Status Update since our August Forecast
On 4 August, Security Council members discussed the situation in Georgia under “any other business”. The meeting, which marked the 13th anniversary of the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, was requested by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas Miroslav Jenča briefed. Following the meeting, the members that requested the meeting and incoming Council member Albania delivered a joint statement at the press stakeout reaffirming their support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and condemning Russia’s military presence in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia.
On 6 August, the Council members discussed a 29 July attack on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman under “any other business”. The meeting was requested by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. There was no briefer during the meeting.
On 9 August, the Council held a videoconference (VTC) open debate on maritime security (S/2021/722). The briefers were Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet; Ghada Fathi Waly, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’apala, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), speaking on behalf of President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo in his capacity as chairperson of the AU. The meeting provided an opportunity for Council members to discuss possible responses to the interconnected security, economic and environmental threats posed by maritime crimes such as piracy and armed robbery, human and drug trafficking, and transnational organised crime at sea.
Following the meeting, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/15) reaffirming that international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the oceans. The presidential statement also encourages member states to continue to build and strengthen their capacities to enhance maritime security.
Council members held consultations on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on 10 August. Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions Alexandre Zouev briefed Council members. On 30 August, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2591, which extended the mandate of UNIFIL for another year until 31 August 2022.
On 11 August, Council members held a virtual Arria-formula meeting on: “Humanitarian action: overcoming challenges in situations of armed conflict and counter-terrorism operations”. Kenya organised the meeting. The briefers were Raffi Gregorian, Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and Director of the UNOCT; Reena Ghelani, Director of OCHA’s Operations and Advocacy Division; Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.
On 12 August, the Security Council met to discuss the situation in Somalia in a briefing followed by consultations (S/PV.8833). Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) James Swan and Special Representative of the AU Chairperson and head of the AU Assistance Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Francisco Madeira briefed. The chairperson of the Somalia National Women Organization, Batulo Sheikh Ahmed Gaballe, also briefed. The meeting focused on the effort to complete parliamentary and presidential elections; the dire humanitarian situation; the future of AMISOM and the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan to hand over security responsibilities to national forces; and the continued threat posed by Al-Shabaab. On 30 August, the Council adopted resolution 2592, renewing the UNSOM mandate until 31 May 2022.
On 17 August, the Security Council discussed the situation in Myanmar in a private meeting (S/PV.8835). Special Envoy for Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener briefed on the latest political developments. Dato Erywan bin Pehin Yusof—the Second Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam, the current Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and ASEAN’s Special Envoy for Myanmar—updated members on the timeline for the implementation of ASEAN’s five-point consensus. Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham briefed on the humanitarian situation in the country and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the meeting, several members expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and called for a humanitarian pause to facilitate access to healthcare, vaccines and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
West Africa and the Sahel
On 17 August, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2021/16) following up on its 8 July briefing on West Africa and the Sahel and the activities of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) (S/PV.8836). The statement expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in some countries in the region; the growth of terrorism in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, as well as in the wider West African region; and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The presidential statement recognised the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters on the security and stability of West Africa and the Sahel region.
On 18 August, the Security Council adopted resolution 2589 (S/PV.8837), which focused on fighting crimes against UN peacekeepers. On the same day, the Council held a ministerial-level debate on “Protecting the Protectors: Technology and Peacekeeping” (S/PV.8838). Secretary-General António Guterres briefed the Council on the new strategy for the digital transformation of UN peacekeeping and the partnership for technology in peacekeeping. A presidential statement on technology and peacekeeping (S/PRST/2021/17) was adopted as an outcome of the debate.
On 19 August, the Council held a ministerial-level briefing (S/PV.8839) on the Secretary-General’s 13th biannual strategic-level report on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh) (S/2021/682). India’s Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, chaired the meeting. The briefers were Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT); Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) Michèle Coninsx; and Davood Moradian, the Director-General of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies.
On 23 August, following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 14 August and tropical storm “Grace” on 16 and 17 August, Council members discussed the humanitarian situation in Haiti under “any other business”. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Helen La Lime and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed on the situation on the ground and the response efforts underway. Council members expressed their condolences to the Haitian people and reiterated their commitment to the country.
DPRK (North Korea)
On 25 August, Acting Chair of the 1718 Committee Ambassador Trine Heimerback (Norway) briefed Council members on the 90-day report regarding the committee’s work in closed consultations.
On 26 August, the Security Council convened in person for an open briefing and closed consultations on the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia (S/PV.8843). Secretary-General António Guterres briefed the Council during the open session, while Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed during the closed consultations. In underscoring a point he had made at his 19 August press stakeout, Guterres stressed that all parties need to recognise that “there is no military solution” to the conflict. He noted that Tigray remains “largely under a de-facto humanitarian blockade” and expressed concern over the large-scale displacement caused by the conflict. Guterres also condemned “in the strongest possible terms” conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and expressed concern over violations and abuses against civilians “reportedly perpetrated by all parties to the conflict”. Guterres called on all parties to “immediately end hostilities without preconditions and seize that opportunity to negotiate a lasting ceasefire”. Guterres further stated that “foreign forces should leave the country” and that unrestricted humanitarian access must be granted to all areas in need. The meeting, which was held under the “Peace and Security in Africa” agenda item, was requested by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. A representative of Ethiopia participated in the open briefing.
On 30 August, the Security Council adopted resolution 2590, renewing the Mali sanctions measures—an asset freeze and travel ban—until 31 August 2022, and the mandate of the Mali Panel of Experts until 30 September 2022.
Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 30 August, the Security Council convened for an open briefing followed by closed consultations on: “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” (S/PV.8847). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland briefed the Council.