12 January 2007
Security Council
SC/8940

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

2006 Round-up


SECURITY COUNCIL CONFRONTS AMBITIOUS AGENDA IN 2006, BROKERING CEASEFIRES,


EASING DIFFICULT TRANSITIONS, BLUNTING RELAPSES INTO CONFLICT


Major Concerns Addressed Include War in Lebanon, Arab-Israeli

Conflict , Sudan, Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Iraq, Afghanistan, Terrorism


In the face of complex and interrelated threats that spanned the globe and crisscrossed national and regional borders, the United Nations Security Council confronted an ambitious agenda in 2006 by brokering cessations of hostilities, easing difficult transitions and blunting relapses into conflict.


The Council convened 224 formal meetings, adopting 87 resolutions and issuing 59 presidential statements.  The veto was used twice by the United States concerning the Middle East on the question of Palestine.  Also, in a special meeting on 22 December, the Council paid tribute to Secretary-General Kofi Annan who stepped down at the end of the year after a decade at the helm of the world body.


Throughout the year, the Council wrestled with a wide range of political processes, perhaps none more intractable than the Middle East, as war engulfed Lebanon and the painful stalemate persisted over the question of Palestine.  The 15-member world body was crucial in ending the fighting between Lebanon and Israel and it responded firmly to the nuclear proliferation questions posed by Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  It worked tirelessly to bring peace to Darfur, boosted African Union efforts to quell the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and supported the first free elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 40 years.


The second half of the year again saw part of the Middle East descend into crisis and confrontation.  The 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon -- prompted by the kidnapping on 12 July of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah fighters across the Blue Line and their indiscriminate bomb attacks into Israel -- destabilized the already tense border area and threatened to engulf the entire region.  Following a decision by the Lebanese Government on 7 August to deploy a Lebanese armed force of 15,000 troops in South Lebanon as the Israeli army withdrew behind the Blue Line, the Council acted in concert on 11 August to request the assistance of additional forces from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and to call for a full cessation of hostilities and permanent ceasefire.


The political climate remained tense in Lebanon and the wider region, and Lebanon faced monumental challenges.  Still, in the immediate aftermath of the war, there was some optimism that the settlement of the conflict could push the parties in the region towards reviving the stalled Middle East peace process, particularly on the question of Palestine.


During a high-level meeting of the Security Council on 21 September, in the margins of the General Assembly’s debate, suggestions were made, including by the Arab League, that the Council could initiate negotiations between the parties, relaunch the peace process, reinvigorate the Road Map and even devise a new mechanism for implementing it.  In the remaining months of the year, however, renewed violence in Gaza and internal rivalry among Palestinian factions dimmed hopes for such a renewal.


Tensions were near the breaking point in the region, Secretary-General Annan told the Council on 12 December, with extremism and populism leaving less political space for moderates.  Welcome moves towards democracy, such as elections, had simultaneously posed a quandary in bringing to power parties, individuals and movements that opposed the basis of current peacemaking approaches.  The opportunity for negotiating a two-State solution would last for only so long.  “Should we fail to seize it, the people who most directly bear the brunt of this calamity will be consigned to new depths of suffering and grief.  Other conflicts and problems will become that much harder to resolve, and extremists the world over would enjoy a boost to their recruiting efforts,” he said, urging the Council to develop a new understanding of the uncertainty engulfing the Middle East and shoulder its full responsibility to resolve it and stabilize the region.


The Middle East had shaped the Organization like no other, he added.  The Arab-Israeli conflict was not just one regional conflict among many; no other conflict carried such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge, even for people far away.  While the quest for peace in the Middle East had registered some important achievements over the years, a final settlement had defied the best efforts of several generations of world leaders, and he told the Council that he too would leave office without an end to the prolonged agony, with the situation more complex, more fragile and more dangerous than it had been for a very long time.


In Africa, the Council’s commitment, indeed its ambition, to prevent armed conflict, underpinned its efforts again in 2006 as its members strove to reduce political tensions and violence across a continent indelibly scarred by violent conflict.  Well over half the United Nations “Blue Helmets” were operating in eight African countries, with the potential for a greatly expanded United Nations presence in the Sudan should the hybrid United Nations-African Union force recently approved by the Sudanese Government be realized in 2007.  Nowhere perhaps was the realization of the shared responsibility to protect more elusive than in Darfur.  Earlier in 2006, Mr. Annan had said that that situation was a potent reminder that the Security Council could build peace and stability only where there was sustained local political support.


Absent that support throughout the year, more and more misery befell the population of that war-ravaged region, and there were worrying reports that the violence had spilled over into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic.


