Status Update since our December Forecast
On 3 December, the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee held informal consultations and was briefed by a representative from UNODC on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. On 10 December, Council members issued press statement welcoming the outcome of the Geneva Afghanistan Conference that took place on 27-28 November 2018 (SC/13612). On 17 December, the Council held its quarterly debate on UNAMA. Briefers were: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMA Tadamichi Yamamoto; UNODC Executive Director Yuri Fedotov; Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), chair of the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee; and Ghizaal Haress, member of Afghanistan’s Independent Commission for Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution (S/PV.8426). On 26 December 2018, Council members issued a press statement condemning, in the strongest terms, the 24 December terrorist attack in Kabul that resulted in at least 43 people killed and 27 injured.
On 4 December, the Council received its first briefing by Karim Asad Ahmad Khan (S/PV.8412), the Special Adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team for Accountability of Da’esh (UNITAD) on the first report on the team’s activities (S/2018/1031).
Children and Armed Conflict
The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict met on 4 December to discuss its conclusions on the report on children and armed conflict in South Sudan (S/2018/865). On 7 and 13 December it met to discuss its conclusions on the report on children and armed conflict in Myanmar (S/2018/956), which had been introduced at the end of November. On 18 December, the Working Group met to adopt its conclusions on Myanmar.
Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
On 5 December, the Council held a debate on “Post-conflict reconstruction and peace, security and stability”, chaired by President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire (S/PV.8413). Secretary-General António Guterres and Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission briefed. On 18 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/20) on the Peacebuilding Commission’s advisory role to the Council, initiated by Sweden (S/PV.8430).
On 6 December, the Council held a ministerial-level open debate on cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations, focusing on the role of states, regional arrangements and the UN in the prevention and resolution of conflicts (S/PV.8414). Secretary-General António Guterres briefed, together with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. The concept note (S/2018/1064) circulated ahead of the meeting by Côte d’Ivoire, as Council president for December, emphasised the need to consider seeking closer cooperation among the UN, states and sub-regional and regional organisations.
On 7 December, the Council issued a press statement condemning “the heinous incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against women near Bentiu in northern South Sudan” and calling for accountability (SC/13611). The statement also reiterated the Council’s willingness to impose targeted sanctions against individuals or entities responsible and called for the establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan. On 18 December, the Council received a briefing (S/PV.8431) from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on South Sudan (S/2018/1103). Also briefed Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten also briefed (via video teleconference) and Ambassador Joanna Wronecka (Poland), the chair of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee. On 21 December 2018, the Council issued a press statement that strongly condemned the assault, detention and abuse of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism team by government officials on 18 December 2018 in Luri, South Sudan and called on the government to investigate the incident immediately and hold those responsible accountable (SC/13647).
Central African Republic
On 7 December, the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee met to discuss the final report of its Panel of Experts. On 13 December, the Council adopted resolution 2448, extending the mandate of MINUSCA and the authorisation to use all the means to provide operational support to MINUSCA until 15 November 2019 (S/PV.8422). China and Russia abstained on the vote.
On 7 December, the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations held a meeting to discuss lessons learned from the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire.
Protection of Civilians
On 10 December, an Arria-formula meeting was held on “Raising the effectiveness of atrocity crimes prevention: role of the United Nations Security Council and its Members”. The meeting was organised by Poland, in partnership with Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, Germany, Kuwait and Peru, and in cooperation with the UN Office for Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect and the UN Office of Legal Affairs. Briefers included: Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel; and Samantha Capicotto, Director of Policy and Planning of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation and Program Director of the Global Edition of the Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention. On 21 December, Sweden, in partnership with Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany and Peru, organised an Arria-formula meeting on “Protecting medical care in armed conflict—from policy to practice.” The briefers were Alice Debarre, Policy Analyst, Humanitarian Affairs, International Peace Institute; Farhad Jawid, Afghanistan Country Director with Marie Stopes International, Afghanistan; and Dr. Evan Atar Adaha, Medical Director, Maban hospital, South Sudan.
On 10 December, the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals met with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ (IRMCT) president, Judge Theodor Meron, and prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, ahead of the semi-annual debate on the IRMCT held on 11 December (S/PV.8416). Meron and Brammertz briefed on their respective assessment reports (S/2018/1033) and the IRMCT’s annual report (S/2018/569).
UNDOF (Golan Heights)
On 11 December, Council members met with UNDOF troop-contributing countries and were briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alexandre Zouev who also briefed Council members in consultations on 14 December. On 21 December, the Council adopted resolution 2450, renewing UNDOF’s mandate until 30 June 2019.
