The Council’s December Programme of Work
December is traditionally a busy month for the Council, with all scheduled meetings likely to conclude this year by Thursday 20 December. Today (4 December), besides adopting the programme of work for December, the Council also received its first briefing for the month this afternoon from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar. (The Council has recently tried to avoid “spikes” in its work by spacing out mandate renewals throughout the year, so the December programme of work may not be quite as full as in previous years.)
In what will be its sole presidency during its two-year term as a non-permanent member, Morocco will preside over the Security Council in December. The centrepiece of its presidency will be a high-level meeting on peace and security in the Sahel on 10 December, which is likely to be chaired by Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani. (The Secretary-General and Romano Prodi, the Special Envoy for the Sahel, are also set to brief.) The focus of the briefing will be the security, humanitarian, governance and development concerns in the Sahel region, which have been exacerbated by the 22 March coup in Mali and the increasing presence of Islamist terrorist groups in the area. While it was not considered feasible for the meeting to be an open debate (at which interested member states could speak), several regional and subregional organisations have been invited to participate, including the AU, the EU, the Economic Community of West African States, as well as the World Bank. A presidential statement on the subject will likely be adopted.
While Mali is likely to feature prominently in the high-level Sahel meeting, head of DPA Jeffrey Feltman is also set to brief the Council tomorrow (5 December) on Mali, which will be followed by consultations among members on follow-up to resolution 2071 of 12 October. There may also be further discussion of a possible draft resolution on Mali during these consultations, although at press time no draft had formally been circulated among Council members.
One open debate is scheduled this month, on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict (20 December), which follows the Secretary-General’s 8 October report on the issue (S/2012/746). The open debate—at which the head of the Peacekeeping Support Office, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, is set to brief—will build on some of the issues raised in the 12 July Council debate on the Peacebuilding Commission and the need for greater coherence and coordination among the different international actors engaged in peacebuilding processes.
Another notable feature of the December programme of work is the briefing on UN peacekeeping operations (12 December), focusing on intermission cooperation. (During the 19-23 May Council mission to West Africa, Council members witnessed first-hand cooperation between UNOCI, UNMIL and UNIPSIL, the UN missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, respectively.)
Council members are scheduled to be briefed on Friday (7 December) by the ambassadors of the five outgoing elected members on the subsidiary bodies (committees and working groups) which they chair. This annual briefing is an opportunity for the chairs to offer broad reflections on the work of their committees and working groups and possibly to offer suggestions of how the bodies could operate more effectively.
On 13 December, the outgoing chair of the 1737 Iran Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Néstor Osorio (Colombia), will also provide his final regular briefing to the Council, after which Council members will have the opportunity to discuss recent developments concerning Iran’s nuclear programme.
This month the Council will also have the opportunity to focus on international justice issues. Tomorrow afternoon (5 December) there will be a debate on the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR). The Prosecutors and Presidents of both the ICTY and ICTR are expected to brief the Council. The debate will be a good opportunity for the Council, and the membership at large, to hear about progress made on the development of the residual mechanism, which will complete the outstanding work of the ad hoc tribunals after their closure. On 12 December, the Council is also scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the terms of judges of the ICTY and ICTR. Moreover, on 13 December, a briefing is scheduled on “Sudan (ICC)”, during which Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), will update the Council on the situation in Darfur, referred to the Court in resolution 1593 (2005).
Further adoptions are also scheduled this month. On 13 December, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the Ombudsperson assisting the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee as well as the mandate of the monitoring team that assists both the 1267/1989 Committee and the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee. A resolution is also scheduled to be adopted on 12 December, which will likely amend the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee provisions and renew the mandate of its Panel of Experts (PoE).
Following consultations on 17 December, the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution on 19 December at which it is expected to renew the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, for a further six months.
Two further briefings are scheduled this month: on 18 December, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) will brief the Council on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), following the development by UNOCA of a regional strategy aimed at addressing the threat and impact of the LRA.
Additionally, a regular briefing—followed by consultations—is scheduled for 19 December on the Middle East. This will be an opportunity for Council members to discuss recent developments, including Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Sudan/South Sudan issues will continue to feature regularly on the programme of work, with consultations scheduled on 6 and 18 December. The private discussion on Thursday will also be followed by consultations on the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) at which DPKO head Hervé Ladsous is expected to brief members on developments. (The 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee will also meet in consultations later on Thursday.)
Other African issues on the programme of work include Liberia, where the Council is scheduled to have consultations early in the month with a briefing from the chair of the 1521 Liberia Sanctions Committee on the final report of the PoE before the adoption of the aforementioned 12 December resolution. There will also be consultations on 11 December on both Guinea-Bissau and the sanctions regime established on 18 May by resolution 2048 following the 12 April coup. Joseph Mutaboba, the Secretary-General’s Representative in Guinea-Bissau and head of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), is likely to brief on the continuing efforts towards the restoration of constitutional order in the country.
The Council will also focus on Asia in December. It is scheduled to adopt a Council outcome on the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), prior to its completion on 31 December. In mid-December the Council is scheduled to hold its quarterly debate on Afghanistan, during which Special Representative Ján Kubiš will brief the Council. Also on the programme are consultations on “Iraq-Kuwait” where Council members are likely to receive a briefing from the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property, Gennady Tarasov.
In addition to the regular feature of “non-proliferation” in the programme’s footnotes (which may receive added attention this month if the DPRK proceeds with its announced rocket launch between 10-22 December), Syria is listed. There is a possibility that UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi may again brief Council members in consultations (as done most recently on 29 November). Following extensive Council attention in November, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is also in the footnotes this month and Council members may again meet on the issue if the need arises. In addition, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is in the footnotes and is likely to remain so until its President holds the annual private meeting with Council members (this meeting was postponed at the end of October due to Hurricane Sandy).
December will be the final month on the Council for outgoing members Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa. Incoming members Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda will continue to be invited to attend formal Council meetings throughout December and will assume their two-year seats on the Council on 1 January.
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