Status Update since our August Forecast
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 1 August, Council members issued a press statement on the DRC. In the statement Council members welcomed President Félix Tshisekedi’s efforts towards reconciliation and steps he has taken to open political space. They also welcomed his initiatives to promote regional cooperation. The statement expressed concern about the ongoing Ebola outbreak and reiterated the appeal to donors and partners to provide the necessary support in order to close the humanitarian funding gap. On 2 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement on the Ebola outbreak, in which, among other things, it condemned attacks and threats against medical personnel and humanitarian personnel and demanded safe and unhindered access for humanitarian and medical personnel to patients and others in need. Later in August, Council members held a 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee meeting to discuss the proposed programme of work for the Group of Experts.
DPRK (North Korea)
On 1 August, Council members held a meeting under “any other business” on the situation in the DPRK, which was initiated by France, Germany and the UK to discuss recent missile launches conducted by the DPRK. In a joint statement to the press the three ambassadors of those countries condemned ballistic missile tests by the DPRK saying that they constitute a violation of Security Council resolutions. On 27 August, Council members held another meeting under “any other business” to discuss the latest missile tests conducted by the DPRK. The UK, France and Germany initiated this meeting and made a joint statement to the press following the meeting. On 29 August, the Chair of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Christoph Heusgen (Germany), briefed Council members in consultations on the 90-day report about the committee’s work.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 2 August, the Council held an open debate on children and armed conflict. The open debate was chaired by Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. The briefers included Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba, who presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict and Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore, who highlighted the needs of conflict-affected children and UNICEF’s work in addressing the needs of children in armed conflict situations. The other speakers were Mariatu Kamara, UNICEF Canada’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and Majok Peter Awan, a former child soldier and currently a UN child protection officer. Both Kamara and Awan shared their experiences as children directly affected by the war in Sierra Leone and South Sudan, respectively. Kamara, who had her hands chopped off by rebels during the civil war in Sierra Leone, highlighted the importance of support for children with disabilities, and Awan, who had been recruited as a child soldier, stressed the need for psychosocial support. Poland had circulated a concept note for the debate suggesting members focus on a number of themes including the high number of children killed and maimed, and the continuing issue of rape and other forms of violence. In their statements Council members also focused on the need for adequate child protection advisers in peacekeeping and political missions, the importance of implementing action plans and reintegration. The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict met on 27 August to discuss its conclusions on the report on children and armed conflict in Yemen.
On 6 August, Council members condemned a terrorist attack in Cairo, Egypt, that took place on 4 August, which resulted in at least 20 killed and many others injured (SC/13911). On 27 August, Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, and Michèle Coninsx, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, briefed the Security Council (S/PV.8605) on the Secretary-General’s strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh).
West Africa and the Sahel
On 7 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel, which followed the 24 July briefing by the Special Representative and head of UNOWAS, Mohammed Ibn Chambas. Among various issues addressed, the statement welcomes a planned strategic review of UNOWAS, inviting the Secretary-General to present to the Council its recommendations and his observations by 15 November.
Peace and Security in Africa
On 8 August, Council members met in consultations under the agenda item “Peace and security in Africa” to discuss relations between Djibouti and Eritrea. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed in reference to the Secretary-General’s letter of 2 August (S/2019/627). She apparently stressed that both countries remain committed to normalising relations and encouraged more confidence-building measures to maintain positive momentum.
On 8 August, Council members held a meeting under “any other business” on the situation in Georgia. The meeting was initiated by the EU members of the Council to mark the 11-year anniversary of the outbreak of conflict in Georgia. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, briefed members on the recent developments in the country. Following the meeting, the US and the EU members of the Council, including incoming member Estonia, held a press stakeout. They regretted the lack of progress in implementing the existing agreements while also reiterating their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. Furthermore, they emphasised that Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia demonstrates a lack of respect for the rules-based international order and contributes to destabilisation of the region.
On 9 August, the Military Staff Committee held a meeting on the situation in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the situation concerning Western Sahara (MINURSO). On 23 August, the Military Staff Committee held a meeting on the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and the question concerning Haiti (MINUJUSTH). On 23 August, the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations held a meeting on the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping Commitments.
Ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa
On 9 August, the ad-hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa met to discuss preparations for this year’s annual joint consultative meeting and informal joint seminar between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa.
Rule of Law
On 13 August, the Security Council held a briefing on “the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Conventions—upholding humanity in modern conflict”, presided over by Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. Briefers were ICRC President Peter Maurer; the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares; and Dr. Annyssa Bellal, senior research fellow and strategic adviser on international humanitarian law at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. On 20 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement, reaffirming the fundamental importance of the four 1949 Geneva Conventions for the protection of those affected by armed conflict (S/PV.8599).
On 13 August, Council members held consultations on UNIFIL. Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari briefed members on UNFIL ahead of the mandate renewal. On 29 August, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2484, extending the mandate of UNIFIL in its current configuration for another year.