In a briefing in mid-December, the lead Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court told the Council that the “Court of last resort” was completing its investigation of individuals who allegedly bore the greatest responsibility for the worst crimes in Darfur.  The evidence had provided “reasonable ground to believe” that the individuals had committed crimes against humanity, such as murder, wilful killings, rape and torture.  His office could not investigate the hundreds of alleged such crimes in Darfur, so it had focused on the most serious, hoping to send a signal that such crimes could not be committed with impunity.  The strength of that signal, however, depended on the cooperation of both the Security Council and the Sudanese Government, he had stressed.


Somalia plunged into a dangerous escalation of hostilities in the last days of the year involving foreign forces and the use of heavy weapons and aircraft, compounding its already protracted crisis.  That prompted a high-level Council briefing on unfolding developments just four days after the 15-member body had called on the parties --- the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts -- to draw back from conflict and recommit to dialogue.  During consultations that followed, the Council explored ways to halt the hostilities, avert a greater crisis in Somalia and the wider region, and encourage the Somali parties to return to the political reconciliation efforts that had stalled in their third round in Khartoum in October, owing to growing gaps in the preconditions of the two sides.


The Council also faced nuclear proliferation threats in 2006, which demonstrated the relevance of the 2004 report of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.  That report had urged the United Nations to defuse the mounting tension between the goals of achieving amore effective non-proliferation regime and the right of all signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to develop civilian nuclear industries.  It warned that “the erosion of the non–proliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation”.  As if evidence of that erosion, the Council was forced to confront a nuclear weapons test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Iran’s refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced on 9 October that it had conducted its test.  On 14 October, the Council imposed sanctions on that country and called for it to return immediately to multilateral talks on the issue.  It barred automatic military enforcements of its demands, under the Charter’s Article 41 of Chapter VII, but it prevented a range of goods from entering and leaving the country and imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on persons related to the nuclear-weapon programme.  Earlier, on 15 July, the Council had condemned the country’s test-firing of a series of missiles, demanding that it suspend all ballistic missile-related activity and reinstate its moratorium on missile launches.


On Iran, concerned by the proliferation risks presented by its nuclear programme and by its continuing failure to meet the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and resolution 1696 demanding suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, the Council decided on 23 December to block the import or export of sensitive nuclear material and equipment and freeze the financial assets of persons or entities supporting Iran’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems.  In a swift response, Iran’s representative told the Council that the “unlawful demand” for a suspension, to which his country had complied for two years, was not aimed at a solution, but at compelling Iran to abandon its rights to peaceful nuclear technology.


In Iraq, the Council was informed in a Secretary-General report that by the end of the year, it stood on the brink of civil war and chaos.  In a briefing in mid-December, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, said that an all-out civil war, and even a regional conflict, had become much more real.  Many parts of the country were ravaged daily by sectarian violence and civil strife, insurgent and terrorist attacks.  Mounting militia activities had further destabilized Iraq, and high levels of civilian casualties and displacement were breeding insecurity and deep pessimism.  If the deteriorating security situation was not reversed, Iraq’s political prospects would be progressively undermined, Mr. Qazi warned.


To avoid a national catastrophe, Secretary-General Annan had some suggestions for the Iraqi Government on 7 December:  develop a fully inclusive political process that focused on bringing all disenfranchised communities into the political mainstream; establish a monopoly over the use of force through the instruments of security and law enforcement within the framework of the rule of law, by addressing terrorist, insurgent, sectarian and criminal violence and dealing with the problem of militias inside Iraq’s communities, as well as removing militia elements from all ministries and the Iraqi security forces; and cultivate a regional environment supportive of Iraq’s transition.  In that regard, the Government had a special responsibility to normalize its relations with its neighbours, which in turn, required that its neighbours work towards fostering greater stability and security in Iraq.


Afghanistan remained another challenging environment for the United Nations in 2006, with the Council-authorized peacekeeping operation continuing to facilitate the complex transitional political process increasingly aimed at blunting a relapse into the dynamics that had plunged the country into years of war.  The growing Taliban-led insurgency and widespread insecurity in the south and east of the country, as well as an upsurge in illegal drug production and trafficking, and pervasive corruption in the governing systems, combined with the very fragile State institutions, had fuelled the disillusionment of the Afghan people and begun to erode their confidence in the country’s fledging institutions.  After decades of conflict, Afghanistan had finally begun its reconciliation and reconstruction, but, as a Council mission to the country in November reported upon its return, progress would not be linear or swift.


“Terrorism attacks the values that lie at the heart of the Charter… [it] flourishes in environments of despair, humiliation, poverty, political oppression, extremism and human rights abuse; it also flourishes in the context of regional conflict and foreign occupation,” reported the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change in December 2004.  Secretary-General Annan noted in 2006 that United Nations counter-terrorism activities had expanded dramatically to address that growing challenge.  Milestone Security Council resolutions 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001), 1540 (2004) and 1624 (2005) and the expert groups that support the three counter-terrorism subsidiary bodies had made States more responsible for taking steps to prevent terrorist financing, travel and access to weapons of mass destruction, as well as incitement to terrorism.


