January 2020 Monthly Forecast

ASIA

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In January 2020, 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. 

Background

UNRCCA is a 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 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 conflict prevention activities of the entire UN system in the region, and additionally maintaining contact with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to ensure a comprehensive overview of the regional situation. Its proposed budget for 2020 from assessed contributions (the regular UN budget) is around $3 million, and it has a staff of 31 (22 national, nine 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 2 July 2019. She updated members on the activities of UNRCCA regarding priority matters such as transboundary water management, countering terrorism, the roles of women and youth, and energy.

In line with its mandate, UNRCCA organised several workshops and training sessions over the last six months. These included a training session on “Good Practices in Border Security and Management to Strengthen National and International Capacities in Countering Terrorism” on 6-8 August 2019 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; on countering the financing of terrorism on 27 August 2019 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan; and on “Countering the Use of the Internet for Propaganda and Recruitment Purposes in Central Asia” on 13-14 November 2019 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

On 30 September 2019, the Centre launched the “UNRCCA Preventive Diplomacy Academy”, aimed at implementing the Youth, Peace and Security agenda of the Security Council. The initiative organised three workshops for young people from Central Asian countries and Afghanistan this year.

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 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 consultations. Another option would be for the Council to hold a debate and give the five Central Asian governments the opportunity to speak. 

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the work of UNRCCA. Until early 2015, they 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 (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 on for more than two years.

As a Central Asian state, Kazakhstan sought to overcome these 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, Council members found consensus on a press statement, again referring to “relevant regional organisations” without naming them. It appears that this was acceptable to Russia in light of its close relationship with Kazakhstan and with the addition of the phrase “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. Since January 2018, no press statements have been issued on UNRCCA. 

UN DOCUMENTS ON UNRCCA

Security Council Presidential Statement
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 Record
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.