Status Update since our August Forecast
On 2 August, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2694, expanding the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia to monitor and verify the implementation of a bilateral ceasefire between the Colombian government and the guerrilla group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) that began on 3 August. The resolution also indicates the Council’s willingness to consider mandating the mission to monitor and verify a ceasefire with the Estado Mayor Central Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (EMC FARC-EP) when the Secretary-General “confirms a ceasefire including appropriate verification protocols has been reached” with the armed group.
Conflict and Food Insecurity
On 3 August, the Council held an open debate on famine and conflict-induced global food insecurity. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken chaired the debate, a signature event of the US August Council presidency (S/PV.9392). UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator Reena Ghelani, President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Rescue Committee David Miliband, and Navyn Salem, the founder and CEO of Edesia—a non-profit that combats malnutrition—briefed. At the session, the Council adopted a presidential statement, which highlighted “the need to break the vicious cycle between armed conflict and food insecurity” and the responsibility of regional and subregional organisations “in contributing to international efforts to uphold the Charter and prevent famine, and conflict-induced food insecurity and malnutrition” (S/PRST/2023/4). In addition, 91 UN member states signed a joint communiqué that the US had proposed, committing to take action to end the use of food as a weapon of war and the starvation of civilians as a tactic of warfare.
On 10 August, Security Council members discussed the situation in Georgia under “any other business”. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed. The meeting, which marked the 15th anniversary of the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, was requested by Albania, France, Japan, Malta, the UK, and the US. Following the meeting, those members delivered a joint statement at a 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 9 August, the Security Council held an open briefing to discuss the situation in Sudan at the request of the UK, the penholder on the file (S/PV.9394). Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations (DPPA-DPO) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee and Director of OCHA’s Operations and Advocacy Division Edem Wosornu briefed.
UNRCCA (Central Asia)
On 10 August, Council members held closed consultations on the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA). Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNRCCA Kaha Imnadze briefed.
On 16 August, Security Council members held a briefing on the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region (S/PV.9397). Armenia requested the meeting in an 11 August letter to the Council invoking Article 35 of the UN Charter (S/2023/594). Under Article 35 (1), any UN member state “may bring any dispute, or any situation referred to in Article 34 [that is, one that may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute], to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly”. OCHA’s Director of Operations and Advocacy Edem Wosornu briefed. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Türkiye participated under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. Several Council members urged both parties to uphold the commitments established in the 2020 trilateral agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. They emphasised the need to normalise relations as a foundation for a prospective peace treaty and underscored the importance of allowing humanitarian aid to reach the residents of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
DPRK (North Korea)
On 17 August, the Council convened for an open briefing on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (S/PV.9398). The meeting was requested by Albania, Japan, and the US to discuss the links between human rights abuses and violations in the DPRK and international peace and security. The briefers were UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK Elizabeth Salmón, and Ilhyeok Kim, a civil society representative. The Republic of Korea (ROK) participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. This was the first Council open briefing on the human rights situation in the DPRK since December 2017.
On 25 August, the Council convened for an open briefing on the DPRK’s failed launch of a military reconnaissance satellite on 24 August (S/PV.9406). Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Khaled Khiari briefed. The DPRK and the ROK participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
On 30 August, Chair of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl (Switzerland) briefed Council members in closed consultations on the 90-day report on the Committee’s work.
Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 21 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.9400). Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland briefed.
On 21 August, Security Council members held a meeting on the situation in Cyprus under “any other business”. The UK requested the meeting to discuss an incident that occurred on 18 August, in which Turkish Cypriot security forces attacked members of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Colin Stewart, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Cyprus and head of UNFICYP, briefed.
On 23 August, Council members held closed consultations on Myanmar. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths and Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari briefed. The UK, the penholder on the file, requested the meeting.
The UK delivered a joint statement on Myanmar after the consultations. The statement strongly condemned the killing of civilians in Myanmar, particularly the continued use of airstrikes, and reaffirmed the need to respect international law and protect civilians. Among other matters, the statement noted with concern that there has been insufficient progress on the calls made by the Council in resolution 2669, which relate to the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained prisoners, the need to fully respect human rights and uphold the rule of law, respect for the democratic will of the people of Myanmar, swift and full implementation of ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus, the need to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State, and the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Every Council member except China and Russia signed the statement.
On 24 August, Council members held closed consultations on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari briefed.
On 31 August, the Security Council adopted resolution 2695, extending the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for another year, until 31 August 2024. The resolution received 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia). It seems that on 30 August the UAE submitted an amendment to a paragraph in the draft resolution in blue to be voted on prior to the vote on the entire draft text. The UAE, however, apparently decided shortly before the vote to withdraw its amendment; the Council therefore only voted on the entire resolution.
On 25 August, Council members convened for a briefing on the Secretary-General’s 17th biannual strategic level report (S/2023/568) on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to international peace and security (S/PV.9405). The briefers were: Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism and head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) Vladimir Voronkov, Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) Natalia Gherman, and President of the Farida Global Organisation Farida Khalaf. Council members that have signed on to the shared commitments on WPS— Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the UAE, the UK, and the US—read a joint statement on the use of sexual and gender based-violence by terrorist groups following the meeting.
On 16 August, Council members issued a press statement condemning the 13 August terrorist attack at the Shah-e-Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, Iran (SC/15386). The attack was claimed by ISIL and killed two people and injured eight more.
On 28 August, the Council held a briefing (S/PV.9407), followed by closed consultations, on the Secretary-General’s plan (S/2023/611) for the transfer of tasks of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which is withdrawing from Mali by the end of this year. Special Representative and head of MINUSMA El-Ghassim Wane and Beatrice Odountan Abouya, the Acting Regional Director of Search for Common Ground, briefed in the open session. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare briefing during the closed consultations.
On 30 August, the Council voted on two separate draft resolutions to renew the Mali sanctions regime (S/PV.9408). Russia vetoed a draft resolution (S/2023/638) proposed by France and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that would have renewed the Mali asset freeze and travel ban measures, and extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts that supports the 2374 Mali Sanctions Committee for an additional year. This draft resolution received 13 votes in favour and one abstention (China). An alternative draft (S/2023/639) that Russia proposed to extend the sanctions measures but dissolve the Panel of Experts failed to be adopted because it did not garner the requisite votes. It received one vote in favour (Russia), one against (Japan), and the remaining 13 Council members abstained. The sanctions measures were set to expire on 31 August, while the mandate of the Panel expires on 30 September.