Status Update since our June Forecast
On 3 June, the president of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Judge Carmel Agius, and its prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, met remotely with the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals. On 8 June, they briefed Security Council members in an open VTC (S/2020/527). On 25 June, Council members adopted resolution 2529 extending the operating period and the term of the prosecutor until 30 June 2022 (S/2020/602). Resolution 2529 was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (by Russia).
UN Peacekeeping Operations
On 4 June, Security Council members held an open VTC meeting (S/2020/514) with force commanders of UN peacekeeping operations from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The commanders briefed the Council on the operational challenges their respective missions face in their work, focusing primarily on the impact of COVID-19.
On 4 June, the Security Council adopted two resolutions related to Sudan (S/2020/496 and S/2020/497). Resolution 2525 extended the mandate of UNAMID at its current troop and police ceiling for two months from 31 October until 31 December 2020. The resolution also requests the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission to provide the Security Council with a Special Report no later than 31 October 2020, assessing, among other things, “the impact of the peace process on the security situation in Darfur, the capacity of the Government of Sudan… to protect civilians in line with the strategy outlined in the Government of Sudan’s letter addressed to the President of the Security Council dated 21 May 2020, and recommendations on the appropriate course of action regarding the drawdown of UNAMID, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Resolution 2524 established a follow-on mission, the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and requested the Secretary-General to “swiftly initiate the planning for and establishment of UNITAMS, with a view to reaching full operational capacity as soon as possible and in order to ensure the mission is able to start delivering against all its strategic objectives no later than 1 January 2021”. Both resolutions were adopted unanimously. On 9 June, the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), provided the Council the quarterly briefing on the committee’s work in an open VTC format. On 10 June, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda briefed the Council on her semi-annual report to the Council. Bensouda’s briefing came the day after Ali Kushayb, a Sudanese national who is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur (Sudan), surrendered himself voluntarily in the Central African Republic.
Group of Five for the Sahel Joint Force
On 5 June, Security Council members held an open VTC, followed by a closed VTC, on the Group of Five for the Sahel Joint Force (FC-G5S) (S/2020/515). Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania on behalf of the Group of Five for the Sahel briefed Council members. In press elements after the meeting, Council members commended the FC-G5S for its increased operational tempo, reaffirmed the importance of support by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali to the joint force, and took note of the Secretary-General’s assessment on the matter in his recent report on Mali (S/2020/476). In renewing the mandate of MINUSMA on 29 June, in resolution 2531, the Council specified that private companies may deliver MINUSMA life support consumables (rations and fuel) to FC-G5S units operating outside of Mali.
On 9 June, Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), chair of the 751 Somalia Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in an open VTC on the committee’s activities from 28 February to 9 June (S/2020/529). He highlighted al-Shabaab’s increased use of improvised explosive devices in Somalia and their devastating effect. On 22 June, Council members renewed the mandate of UNSOM until 31 August 2020 through a technical rollover (S/2020/573). Resolution 2527 passed unanimously through the Council’s provisional 24-hour voting period.
On 11 June, Council members held a ministerial-level VTC on Mali (S/2020/541). SecretaryGeneral António Guterres briefed on his quarterly report on Mali (S/2020/476) and biannual letter outlining security challenges, MINUSMA performance, and transition planning (S/2020/481). Pierre Buyoya, AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel, also briefed. On 14 June, members issued a press statement condemning an attack the day before on a MINSUMA convoy that killed two peacekeepers from Egypt (SC/14213). On 29 June, in resolution 2531, the Council renewed the mandate of MINUSMA for one year until 30 June 2021.
On 12 June, Security Council members held an open VTC (S/2020/542), followed by a closed VTC, on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on the work of UNOCA and the implementation of the UN’s regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army. Special Representative and head of UNOCA François Louncény Fall briefed. Fall noted that terrorist attacks, maritime insecurity and political tensions in the region have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that “the slowdown in economic activities due to COVID-19 deprives States of the resources they need to address the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic, with the risk of creating social unrest”, while “the persistence of armed conflicts in some parts of Central Africa undermines our efforts to respond to challenges posed by COVID-19”.
On 15 June, Security Council members received a briefing in an open VTC (S/2020/547) from Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD, based on the Special Adviser’s fourth report on the activities of UNITAD (S/2020/386). A closed VTC followed.
UNDOF (Golan Heights)
On 15 June, Security Council members held a closed VTC with troop-contributing countries of UNDOF. On 18 June, Council members held a closed VTC on UNDOF. On 29 June, the Council adopted resolution 2530, renewing UNDOF’s mandate until 31 December 2020.
Security Council Elections
On 17 June, the UN General Assembly held the first round of elections for the five non-permanent seats on the Security Council for the 2021-2022 term. India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway were elected in the first round of voting. Kenya was elected in the second round of voting, defeating Djibouti for a single seat available for the African Group.
On 18 June, a joint briefing of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee and the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee was held in a closed VTC. It focused on a joint report by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Analytical Support and Monitoring Team on the financing of terrorism (S/2020/493).
Briefing by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
On 18 June, Council members held an open VTC meeting (S/2020/560), followed by a closed VTC session, with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. The meeting took place under the agenda item “Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, which allows for a general briefing by the High Commissioner without tying it to a specific situation on the Council agenda. Grandi described the situation of refugees in several country-specific cases on the Council’s agenda, including Libya, Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela, among others, and addressed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugee populations.
