Informal Meeting Between Members of the Security Council and EU Political and Security Committee
This afternoon, the members of the Security Council will hold a meeting with the members of the EU Political and Security Committee (PSC). Because this is an informal event, the meeting is not on the official programme of work of the Council. The meeting was requested by the EU and will be hosted by the Republic of Korea, the current Council President, at its permanent mission. A mutually agreed agenda includes discussion on the Central African Republic (CAR), Syria and Ukraine.
This will be the second meeting between members of the EU PSC and the UN Security Council held in New York. (Since 2007 the AU has had regular annual consultative meetings between the members of the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, which have alternated location between Addis Ababa and New York since their first meeting.) Council members last met informally with members of the EU PSC on 4 October 2013 during a layover in Brussels on the way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During that meeting they exchanged views on the Great Lakes region and the shared interest between the AU, EU and UN in fostering regional stability and supporting the 24 February 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework and Kampala talks. The most recent update on matters of direct interest to the EU was held on 14 February when the Council was briefed by Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU (S.PV/7112).
Central African Republic
On the CAR, the focus of tomorrow’s discussion will likely be on EU operations in light of the recent establishment of the long-awaited UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA). On 28 January, the Council authorised an EU operation—known as EUFOR RCA -for a period of six months, to take all necessary measures to contribute to the stabilisation of the security situation and the protection of civilians in the CAR (S/RES/2134). The EU force was to join French and AU forces already on the ground. The EU Council authorised the deployment of EUFOR RCA on 1 April, after delays caused by shortages of soldiers and equipment. The EU expects to have more than 800 troops on the ground by mid-June, and will be responsible for securing parts of Bangui until MINUSCA’s deployment.
After months of consideration, the Council was able to reach consensus on the establishment of MINUSCA on 10 April, establishing the mission with an initial deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel (S/PV.7153). MINUSCA is to take over from the AU troops by 15 September. Its tasks include protecting civilians; facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance; protecting human rights; supporting the rule of law; and ensuring the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation of former combatants. At the request of the CAR authorities, MINUSCA will also have the mandate to adopt temporary measures to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity, including the authority to arrest and detain individuals.
Council members are likely to be interested in updates on the EU deployment and activity and may want to discuss prospects for EUFOR RCA’s future role in the CAR. In particular, participants may want to discuss whether whether the force will withdraw, or should remain as a standalone operation in the CAR, or if some if its components may be incorporated into MINUSCA.
Regarding Syria, it is expected that the 22 May vote in the Security Council on the draft resolution referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (S/2014/348) will be a prominent aspect of tomorrow’s discussion, as will follow-up to resolution 2139 on humanitarian access. In April the EU called for the Council to refer Syria to the ICC and members of the PSC are likely to be interested in the prospects of the draft resolution being adopted on 22 May.
A discussion of the 15 May communiqué of the core Group of Friends of Syria (“London 11”), which denounced the Syrian regime’s “unilateral plan to hold illegitimate presidential elections on 3 June”, will also likely be of interest. Council members—in particular France, Jordan, the UK and the US who are part of the London 11—will likely want to exchange views on the upcoming presidential elections, as well as on increased efforts to deliver humanitarian aid across borders and conflict lines, countering rising extremism in the conflict and on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme. There may also be interest in having a preliminary conversation on possible next steps on the political track in light of Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi’s recent resignation, which is effective 31 May.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the EU has taken a leading role, and while cooperation between the EU and the UN is strong on some other issues, particularly on the CAR, it is less so on the issue of Ukraine, where the EU—together with the US and Russia—has a more prominent role than the Council.
The EU has been playing an important role through mediation efforts, financial assistance and a socio-economic development agenda. Together with Russia, Ukraine and the US, the EU is a party to the Geneva Joint Statement of 17 April which called for de-escalation of tensions, disarmament of illegally-formed armed groups and amnesty for protesters who surrender weapons and leave occupied public buildings. The statement also called for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to play a leading role in assisting to implement these measures.
Aside from discussion on de-escalating the crisis more generally, the upcoming 25 May presidential elections in Ukraine are likely to be the focus of tomorrow’s discussion on Ukraine. EU member states will be actively involved in monitoring the elections through participation of a number of EU countries in an OSCE observer mission in Ukraine. The EU has placed great importance on free and democratic elections in Ukraine as one of the first steps towards further constitutional reform in the country. In that context, the members of the PSC are likely to reiterate the common position of the EU concerning the respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.