Status Update since our February Forecast
On 4 February, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee was briefed by Yuliya Denissenko, an independent expert on preventing and countering violent extremism and the director of a Kyrgyzstan-based NGO, “Asia Group Foundation”, on her work on rehabilitation and reintegration in Central Asia with returning and repatriated foreign terrorist fighters and associated family members.
On 7 February, the Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), and Michèle Coninsx, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), on the Secretary-General’s tenth strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh). Mona Freij, a Syrian civil society activist, briefed the Council on her experience in her hometown of Raqqa, Syria, via video-teleconference from Istanbul.
On 4 February, Security Council members met in consultations for a briefing on Myanmar from Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. The meeting was requested by Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, the UK and the US, and was triggered by the Secretary-General’s 24 January letter conveying the notice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order indicating provisional measures in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar). Members also referred to the Independent Commission of Enquiry final report that had been submitted to the Myanmar government on 20 January. A number of Council members urged Myanmar to comply with the provisional measures indicated by the ICJ and to address the root causes of the conflicts in Myanmar. Members also referred to the need for Myanmar to create conditions for and facilitate a voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingya to Myanmar.
On 5 February, the Council was briefed on the Secretary-General’s sixth biennial report on small arms by Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. She stressed that small arms continue to facilitate a vast spectrum of actions constituting violations human rights, including the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence. A civil society representative, Damien Spleeters, Deputy Director of Operations of Conflict Armament Research, also briefed the Council.
On 6 February, the Security Council heard a briefing from Albanian Prime Minister and Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Edi Rama, the current Chairperson-in-Office for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He updated the Council on developments in the OSCE’s area of operation, including in eastern Ukraine, Georgia and Transdniestria. He also discussed Albania’s priorities as chair of the OSCE for the upcoming year, such as promotion of the freedom of expression, combating violence against women and eradicating corruption.
On 11 February, the Council adopted a presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel, which called on national stakeholders in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Mali and Togo to work together to facilitate the timely preparation for, and holding of, genuinely free and fair, credible, timely and peaceful elections that are scheduled during 2020.
On 11 February, the Council held a briefing to discuss President Donald Trump’s newly released “Vision for Peace” for Israel and Palestine. Secretary-General António Guterres, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, and UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov were among the participants. Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defence Philippe Goffin presided over the meeting.
On 24 February, the Council received its regularly scheduled briefing from Mladenov. He shared his considerable concern over the increase in violence, in particular a series of confrontations which began on 23 February at the Gaza border between Israeli Defense Forces and alleged members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, involving the firing of rockets from Gaza. Israel responded with strikes on Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets south of Damascus. Mladenov called for an end to rocket firing. After the briefing, Council members continued the discussion in closed consultations. Following consultations, the president of the Council read press elements that had been agreed on by Council members.
On 11 February, in a presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel, the Council welcomed Guinea-Bissau’s holding of the presidential election at the end of 2019, and urged all national stakeholders to ensure a peaceful implementation of the election results. On 14 February, the Council held a briefing and consultations to consider the Secretary-General’s report on developments in Guinea-Bissau. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) Rosine Sori-Coulibaly and the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Guinea-Bissau configuration, Ambassador Ronaldo Costa Filho (Brazil), briefed. At press time, the Council was expected to adopt a resolution on 28 February that renews the mandate of UNIOGBIS until 31 December 2020.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 12 February, the Security Council held a high-level briefing on “Integrating child protection into peace processes to resolve conflict and sustain peace”. The meeting was presided over by Belgian’s foreign minister, Philippe Goffin. Belgian King Philippe and Queen Mathilde were in attendance. Secretary-General António Guterres launched the “Practical Guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict”. In his briefing, he highlighted the grim situation for children affected by conflict and stressed that children have no role in conflict and that leaders need to do everything in their power to protect them. The other briefers were the AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smaïl Chergui (by video teleconference) and Jo Becker, chair of the advisory board of the NGO network Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. The Council adopted a presidential statement that stressed the need for a broad conflict prevention strategy that addresses the causes of conflict in order to protect children. It renewed its call on member states and relevant parties to integrate child protection provisions into all peace negotiations and ceasefire and peace agreements. The Council also renewed its call for the protection and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict to be prioritised in all post-conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programmes and strategies.
