the most prominent issue in the case of Ukraine, where there has been almost no progress in implementing the provisions of the Minsk agreement, which the Council endorsed in resolution 2202.
UN DOCUMENTS ON CONFLICTS IN EUROPE
|Security Council Resolutions|
|17 February 2015 S/RES/2202||This was a resolution that endorsed the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” signed on 12 February 2015.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|14 February 2014 S/PRST/2014/4||This was a presidential statement on cooperation between the UN and the EU, highlighting the EU’s comprehensive approach to maintenance of international peace and security.|
|25 September 2015 S/2015/730||This was the report of the Secretary-General, “the United Nations and conflict prevention: a collective recommitment”.|
|4 August 2014 S/2014/560||This was a report on cooperation with regional and other organisations.|