Status Update since our September Forecast
On 3 September, Council members held an open VTC meeting on the situation in Afghanistan (S/2020/891). Deborah Lyons, Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMA, issued on 18 August. The Council was also briefed by Saad Mohseni, Chief Executive of MOBY GROUP, which includes Afghanistan’s largest media company. On 12 September, significant progress was made in the Afghan peace process, as the negotiation teams of the Afghan government and the Taliban met in Doha, Qatar, for the first round of intra-Afghan talks, which are aimed at achieving a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan. On 15 September, the Security Council adopted resolution 2543 which renewed the mandate of UNAMA for another year, until 17 September 2021. On 18 September, in a press statement, Council members welcomed the start of the negotiations in Doha (SC/14310).
On 4 September, there was an Arria-formula meeting on human rights in Belarus held via VTC. The meeting was co-organised by Council members Estonia, the UK and the US and co-sponsored by Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Urmas Reinsalu chaired the meeting. Briefings were delivered by Anaïs Marin, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus; Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarusian opposition presidential candidate; Valiantsin Stefanovic, Vice-Chairman of Viasna, a Minsk-based human rights NGO; and Volha Siakhovich, a law expert for the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
Cooperation between the UN and Regional Organisations: the Role of the International Organization of La Francophonie
On 8 September, Council president Niger held an open VTC meeting (S/2020/893) on the relationship between the UN and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the organisation’s founding in Niamey, Niger. The meeting’s briefers were the Secretary-General of the OIF, Louise Mushikiwabo; Bintou Keita, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa; and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the Foreign Minister of Armenia, in his capacity as the Chair of the Ministerial Conference of la Francophonie. This was the first Council meeting focused on cooperation with the OIF. Participants in the meeting spoke about the importance of early warning and conflict prevention mechanisms, promotion of sustainable development, the need to include women and young people in peace processes, the OIF’s important electoral observation missions, and more. Speakers particularly emphasised the benefits of cooperation and partnerships between the OIF and other organisations, such as regional groups and the UN. Several speakers welcomed the fact that the virtual meeting was held with simultaneous translation, stressing that multilingualism is a crucial part of the UN’s working methods.
Youth, Peace and Security
On 9 September, an Arria-formula meeting on the implementation of Security Council resolutions on youth, peace and security by UN peace operations was held via VTC. It was co-organised by the Dominican Republic, France, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa and the US. The briefers at the meeting were Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs; Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations; Mauricio Artiñano, a representative from the UN Verification Mission in Colombia; Iana Minochkina, youth adviser and coordinator of the youth, peace and security program in UNMIK; Joao Scarpelini, former UN youth adviser in Somalia; Andjela Mirković, member of the United Youth Task Force Network of Young Kosovo Peacebuilders; and Diellza Geci, co-founder of the Kosovo Youth Fest. At the meeting, participants discussed best practices and lessons learned regarding the implementation of resolutions 2250 (2015), 2419 (2018) and 2535 (2020) by peacekeeping operations and special political missions.
On 9 September, Security Council members held an open VTC on the implementation of resolution 2532, which demanded a cessation of hostilities in all situations on the Council’s agenda to combat the COVID-19 pandemic (S/2020/897). Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed. This was followed by a 24 September VTC summit-level debate on “global governance after COVID-19”. Secretary-General António Guterres and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat briefed at the session, which was chaired by Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, and organised during the General Assembly high-level week. The concept note for the meeting (S/2020/883) described the “weaknesses” exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic in dealing with the peace and security threats caused by the crisis, and stated that the purpose of the summit was “to discuss the need for global governance reform to strengthen convergence towards global sustainable peace and security”.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 10 September, the Security Council convened for an in-person open debate on “Children and Armed Conflict: Attacks against Schools as a Grave Violation of Children’s Rights”, which focused on the Sahel region (S/PV.8756). The Council was briefed by Virginia Gamba, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF; and Marika Tsolakis, a representative from the Global Coalition for the Protection of Education from Attack. Council members were also briefed by two young civil society briefers from Niger: Rimana Mayaki, the president of the Children’s Parliament of Niger, and Hadiza (who was identified only by her first name for safety reasons), a member of an organisation that promotes education in conflict zones. At the meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement on attacks against schools, which was co-authored by Niger and Belgium (S/PRST/2020/8). The presidential statement reaffirmed the right to education and its contribution to peace and security while condemning the significant increase in attacks against schools in recent years.
