July 2024 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2024
Download Complete Forecast: PDF

UNRCCA (Central Asia)

Expected Council Action

In July, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA), Kaha Imnadze, is expected to brief Security Council members on the UNRCCA’s work in closed consultations.

Key Recent Developments

Imnadze last briefed Council members in closed consultations on 30 January. Among other matters, he provided an update on the UNRCCA’s activities pertaining to counter-terrorism, transboundary water management, and the women, peace and security and youth, peace and security agendas. Imnadze also discussed the border negotiations between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Central Asia, and the effects of climate change in the region.

Since Imnadze’s last briefing, officials from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have continued negotiations regarding the demarcation of their border. Kyrgyz and Tajik officials have now preliminarily resolved more than 90 percent of the disputed parts of the border, with Tajik state media reporting in early February that the two countries had reached agreement regarding a further 3.71 kilometres of the contested boundary. The most recent round of negotiations took place in Bishkek from 19 to 25 May. On 8 May, the Kyrgyz and Tajik government agencies responsible for the border reportedly issued a joint statement after Tajik shepherds and Kyrgyz border guards exchanged gunfire.

China, Russia, and the US have continued to jostle for influence in Central Asia, with several analysts noting that the war in Ukraine may have sparked increased diplomatic competition in the region. From 23 to 25 January, Uzbek President Shakvat Mirziyoyev visited Beijing, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang. During the visit, China and Uzbekistan announced that they had elevated diplomatic ties and formed an “all-weather comprehensive strategic partnership”. On 8 February, the US hosted the inaugural meeting of the “C5+1” critical minerals dialogue, which was attended by officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. According to a statement issued by the US Department of State following the meeting, attendees discussed investment opportunities in critical minerals and underscored the benefit of working together. On 27 May, Russia and Uzbekistan signed an agreement while Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Tashkent to meet with Mirziyoyev. Under the terms of the agreement, Russia will reportedly assist Uzbekistan with the construction of a nuclear power plant and increase gas deliveries to the country. China and Tajikistan also pledged to expand bilateral cooperation during an 18 May meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.

Several Central Asian states also appear to be preparing to develop closer trade and economic relations with the Taliban administration in Afghanistan. During a 3 June meeting of parliamentary speakers from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) member states, Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev explained that Kazakhstan had removed the Taliban from its list of terrorist organisations “based on the importance of developing trade and economic cooperation with modern Afghanistan and the understanding that this regime is a long-term factor”. While visiting Kabul in March, an Uzbek delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov met with Taliban officials to discuss boosting economic ties. Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi also travelled to Turkmenistan in February to discuss business and economic relations and possible investment in Afghanistan.

In early April, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov signed a law targeting non-governmental organisations that receive foreign funding. The bill had been criticised by human rights groups on the basis that it would curb the work of civil society organisations in the country. Analysts have expressed concern about the erosion of democracy in Kyrgyzstan since Japarov became president in late 2020. Human rights groups have also raised concerns regarding new mass media legislation in Kazakhstan.

From 9 to 10 April, the UNRCCA organised a regional workshop on fostering cooperation and information-sharing on preventing and combatting the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their supply to terrorists. The workshop was organised in partnership with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Regional Anti-Terrorist structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). On 27 February, the UNRCCA participated in the “Regional Meeting on Enhancing Women’s Participation in the Peacebuilding Processes in the Ferghana Valley”. The UNRCCA’s briefing focused on its activities relating to women, peace and security and the work of the Central Asian Women Leaders’ Caucus. Imnadze has also travelled throughout the region and abroad during the first half of the year, including visits to each Central Asian country, Washington, DC, and Moscow.

Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to travel to the region in early July when he will attend an SCO summit in Astana and visit each Central Asian state.

Key Issues and Options

One of the main issues for the Council is how to make the best use of the UNRCCA’s expertise and whether there is anything the Council can do to support the UNRCCA’s efforts to facilitate preventive diplomacy and regional cooperation. The Council could choose to hold an open briefing on the UNRCCA, which would allow members to express support for its work and raise awareness of its activities. This open briefing could be followed by closed consultations to allow for a more frank and detailed exchange with Imnadze. The Council could also choose to hold a debate to give the Central Asian states an opportunity to discuss the work of the UNRCCA in public.

The situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Central Asia is another issue for the Council. The Council could consider inviting a representative of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to participate in the meeting and provide information regarding developments in the country that might affect the wider region.

Council Dynamics

Council members are generally supportive of the UNRCCA and view it as an important tool in promoting cooperation in Central Asia. Prior to mid-2018, Council members often issued press statements expressing support for the UNRCCA and its work and encouraging increased cooperation and coordination among the Central Asian countries, the UNRCCA, and “relevant regional organisations”. However, Council members have been unable to agree on a press statement on the UNRCCA since then, owing to disagreements among the permanent members about including references to specific regional organisations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, and the SCO.

Press elements commending then-Special Representative and Head of the UNRCCA Natalia Gherman for her efforts and expressing support for UNRCCA’s work were read out following the UNRCCA consultations in January 2023.

Sign up for SCR emails

Security Council Letter
7 May 2007S/2007/279 This was a letter from the Secretary-General on the establishment of a United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Ashgabat.
Security Council Press Statement
25 January 2018SC/13179 This was a press statement welcoming further cooperation and coordination between UNRCCA, the Central Asian States, and relevant regional organisations, including those organisations of which the Central Asian States are members.

Subscribe to receive SCR publications