On 12 December, the Council received its semiannual briefing on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/PV.8418). Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo presented the latest Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/2018/1089). The Council’s facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231, Ambassador Karel van Oosterom (the Netherlands), reported on the work of the Council related to Iran and the Head of the EU delegation, João Pedro Vale de Almeida, briefed on the work of the JCPOA’s Joint Commission. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who participated at the meeting, stressed that Iran violated resolution 2231 after it tested medium-range ballistic missile in early December. Most Council members reiterated their support for the JCPOA, while the Western members of the Council expressed concern over Iran’s missile ballistic activities. In what was its first address to the Council in semiannual briefings, Iran condemned the US for withdrawing from the JCPOA and reiterated that Iran’s missile ballistic activities are exclusively related to defensive and non-nuclear purposes.
On 12 December, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Helen La Lime briefed the Council (S/PV.8419) on recent developments and the latest MINUJUTH report (S/2018/1059). While noting slow progress towards achieving benchmarks and the recent political crisis, she pointed out to the positive impact the mission has had on reinforcing rule of law institutions and promotion of human rights. She further noted that the benchmarks for the transition will not be achieved by October 2019 as planned and that there are still options for reconfiguring the UN presence in the country. Council members expressed concern over the recent political instability and violent protests and called on the government to step up its efforts in achieving benchmarks.
Peacekeeping/Rule of Law
UNOCA (Central Africa)
On 13 December, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNOCA François Louncény Fall, briefed the Council (S/PV.8421) on the latest UNOCA report (S/2018/165). The meeting was followed by consultations.
On 13 December, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee met to review the 2015 Madrid Guiding Principles on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. On 20 December the committee met with representatives from the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate assisting the committee and the International Civil Aviation Organization about terrorist threats to civil aviation. On 21 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2018/21), stating that its review of the 1267/1989/2253 sanctions regime, as required by resolution 2368, concluded that there are no adjustments necessary to the regime at this time. Also on 21 December, the 1267/1989/2253 Sanctions Committee met with representatives from the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs and a team of experts from Saudi Arabia.
Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies
On 17 December, the outgoing chairs of Council subsidiary bodies briefed the Council about their experience, describing the different challenges encountered in the work of each body, sharing lessons learned and providing advice to their successors (S/PV.8428). The briefers were: Ambassador Taye Atske Selassie Amde (Ethiopia), as chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa; Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan) as chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee, the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee and the 1267,1989 and 2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee; Ambassador Karel J. G. van Oosterom (Netherlands) as chair of the Committee on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2231 Concerning Iran and the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sanctions Committee; and Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden) as chair of the1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Veronica Cordova Soria, Deputy Permanent Representative of Bolivia, spoke on behalf of the chair of the 1540 Non-Proliferation Committee, Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Solíz.
On 17 December, the Council held an emergency meeting on the situation in Kosovo prompted by a request from Serbia citing the decision of Kosovo authorities to transform the Kosovo Security Forces into a more traditional army (S/PV.8427). In his briefing, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix expressed concern over the rising tensions and called on Serbia and Kosovo to reengage in dialogue. He echoed the Secretary-General’s remarks that resolution 1244 provides the legal framework for the international presence. President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo participated in the meeting. While Vučić accused Kosovo authorities of destabilising the region and violating resolution 1244, Thaçi stressed that the decision of Kosovo’s parliament to expand the competencies of the Kosovo Security Forces is a sovereign right of Kosovo.
On 19 December, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Council on the situation in Lebanon, and specifically on the recently discovered tunnels south of the Blue Line. Lacroix noted that UNIFIL confirmed the existence of four tunnels, two of which are crossing the Blue Line in violation of resolution 1701 (S/PV.8432). The Israeli ambassador told the Council that the tunnels were dug up by Hezbollah as a part of its plan to attack Israel. He further blamed the Lebanese army for cooperating with Hezbollah. The Lebanese representative accused Israel of continuously violating resolution 1701 but said that Lebanon is willing to engage to resolve the situation peacefully. While expressing concern about the recent developments, Council members called on restraint from both sides.
Peace and Security in Africa
On 19 December, the Council held a briefing on “Drug trafficking in West Africa as a threat to stability” by Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov (S/PV.8433). On 20 December, the Council held a meeting on “UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), an integrated response to peacebuilding and sustaining peace in the Sahel” (S/PV.8435). Briefings were given by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Sahel, Ibrahim Thiaw, as well as Ambassador Ion Jinga (Romania), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission; Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for Africa; and Remy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of the French Development Agency.
On 21 December, the Council held a briefing and consultations on UNIOGBIS (S/PV.8438). Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brooke Zerihoun and the Peacebuilding Commission’s chair of its Guinea-Bissau configuration, Ambassador Mauro Vieira (Brazil), spoke during the briefing.
Discussion focused on the delayed legislative elections, which the President of Guinea-Bissau José Mário Vaz announced the day before the Council briefing, and ahead of an upcoming ECOWAS summit, would be held on 10 March. Members also considered the Secretary-General’s special report (S/2018/1086) on a strategic assessment on UNIOGBIS, which proposes an exit plan for the mission over the next two years. On 27 December, Council members issued a press statement, expressing deep concern regarding the status of preparations for legislative elections, which they stressed should take place prior to the presidential elections foreseen in 2019.