On 11 September, the Council discussed Myanmar during a closed VTC. Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener, High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific briefed on a range of issues including the need to de-escalate the conflict, humanitarian access, the Panglong peace process, accountability, the Rakhine Advisory Commission recommendations, the tripartite memorandum of understanding between the Myanmar government, UNDP and UNHCR, and the upcoming November elections. While members showed some unity over concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for conflict de-escalation, it seems they were divided along the usual lines regarding issues such as accountability, international humanitarian law and humanitarian access.
On 14 September, the Security Council held its annual open debate on peacekeeping in accordance with resolution 2378, which requests the Secretary-General to provide a comprehensive annual briefing on “reform of United Nations peacekeeping” every 12 months and to update the Council on the “continuous efforts made in filling the existing gaps in terms of force generation and capabilities” (S/2020/911). Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed the Council on progress made in advancing the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative.
On 14 September, the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida and 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committees held the annual joint open briefing for UN members. On 16 September, the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee held a closed VTC for the presentation of a report by the Ombudsperson on a delisting request.
On 16 September, Council members held an open VTC, followed by a closed VTC, to discuss UNMISS (S/2020/914). The briefers were Nyachangkuouth Ramban Tai, representing the civil society organisation Assistance Mission for Africa, and Special Representative and head of UNMISS David J. Shearer. Ramban Tai spoke about intercommunal violence in South Sudan and emphasised the Security Council’s protection of civilians role. Shearer described delays in security sector reform and in reconstituting the Transitional National Legislative Assembly in South Sudan.
Conflict-Induced Food Insecurity
On 17 September, Security Council members held an open VTC on the protection of civilians from conflict-induced hunger (S/2020/930). Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley and the Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, Qu Dongyu, briefed. Earlier in the month, on 4 September, Lowcock sent Council members a white paper warning about worsening food insecurity, including the risk of famine, as a result of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen. The white paper had been sent in accordance with resolution 2417 of May 2018 that requests the Secretary-General to report swiftly to the Council when there arises “the risk of conflict-induced famine and widespread food insecurity”.
The Humanitarian Effects of Environmental Degradation of Peace and Security
On 17 September, Security Council members held a ministerial-level open debate in VTC format on the humanitarian effects of environmental degradation and peace and security (S/2020/929). A concept note was circulated in advance of the meeting (S/2020/882). Kalla Ankourao, Niger’s Foreign Minister, chaired. The focus of the meeting was on the Sahel region and the Lake Chad Basin, although some participants broadened the geographical scope of the discussion. ICRC President Peter Maurer, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Ibrahim Thiaw, and UNCCD Earth Ambassador, artist and activist Inna Modja briefed. Maurer spoke about his recent visit to Niger and Burkina Faso, and the tensions precipitated by severe weather events. Thiaw spoke of violence precipitated in the Sahel region over dwindling access to land and water resources. Modja described efforts to plant vegetation and trees across the Sahel to enhance stability in the region.
On 18 September, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2544 renewing the mandate of UNITAD until 18 September 2021 (S/2020/920). Resolution 2544 retains UNITAD’s mandate. It also aligns the term of the Special Adviser and head of UNITAD with the term of UNITAD’s mandate, and renews the Special Adviser’s term until 18 September 202. In a 16 September letter to the Council president, the Iraqi foreign minister had requested the renewal of UNITAD’s mandate for one year.
On 25 September, the Council held an in-person briefing on Sudan in the ECOSOC chamber (S/PV.8761). Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed on UNITAMS and UNAMID, respectively. The briefing followed the 3 June adoption of resolutions 2524 and 2525. Resolution 2524 established UNITAMS for an initial period of 12 months, while resolution 2525 extended UNAMID’s mandate until 31 December. Among other issues, the Council discussed the Secretary-General’s 17 September report, which suggested a structure and geographical deployment for UNITAMS.
On 29 September, Council members met under “any other business” on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and the UK requested the meeting, considering the recent escalation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed on recent developments. Following the meeting, Council members issued press elements in which they voiced support for the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate end to the fighting and a return to negotiations. They also expressed support for the central role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, while urging the sides to work closely with them to resume dialogue without preconditions.