Status Update since our January Forecast
Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Challenges of Maintaining Peace and Security in Fragile Contexts
On 6 January, the Council held a high-level open videoconference (VTC) debate on the challenges faced by countries in fragile contexts, in particular on the African continent (S/2021/24). Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed chaired the meeting. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Chair of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf briefed. Tunisia circulated a concept note ahead of the debate (S/2020/1296).
West Africa and the Sahel
On 11 January, Security Council members held a VTC briefing with the Special Representative and head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who presented the Secretary-General’s 24 December 2020 report on West Africa and the Sahel. At the time of writing, Council members were still negotiating a draft presidential statement on the region proposed by Ireland and Niger.
On 13 January, Security Council members held a VTC briefing on Mali, with Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Mahamat Saleh Annadif. Annadif presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali dated 28 December 2020 (S/2020/1281). In addition to the report, members considered the Secretary-General’s bi-annual letter on MINUSMA operations, including security challenges, implementation of the mission’s adaptation plan, mission performance, and transition planning (S/2020/1282). Closed VTC consultations followed the public session. On 14 January, Security Council members issued a press statement that condemned in the strongest terms the attack perpetrated on 13 January 2021 against MINUSMA north of the town of Bambara-Maoudé, in the Timbuktu region, which resulted in four peacekeepers from Côte d’Ivoire killed and five others injured (SC/14411). In an 18 January press statement, Council members also condemned in the strongest terms the 15 January attack near Tessalit in Kidal region, which resulted in the death of one peacekeeper from Egypt, and seriously injured another (SC/14414).
Cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States
On 18 January, the Council held a meeting on cooperation between the UN and the League of Arab States (LAS) at the initiative of Tunisia, Council president in January. Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo and Secretary-General of the LAS Ahmed Aboul Gheit briefed the Council on areas of cooperation between the two organisations.
On 19 January, the Council held VTC consultations on the situation in Cyprus. Special Representative and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) Elizabeth Spehar briefed the Council on the recent developments and key findings from two Secretary-General’s reports on UNFICYP: one was the semi-annual report on the mission (S/2021/4) and the second focused specifically on UNFICYP’s good offices (S/2021/5). On 29 January, Council president Tunisia read the results of the written voting procedure for resolution 2561, which was adopted unanimously and extended the mandate of UNFICYP for another six months.
On 21 January, the Security Council convened for an open VTC meeting, followed by a closed VTC session, on Colombia. 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/2020/1301). On 28 January, Council members issued a press statement, which expressed grave concern over the targeting and killing of former combatants, social leaders, and indigenous, Afro-Colombian and other communities. They also welcomed the Colombian government’s recent request for the expansion of the Verification Mission’s mandate to verify implementation of the sentences of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and undertook to give this request prompt consideration.
On 22 January, there was an Arria-formula meeting, held via videoconference, on media freedom in Belarus. The meeting was organised by Council members Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US, and co-sponsored by non-Council members Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Reinsalu, chaired the meeting. The keynote speech was delivered by Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition presidential candidate, delivered introductory remarks. Briefers included Pavel Latushko, a member of the opposition’s Coordination Council Presidium and the Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management; Stanislav Ivashkevich, an investigative journalist and producer at Belsat TV; and Gareth Browne, a journalist for The Times (UK).
The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 26 January, the quarterly open debate on “The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” was held in VTC format. Tor Wennesland, who replaced Nickolay Mladenov as the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process in December 2020, gave his first briefing to the Council in his new role. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, also briefed.
UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA)
On 27 January, Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) Natalia Gherman briefed Council members in a closed VTC meeting on the UNRCCA’s activities. She updated Council members on the activities of the centre since her last briefing in July. In this regard, she apparently discussed the centre’s efforts to empower women and youth in the region, UNRCCA’s support for transboundary water management projects, and its support for the implementation of the UN’s anti-terrorism strategy.
On 28 January, the Council received a briefing by the Acting Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), Stephanie Williams, in an open VTC briefing followed by closed VTC consultations. Due to lack of consensus in the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee on his statement, the new chair of the committee, Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti (India), was unable to brief the Council on Libya sanctions.
Arria-Formula Meeting on Repatriation of Children from Conflict Zones
On 29 January, Security Council members held an Arria-formula meeting on “Children and Armed Conflict, Repatriation of Children from Conflict Zones: From Camps to Homes. Call for Action”. The meeting was co-organised by the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The briefers were Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism; Anna Kuznetsova, Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights of the Russian Federation; and Magzhan Ilyassov, Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN.