Status Update since our April Forecast
On 6 April, Security Council members held their quarterly briefing and consultations on Mali via video teleconference (VTC) to consider the Secretary-General’s latest report on Mali (S/2021/299) and the Secretary-General’s letter on a long-term roadmap setting out conditions necessary for an eventual exit strategy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (S/2021/300). Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed at the meeting.
High-level Open VTC Debate on Mine Action
On 8 April, Council president Viet Nam convened a ministerial-level debate via VTC on “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery” under the maintenance of international peace and security agenda item. Viet Nam’s Foreign Minister, Bùi Thanh Sơn, chaired the meeting. The briefers were Secretary-General António Guterres; Ambassador Stefano Toscano, the Director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining; Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, Manager of “Project Renew” (an all-women demining team) at the Norwegian People’s Aid in Viet Nam; and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh. At the meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/8), in which it called on member states and other relevant stakeholders to strengthen their efforts to implement resolution 2365 of 30 June 2017, which was the first thematic Security Council resolution on mine action.
On 9 April, there was an open Arria-formula meeting via VTC on recent developments in Myanmar. The meeting was initiated by the UK, and co-sponsored by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, and the US. The briefers were Sai Sam Kham, a civil society representative from Myanmar; Richard Horsey, Senior Adviser at International Crisis Group; and Daw Zin Mar Aung, from the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH). Myanmar’s permanent representative, Kyaw Moe Tun, also participated. On 30 April, Council members held an Informal Interactive Dialogue on Myanmar with briefings from Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener and the Second Foreign Minister of Brunei Darussalam, Erywan bin Pehin Yusof.
On 12 April, the Council held an open VTC, followed by closed VTC consultations on the Great Lakes region. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Huang Xia, as well as Ambassador Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees (Egypt), in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), briefed the Council. The Permanent Representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) also delivered a statement. Interventions centred around the implementation of the Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region; progress in regional cooperation; the impact of COVID-19; ongoing violence, especially in the eastern region of the DRC; and illicit trade of natural resources.
On 13 April, the Council held a briefing via VTC on Kosovo. Special Representative and head of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin briefed on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2021/332) and recent developments. Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Nikola Selaković and of Kosovo Donika Gërvalla-Schwartz also addressed the Council. The discussion mainly centred around developments related to the recent parliamentary elections in Kosovo and relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
Women, Peace and Security
On 14 April, the Council held its annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence in an open VTC format. The Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Denis Mukwege; Caroline Atim, director of the South Sudan Women with Disabilities Network; and Beatrix Attinger Colijn, a women’s protection adviser from MINUSCA; briefed. The Informal Experts Group on women, peace and security met on Libya on 1 April and on Mali on 29 April.
On 15 April, Council members discussed the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia during a closed VTC under “any other business”. This was the fifth meeting on the region since violence erupted in November 2020. The US had requested the meeting. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock briefed, highlighting that some 4.5 million people in Tigray needed humanitarian assistance. The level of food security remained rampant, with an estimated 91 percent of the local population in need. He further expressed alarm about the widespread use of systematic rape and warned that contrary to earlier announcements, there was no sign of Eritrean troops withdrawing. On 22 April, Council members adopted a press statement (SC/14501) expressing concern over the humanitarian situation in the Tigray region. Acknowledging efforts made by the Ethiopian government to provide humanitarian assistance, they noted that challenges still remained and called for a scaled-up humanitarian response. They also expressed deep concern about allegations of human rights violations and abuses and welcomed the joint investigation by OHCHR and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. It is the first Council product on the situation.
The UN and Regional and Subregional Organisations
On Monday (19 April), as one of the signature events of its presidency, Viet Nam convened a high-level open debate via videoconference on: “Enhancing Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Subregional Organizations in Enhancing Confidence-building and Dialogue in Conflict Prevention and Resolution”. President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc chaired the meeting. UN Secretary-General António Guterres and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed. Representatives of various regional organisations also participated in the meeting. During the meeting, a presidential statement was adopted that recognised that regional and sub-regional organisations are in a good position to understand the causes of conflict in their regions and to help prevent and resolve them (S/PRST/2021/9).
On 21 April, Council members were briefed on the situation in Western Sahara by Acting Assistant-Secretary-General for Africa Michael Kingsley-Nyinah and Special Representative and head of the UN Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO) Colin Stewart in a closed meeting. Draft press elements were not adopted, reportedly due to lack of consensus over the timing of the draft.
On 21 April, the Security Council convened for an open VTC meeting 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.
On 22 April, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2572, which extended, until 28 February 2022, the mandate of the 1540 Committee and its group of experts. The resolution is a straightforward renewal of the mandate of the 1540 Committee, as set out most recently in resolution 1977 of 20 April 2011, which renewed the committee’s mandate for ten years.
Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 22 April, the Council held its quarterly open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question”. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland and Rein Paulsen, the Director of OCHA’s Coordination Division, briefed. Wennesland said that the conduct of credible Palestinian elections—which are planned for 22 May (legislative elections) and 31 July (presidential elections)—would be “a crucial step towards renewing the legitimacy of national institutions and reestablishing Palestinian national unity”. Paulsen described how the spread of COVID-19 had worsened the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
On 24 April, Council members agreed on a press statement condemning in the strongest terms the 21 April terrorist attack that took place in Quetta, Pakistan. On 20 April, the 1267/1989/2253 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee met in closed VTC format to receive the quarterly briefing from its Monitoring Team.
High-level Open VTC Debate on Protection of Critical Infrastructure
On 27 April, Council president Viet Nam convened an open debate via VTC on “Critical Infrastructure: The Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population” under the protection of civilians agenda item. Viet Nam’s Foreign Minister, Bùi Thanh Sơn, chaired the meeting. The briefers were Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, ICRC President Peter Maurer, and Chair of the International Peace Institute Board of Directors Kevin Rudd. Following the meeting, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2573. The resolution highlights the humanitarian impact of the destruction of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.