Update: Security Council Missions in 2012
*This is an updated version of the story published on 22 February. The Consultations which were to have taken place on that day are now scheduled for 28 February.
Council members will hold consultations this afternoon (28 February) on possible Security Council missions during 2012. (Council members discussed the issue earlier in the year and agreed on the four-day visit to Haiti which took place in mid-February and to reconvene following their return to consider options for later in the year.)
In terms of most recent developments, Palestine’s permanent observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, yesterday sent a letter to the Council’s president inviting “the Security Council to undertake a visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.” The letter suggested that a visit would allow Council members “to view and assess first-hand the reality of the situation on the ground and the impact of the Israeli occupation.” On behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the letter proposed that the visit “be undertaken in the near future, as soon as possible.”
This afternoon’s consultations are likely to discuss several options, although the timing of visits would have to be finalised with host governments. It seems that the Council may schedule a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which it has not visited since May 2010 (and visited in both 2008 and 2009). A mission to Afghanistan is another possibility, with several members, particularly Germany, the lead on Afghanistan in the Council, having apparently manifested interest. (The Council last visited Afghanistan in November 2008 and June 2010.)
If the mission to Afghanistan were to go ahead, one option for the Council would be to combine it with a trip to Timor-Leste. On 22 February, President José Ramos-Horta invited participants in the UNMIT debate to visit Timor-Leste in 2012 “to see for themselves how far our country has come.” (The Council was scheduled to travel to Timor-Leste in December 2010, but the trip was cancelled shortly beforehand by Japan, whose permanent representative was to have led the mission.) It seems that Portugal and South Africa would be keen to visit Timor-Leste ahead of UNMIT’s departure at the end of the year although other Council members see it as less essential.
Other options for Council members to consider are a visit to Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, and possibly a mission to Libya, which could include a stopover in Cairo to meet with the League of Arab States. (In 2009, the Council visited Liberia, Rwanda, the DRC and the AU in Ethiopia.)
Another possibility is a visit to Kosovo. This was raised in the UNMIK debate on 8 February by Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić who invited the Security Council to “visit Serbia, including Kosovo” to assess the situation on the ground. Russia said that proposal was interesting and suggested that the Council discuss the possibility to see if it could be part of its programme of work for 2012. (Although several Council members would welcome such a visit, it could raise a number of practical and legal difficulties as the Council is divided on the issue of Kosovo’s independence. For that reason, it is considered a less likely option than other situations on the Council’s agenda.) A further option would be a visit to Somalia, although security concerns would make a visit in the foreseeable future highly unlikely.
In May 2011, the Council travelled to Africa where it visited the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (led by France); Sudan (co-led by Russia and the US); and Nairobi, which was focused on Somalia and co-led by South Africa and the UK.
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