Status Update since our April Forecast
Lake Chad Basin
On 1 April, Council members issued a press statement condemning the 23 March terrorist attack in Boma, Chad, in which at least 98 persons were killed and 47 wounded, and the attack on military vehicles near Goneri in Yobe State, Nigeria, the same day, in which at least 47 persons were killed.
On 7 April, Council members convened an informal open video teleconference (VTC) meeting, followed by a closed VTC meeting, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali and MINUSMA. Special Representative and head of MINUSMA Mahamat Saleh Annadif briefed, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Mali, Tiébilé Dramé, also addressed members during the open session. In press elements, members called on the government and the UN to continue working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for MINUSMA to continue delivering on its mandate despite the pandemic, while ensuring the safety and security of its staff and peacekeepers. Members welcomed progress implementing the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, underlined that more progress was needed, and reiterated their call on member states to provide necessary capabilities for the MINUSMA adaptation and the need for relevant General Assembly bodies to examine the plan’s financial implications.
On 8 April, Council members held a meeting under “any other business”, on developments related to the legal proceedings on the downing of flight MH17. Russia requested the meeting as a follow up to the 6 March letter by the Netherlands, on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, sent to the Council president. The letter informed the Council that the criminal trial of four individuals (three Russians and one Ukrainian) who are charged for their role in downing flight MH17 would start on 9 March in The Hague under Dutch law. After the meeting, the Russian mission issued a statement to the press in which it questioned the independence and transparency of the criminal proceedings in The Hague. At a virtual press stakeout after the meeting, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Poland welcomed the legal process in The Hague and called out Russia for not cooperating with the investigation.
On 9 April, Security Council members held a VTC meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on situations on the Council agenda. At the outset of his statement, Guterres said that “[T]he world faces its gravest test since the founding of this Organization”. The ensuing discussion included the pandemic’s impact on peacekeeping operations, special political missions and humanitarian responses, and the Secretary-General’s global ceasefire appeal. In press elements, members “expressed their support for all efforts of the Secretary-General concerning the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to conflict-affected countries and recalled the need for unity and solidarity with all those affected”. Discussions also continued on a Security Council resolution on the pandemic. On 23 April, under “any other business” during a closed VTC meeting, France and Tunisia presented as co-penholders a draft resolution, which had merged the two separate texts that had been negotiated among the P5 and E10, respectively,
On 9 April, Council members held a closed VTC meeting on Western Sahara and MINURSO. Special Representative Colin Stewart and Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed. Member states were apparently told that the Secretary-General is working hard to find a new Personal Envoy (the post has been vacant for 11 months). After the meeting South Africa appeared to suggest adopting press elements, however one permanent member was unable to agree, and no press elements were issued.
On 14 April, Security Council members convened an informal open VTC meeting, followed by a closed VTC meeting, on the situation in Colombia. Special Representative and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Carlos Ruiz Massieu briefed the Council on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on the mission. Council members were also briefed by David Santiago Cano Salazar, a civil society youth leader from Colombia who shared his personal experience in leading and participating in projects to support the reintegration of ex-combatants from the former rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP). On 17 April, Council members adopted a press statement in which they reiterated their unanimous support for the peace process in Colombia. They expressed grave concern over the attacks against human rights defenders, community and social leaders, including those from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and former FARC-EP members. They further urged the regular convening of the National Commission on Security Guarantees and called for progress in developing a public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups.
Great Lakes Region
On 22 April, the Council held open and closed VTC meetings on the Great Lakes Region. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region Huang Xia briefed. According to Xia, COVID-19 has killed 131 people in the region and there have been over 4,700 cases. He expressed his worry about the lasting economic impact the virus could have on the already-weakened countries. He said his office continues to watch the upcoming elections in Burundi and the Central African Republic, while welcoming progress made to normalise relations between Rwanda and Uganda. After the closed meeting, Council members released press elements. They welcomed positive steps taken in the region to deescalate tensions and increase regional cooperation. Council members also urged closer cooperation among the region in order to defeat COVID-19. They expressed their full support to Xia and his office.
Climate Change and Security
On 22 April, an Arria-formula meeting was held via VTC on “Climate and security risks: the latest data” and broadcast live on the Facebook page of the Permanent Mission of France to the UN. It was co-organised by Belgium, France, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Germany, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, the UK and Viet Nam. The briefers were Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs; Robert Malley, President and CEO of International Crisis Group; and Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
On 22 April, Council members convened a meeting on Venezuela under “any other business” at the request of Russia. The meeting was requested following Venezuela’s 3 April letter to the Council referring to the US announcement that it would deploy warships to the western Caribbean Sea “close to the Venezuelan coast”. Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas Miroslav Jenča briefed the Council, while describing the political divisiveness in the country and recalling the Secretary-General’s offer to provide “good offices” if requested by the government and the opposition. On 28 April, Council members held an informal closed VTC meeting to discuss the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, at the request of the Council’s EU member countries (Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany). Reena Ghelani, OCHA’s Director for Operations briefed the Council on the humanitarian situation and the impact of the spread of COVID-19 in the country, while calling for increased access to humanitarian assistance and more funding for humanitarian response. Following the meeting, the Council’s EU member countries together with Poland held a press stakeout where they expressed concern about the spread of the pandemic in Venezuela, which was already struggling with a grave economic, social and humanitarian situation, while stressing the need for the de-politicisation of humanitarian aid and the need to uphold the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, humanity, impartiality and independence.
Middle East (Israel/Palestine)
On 23 April, Council members held an open VTC on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. He expressed concern about threats of annexation of part of the West Bank by Israel and maintained that such a course of action would have a devastating impact on the possibility of a two-state solution.
On 24 April, the Security Council held an open VTC briefing on the situation in Kosovo (S/2020/339). Zahir Tanin, Special Representative and head of UNMIK, briefed on the latest Secretary-General’s report and the most recent developments. Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić and Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Glauk Konjufca also participated in the meeting. The focus of the meeting was the political situation in Kosovo, after the collapse of government and response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Youth, Peace and Security
On 27 April, Council members held an open VTC meeting entitled: “Towards the fifth anniversary of the youth and peace and security agenda: accelerating implementation of resolutions 2250 and 2419” (S/2020/346). The Council was briefed by Secretary-General António Guterres and Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth. The Council also heard briefings from two civil society members: Olla Al-Sakkaf of Yemen, a project coordinator in the “Youth Without Border Organization for Development” and Gatwal Augustine Gatkuoth Yul of South Sudan, founder of the “Young-adult Empowerment Initiative” in Uganda. The Dominican Republic circulated a concept note ahead of the debate. The statements of member states which participated in the debate by sending their written statements were included in a letter circulated by the president of the Security Council.