What's In Blue

Posted Tue 24 Apr 2012

Debate on Securing Borders Against Illicit Flows

Tomorrow (25 April), the Council will hold an open debate on securing borders against illicit flows. The Secretary-General is set to brief the Council with a large number of member states expected to participate.

Council members began negotiating a presidential statement on the issue a couple of weeks ago. Meetings intensified towards the end of last week, with two on Friday and two on Monday, at both expert and DPR level. Another DPR level meeting was held this morning (24 April) and there will possibly be an expert level meeting this afternoon in an attempt to finalise the text of the presidential statement.

From the outset, there have been two main points of contention among Council members. The first is the meaning and scope of “illicit flows”. The second is the provision in the draft text calling for the Secretary-General to submit to the Council within six months a report assessing the UN’s work to assist member states counter illicit flows. The draft also requested the report to include an assessment of whether the UN and other organisations were meeting member states’ border security capacity-building needs; where these efforts overlap or are lacking; and options and recommendations for the Council’s consideration. The draft also expressed the intent of the Council to revisit the issue upon receiving the report.

It appears that acceptable language has been found to answer the concerns of some members regarding the scope of the agenda item, and whether it falls under the Council’s mandate. It seems that Council members will agree to change the title “illicit flows” to “illicit cross-border trafficking and movement” which was proposed by South Africa and according to some members, is more in line with the language of international conventions. Further compromise language may confine illicit trafficking and movements to situations which contribute to challenges and threats already on the Council’s agenda, in particular the Council’s sanctions regimes under Chapter VII.

Regarding the issue of receiving a report from the Secretary-General, it seems that—despite some initial reservations (including from permanent members)—at press time there appeared to be some movement towards a compromise. This could result in the invitation to the Secretary-General to submit a report being retained but its scope being more narrowly defined.

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