Status Update since our February Forecast
On 2 February, Security Council members were briefed on Myanmar by Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener in a closed videoconference (VTC). The briefing took place the day after the Myanmar military detained civilian leaders and declared a year-long state of emergency. Schraner updated members on the developments that led to the military takeover. She also condemned the actions of the military and appealed to members to send a strong signal in support of democracy in Myanmar. Council members issued a press statement on 4 February expressing deep concern at the declaration of the state of emergency and the arbitrary detention of members of the government. They also called for the immediate release of all those detained and called for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need, including through the reestablishment of UN relief flights. Reiterating members’ strong support to ASEAN, the press statement also welcomed the 1 February statement of the ASEAN chair on developments in Myanmar.
On 3 February, Security Council members discussed the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia under “any other business”, a standing item in closed consultations. The meeting was initiated at the request of Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed. During the meeting, Lowcock emphasised the importance of protecting civilians and allowing unhindered humanitarian access in Tigray.
On 3 February, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel (S/PRST/2021/3), proposed by penholders Ireland and Niger following Council members’ 11 January bi-annual briefing on the region. The statement welcomed presidential and legislative elections held in 2020 in West Africa and the Sahel. It called on “all political stakeholders to further advance national political dialogue and to take concrete steps to allow sustainable reconciliation”. It further called for continued support and enhanced cooperation to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including “for equal and affordable access to the vaccine as well as essential health services”.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 5 February, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict met in a closed VTC meeting for the introduction of the Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict in Myanmar by the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. A representative from the permanent mission of Myanmar participated. In the same meeting, the Working Group discussed the conclusions adopted on the Secretary-General’s report on Mali with the permanent representative of Mali.
On 10 February, the Security Council held a VTC briefing on the Secretary-General’s 12th biannual strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh) under the agenda item “Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts”. Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, and Assistant Secretary-General Michèle Coninsx, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), briefed. On 18 February, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee held a closed VTC to receive the monthly update on the activities of CTED. On 19 February, the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee met in a closed VTC on the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team’s report on its mission to Turkey.
On 11 February, the Security Council held a briefing via VTC on the situation in Ukraine. Russia requested the meeting to mark the anniversary of the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, also known as the Minsk II agreement, adopted on 12 February 2015, and to discuss its implementation. During the meeting, the Council received briefings from Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo; Heidi Grau, Special Representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office; and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Halit Çevik.
On 16 February, the Security Council held an open VTC briefing, followed by closed VTC consultations, on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Special Representative and head of UNAMI Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert briefed.
COVID-19 (Implementation of S/RES/2532)
On 17 February, the Security Council held a high-level VTC open debate on “ensuring the equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in contexts affected by conflict and insecurity” (S/2021/138; S/2021/157). UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab chaired the meeting, announcing the UK’s intention to propose a resolution calling for vaccination ceasefires. The briefers were: UN Secretary-General António Guterres; Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of UNICEF; Seth Berkley, the CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; and Jagan Chapagain, the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). On 26 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2565, which demanded a humanitarian pause to facilitate the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in areas of armed conflict.
On 22 February, the Security Council held an open VTC meeting, followed by a closed VTC session, on Haiti. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Helen La Lime briefed the Council on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 120-day report on the special political mission (S/2021/133). The Council was also briefed by Vivianne Roc, President of “PLURIELLES”, an eco-feminist youth-led organisation that addresses peace and security issues in Haiti. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse participated under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. La Lime said that the polarisation that has defined most of Moïse’s term in office has become more acute. She expressed concern over signs of shrinking civic space in the country and noted a worrying increase in food insecurity. At the time of this writing, the US, the penholder on Haiti, was working on a possible presidential statement on Haiti.
On 22 February, the Security Council discussed the situation in Somalia in an open VTC. The Council was briefed by Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan, AU Special Representative Francisco Madeira, and EU Managing Director for Africa Rita Laranjinha. Swan presented the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2021/154) amidst a state of political upheaval in Somalia, which has seen legislative and presidential elections delayed. On 26 February, the Council adopted resolution 2563, reauthorising the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for two weeks until 14 March.
Climate and Security
On Tuesday (23 February), there was a high-level VTC open debate on climate and security. Prior to the meeting, naturalist David Attenborough delivered a brief pre-recorded video message. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired the meeting. Secretary-General António Guterres and Nisreen Elsaim, the Chair of the UN Youth Advisory Group, provided briefings. Eight Council members (Estonia, France, Kenya, Niger, Norway, Tunisia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the UK) participated at the level of heads of state and of government. Attenborough said that climate change is “the biggest threat to security that modern humans have ever faced”, while Guterres called it the “defining issue of our time”. Elsaim underscored the importance of “collecting data about conflict and climate change, consulting local communities, and trusting in science” as means to address the threats posed by climate change.
Central African Republic
On 24 February, the Security Council met to discuss the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) in an open VTC. The Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix; AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smaїl Chergui; the EU’s European External Action Service Managing Director for Africa, Rita Laranjinha; and Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, the Director of URU, a CAR-based, youth-led peacebuilding civil society organisation. Lacroix briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report on the mission (S/2021/146). While the meeting was a regularly scheduled quarterly meeting on the CAR, it came during a period of heightened instability in the country.
The Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
At the time of this writing, Council members were expected to hold the monthly meeting on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” on 26 February. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland and two youth civil society representatives (one Israeli and one Palestinian) were expected to brief.