Status Update since our January Forecast
West Africa and the Sahel
On 10 January, the Council held an open briefing, followed by closed consultations, on West Africa and the Sahel (S/PV.9238). The briefers were the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Officer-in-Charge of the UN Office of West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Giovanie Biha, and the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Omar Alieu Touray. Biha presented the Secretary-General’s 3 January report on West Africa and the Sahel (S/2022/1019). At the time of writing, Council members were negotiating a presidential statement on the region proposed by Ghana and Switzerland. The Council was also expected to renew the mandate of UNOWAS, through an exchange of letters with the Secretary-General, by 31 January.
On 11 January, the Security Council held an open briefing (S/PV.9240), followed by closed consultations, 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/2022/1004). The Council was also briefed by Armando Wouriyu Valbuena, a representative of the Special High-Level Instance for Ethnic Groups (IEANPE). The IEANPE was created by the 2016 Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace between the government of Colombia and the former rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) to monitor the implementation of provisions related to the agreement’s ethnic chapter. Vice President Francia Márquez of Colombia represented her country at the meeting.
At the same meeting, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2673, expanding the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia to monitor the implementation of the chapter on comprehensive rural reform and the ethnic chapter of the 2016 agreement.
On 13 January, Council members issued a press statement on Colombia (SC/15175). In it, they welcomed the renewed momentum for making progress on the implementation of the peace agreement, including advancements made on such issues as rural reform. Members reiterated that tackling violence remains vital for the consolidation of peace in Colombia, adding that the adoption and implementation of a public policy for dismantling criminal organisations and their support networks would be a significant step towards violence reduction.
Rule of Law
On 12 January, the Council held a ministerial-level open debate on the “Promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security: the rule of law among nations” (S/PV.9241). Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa chaired the meeting, which was one of the signature events of Japan’s presidency. The briefers were Secretary-General António Guterres; President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Joan E. Donoghue (via videoconference); and Dapo Akande, professor of public international law at Oxford University. 60 member states participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. The head of the EU delegation to the UN, Ambassador Olof Skoog, and Ambassador Riyad Mansour of the Observer State of Palestine also took part in the meeting.
On 13 January, the Council held a private meeting on Afghanistan. Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) requested the meeting, citing the Taliban’s recent edict banning women from working for NGOs in the country. The briefers were Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva, Executive Director of UNICEF Catherine Russell, and President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) David Miliband.
Council members also issued a press statement regarding a terrorist attack in Afghanistan on 12 January (SC/15173).
On 27 January, the Council convened for closed consultations on Afghanistan. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed briefed regarding her recent visit to Afghanistan. The meeting was requested by France, Japan, and the UAE.
The Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 5 January, the Security Council convened for an open briefing on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/PV.9236). The meeting was requested by China, France, Malta and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following the 3 January visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site by Israeli National Security Minister and leader of the far-right Otzmah Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir. Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari briefed. He said that “[w]hile the visit was not accompanied or followed by violence, it is seen as particularly inflammatory given Mr. Ben-Gvir’s past advocacy for changes to the status quo”. (Under an agreement reached after the 1967 Six-Day War, only Muslims are allowed to pray at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount site.)
On 18 January, the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/PV.9246). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland briefed. He said that, against a backdrop of increased political tension and a stalled peace process, “[t]he violent trends that dominated the last months of 2022 continue to take a devastating human toll”. Among other issues, Wennesland stressed the need for courageous political leadership to generate momentum to transform the current dynamics and urged “both sides [to] refrain from provocations and unilateral steps—including at the Holy Sites in Jerusalem—that undermine stability and the ability to achieve a negotiated peace”.
On 27 January, Security Council members convened for closed consultations on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. China, France, and the UAE requested the meeting following the 26 January Israel Defense Forces raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank during which nine Palestinians were killed. The meeting also focused on the 27 January terror attack near a synagogue in East Jerusalem during which seven Israelis were killed by a Palestinian shooter. Wennesland briefed.
On 24 January, the Security Council held an open briefing (S/PV.9247), followed by closed consultations, on Haiti. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) Helen La Lime briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report on BINUH (S/2023/41). Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti participated under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace
On 26 January, the Security Council held an open debate (S/PV.9250) on “Investment in people to enhance resilience against complex challenges” under the Council’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace agenda item. The Council heard briefings from Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Bangladesh), and Diago Ndiaye, President of the Network on Peace and Security for Women in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Japan prepared a concept note for the meeting, which was one of its signature events during its January Council presidency (S/2023/19).
On 27 January, the Security Council held its quarterly briefing, followed by closed consultations, on Mali (S/PV.9251). Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) El-Ghassim Wane and Aminata Cheick Dicko, President of Protection Sahel, briefed. Discussion focused on the UN’s internal review of MINUSMA, submitted to Council members on 16 January (S/2023/36). The review contained options on MINUSMA’s future configuration, force levels and uniformed personnel ceiling. Additionally, the Council considered the Secretary-General’s quarterly report, dated 6 January, on Mali and the activities of MINUSMA (S/2023/21).
On 30 January, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2674 renewing the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for another year, until 31 January 2024. The resolution affirms the Council’s readiness to review the implementation of the resolution after six months and “to consider any adjustments or other action as necessary, taking into account the advice of the Secretary-General”. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to submit two reports on two occasions: two on his good offices, on 4 July and 3 January 2024, and two on the implementation of the resolution extending UNFICYP’s mandate, on the same dates.
UNRCCA (Central Asia)
On 30 January, Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA) Natalia Gherman briefed Council members regarding the UNRCCA’s activities in closed consultations. Gherman apparently updated Council members on the UNRCCA’s work pertaining to counter-terrorism; the women, peace and security agenda; transboundary water management; and its engagement with regional organisations, among other matters. The situation in Afghanistan and the 2022 border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were also discussed. This was Gherman’s final briefing on behalf of the UNRCCA, as she was recently appointed Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED).
A note by the president of the Security Council on the chairs and vice-chairs of subsidiary bodies for 2023 was issued on 31 January (S/2023/2). The incoming members began discussing the vacant positions after the elections in June and quickly agreed on a list of preferences for the subsidiary body vacancies. However, the process stalled because permanent members were opposed to a footnote that indicated that Japan, one of the incoming members, would chair the Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Matters (IWG) in 2024, when the current chair leaves. The note that was issued does not include the footnote. At a discussion of this issue during under “any other business” on 27 January, Albania, as the chair of the Working Group, read out a joint statement from the elected members (E10) voicing support for Japan as chair in 2024. Ecuador, as the coordinator of the E10 for January, transmitted a letter from the E10 (S/2023/68) reiterating their unanimous support for Japan as chair in 2024 and conveying the expectation that the Security Council would take note of the positions of the current members and the new members to be elected in 2024.