This year, the Security Council reiterated its unequivocal condemnation of Al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and the Taliban for ongoing and multiple criminal terrorist acts, and it tightened its listing and de-listing procedures to enhance the identification of terrorists.  It also urged States to redouble their efforts to freeze terrorists’ funds, prevent their entry into or transit through their territories and ban the supply to them of weapons or ammunition.


To address the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors, the Council decided to extend for two years the mandate of its “1540 Committee”, set up by a Council in 2004 in recognition of the urgent need for all States to take additional effective measures to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and determined to facilitate an effective response to global non-proliferation threats.


Following are summaries of major actions taken by the Council in 2006:


Middle East


Capping the Council’s consideration of the situation in the Middle East on 12 December, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported that the region was “near the breaking point”.  A final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict had defied the best efforts of several generations of world leaders, and he would also be leaving office without an end to the prolonged agony.


Warning that the region was in profound crisis, Mr. Annan said that mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians had reached new heights.  The Gaza Strip had become a “cauldron of deepening poverty and frustration”, and the overall situation was more complex, more fragile and more dangerous than it had been for a very long time.  He addressed “frank messages” to both sides, and cautioned that the opportunity for negotiating a two-State solution would last for only so long.


The meeting culminated in the adoption of a presidential statement reaffirming the Council’s profound attachment to the vision of two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.


Earlier, at a ministerial-level meeting of the Council held on 21 September in the margins of the General Assembly’s annual debate, the Secretary-General had warned that the continued failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict called into question the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council itself.  The past summer had been a reminder of how dangerous it was to leave the conflict unresolved, and how interconnected the region’s problems were.  Large majorities on either side desired peace; what they desperately needed was a bridge to peace wide enough to accommodate all who had a legitimate stake in the process, long enough to span the enormous gulf of mistrust that separated the parties and strong enough to withstand the inevitable efforts to sabotage it, he had stated.


Israel/Palestine


Consideration of the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, began in 2006 with some dramatic developments in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s significant stroke on 4 January and the victory on 25 January by Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections (Hamas had won a majority of 74 seats and the Fatah, 45 seats, with the remaining 13 going to smaller parties and independents).


Briefing the Council on 31 January, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Angela Kane, said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had indicated his eagerness to begin consultation on the establishment of a new Government, while Hamas leaders had expressed their wish for change and reform.


On 3 February, in a presidential statement, the Council congratulated the Palestinian people on a free, fair, and secure electoral process, and expressed its view that all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to the Road Map, previous agreements and obligations between the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a negotiated two-State solution.


United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, Alvaro de Soto, told the Council in a briefing on 28 February that the collapse or sacrifice of the Palestinian Authority could end all hopes of achieving a Palestinian State in a reasonable time frame.  He described a functioning Authority as an essential building block for a Palestinian State, and emphasized the vital need for a “credible political horizon” for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Peace could not be imposed unilaterally or achieved durably outside the regional framework of the regional Middle East peace process, he said.


Briefing on 30 March, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, reported on the major political developments, including the establishment of a new Palestinian Government, the conduct of a general election in Israel, and the beginning of an important national dialogue in Lebanon.


In the wake of mounting violence that included a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on 17 April and the Council’s failure to agree on a presidential statement on that situation the previous week, the Council held an open debate on 17 April.  Many of the 30 speakers expressed alarm at the recent violent escalation and urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint and do their utmost to curb attacks and counter-attacks that could undermine a return to the peace process.


Briefing the Council a few days later, on 24 April, Mr. de Soto said that stabilizing the security environment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was a major challenge, the primary responsibility for which lay with the parties concerned.  The responsible authorities must take firm measures to prevent terrorist and rocket attacks against Israel, end the long-running jockeying among the Palestinian security services, and immediately institute closer coordination.  The Israeli side should respond proportionately, in a way that did not endanger the civilian population.  Both parties must abide by the principles of international law and avoid actions that put the peace process at risk.  He also noted the presence of a still unresolved struggle between President Abbas and the new Government, in developments that made for a “potentially dangerous brew”.


The following month, on 24 May, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, told the Council that the takeover by Hamas of the Palestinian Authority, inter-factional tensions in Gaza and the new Israeli Government had produced a new set of challenges and opportunities for the international community, including a serious humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Among the areas of concern were the continued closure of the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza and the withholding for three months of the salaries of some 155,000 Palestinian public sector workers.


