Status Update since our December Forecast
On 1 December 2023, the Security Council adopted resolution 2713, renewing for one year the sanctions regime on Al-Shabaab, including the authorisation for maritime interdiction to enforce the embargo on illicit arms imports, the charcoal exports ban, and the improvised explosive device (IED) components ban. The resolution also renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 15 January 2025 and expressed the Council’s intention to review the panel’s mandate no later than 15 December 2024. The resolution was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (France).
In his explanation of vote, Permanent Representative of France to the UN Nicolas de Rivière said that his country abstained on the resolution renewing the sanctions regime on Al-Shabaab because it did not refer to the territorial dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. Arguing that this dispute still poses a threat to international peace and security, he said that “the Council must play its full role of prevention in the face of such threats and take account of all security risks in the region including territorial disputes”. At the same meeting, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Anna Evstigneeva said that during the negotiations on the draft Al-Shabaab sanctions resolution, Russia had questions about language in the text referring to the automatic exemption from the sanctions regime for arms transfers to “private military companies”. She noted that “although the resolution refers to the fact that they must be licensed by the Somali Government, the Security Council still has no list of those”. She added that Russia “trust[s] that Mogadishu will take a responsible approach to this process and prevent an increase in the militarization of the Horn of Africa”.
On the same day, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2714, lifting the arms embargo on the Somali government, which was established by resolution 733 of 23 January 1992 and amended through subsequent resolutions.
On 1 December 2023, Council members also agreed on the contents of a letter responding to the letters received from Djibouti and Eritrea on 6 and 8 November, respectively. The letter noted that the Council continues to follow developments towards the normalisation of relations between Eritrea and Djibouti. It expressed regret regarding the lack of progress on the outstanding issues between the two countries, including the settlement of the unresolved border dispute. The letter added that “[s]hould the situation change, or the circumstances warrant its attention, the Security Council will consider its options as it would in any other context”.
On 4 December 2023, the Security Council received a briefing (S/PV.9493) from Christian Ritscher, the Special Adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL in Iraq (UNITAD). Iraq participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
Transnational Organised Crime
On 7 December 2023, the Security Council held an open debate on “Transnational organized crime, growing challenges and new threats” under the “Threats to international peace and security” agenda item (S/PV.9497). President Daniel Noboa Azín of Ecuador chaired the meeting, which was the signature event of Ecuador’s December presidency. The briefers were: UN Secretary-General António Guterres; UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly; Melani Cammett, the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government and the Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University; and Victoria Nyanjura, the Founder and General Director of Women in Action for Women (WAW), an organisation that supports women survivors of conflict in northern Uganda. In connection with the open debate, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2023/6), initiated by Ecuador and France, in which it expresses concern at the rise of transnational organised crime.
Guyana and Venezuela
On 8 December 2023, Security Council members convened for closed consultations to discuss developments regarding a territorial dispute between Guyana and Venezuela over the Essequibo region in Guyana. Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed. Guyana requested the meeting in a 6 December letter to the Council (S/2023/961).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 11 December 2023, the Security Council held a briefing and closed consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including the work of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) (S/PV.9500). Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC and head of MONUSCO Bintou Keita and National Coordinator of Solidarité Féminine pour la Paix Sandrine Lusamba briefed the Council. DRC and Rwanda also participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure. On 19 December, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2717, renewing the mandate of MONUSCO for one year, until 20 December 2024.
International Criminal Tribunals
On 12 December 2023, the Council held its semi-annual debate (S/PV.9502) on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT). The IRMCT’s president, Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, and its chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, briefed. They met with the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals prior to the debate. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Rwanda, and Serbia participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
UNOCA (Central Africa)
On 13 December 2023, the Security Council held a briefing and consultations on the situation in the Central African Republic region (S/PV.9505). Special Representative and head of UNOCA Abdou Abarry briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s semi-annual report on the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the implementation of the UN’s regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) (S/2023/934).
On 14 December 2023, the Council held an open briefing on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) (S/PV.9507). Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and Head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom briefed on the Secretary-General’s report (S/2023/976), which was circulated to Council members on 8 December and covered developments from 1 September to 30 November. Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon), the chair of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee, briefed on the work of the committee. Consultations followed the briefing.
Briefing by the Outgoing Chairs of the Security Council’s Subsidiary Bodies
On 14 December 2023, the outgoing chairs of subsidiary bodies briefed the Council on the activities of the committees and working groups during their chairmanships (S/PV.9508). The Council heard briefings by Ambassador Ferit Hoxha (Albania) on the work of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, the 1518 Iraq Sanctions Committee, the 1636 Lebanon Sanctions Committee, and the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee; Ambassador Harold Adlai Agyeman (Ghana) on the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee, the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee, and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations; Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon) on the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Committee, the 2653 Haiti Sanctions Committee, the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, and the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee; and Deputy Permanent Representative Mohamed Issa Abushahab (United Arab Emirates), speaking for Ambassador Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, who chaired the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, the 2048 Guinea-Bissau Sanctions Committee, and the 1566 Working Group on Counter-Terrorism.
