The August Programme of Work
Traditionally the August programme of work of the Security Council tends to be light as many senior members of the Permanent Missions are away. France, which holds the presidency this month, has followed this practice with a programme of work that is largely based on deadlines related to Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria. However many of these situations are at a critical point and it is possible that there will be additional briefings and consultations required.
August also has possibly the lowest number of mandate renewals and debates. There is just one mandate renewal – that of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The only debate is the regular quarterly Kosovo debate which will be held in the third week of August. There will also be the regular briefing and consultations on the Middle East and 90 -day briefing on the DPRK Sanctions Committee as well as consultations on the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).
The most difficult decision this month for the Council is likely to be over the mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) which expires on 19 August. This afternoon, Council members will be briefed by peacekeeping head Hervé Ladsous on the security situation in Syria. Council members are also expecting to hear some preliminary recommendations for the future of UNSMIS. The next meeting on Syria is scheduled for 16 August, when a decision on the future of UNSMIS is likely to be made.
It is unclear whether the Arab League-UN Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan, who resigned today (2 August ), will brief the Council before the end of his term on 31 August. French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has also announced that he will arrange for a ministerial meeting of the Security Council on Syria and if there is agreement, this is likely to take place towards the end of the month.
Another situation which will require a tough decision from the Council is Sudan and South Sudan. Today is the deadline for the parties to resolve a series of fundamental issues identified in resolution 2046 and it is clear that not all conditions have been fulfilled. The Council over the course of the month will have to decide what sort of pressure it should exert. It is likely that Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is facilitating the peace talks, will brief the Council when it meets to discuss this situation on 9 August. On the same day, as is customary every 60 days under the terms of resolution 2047, Council members will also discuss the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
Another situation that may require a Council decision is Mali. On 8 August the Council will be briefed by the Secretary-General on possible steps to ensure the full restoration of constitutional order and territorial integrity in Mali, including a military deployment by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Although no Council decision is expected immediately following that meeting, it is possible that ECOWAS may subsequently request the Council to authorise the deployment of an ECOWAS force in Mali.
The Council will also be watching the situation in Somalia closely. With the transitional period ending on 20 August, Council members are scheduled to discuss the political situation in Somalia on 28 August and it seems that they may choose to issue some sort of statement following the briefing.
An item which had disappeared from the programme of work has reappeared in August. The French presidency has chosen to include the DPA “horizon scanning” briefing this month after an absence of four months. This will be the first time the new head of DPA, Jeffrey Feltman, will brief Council members on emerging issues.