January 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 December 2018
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ASIA

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In January 2019, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), Natalia Gherman, is expected to brief Council members in consultations on UNRCCA’s activities.

UNRCCA is a UN special political mission, established by the Secretary-General in 2007 for an open-ended period based upon a proposal by the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). It is based in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, with office locations in all Central Asian states, and its mandate includes a liaison function, monitoring and analysis of the situation on the ground, maintaining contact with regional organisations, offering a political framework for prevention activities of the entire UN system in the region and additionally maintaining contact with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan to ensure a comprehensive overview of the regional situation. Its proposed budget for 2019 from assessed contributions (the regular UN budget) is around $3 million, and it has a staff of 30 (22 national, 8 international). It is established practice that the Special Representative reports orally to the Council twice a year.

Key Recent Developments

Gherman last briefed Council members in consultations on 28 June 2018. On 2 July 2018, she spoke during a briefing organised by the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, open to all UN member states, that focused on Central Asia, providing an update, among other issues, on the Joint Plan of Action for Central Asia (JPoA), which implements the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia.

UNRCCA organised the eighth annual meeting of deputy foreign ministers of Central Asian states, which took place on 16 November 2018 in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan). Since December 2017, this format also includes the deputy foreign minister of Afghanistan. Cross-border challenges discussed at last November’s meeting focused on radicalisation, the economy and the environment. The Central Asian states and UNRCCA also discussed their priority areas of cooperation for 2019.

Together with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, UNRCCA organised a workshop titled “Good Practices in Border Security and Management to Strengthen National and Regional Capacities in Countering Terrorism” held from 15 to 19 October 2018 in Ashgabat (Turkmenistan).

Issues and Options

One issue for the Council is what more it can do to support UNRCCA’s work. An option would be to hear Gherman’s briefing in an open meeting, followed by closed consultations. This would allow Council members to publicly express support for the work of UNRCCA and to raise awareness of its activities and then have a potentially less formal, more detailed and frank exchange with Gherman in closed consultations.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the work of UNRCCA. Until early 2015, Council members issued a press statement following each briefing, encouraging increased cooperation and coordination among the Central Asian countries, UNRCCA, and “relevant regional organisations”. In September 2015, Russia, the penholder on UNRCCA, sought to add specific references to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the EU. The P3 (France, the UK and the US) opposed these additions, seeing the CIS, the CSTO and the SCO as vehicles for enhancing Russian influence in the region. No press statements could be agreed on for more than two years. As a Central Asian state, Kazakhstan has sought to overcome those differences during its 2017-2018 term on the Council. In February 2017, Council members agreed on press elements that welcomed the Special Representative’s briefing, reaffirmed the importance of conflict prevention tools, acknowledged the role of UNRCCA, and encouraged greater cooperation between the states in the region, UNRCCA, and relevant regional organisations. Under the Kazakh Council presidency in January 2018, the Council found consensus on a press statement, again referring to “relevant regional organisations” without naming them. In light of the country’s close relationship with Kazakhstan, it appears that this was acceptable to Russia, with the addition of “including those organizations of which the Central Asian States are members”. In the statement, Council members reaffirmed the importance of preventive diplomacy and acknowledged UNRCCA’s role in that regard. They further expressed support for UNRCCA’s role in regional counter-terrorism activities, welcomed its engagement related to border management, and commended efforts related to trans-boundary water management and combatting drug trafficking. Following the last meeting on UNRCCA in June 2018, divisions between Council members were not overcome, and no press statement was issued.

UN DOCUMENTS ON UNRCCA

Security Council Presidential Statements
19 January 2018S/PRST/2018/2 This presidential statement emphasised the importance of advancing regional, interregional and international cooperation to achieve stability and sustainable development in Afghanistan and the Central Asian region.
Security Council Letters
15 May 2007S/2007/280 This was a letter from the President of the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s intention to establish a United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat.
7 May 2007S/2007/279 This was a letter from the Secretary-General on the establishment of a United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat.
27 December 2018
Security Council Meeting Records
19 January 2018S/PV.8162 This was a ministerial-level chaired by Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kairat Abdrakhmanov on “Building Regional Partnership in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a Model to Link Security and Development”.
Security Council Press Statements
25 January 2018SC/13179 This was a press statement welcoming further cooperation and coordination between UNRCCA, the Central Asian States, and relevant regional organisations, including those organisations of which the Central Asian States are members.
23 January 2015SC/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.
General Assembly Documents
17 November 2017A/RES/72/7 This resolution was on the tenth anniversary of the establishment of UNRCC, emphasising the Centre’s role in preventive diplomacy in the region.