Status Update since our January Forecast
Council members issued a press statement on 5 January that took note of the closure on 31 December 2023 of the UN Multidimensional Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The statement commended MINUSMA’s efforts in Mali since 2013 and paid tribute to its 311 personnel who lost their lives. Council members, in the press statement, recalled the Mali transitional government’s “commitment towards its citizens and international obligations” and encouraged dialogue between Mali and regional partners. They wished for the improvement of the security situation in the country and reiterated the centrality of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation, urging all parties to resume dialogue and commit to its implementation. Members further stressed the role of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel and the UN country team, including “on the basis of continued communication and discussion with the transitional government”. The press statement further stressed the need for full and continued cooperation from the transitional government, including its obligations under the status of forces agreement with MINUSMA (the latter being a reference to the liquidation process of the mission).
Middle East, including the Palestinian Question
On 10 January, Security Council members held closed consultations on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Malta requested the meeting to discuss the implementation of resolution 2712 of 15 November 2023. Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Mohamed Khaled Khiari and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths briefed.
On 12 January, the Security Council held an open briefing on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/PV.9531). Algeria requested the meeting to discuss the threat of forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza. Griffiths and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris briefed.
On 23 January, the Security Council held its quarterly open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” (S/PV.9534). UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefed. French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné chaired the meeting.
In the lead-up to the open debate, Council members were apparently unable to agree on a draft presidential statement on the war between Israel and Hamas, which was put forward by Russia on 17 January. It seems that members could not find consensual language demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and also condemning Hamas for the 7 October 2023 attacks. On 22 January, Russia withdrew the draft text from consideration.
On 30 January, Security Council members held closed consultations on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”. Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag briefed. Following the meeting, France, January’s Council president, read out press elements welcoming Kaag’s appointment, expressing concern about the “dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Gaza, and emphasising the urgent need to “expand the flow of humanitarian assistance to civilians”.
On 31 January, 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.9540). Algeria requested the meeting following the 26 January order issued by the International Court of Justice indicating provisional measures in South Africa’s proceedings against Israel concerning alleged violations in the Gaza Strip of obligations under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths briefed.
West Africa and the Sahel
On 11 January 2024, the Security Council held a briefing (S/PV.9529) and consultations on West Africa and the Sahel. Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) Leonardo Santos Simão briefed, presenting the Secretary-General’s biannual report on West Africa and the Sahel (S/2023/1075). The Council heard a briefing by Lori-Anne Theroux-Benoni, Regional Director of the Office for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin of the Institute for Security Studies.
Before the start of the meeting, Council members that are signatories to the “Statement of joint pledges related to climate, peace and security” held a stakeout to present a statement on climate-security issues facing the region. Later in the month, on 26 January, the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security held a meeting on West Africa and the Sahel, during which Special Representative Simão briefed. At the time of writing, the co-penholders on UNOWAS, Sierra Leone and Switzerland, were expected to resume negotiations, which have been deadlocked the past two years, on a draft presidential statement on West Africa and the Sahel.
On 11 January, the Security Council held an open briefing (S/PV.9530), 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 (S/2023/1033) on the mission. The Council was also briefed by Yolanda Perea Mosquera, an Afro-Colombian social leader and defender of the rights of victims of sexual violence.
On 18 January, Council members issued a press statement (SC/15567) on Colombia, in which they stressed the importance of ensuring the comprehensive implementation of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace signed in 2016 between the government of Colombia and the former rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP). Among other issues, they welcomed recent progress in rural reform and the government’s signing of a pact pledging to complete 60 percent of the ethnic chapter’s implementation by 2026. Members also expressed grave concern about continuing violence, noting that conflict-related violence, including conflict-related sexual violence, continues to have a disproportionate effect on women and girls and on indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
On 30 January, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2723, renewing the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for another year until 31 January 2025. The resolution welcomes the Secretary-General’s appointment of a Personal Envoy on Cyprus and encourages the two sides to engage constructively with the envoy in the search for common ground with the goal of returning to formal negotiations for a lasting settlement in Cyprus. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to submit four reports: two on his good offices, on 4 July 2024 and 3 January 2025, and two on the implementation of the resolution extending UNFICYP’s mandate, on the same dates.
Women, Peace and Security
On 16 January, Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl (Switzerland) briefed Council members on the recent visit to South Sudan by members of the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security. The meeting was held under “any other business”. The visit took place between 11 and 14 December 2023. Representatives of France, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US, as well as then-Council members Gabon and the United Arab Emirates, participated in the visit.
On 22 January, Guyana, Japan and Mozambique convened an Arria-formula meeting titled “Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace through Comprehensive Approaches–Investment in People, including Empowerment of Women”. Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Mohammed Khaled Khiari; Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner; and Asif Saleh, the Executive Director of BRAC, a Bangladeshi civil society organisation, briefed. The co-organisers circulated a concept note ahead of the session.
On 25 January, the Council held an open briefing (S/PV.9535) on Haiti. Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) María Isabel Salvador briefed on recent developments and the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2023/768) on Haiti. UNODC Executive Director Ghada Fathi Waly and Human Rights Watch Executive Director Tirana Hassan also briefed the Council. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Saint Lucia, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), participated under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.
On 30 January, Council members received a briefing under “any other business” from Salvador on the Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission authorised by resolution 2699 of 3 October 2023, which Kenya has agreed to lead. Russia requested the briefing after the High Court of Kenya issued a 26 January ruling that found the country’s participation in the mission unconstitutional.
On 30 January, Security Council members received a briefing under “any other business” from Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management Movses Abelian regarding “the financial situation of the organization”.
UNRCCA (Central Asia)
On 30 January, 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.