Status Update since our October Forecast
UNDOF (Golan Heights)
On 2 October, Council members were briefed in consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the latest 90-day report by the Secretary-General on UNDOF and the most recent developments.
Arria-formula Meeting on Access to Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Contexts
On 2 October, an Arria-formula meeting on: “Access to education in conflict and post conflict contexts: Role of digital technology and connectivity” was held via VTC. The meeting was co-hosted by Belgium, China, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and South Africa. The briefers at the meeting were Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director; Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Assistant Secretary-General, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union; Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, the CEO of the National Agency for Information Society of Niger; and Paula Ingabire, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology and Innovation of Rwanda.
On 5 October, the Council held an open VTC meeting on BINUH (S/2020/979), followed by a closed VTC session. Special Representative and head of BINUH Helen La Lime underlined the increased unrest in the country, threats posed to the security of the state due to the activity of violent gangs, the widespread perception of impunity, and an economic recovery negatively affected by the impact of COVID-19. On 15 October, the Council renewed the BINUH mandate until 15 October 2021 through resolution 2547 (S/PV.8768). The resolution did not make significant changes to the core mandate of the mission, its tasks, or the reporting requirements set out in resolution 2476 of 25 June 2019. Two member states abstained: China and Russia.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 6 October, the Council held open (S/2020/987) and closed VTCs on MONUSCO. Special Representative Leila Zerrougui briefed the Council. She called on political actors to overcome their differences and to compromise for the good of DRC. She also praised MONUSCO’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chair of the 1533 DRC Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Abdou Abarry (Niger), also delivered his annual briefing to the Council. On 26 October, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the Council presenting the Joint Strategy for MONUSCO’s potential drawdown.
On 8 October, the Council held its quarterly briefing on Mali with Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative and head of MINUSMA (S/PV.8765). On 15 October, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2020/10), welcoming the new transitional arrangements in Mali following the 18 August coup d’état, and outlining expectations of the way forward (S/PV.8769). The Council underlined that the transition should lead to constitutional order and elections in Mali within 18 months; reiterated the strategic importance of the full, effective and inclusive implementation of the 2015 peace agreement; and called on the Malian authorities to take expedited action to protect civilians, reduce intercommunal violence and restore peaceful relations between communities in central Mali. A Council press statement on 16 October condemned in the strongest terms the 15 October attack against MINUSMA in Kidal region through an explosive device, which killed one peacekeeper from Egypt and seriously injured one other, as well as the attack against a MINUSMA integrated camp in Timbuktu, which injured at least one peacekeeper from Burkina Faso (SC/14330).
On 9 October, the Council held in-person consultations on Cyprus. Special Representative and head of UNFICYP Elizabeth Spehar briefed Council members via VTC. The Republic of Cyprus requested the meeting over recent actions by the Turkish Cypriot authorities in the city of Varosha that it believes run counter to relevant Security Council resolutions on the issue. The Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2020/9) in which it reaffirmed the status of Varosha as set out in previous Council resolutions (S/PV.8766). It also called on the sides in Cyprus and the guarantor powers to engage in dialogue.
Arria-formula Meeting on Mediation
On 9 October, Council members held an Arria-formula meeting on mediation, via videoconference. Belgium, Germany, Viet Nam and non-Council member Switzerland jointly hosted the meeting. The agenda was based on a discussion paper entitled “Mandating peace: Enhancing the mediation sensitivity and effectiveness of the UN Security Council”, which was authored by Laurie Nathan, Professor of the Practice of Mediation at the University of Notre Dame, and commissioned by the German Federal Foreign Office. Professor Nathan presented the key findings of his report. Nicholas Haysom, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sudan; Natalia Gherman, the Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA); and Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative and head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), provided comments on the report and their perspectives on mediation more broadly.
On 9 October, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee held an open VTC briefing on “Emerging trends in violent extremism conducive to terrorism and addressing violent extremism through a human rights-based approach”, and on 15 October, it held a closed VTC meeting on maritime security. On 27 October, the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee held a closed VTC meeting to receive the quarterly oral briefing by the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team.
