What's In Blue

Posted Fri 2 Mar 2012

Council’s March Programme of Work

This morning (2 March), Security Council members adopted the Council’s programme of work for the month of March. The UK, the Council president for March, has as the centrepiece of its presidency a ministerial level debate on change in North Africa and the Middle East. At least seven Council members are expected to be represented by Foreign Ministers alongside three Foreign Ministers from the region. The debate is expected to focus on lessons learnt over the last twelve months and the challenges that remain. It will be chaired by the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague.

The second key debate will be on Somalia chaired by the Under Secretary of State (Africa), Henry Bellingham. This will be a follow up to the London Conference on Somalia held on 23 February. The Secretary-General is expected to participate with his Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, briefing by video link. Other likely speakers include Turkey (which will be hosting a conference on Somalia in June) as well as other regional and donor countries. It seems that a presidential statement endorsing the London Conference communique and reiterating some of the key messages on the political process is the likely outcome.

A third area of interest for the UK presidency is Council working methods. In mid-March there will be consultations on how to increase the efficiency of the Council’s work. Among the issues likely to be covered are the “periodicity problem” (i.e. more systematically spreading out mandate renewals) and trying to make best use of Council finances. Portugal, chair of the working group on working methods, and the UK are currently working on a non-paper which will form the basis of the discussion.

The Council is likely to continue to focus on Sudan in the coming month. On the programme of work is a briefing in consultations on the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) by head of mission Hilde Johnson. But as has been in the case in recent months, the situation along the Sudan and South Sudan border, and in South Kordofan and Blue Nile more specifically, is likely to also continue to occupy the attention of Council members in March and may result in briefings and consultations on these issues. Also, Council members are currently discussing a presidential statement on north-south issues which, if agreement is reached, could be adopted early next week.

The situation in Syria, while not on the formal programme, is in the “footnotes”, signaling Council members’ expectations that Syria will continue to be a focus in the month ahead. It appears that consultations are continuing at an informal level on a possible resolution on the humanitarian situation. In addition, Valerie Amos, head of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is expected to brief on progress towards securing access to Syria. (At the same time she will also brief on her visit to the Sahel region.) There is also the possibility of a briefing from the AU-UN Joint Envoy, Kofi Annan, if he is allowed into Syria.

For the first time since August 2011, Council members will discuss peacekeeping issues during a briefing by the departments of peacekeeping and field support. This briefing is in line with the Council’s August 2009 decision to have more discussions with these two departments. The likely topic of discussion will be moving from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and how to improve the Council’s involvement in peacebuilding processes.

Haiti will be also be covered in March. Early in the month there will be consultations on the follow-up to the Council’s recent mission to Haiti with a focus on lessons learnt. (The Council may also finalise decisions pertaining to other Council missions for the year in separate consultations.) There will also be a briefing on the semi-annual report on the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), followed by consultations. Mariano Fernández, the head of MINUSTAH, is likely to brief.

There will be two adoptions of mission mandates this month: for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), the latter of which is likely to also include the extension of the term for the Panel of Experts of the Libya Sanctions Committee. There will be a debate and briefing by the new UNAMA head, Jän Kubiš, ahead of the renewal of the mission. In early March, UNSMIL head, Ian Martin, will also brief Council members who will then have consultations on the enhancement and renewal of UNSMIL. UNSMIL’s new mandate is expected to be adopted immediately prior to the ministerial debate on the Middle East on 12 March.

There are a number of other briefings in closed consultations expected in March. Special Adviser Jamal Benomar will brief on Yemen in early March. There will also be the monthly “horizon-scanning” briefing by Department of Political Affairs head, B. Lynn Pascoe, on issues of concern. In addition, the Council will also be briefed on Sudan sanctions and Iran sanctions by Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia) who chairs both sanctions committees. Another regular briefing scheduled for March is on the implementation of resolution 1701. The new Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, is expected to brief. The regular Middle East briefing and consultations will also take place at the end of the month.

Public briefings are scheduled on the elections in Guinea-Bissau and on the mid-term report on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Both these briefings will be followed by Council consultations.

Follow us on Twitter

Sign up for What's In Blue emails