On 12 February, the Mali 2374 Sanctions Committee held informal consultations to discuss the mid-term report of the Mali Panel of Experts. Following this discussion, the committee held a meeting with regional states.
On 13 February, the Council held an open debate on “transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations” under the peacebuilding and sustaining peace agenda item. The meeting, initiated by Belgium, was presided over by the country’s foreign minister, Philippe Goffin. The briefers were Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights (via VTC); Francisco de Roux, President of the Commission for the Clarification of Truth, Coexistence, and Non-Repetition of Colombia; and Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa, Trustee of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, and Chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Belgium circulated a concept note ahead of the debate (S/2020/98).
On 18 February, the Council held a briefing on the situation in Ukraine. Russia requested the meeting to mark the fifth anniversary of the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, also known as the Minsk II agreement, adopted on 12 February 2015, and to discuss its implementation. The Council received briefings from Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo; Heidi Grau, Special Representative in Ukraine of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office (via VTC); and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Halit Çevik (via VTC). The briefers emphasised the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements, including the establishment of the permanent ceasefire. Most Council members reiterated these points as well.
On 20 February, the Council held a briefing, followed by closed consultations, on the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (S/PV.8729). Special Representative Helen La Lime and Marie Yolène Gilles, the Executive Director of the civil society group Fondasyon Je Klere, briefed via video-teleconference. La Lime highlighted the political impasse and called on Haitian leaders to “rise to the occasion” to find a resolution. Gilles stressed that Haiti is facing systematic and grave violations of human rights. Gilles made several recommendations to the UN, including fighting corruption and auditing the police force in order to make it more credible. All Council members called for political dialogue and accord in order to solve the impasse. The Dominican Republic reiterated that it thought the withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission in Haiti had been premature.
Central African Republic (CAR)
On 20 February, the Security Council held a briefing on the latest Secretary-General’s report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Special Representative for the Central African Republic (CAR) and head of MINUSCA Mankeur Ndiaye briefed the Council. Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN; Ambassador Omar Hilale (Morocco), chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s CAR configuration; and Matias Bertino Matondo, AU Special Representative and head of the AU Office in the Central African Republic, also briefed. Consultations followed the public session.
On 27 February, members of the Security Council agreed on a press statement, welcoming the progress made in the past year to implement the Political Peace Agreement in the CAR and calling on all parties in the country to fulfil their commitments under the agreement. The statement condemned violations of the peace agreement perpetrated by armed groups and expressed concern at a recent campaign of disinformation and incitement to violence against MINUSCA. Council members further called on the CAR authorities to ensure the holding of inclusive, free and timely elections in 2020 and 2021.
Arria-Formula Meeting on Reprisals Against Women Human Rights Defenders
On 21 February, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany and the UK co-hosted an Arria-formula meeting entitled “Reprisals against women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders who engage with the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies”. Briefers were Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and head of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Madeleine Rees, the Secretary-General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; and Shalini Eddens, the Director of Programs of the “Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights”.
On 24 February, the Council was briefed on the situation in Somalia by James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSOM; Francisco Caetano José Madeira, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and head of AMISOM; and Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Speakers stressed the numerous 2020 priorities, especially the elections, and the need for support from the international community, and urged bold action by Somali stakeholders. On 27 February, Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on his recent visit to the region.
On 26 February, the Council held a briefing on non-proliferation with a specific focus on supporting the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ahead of the 2020 review conference (S/PV.8733). High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu and President of the NPT Review Conference Gustavo Zlauvinen briefed the Council. Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas was present at the meeting. Council members issued a press statement in which they expressed support for the NPT and signalled their readiness to work together and join efforts to achieve a successful outcome at the 2020 NPT Review Conference.
On 26 February, Council members held an informal interactive dialogue on Burundi. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed on the situation in Burundi ahead of elections to be held on 20 May. Burundi was invited but did not attend. Kenya and Rwanda attended the meeting.
International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
On 28 February, the Council was expected to adopt a presidential statement on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), updating timelines specified in S/PRST/2018/6, including that the Council complete its review of the IRMCT by 15 May 2020.