Status Update since our August Forecast
On 2 August, the Council received a briefing from Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths and OCHA Director of Operations John Ging (S/PV.8323). Griffiths announced his intention to organise a first round of consultations with the warring Yemeni parties on 6 September in Geneva to discuss, among other things, the framework for negotiations and to agree on relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward. Council members discussed Yemen under “any other business” on 10 August, at the request of Peru on behalf of Bolivia, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, following an air strike on a school bus in Saada province which had killed more than 40 children the previous day. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun briefed. Council members subsequently issued press elements expressing their grave concern at the attack and all other recent attacks in Yemen, called for a credible and transparent investigation, and also called on all parties to engage in good faith with the UN led process, notably consultations scheduled for September in Geneva. On 10 August, the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee met with the Yemen Panel of Experts to consider the panel’s midterm update, which is an unpublished report on the implementation of the sanctions regime. The midterm update stated the panel’s continued belief that most of the weapons it inspected, including the debris of ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles, show characteristics similar to weapons systems known to be produced in Iran. It also reported that the panel had received information that the Houthis receive financial support from Iran through the donation of fuel. At the same time, the midterm update said that the panel believes Iran might now be willing to play a constructive role in furthering a peaceful solution for Yemen, flagging Iran’s recent efforts with several European countries to try to broker a ceasefire during Ramadan. The update affirmed, among other things, that the panel continues to obtain evidence of widespread violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by all parties to the conflict, outlining different incidents that it was investigating.
On 8 August, the Council was briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNAMI, Ján Kubiš, on the latest Secretary-General’s report on UNAMI (S/2018/677) and the most recent developments in the country (S/PV.8324). Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Delegation to the United Nations Philip Spoerri and Suzan Araf Maroof from the Women Empowerment Organization in Iraq also provided briefings. Kubiš updated the Council on the partial manual ballot recount following the 12 May parliamentary elections. Spoerri briefed on the issue of the missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and the respective activities by the Tripartite Commission chaired by the ICRC. Maroof spoke about the work of the Iraq Cross Sector Task Force for the implementation of resolution 1325. She named social protection, non-discriminatory legislation, stabilisation of the country, livelihood opportunities, and support for women’s participation on all levels as security priorities for the Council to work on with the Iraqi government. In other developments, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, Special Adviser and head of the investigative team to support Iraqi domestic efforts to hold the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant accountable for crimes it committed in Iraq, undertook his first mission to Iraq from 6 to 14 August. In a letter dated 15 August 2018 (S/2018/773) the Secretary-General informed the Council that the investigative team will begin its work on 20 August.
On 9 August, Council members issued a press statement condemning the 4 August attack against UNIFIL in southern Lebanon (SC/13451). During the incident, some of the UNIFIL’s vehicles were set on fire and weapons and equipment seized while the peacekeepers were threatened with illegal weapons. On 15 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita briefed Council members in consultations on the situation in Lebanon. During the consultations, members reiterated their support for the mission and the importance of stability in Lebanon for the wider region. On 30 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2433, extending UNIFIL’s mandate for another year.
On 9 August, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi Michel Kafando briefed the Council on the situation in Burundi (S/PV.8325). On 22 August, Council members issued a press statement reiterating their concern over the political situation, the slow progress of the inter-Burundi dialogue led by the East African Community, and the lack of engagement by the government in that regard. They also welcomed the announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza that he will not seek another term in 2020 (SC/13461).
Children and Armed Conflict
The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its sixth conclusion on the DRC (S/AC.51/2018/2) on 7 August 2018, based on the Secretary-General’s country-specific report on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in the DRC (S/2018/502).
On 8 August, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Horst Köhler, briefed Council members in consultations. Köhler updated members on his 23 June to 1 July visit to the region to push for the resumption of negotiations, and on his vision for how to move forward the political process.
West Africa and the Sahel
On 10 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/16) on West Africa and the Sahel (S/PV.8327). The statement, which covers a range of issues facing the region, welcomed collective efforts, under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General, to recalibrate the UN’s Sahel strategy to expedite its impact and encouraged greater coherence of the UN system and partners through implementation of the UN Support Plan for the Sahel. The presidential statement marked the first time that the Council addresses the herder-farmer conflicts in the region. It expressed concern for increased tensions between pastoralists and farmers, which the statement describes as being driven by competition for natural resources, rapid population growth, weak governance, pressures related to climate and ecological factors, and the circulation of small arms and light weapons. Country situations that are touched on in the statement include Togo, Guinea-Bissau, and The Gambia, along with regional security initiatives such as the G5 Sahel joint force and the Multinational Joint Task Force to combat Boko Haram.
