Status Update since our March Forecast
On 3 March, the Security Council was briefed via videoconference (VTC) by David Shearer, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNMISS, on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report (S/2021/172). He urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to build on gains made during its first year in office and accelerate implementation of the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement or risk a return to widespread violence (S/2021/219). Jackline Nasiwa, the Founder and National Director of the Centre for Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice, also briefed the Council. The briefing was followed by VTC consultations.
On 12 March, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2567, renewing the mandate of UNMISS until 15 March 2022. The resolution maintains the overall force levels at their mandated ceilings of 17,000 troops and 2,101 police personnel. The four core pillars of the mandate were retained, namely protecting civilians, creating the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, supporting the peace process, and monitoring and investigating human rights.
On 4 March, Security Council members discussed the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia during a closed VTC under “any other business”. Ireland—supported by Estonia, France, Norway, the UK, and the US—requested the meeting. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed. He told members that some 4.5 million people in Tigray were in need of humanitarian assistance, with food security a major concern. He further noted that access to water, sanitation, and health services were disrupted. Lowcock called for scaled–up humanitarian assistance and for an independent needs assessment.
On 9 March, the Security Council received a VTC briefing, followed by VTC consultations, on the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) (S/2021/246). Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes briefed on the Secretary-General’s 90-day report on UNITAMS (S/2021/199), while Under–Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare briefed on the drawdown of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Kholood Khair, Managing Partner of Insight Strategy Partners, also briefed.
On 25 March, the chair of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), provided the quarterly briefing on the Committee’s work via VTC.
On 10 March, the Council was briefed via VTC by Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, and current Chairperson-in-Office for the Organization for Security and Co–operation in Europe (OSCE). During the briefing, Linde emphasised the crucial need for the UN and the OSCE to cooperate closely in Europe, noting that one of her main priorities is to “seek continued engagement at the highest levels towards sustainable solutions to the crises and conflicts in the [European] region, in line with international law and with full respect for the OSCE principles and commitments”.
On 5 March, Council members were briefed on developments in Myanmar by Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener in a closed VTC. The Special Envoy updated Council members on the recent lethal attacks by the military on protestors. She called on the Council to take urgent action and said that Council unity and robust action were crucial to stopping the violence.
On 10 March, the Council adopted a presidential statement on Myanmar (S/PRST/2021/5). The presidential statement expressed the Council’s deep concern at the developments since the military’s declaration of a state of emergency on 1 February and expressed strong support for the democratic process. It also strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protestors— including against women, youth and children—and called for the release of those arbitrarily detained.
On 31 March, Council members were briefed on developments in Myanmar by Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener in a closed videoconference (VTC). At time of writing, press elements were expected to be issued following the meeting.
Conflict and Food Security
On 11 March, Security Council members held an open debate via VTC on conflict and food security (S/2021/250). This was the signature event of the US Council presidency, and a concept note was prepared for the meeting (S/2021/217). Secretary-General António Guterres, Executive Director of the World Food Programme David Beasley, and Executive Director of Oxfam International Gabriela Bucher briefed. In connection with the event, members discussed having a presidential statement, but they were unable to gain consensus on the text. A key impediment to agreement was over establishing a reporting cycle by the Secretary-General on the issue; Russia in particular objected to such a reporting cycle.
Central African Republic
On 12 March, with a vote of 14 in favour and one abstention, the Council adopted resolution 2566, which raised the troop ceiling of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) by 2,750 and the police component by 940. The decision to provide the mission with the troop and police reinforcements comes during a period of heightened instability in the CAR, which has seen a rash of violence led by a newly-formed coalition of armed groups, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), which has challenged the authority of the current government.
On 12 March, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2568, reauthorising the presence of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for ten months until 31 December. While authorising AMISOM’s core mandated tasks and troop ceiling, the resolution attached a timeline to milestones that need to be met before the end of the year in order to inform discussion on the future of the mission.
At the time of writing, Council members were expected to discuss the delays in the electoral process in Somalia under “any other business” on 31 March. Press elements were anticipated
On 12 March, Council members issued a press statement (SC/14464) in which they strongly condemned the targeted attacks against civilians in Afghanistan.
