UNRCCA (Central Asia)
Expected Council Action
In July, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), Natalia Gherman, is expected to brief the Council 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 on a proposal by the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). It is headquartered in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, with offices 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 maintaining contact with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure a comprehensive overview of the regional situation. Its budget for 2019 from assessed contributions, the regular UN budget, is around $3 million (with additional project-specific funding), and it has a staff of 30 (22 national, eight 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 24 January. She updated them on the activities of UNRCCA in priority areas, such as transboundary water management, countering terrorism, the role of youth, the shrinking of the Aral Sea, foreign terrorist fighters, and UNRCCA’s involvement in the new Central Asia strategy of the EU.
In line with UNRCCA’s mandate to cooperate with UNAMA, the Special Representative hosted a meeting in Ashgabat with Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA Tadamichi Yamamoto during his visit to Turkmenistan on 4 February. On 6 February, also in Ashgabat, Gherman met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and discussed matters of cooperation between Central Asian states. On 15 April, Gherman attended a ministerial-level conference in Bucharest, under the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, focusing on the new EU strategy for Central Asia.
On 18 and 19 June, UNRCCA organised a meeting on water cooperation in Almaty, with representatives of all Central Asian states and Afghanistan participating. On 16 and 17 May, a high-level conference on “Countering Terrorism and its Financing Through Illicit Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime” took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Gherman attended the conference, which was co-organised by the UN, the EU, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
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 publicly to 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.
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 OSCE 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 upon for more than two years.
As a Central Asian state, Kazakhstan 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 its close relationship with Kazakhstan, Russia apparently found this acceptable, 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 over transboundary water management and combatting drug trafficking. Following the last meetings on UNRCCA in June 2018 and January 2019, 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.|
|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.|