On 19 June Council members held open and closed VTCs on BINUH (S/2020/568). Special Representative of the Secretary-General Helen La Lime briefed. Jacques Létang, President of the Haitian Bar Federation and member of the Human Rights Office in Haiti, also spoke, detailing the lack of state authority throughout Haiti. Council members agreed to press elements that were read out by the Council president after the meeting. The elements noted the impact of COVID-19, the troubling humanitarian situation, and the need for Haiti’s political actors to work together to address underlying conditions.
On 22 June, the Security Council convened a closed VTC meeting on Burundi. Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Bintou Keita briefed. The Council was expected to meet on Burundi in May, in keeping with the quarterly briefings on the issue requested by resolution 2303. That meeting was not scheduled, however, and the decision was taken to postpone it until after Burundi’s presidential elections, which were held on 20 May. A meeting was then scheduled to take place on 11 June, but with the sudden death of outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza, it was postponed until 22 June. The Council agreed press elements, taking note of the final results of the presidential and legislative elections and the “peaceful transition of power” after the sudden death of President Nkurunziza. Further, the Council “stressed the importance of pursuing national unity, political inclusiveness and peacebuilding and encouraged all parties to continue to promote a peaceful atmosphere among all Burundians”. Finally, the Council “welcomed the commitment of the UN towards long-term stability and sustainable development in Burundi”.
On 23 June, Council members held an open VTC, followed by a closed VTC, on South Sudan (S/2020/582) covering the Secretary-General’s latest report on this issue (S/2020/536). David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, and Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, briefed.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 23 June, Security Council members held an open VTC meeting on Children and Armed Conflict (S/2020/594). Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba presented the Secretary-General’s annual report, which was published on 9 June (S/2020/525). The Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, and Mariam, a young civil society representative from the National Children’s Parliament of Mali also briefed the Council. Following the meeting, members of the Security Council issued a press statement (SC/14224) in which they condemned the scale of violations against children in armed conflict and expressed concern regarding the effect on children of the COVID-19 pandemic. They welcomed the work of the UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, which were established by resolution 1612 (2005), noting the contribution of these tools to the children and armed conflict agenda in the past 15 years, including through the demobilisation and reintegration of more than 150,000 children. Council members also reiterated their call to member states and the UN system to mainstream child protection provisions into all relevant activities in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations. France circulated a concept note ahead of the meeting.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 23 June, Council members issued a press statement in which they condemned an attack on MONUSCO that occurred on 22 June near Beni, which resulted in the death of one Indonesian peacekeeper and injuries to another (SC/14222). This attack was on many Council members’ minds during the Council open VTC on MONUSCO on 25 June (S/2020/598). Special Representative of the Secretary-General Leila Zerrougui and the coordinator of the organisation Save Act Mine, Jamal Usseni, briefed Council members. After the closed VTC meeting, the Council president read out agreed press elements in which Council members expressed their concern for the deteriorating human rights and security situation in eastern DRC. Additionally, the press elements touch on the ongoing discussions between the government and MONUSCO on the transition compact for MONUSCO’s exit “and called for further consultations ahead of the report expected on 20 October.” The elements also call on MONUSCO to improve its overall efficiency. On 25 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2528 which renewed the DRC sanctions regime until 1 July 2021. Also on 25 July, WHO declared the Ebola outbreak, which started in August 2018, over in the DRC. This outbreak killed more than 2,280 people.
On 25 June, Council members held an open VTC meeting, followed by a closed VTC session, on the situation in Afghanistan. Deborah Lyons, Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s 17 June report on UNAMA. Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, and Shaharzad Akbar, chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), also briefed the Council. On 30 June, Council members issued a press statement (SC/14237) in which they reaffirmed the UN’s role in promoting peace in Afghanistan and welcomed regional and international efforts to facilitate intra-Afghan negotiations. Council members welcomed the steps taken by the Afghan government and the Taliban to move towards negotiations, including the partial implementation of the commitments to release prisoners, and called for the swift release of remaining prisoners and a reduction of violence to facilitate the commencement of direct talks. They further called for inclusive and meaningful peace negotiations with the participation of women and youth, while emphasizing that “gains made in the last 19 years, including in the field of human rights, especially the rights of women, children and minorities, must be protected and built upon”. Members of the Security Council reaffirmed the importance of the Secretary-General’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire in Afghanistan and expressed concern over the recent increase in violence in the country, while strongly condemning the 27 June killing of two AIHRC employees in Kabul.
Peace and Security in Africa
On 29 June, Council members held an open VTC to discuss ongoing negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan on the operation of the nearly-completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Nile. This meeting came after a discussion under “any other business” was held on 22 June due to an Egyptian letter calling for the Council to discuss the issue under article 35 of the UN Charter.
On 30 June, the Council held its semi-annual briefing in an open VTC, on the implementation of resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo presented the latest Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 2231. The Council’s facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231, Ambassador Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), briefed on the work of the Council related to resolution 2231, and the Head of the EU delegation, Olof Skoog, briefed on the work of the JCPOA’s Joint Commission. Secretary-General António Guterres, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also participated in the meeting.