February 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2017
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ASIA

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In early February, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), Petko Draganov, is due to brief Council members in consultations on the work of the centre. UNRCCA was established in 2007 for an open-ended time period. 

Key Recent Developments

Since his last biannual briefing to the Council on 15 June 2016, Draganov has continued to engage bilaterally with the countries in the region (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and has also attended meetings of relevant regional organisations. From 22 to 24 June he visited Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as part of a UN delegation headed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. The UN delegation met with SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov and also held bilateral meetings with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. On 18 and 19 October, Draganov attended a meeting in Tashkent of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 

On 29 and 30 August 2016, Draganov visited Almaty, Kazakhstan, to deliver a keynote presentation to a high-level international conference titled “Building a Nuclear-Free World”. He travelled to Moscow from 14 to 16 September for consultations in the Russian foreign ministry and with the secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), addressing a session of the Permanent Council of the CSTO and taking part in a tripartite meeting of UNRCCA, CSTO and the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). On 8 and 9 December, Draganov headed the UN delegation to an OSCE ministerial meeting in Germany.

UNRCCA hosted a number of regional conferences and workshops on relevant topics. On 12 and 13 September 2016, it co-hosted a workshop in Almaty titled “Trans-boundary Water Resources in the Region of Central Asia: The State of Play”. On 21 and 22 September, UNRCCA and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) co-organised a high-level conference on “Identifying and Tackling Geo-Strategic Challenges to Promoting Development of the Licit Economy in Afghanistan in the Transformation Decade”. On 8 and 9 November, UNRCCA co-organised an international seminar titled “The Impact of Glaciers Melting on Water Resources in Central Asia in the Context of Climate Change” in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  

UNRCCA hosted a regular meeting of the mini-Dublin group, an informal coordination group of like-minded countries focused on the fight against illicit drugs, on 5 December 2016 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. From 12 to 14 December, UNRCCA organised a regional seminar in Almaty on the role of parliaments in preventive diplomacy in Central Asia, and from 14 to 16 December hosted a three-day training workshop in Ashgabat on how to effectively counter the financing of terrorism in collaboration with the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force/UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) Office and UNODC.

In other developments, the Chinese embassy in Bishkek was hit on 30 August 2016 by a suicide car bomb, which wounded at least three people. In a 1 September press statement, Council members condemned the attack as a terrorist act and called for a full investigation by the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The Council held two debates of particular relevance to UNRCCA’s work. On 28 October 2016, at the initiative of Russia, the Council for the first time held a debate on cooperation between the UN and CSTO, SCO and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The debate focused on the contributions of these organisations in countering threats to peace and security in Eurasia and Central Asia and the importance of enhanced cooperation with the UN, including UNRCCA. At the initiative of Senegal, the Council held its first open debate on the issue of water, peace and security on 22 November, with a briefing by the Secretary-General. In his statement, the Secretary-General highlighted the work of UNRCAA in this area.

Key Issues

Key issues include the rising threat of terrorism and extremism in Central Asia, the regional impact of the situation in Afghanistan, drug-trafficking, trans-boundary water management and ongoing tensions linked to border-related disputes.

With regard to UNRCCA, a key issue is whether its role as a tool for preventive diplomacy and regional cooperation could be further enhanced and whether the Council could do more to support it.

Options

One option for Council members is to issue a press statement, as they have done in the past, reaffirming the importance of conflict prevention, expressing support for UNRCCA’s activities in the region and reiterating other key elements from previous statements.   

Another option is to change the format of the briefing from a closed to an open meeting, perhaps followed by consultations, as is the case for the regular briefings by the UN Office for West Africa and the UN Regional Office for Central Africa. 

Council Dynamics

As a new non-permanent Council member with a direct interest in the work of UNRCCA, Kazakhstan is likely to be able to bring a new perspective to Council discussions, and can also be expected to promote greater attention in general to the security challenges in Central Asia, which are naturally among its key priorities while on the Council. It remains to be seen, however, whether Kazakhstan will be able to help bridge recent differences among Council members that have since January 2015 prevented agreement on an UNRCCA press statement. In the past, and since the establishment of UNRCCA in 2007, the briefings on its work were normally followed by a press statement commending the centre’s conflict prevention role. More recently, however, Council members have been unable to agree on a statement mainly because of differences over new language proposed by Russia, as the penholder, relating to UNRCCA’s cooperation with regional organisations.

Previous statements simply encouraged increased cooperation and coordination between the Central Asian countries, UNRCCA and “relevant regional organisations” to strengthen the region’s capacity to overcome challenges to peace, stability and sustainable development, but Russia sought to add specific references in this context to CIS, CSTO and SCO as well as the OSCE and the EU. This was unacceptable to the P3, however, and it seems a compromise was not possible. It has therefore been two years since the last Council press statement on UNRCCA (SC/11751), although Council members are generally supportive of the centre and agree that it plays a useful role.

UN DOCUMENTS ON UNRCCA

 

Security Council Press Statements
1 September 2016 SC/12502 This was a press statement condemning a terrorist attack against the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan.
23 January 2015 SC/11751 This press statement welcomed the briefing in consultations on 21 January by Miroslav Jenĉa, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, and reiterated support for UNRCCA as an early-warning and preventive-diplomacy tool.
Other
22 November 2016 S/PV.7818 This was an open debate on water, peace and security.
28 October 2016 S/PV.7796 This was the debate on regional cooperation with CSTO, SCO and CIS.