On 23 March, the Security Council held its quarterly meeting on Afghanistan via VTC (S/2021/291). Deborah Lyons, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), briefed on the Secretary-General’s 12 March UNAMA report (S/2021/252). Shaharzad Akbar, the chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), also briefed the Council.
On 12 March, there was a high-level VTC Arria-formula meeting on Crimea. The meeting was co-organised by Council members Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. It was also co-sponsored by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eva-Maria Liimets, chaired the meeting. Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York, delivered the keynote speech. Phillip Karber, President of the Potomac Foundation, and Maria Tomak, Coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, provided briefings. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, participated in the meeting.
On 17 March, Russia hosted an Arria-formula meeting via VTC on the situation in Crimea. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia (Russia) provided introductory and closing remarks at the meeting. Briefings were provided by: Chingiz Yaqubov, the Chancellor of the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogic University (CEPU); CEPU students; Anastasia Gridchina, the Head of the Ukrainian Community of Crimea; Roman Chegrinets, the Head of the Crimean regional national-cultural autonomy, “Belarusians of Crimea”; Ludmila Radeva, Vice-Chair of the regional Bulgarian national-cultural autonomy of Crimea, “Paisius of Helindar”; and Vera Pautova, the Head of the Educational Center for Children and Youth Creativity. According to the concept note prepared by Russia, the meeting’s objective was to provide comprehensive information on the situation in Crimea from current residents of the region.
On 18 March, Council members heard a briefing on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2021/240) on the implementation of resolution 1701 in a closed VTC meeting. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon Najat Rochdi briefed.
On 18 March, the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee met in a closed VTC to hear the monthly update from its Executive Directorate. On 30 March, Council members agreed on a press statement condemning in the strongest terms the 28 March suicide attack against Makassar Church in Makassar, Indonesia.
Freedom of Religion and Belief
On 19 March, a virtual Arria-formula meeting was held on “Religion, Belief and Conflict: the protection of members of religious and belief groups in conflict and religious actors in conflict resolution”. Lord Ahmed, UK Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, chaired the meeting. The briefers were: Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and a member of the Secretary-General’s High-level Advisory Board on Mediation; Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace; Ekhlas Bajoo, a member of the Yazidi community; and Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, Special Adviser and Head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) (and Chief Prosecutor-designate of the International Criminal Court).
On 24 March, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on Haiti (S/PRST/2021/7). It was the first presidential statement on Haiti since October 2017. The statement called for legislative and presidential elections to be held, for increased accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses, and for the Haitian government to end impunity in this regard. The statement also emphasised the need for the government to address the deteriorating security situation and noted with concern the humanitarian situation in the country.
UN Disengagement Observer Force (Golan Heights)
On 25 March, Council members were briefed in consultations by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix on the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day UNDOF report and the most recent developments.
The Threat of Improvised Explosive Devices against Peace Operations
On 26 March, an Arria-formula meeting was held on: “Protecting the Peacekeeper: Suppressing the Deployment of Improvised Explosive Devices against Peace Operations”. The meeting was co-hosted by Kenya, China, Estonia, France, Ireland, Mexico, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Viet Nam. In addition, Belgium, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal co-sponsored the meeting. Ambassador Martin Kimani of Kenya chaired the meeting. The briefers were: Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix; Lieutenant General Dennis Gyllensporre, the Force Commander of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA); Brigadier General Charles L Mwazighe of the International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC); and Ilene Cohn, the Deputy Director and Officer-in-Charge of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
On 26 March, the Council adopted resolution 2569, which extended until 30 April 2022 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1718 Sanctions Committee.
On 30 March, Council members discussed recent missile tests by the DPRK under “any other business”. Estonia, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and France initiated the meeting.
1540 Committee (Non-proliferation)
On 30 March, Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente Ramírez (Mexico) briefed the Council on the work of the Committee, which deals with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Children and Armed Conflict
On 31 March, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict held a closed VTC meeting to discuss the South Sudan conclusions and heard a presentation from UNICEF on the Global Horizontal Note.