Small Arms and Light Weapons
On 15 December 2023, the Security Council held an open debate on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) under the theme: “Addressing the threat posed by diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition to peace and security” (S/PV.9509). Ecuador, December’s Security Council President, convened the meeting to facilitate a discussion on the Secretary-General’s most recent biennial report on SALW submitted pursuant to resolution 2220 of 22 May 2015, which was published on 1 November (S/2023/823). Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Maria Gabriela Sommerfeld, chaired the meeting. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu; Deputy Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) Cécile Aptel; and Folade Mutota, Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD), briefed the Council.
On 18 December 2023, the Security Council held an open briefing (S/PV.9510) followed by closed consultations on Libya. Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily briefed the Council on the latest political, security, and humanitarian developments in the country. Additionally, Ambassador Osamu Yamanaka (Japan), in his capacity as representative of the chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, presented the periodic report on the committee’s activities. Libya participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
On 18 December 2023, the Security Council held its biannual open briefing (S/PV.9511) on the implementation of resolution 2231 of 20 July 2015, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme (JCPOA). Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo briefed on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the implementation of resolution 2231, dated 15 December. The Security Council’s facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231, Ambassador Vanessa Frazier (Malta), reported on the Council’s work regarding resolution 2231. The head of the EU delegation to the UN, Ambassador Olof Skoog, briefed on the work of the JCPOA’s Joint Commission. The commission comprises the current parties to the JCPOA—China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, and the UK—and the EU serves as its coordinator. Germany and Iran participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
On 11 December 2023, Security Council members convened for a closed Arria-formula meeting on “women’s perspectives on Afghanistan”. The meeting was organised by Switzerland and co-sponsored by Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the co-penholders on the file. Two representatives of the Women’s Forum on Afghanistan, a platform led by Afghan women leaders that aims to ensure the inclusion of Afghan women in the dialogue and decision-making of the international community on the future of Afghanistan, and two additional representatives of Afghan civil society briefed. Participation in the meeting, which was chaired and moderated by Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl (Switzerland), was limited to current and incoming Council members.
On 14 December 2023, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2716, which renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Team supporting the 1988 Afghanistan sanctions committee for a period of one year (S/PV.9506).
On 20 December 2023, the Council convened for its quarterly briefing on Afghanistan (S/PV.9515). The briefers were: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva; Head and Representative of OCHA in Geneva and Director of the Coordination Division Ramesh Rajasingham; and Shaharzad Akbar, Executive Driector of Rawadari, an Afghan civil society organisation. Ambassador José Javier De la Gasca Lopez Domínguez (Ecuador) also delivered the annual briefing of the chair of the 1988 Afghanistan Sanctions Committee. Representatives of Afghanistan, India, Iran, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan participated in the open session under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
On 29 December, the Council adopted resolution 2721, which, among other matters, took positive note of the independent assessment and requested that the Secretary-General appoint a Special Envoy for Afghanistan. 13 members voted in favour, with China and Russia abstaining.
On 12 December 2023, Council members received a briefing in closed consultations on the Secretary-General’s latest 90-day report (S/2023/935), dated 30 November, on the activities of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the implementation of resolution 338 of 22 October 1973. The report covered the activities of UNDOF from 21 August to 20 November. Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix briefed.
On 21 December 2023, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2718, renewing UNDOF’s mandate for six months, until 30 June 2024.
DPRK (North Korea)
On 19 December 2023, the Council convened for an open briefing on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (S/PV.9514). Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Mohammed Khaled Khiari briefed. Albania, Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, the UAE, the UK, and the US requested the meeting after the DPRK tested two ballistic missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), on 17 and 18 December. The DPRK and incoming Council member the Republic of Korea (ROK) participated in the meeting under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
Arria-formula Meeting on “Artificial Intelligence: Its Impact on Hate Speech, Disinformation and Misinformation”
On 19 December 2023, Albania and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) convened an Arria-formula meeting titled “Artificial intelligence: its impact on hate speech, disinformation and misinformation”. The meeting was chaired by Omran Sharaf, the UAE’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Advanced Science and Technology, and Ambassador Ferit Hoxha, the Permanent Representative of Albania to the UN. The briefers were: Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming; Rahaf Harfoush, digital anthropologist and member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence; and Jennifer Woodard, co-founder of Insikt Intelligence—a start-up researching how to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to combat online harms.
Arria-formula Meeting on Cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission
On 20 December 2023, Brazil convened a Security Council Arria-formula meeting titled “Mind the gap: enhancing the dialogue and cooperation between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission”. Council and Commission members heard briefings from Ambassador Ivan Šimonović (Croatia), the chair of the Peacebuilding Commission; Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support Elizabeth Spehar; Professor Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Special Advisor of the Presidency of Brazil; and Executive Director of Security Council Report Karin Landgren.
On 13 December, Council members issued a press statement condemning a 12 December terrorist attack on Pakistan’s security forces’ post in Daraban, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan (SC/15529).
On 16 December, Council members issued a press statement condemning a 15 December terrorist attack on the Rasak police station in the Sistan and Baluchistan province, Iran (SC/15534).