Great Lakes Region
On 13 October Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Huang Xia provided his bi-annual briefing to the Council on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region and other recent developments in the region (S/PV.8767). Xia announced that he had submitted a new strategy focused on preventive diplomacy, security cooperation and development to the Secretary-General on 12 October. Council members had been anxiously awaiting the strategy, which is expected to guide the work of Xia’s office for the next decade. Xia struck a positive tone and described the region as broadly stable.
On 14 October, Council members met in a closed VTC session to hear briefings from Special Representative and head of MINURSO Colin Stewart and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita. After that, members entered into negotiations to renew the mandate of MINURSO. On 30 October, the Council adopted resolution 2548 through a written voting procedure to renew MINURSO for an additional year. Thirteen voted in favour, and there were two abstentions.
On 14 October, the Security Council convened for an open briefing on Colombia via VTC (S/2020/1023). Special Representative and head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia Carlos Ruiz Massieu briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on the mission (S/2020/943). On 19 October, Council members issued a press statement which strongly condemned the killings—including those of children and young people—that have occurred in Colombia in recent months (SC/14332). They further urged the National Commission on Security Guarantees to finalise and implement a public policy to dismantle illegal armed groups.
On 19 October, Security Council members held in-person consultations on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. France, Russia, and the US called for the meeting amid the escalation of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed members on the latest developments. Leading up the meeting and for several days thereafter, members engaged in negotiations on a presidential statement on Nagorno-Karabakh. Given the diverging views among some members on the language in the draft, the penholders (France, Russia and the US) dropped the proposal and the statement was not adopted.
On 20 October, the Security Council held a ministerial-level debate via VTC under the agenda item “Maintenance of international peace and security” on: “Comprehensive review of the situation in the Persian Gulf region” (S/2020/1037). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov chaired the meeting. Secretary-General António Guterres; Robert Malley, the President and CEO of International Crisis Group; and Vitaly Naumkin, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, briefed the Council. The meeting built on a vision for collective security in the Persian Gulf that Russia shared with members of the Security Council and the wider UN membership through a letter to the Secretary-General in July 2019 (S/2019/604). During the meeting members addressed cross-cutting issues and common security challenges such as the threats posed by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. They also discussed ways to promote cooperation in the Persian Gulf area and to contribute more effectively to regional peace and security.
On 21 October, the Council held its second regular briefing this year on the situation in Kosovo (S/2020/1040). Special Representative and head of UNMIK Zahir Tanin briefed the Council on recent developments and the latest report by the Secretary-General. In his briefing, Tanin emphasised that recent developments in the EU–facilitated dialogue and talks in Washington demonstrate the potential for progress on outstanding issues. On the issue of rule of law, he stressed the importance of cooperation with the Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office. Ministers for foreign affairs Ivica Dačić (Serbia) and Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla (Kosovo) addressed the Council as well.
Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 26 October, the Council held the quarterly open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” via VTC. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov briefed. He expressed concern about the decision by Israel to approve the construction of nearly 5,000 housing units in the West Bank. Mladenov also appealed to the Palestinian Authority to resume security and financial cooperation with Israel, noting that the lack of cooperation had worsened the threat of COVID-19 in the area.
On 27 October, members of the Security Council issued a press statement strongly condemning the 24 October attack that took place near the Kawsar e Danish educational centre in Kabul (SC/14338). The attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), killed 24 people—most of whom were young students—and injured more than 50 civilians. Council members expressed concern over the high levels of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and called for sustained efforts to reduce violence.
On 28 October, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed the Council on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2020/1032) on the implementation of resolution 1559 in a closed VTC meeting. On 28 October, the Secretary-General issued an implementation plan for the recommendations contained in his 1 June assessment report on the continued relevance of UNIFIL’s resources, in accordance with the Council’s request in resolution 2539.
Women, Peace and Security
On 29 October, the Security Council held its annual open debate on women, peace and security via VTC. Secretary-General António Guterres gave the opening statement. The following speakers briefed: the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Danai Gurira; Nataliia Emelianova, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Adviser in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei; and Zarqa Yaftali, head of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation in Afghanistan. On 30 October, the Council failed to adopt a resolution on women, peace and security, initiated by Russia. The draft received five votes in favour (China, Indonesia, Russia, South Africa and Viet Nam), while the remaining Council members abstained.