What's In Blue

The July Programme of Work

July will be another busy month for the Security Council. Even before adopting their programme of work this morning, Council members had had several briefings from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. On Monday (2 July), Pillay briefed members in separate consultations on Syria and on Libya and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OTP). This morning, after the programme of work was adopted, Council members had another briefing from Pillay, this time on Sudan and South Sudan. This afternoon Council members also met to discuss a resolution renewing the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Colombia—which holds the Council presidency in July—is no stranger to presiding during an active month. During its last Council presidency in April 2011, just four months after coming on the Council, it dealt with the implementation of resolutions 1973 on Libya and 1975 on Côte d’Ivoire, both of which had been adopted in March 2011. (Syria was also just beginning to emerge as an issue for the Council at the time.)

With the annual report (S/2012/70) of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) to consider this month, Colombia has chosen to have an open debate on the PBC and peacebuilding issues. It will be chaired by the Foreign Minister María Angela Holguín Cuellar, with both the outgoing PBC chair, Ambassador Eugéne-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), and the current chair, Ambassador A.K. Abdul Momen (Bangladesh), expected to brief the Council. Additionally, PBC country configuration chairs, as well as Judy Cheng-Hopkins, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, will provide briefings. Representatives from the African Development Bank and World Bank are expected to attend. Besides discussing the annual report of the PBC, the debate will provide an opportunity to assess how well the PBC is working. It seems that an interactive dialogue will follow the open debate, to allow for more in-depth discussions between Council members and the PBC country configuration chairs.

The rest of the month has been filled largely with routine briefings and mandate renewals. However, there are a number of active situations which could also come up during the month, including Mali and Somalia.
As has been the case for some months now, Syria remains a top priority for the Council.

This month there are several meetings connected to Syria. There will be the regular 15 day consultations on the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) with a first session scheduled for 11 July during which the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, may brief. There are ongoing discussions on whether or not to try and move this briefing to an earlier date. Council members will also receive a briefing from General Robert Mood on the future of UNSMIS ahead of the expiry of the mission’s mandate on 20 July. (The Secretary-General’s report presenting options for the future of the mission is expected later this week.) Council members are also going to be involved in discussing the possibility of a more robust option linked to progress on the six-point plan.

Also high on the list of priorities for July are issues involving Sudan and South Sudan. Besides today’s briefing from Pillay, the Council will meet in consultations to discuss the mandate renewals of UNMISS and the AU/UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID ). Council members began negotiations on the UNMISS resolution late last month and adoption is likely later this week. Council members will have consultations on UNAMID on 24 July with possible adoption of a resolution renewing the mission on 26 July. In addition, the Sudan/South Sudan bi-monthly meetings are scheduled for 10 and 26 July with Thabo Mbeki, head of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, possibly briefing on 26 July.

The Council will also be paying serious attention to a number of West African issues in July. In the next few days the Council may respond to the worsening situation in Mali by adopting a resolution. Council members will also have an opportunity to draw on their experience from their May mission to Côte d’Ivoire when the Council is briefed by the head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Albert Gerard Koenders, on the Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2012/186) and starts negotiations on UNOCI’s mandate renewal. The Council will also get to re-visit the situation in Guinea-Bissau during a briefing by the head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), Joseph Mutaboba. The briefing on the semi-annual report of the Secretary-General (S/2012/421) on the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) by its head, Said Djinnit, will provide an opportunity for Council members to discuss the overall situation in West Africa.

Other African issues that will come up in July include Somalia and Burundi. Ahead of extending the mandate of the Monitoring Group assisting the Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Council members will have a briefing by the Chair of the Committee. Somalia is also in the “footnotes” of the July programme of work as there may be interest in having a briefing on the status of the transitional process. The Council will also be briefed on the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) early this month.

As usual, there will also be a number of Middle East issues. The quarterly Middle East debate is scheduled for 25 July. In addition, there will be regular briefings on Libya, Yemen and the implementation of resolution 1701 which called for the cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel. There will also be a briefing on Iraq by the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) Martin Kobler, and consultations on a resolution to renew the mission’s mandate. Adoption of this resolution is scheduled for 25 July.

The Council will also have a briefing by the head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Lisa M. Buttenheim, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on Cyprus (S/2012/149) and will likely adopt a resolution extending the mandate in mid-July.

There are two interesting items in the “footnotes” for July. Working methods has been included as Portugal may want to have further discussions on staggering the renewal of mandates.

Secondly, the “horizon-scanning” briefing by the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) is listed. These briefings had taken place every month since the UK presidency in November 2010 (with the sole exception of the US presidency in December 2010) until the US presidency in April 2012 again discontinued the practice. Azerbaijan (May) and China (June), also chose not to include it in the respective programmes of work.

Colombia apparently suggested having it in the “footnotes” to allow for the possibility that if by the middle of the month there is an issue that requires a briefing by DPA this could be taken up at the discretion of the President.

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