UNOCA (Central Africa)
On 14 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed Council members in consultations on the strategic review of the scope of the mandate and activities of UNOCA.
Jammu and Kashmir
On 16 August, Council members held consultations on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Oscar Fernández-Taranco, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, and General Carlos Humberto Loitey, the UN Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed. Fernández-Taranco apparently discussed the political and security situation in Kashmir, while Loitey spoke about the activities of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.
Adoption of the draft annual report to the General Assembly
On 20 August, the Council adopted its annual report to the General Assembly for 2018. Presenting the report, the drafter of its introduction, the UK, encouraged future presidencies in charge of presenting the report to the Assembly “to report to Council members on relevant suggestions and observations raised during the debate”. At press time, the General Assembly’s debate was expected to be held in early September.
Maintenance of international peace and security: Challenges to peace and security in the Middle East
On 20 August, the Council held a debate under the agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security: Challenges to peace and security in the Middle East”. In her briefing, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General, said that the international community must work together to help the region take advantage of its opportunities. She cited examples of continued challenges and stressed that the UN stands ready to support efforts for peace. Primary actions must be taken to prevent “the most acute flashpoints” from erupting while at the same time move parties to conflict towards dialogue. Both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz talked about the creation of Warsaw Process Working Groups to tackle challenges of the region. The intention was also announced to have a follow-up to the Warsaw meeting in 2020. Other speakers, which included members from the region and regional groups, also spoke about the need for education, protection of children, development, gender equality, and respect for states’ sovereignty.
On 21 August, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSOM James Swan briefed the Council on the latest UNSOM report. Head of the AU Mission in Somalia Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten, and Executive Director of the Somali Women Development Centre Amina Arale also briefed.
There were two meetings on the situation in Myanmar in August. On 21 August, Council members discussed the return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar under “any other business”. The meeting was requested by Belgium, France, Germany, the UK and the US following the Myanmar government’s announcement that it had cleared 3,450 people for repatriation on 22 August from a list of 22,000 provided by Bangladesh. Members were briefed by the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support Haoliang Xu. On 23 August, there was an Arria-formula meeting organised by Germany, Peru and Kuwait on “Mass Atrocity Crimes in Myanmar: Where do we stand on accountability?”
On 21 August, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the 17 August agreement on the establishment of a new civilian-led transitional government and transitional institutions in Sudan. Among other things, the press statement also welcomed “the pledge of the parties to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms…[and] the commitment to create a national independent committee to investigate the violent acts committed on 3 June and other incidents of human rights violations and abuses.” On 26 August, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Council (via video teleconference) on UNAMID. The briefing was in accordance with resolution 2479 of 27 June, requesting the Secretary-General to provide the Security Council with an oral update about the situation on the ground 60 days after the adoption of the resolution. AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaїl Chergui also briefed (via video teleconference).
Protection of Religious Minorities
On 22 August, an open Arria-formula meeting was held on: “Advancing the safety and security of persons belonging to religious minorities in armed conflict”. The meeting was organised by Poland in partnership with the UK and the US and non-Council members Brazil, Canada, and Jordan. The meeting was planned to coincide with the inaugural “International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence based on Religion or Belief”, which was established by a General Assembly resolution adopted on 28 May. Poland’s Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, chaired the meeting. Briefers were: Sali AbdoulAziz, the Head of Partnerships of the Coordination des Organisations Musulmanes de Centrafrique, which was established in 2014 to advocate on the discrimination against Muslim Central Africans; Naveed Walter, the president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, an organisation that works to protect and promote human rights of religious minorities, women and children; and Dalal Khairo, a Yazidi writer from Iraq who survived the crimes of the Islamic State and promotes Yazidi rights.
Threats to International Peace and Security
On 22 August, the Council held a briefing on the 18 August intermediate-range cruise missile test conducted by the US. China and Russia requested this meeting under the agenda item “threats to international peace and security” citing the destabilising effects of the US cruise missile test. Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu briefed the Council. She raised concerns over the proliferation of missiles and expressed alarm over the absence of universal agreement for their regulation. Furthermore, Nakamitsu also emphasised that the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) should not be a cause for unrestricted competition in missile development, acquisition and proliferation. Most Council members expressed regret over the collapse of the INF and called for a resumption of dialogue. The US and the EU members of the Council blamed the collapse of the INF on Russia and its violations of the treaty. On the other hand, Russia accused the US of violating the treaty. China said that the US and Russia should have resolved their differences through dialogue while stressing that the US withdrawal from the INF will have negative effects beyond the treaty.
On 28 August, Michael Kingsley, Director of the Central and Southern Africa Division of the UN Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Ambassador Jürg Lauber (Switzerland), the chair of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as representatives from neighbouring countries, participated in an informal interactive dialogue with Council members.
On 29 August, the Security Council adopted a resolution renewing the sanctions regime on Mali and the mandate of the Panel of Experts. The sanctions measures (travel ban and asset freeze) target individuals and entities engaged in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Mali.