June 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2017
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ASIA

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In June, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), Petko Draganov, will brief Council members in consultations on key regional issues, including the threat of terrorism and extremism, the impact of the situation in Afghanistan, drug-trafficking, trans-boundary water management, and tensions linked to border-related disputes. He is also expected to brief on the Secretary-General’s visit to Central Asia due to take place in the first half of June.

UNRCCA was established in 2007 for an open-ended time period. 

Key Recent Developments

Since his last briefing on 2 February, Draganov has continued to engage bilaterally with the countries of the region. He was in Moscow for consultations with officials from the Russian foreign ministry, the Secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Together with Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, he met with Deputy Foreign Ministers Grigory Karasin and Oleg Syromolotov. In addition, he held bilateral meetings with the Special Envoy of the President of Russia for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, and took part in a CTSO working group meeting on Afghanistan.

On 27-28 April, Draganov visited Tajikistan for meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sirojiddin Aslov and First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources Sulton Rahimzoda. He visited Kyrgyzstan on 11-12 May, during which he held consultations with Vice Prime Minister Jenish Razakov and Deputy Foreign Minister Dinara Kemelova and met representatives of the diplomatic corps and the UN country team.

UNRCCA hosted a number of regional conferences and workshops on relevant topics. On 3-5 April, UNRCCA and the Academy for Public Administration in Kazakhstan organised regional training on capacity-building in mediation and conflict prevention in Astana. On 5 April, it held a training seminar in Ashgabat on the main legal principles and substantive norms in international water law.

Key Issues

An overall issue is how the Council could better utilise UNRCCA’s conflict prevention experience, and what more the Council could do to support UNRCCA’s role in preventive diplomacy and regional cooperation.

Another issue is whether the Council could better incorporate discussion of the interlinkages between Afghanistan and the Central Asian states in its debates on Afghanistan.

Regarding UNRCCA, an issue is whether the 10-year mandate of UNRCCA needs to be reviewed in light of new developments, including the rise of terrorism and extremism in Central Asia.

Options

One option is to invite the UNRCCA Special Representative to occasionally participate in the quarterly debates on UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in order for the Council to gain a broader understanding of the regional impact of the situation in Afghanistan.

A related option is to include in the UNAMA report a more comprehensive and integrated analysis of the regional impact using contributions from UNRCCA.

The Council could request a review of UNRCCA’s mandate and activities to determine whether there is a need to change the scope of its activities as well as to assess the effectiveness of the regional office.

Given the difficulty of getting agreement for a press statement (as described below), an option that would allow Council members to publicly support the work of UNRCCA is to change the format of the briefing from a closed to an open meeting, perhaps followed by consultations.

Council Dynamics

Members are generally supportive of the work of UNRCCA, but there have been tensions between Russia and the P3 regarding language on cooperation with specific regional organisations that have prevented the issuance of a press statement for the last two years. From the establishment of UNRCCA in 2007 until January 2015, the semi-annual briefings were followed by a press statement commending the centre’s conflict prevention role. These 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. In 2015, however, Russia, which is the penholder on this issue, added specific references to cooperation between the Central Asian countries and CIS, CSTO and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the EU. The P3 mistrust the CIS, CSTO and SCO, as they see them as vehicles for spreading Russian influence in the region and were adamant that they not be included.

At the last briefing, Kazakhstan, which has a direct interest in the work of UNRCCA and in the region, tried to bridge the differences by suggesting two possible alternatives to Russia’s formulation, but a compromise was not possible.

UN DOCUMENTS ON UNRCCA

 

Security Council Press Statements
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.