UNOCA (Central Africa)
On 10 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement on UNOCA (S/PRST/2018/17), welcoming the renewal of its mandate for another three years, from 1 September to 31 August 2021, via an exchange of letters with the Secretary-General (S/PV.8328). In the statement, the Council expressed its concern at the grave security situation, violations and abuses of human rights, and the continuing terrorist activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin. It also expressed concern about the persistent violence perpetrated by armed groups in the Central African Republic, the ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and an increase in violence in parts of Cameroon. In the statement, the Council recognised the adverse effects of climate and ecological changes, and of natural disasters, on the stability of the region. It stressed the need for long-term strategies by governments and the UN, based on risk assessments, to support stabilisation and build resilience, and requested UNOCA to take such information into consideration in its activities. The statement asked the Secretary-General to conduct a strategic review of the scope of UNOCA’s mandate and activities and present recommendations for areas of improvement or new or refocused priorities to the Council by 1 August 2019. The Council expressed its intention to consider these recommendations, including any proposed changes to the mandate, by 31 August 2019.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 13 August, Council members issued a press statement on developments in the electoral process in the DRC (SC/13455). The statement welcomed President Joseph Kabila’s respect for his commitment to abide by the Congolese Constitution and the provisions of the 31 December 2016 political agreement. It also underlined the importance of the entire Congolese political class and the institutions responsible for organising elections to remain committed to ensuring the success of the electoral process, leading to a peaceful transfer of power. On 27 August, the Security Council was briefed on the electoral process via video teleconference by Special Representative and head of MONUSCO Leila Zerrougui; President of the Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo Monsignor Marcel Utembi; and Solange Lwashiga Furaha, spokesperson for Rien Sans les Femme (S/PV.8331). On 28 August, Council members were briefed on the current Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC, under “any other business” in consultations. At press time, on 31 August, the DRC Sanctions Committee was scheduled to meet with the Group of Experts assisting it, which will present their programme of work.
Peacekeeping Operations and Conflict Prevention
On 16 August, there was a joint meeting of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the Ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa on the institutional reform of the AU and its contribution to enhancing Africa’s capacity in the area of peace and security.
On 22 August, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed the Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question (S/PV.8329). The briefing was followed by consultations. DiCarlo noted that the UN had worked with Egypt and other regional and international actors to prevent another outbreak of fighting in Gaza. She called on the parties to enable humanitarian supplies to reach the Gaza, saying that such “supplies should not be held hostage to political and security developments”. She thanked member states who had taken measures to help address the shortfall in funding facing the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and called on others to enhance their support.
On 23 August, Under-Secretary-General in the UN Office of Counter‑Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov briefed the Council on the seventh report (S/2018/770) of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) (S/PV.8330). Also briefing were Michèle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and Joana Cook, Senior Research Fellow with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College, London.
On 24 August, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the publication of the final results of the presidential elections in Mali (SC/13464). At press time, the Council was expected to adopt a resolution renewing the targeted sanctions regime on Mali—travel ban and assets freeze—and the mandate of the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts.
On 28 August, the Council was briefed by Secretary-General António Guterres, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett, and UNDP Associate Administrator Tegegnework Gettu on the situation in Myanmar and the Rohingya refugee crisis (S/PV.8333). The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, chaired the meeting. The meeting was held to discuss developments one year after the violent reaction by Myanmar military forces to the 25 August 2017 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army on security posts led to an exodus of refugees from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
Mediation and the Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts
On 29 August, an open debate was held on mediation and the peaceful resolution of conflicts (SPV.8334). The briefers were Secretary-General António Guterres; Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation; and Mossarat Qadeem, the co-founder of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, which works to prevent violent extremism in Pakistan. The UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad, chaired the meeting.
On 30 August, the Council held a briefing on Guinea-Bissau. Speakers were Special Representative and head of UNIOGBIS, José Viegas Filho; Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba (Equatorial Guinea), chair of the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee; and Ambassador Mauro Vieira (Brazil), chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission. Civil society representative Elisa Maria Tavares Pinto, of the ECOWAS Women Peace and Security Network, briefed via video-teleconference. Prime Minister Gomes also participated. Viegas Filho briefed the Council based on the Secretary-General’s 16 August report on Guinea-Bissau (S/2018/771). The report highlighted that the political situation remains fragile despite the progress made earlier this year towards resolving the country’s political crisis, while the organisation of legislative elections scheduled for 18 November is facing serious technical and financial challenges. On 31 August, the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee held informal consultations. Representatives of the Security Council Affairs Division presented the Secretary-General’s annual report on progress in Guinea-Bissau’s stabilisation and restoration of constitutional order (S/2018/791). The Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau Aristides Gomes also addressed the Committee.
DPRK (North Korea)
On 30 August, the chair of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Karel van Oosterom (Netherlands), briefed the Council in consultations on the work of the committee during the past three months. The briefing was primarily focused on developments related to the work of the committee, the implementation of the sanctions, and the midterm report of the Panel of Experts circulated to the committee earlier in August. Council members also discussed the ongoing diplomatic efforts on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.