Increasing volatility and violence characterized the month-long reporting period that followed.  Israel had stepped up its policy of targeted killings of militants and shelling of areas in Gaza, and its ground troops had entered the Gaza Strip for the first time since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, killing five Palestinians.  The United Nations, in that reporting period, had recorded 176 rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards Israeli territory, some hitting Israeli towns and cities, injuring five civilians and damaging private and Government property, including a school.  For the first time in well over a year, Hamas had claimed responsibility for rockets launched at Israel.


Addressing the Council again on 21 June, Mr. Gambari urged the cessation of all acts of violence.  He also reported infighting between Hamas and Fatah.  Deadly clashes and factional tensions since Hamas won the election in January had led by June to the killing of local leaders and claimed the lives of many bystanders, including women and children.  Several violent protests had also taken place in Gaza and the West Bank involving rival factions and civil servants angry at not receiving salary payments.  With efforts under way to broker a compromise on power-sharing, the Under-Secretary-General encouraged all Palestinian parties to “leave no stone unturned” in ensuring the harmonious and coherent operation of security forces, and to achieve consensus on a political programme that responded to the Palestinian peoples’ desire for a peacefully negotiated two-State solution.


During a Council meeting on 30 June at the request of Qatar and the Arab League to consider the growing crisis, which involved a Palestinian militant attack that led to the abduction of a member of the Israel Defense Forces, Corporal Gilad Shalit, and the subsequent Israeli military incursions into Gaza, Ms. Kane urged both parties to “step back from the brink” and give dialogue a chance, in order to avert a full-scale confrontation that would only lock the parties in deeper and deadlier conflict.  The slightest turn of events could easily set off another full-scale conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, she warned.


On 13 July, the United States vetoed a draft resolution that would have demanded that Israel halt its two-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip.  Ten Council members voted in favour of the text and four abstained ( Denmark, Peru, Slovakia, United Kingdom).  The resolution, sponsored by Qatar, an elected member, would have condemned Israel’s current “military assault” in Gaza and called on the Palestinian authority to take immediate action to bring an end to violence, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory.


Warning the Council on 19 October that, as a “deadly crisis” continued in Gaza, it was urgent to help restart dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians and reconcile Palestinian parties, Mr. de Soto briefed on the situation.  He said that the “virtual siege” of Gaza was devastating the lives of ordinary Palestinians, stifling hope and fomenting despair, while the continued dangerous launching of rockets at Israeli population centres, such as at Sderot, was a source of deep distress for ordinary Israelis.  Regarding the Palestinian political crisis, he could offer no simple quick fix; a National Unity Government was the only way to stem the slide into anarchy.  That required international support, which reflected the principles of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet ( United Nations, United States, European Union and the Russian Federation).


During a day-long meeting on 9 November, called jointly by the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement in light of intensifying Israeli military operations in Gaza fuelled the previous day by the deaths of at least 18 civilians in Beit Hanoun, more than 40 speakers expressed grave concern at the mounting humanitarian toll, with many demanding an immediate ceasefire and deployment of United Nations observers.


On 11 November, the Council again failed to adopt a draft resolution on the Middle East, owing to a negative vote by the United States.  The text would have condemned Israeli military operations in Gaza, killing civilians, as well as Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.  It would have called for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip and a cessation of violence by both parties.  The resolution would also have asked the Secretary-General to establish a fact-finding mission on the 8 November incident in Beit Hanoun.


As Israel’s military operation in Gaza entered its six month, Mr. Gambari reported to the Council on 21 November.  “We have seen another month of violence in the Middle East -- one that for the tragedy of Beit Hanoun will almost certainly be remembered as a dark hour in this very long conflict.”  He said that, during the past month, 128 Palestinians and one Israeli had been killed, with over 380 Palestinians injured.  The escalation of violence had been alarming and the November events had highlighted the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be resolved through force.


Lebanon


The Security Council first became engaged in Lebanon in 1978, three years after the start of its tragic and bloody 15-year civil war, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 120,000 people and the deployment of foreign troops on and off throughout the period from nearly a dozen countries, at the request of the Lebanese Government, to help end the fighting.


The Council’s involvement in 2006 was on three main tracks.  The first concerned implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), which had called for the withdrawal of all remaining foreign forces from the country.  The second concerned the investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and the third was the 34-day war with Israel, triggered by the kidnapping on 12 July of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah fighters across the Blue Line and their indiscriminate bomb attacks against Israel.


Acting unanimously, the Council also extended the mandate of the 28-year-old United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), first on 31 January until 31 July, by resolution 1655, and again, in the setting of the conflict between Israel and Hizbollah, on 31 July, for one month, until 31 August, passing resolution 1697.  On 11 August, the Council adopted resolution 1701, calling for a cessation of hostilities and further extending the UNIFIL’s mandate until the end of August 2007 and increasing the mission’s troop strength, from 2,000 to up to 15,000.


Lebanon/Syria (1559)


When the Secretary-General first reported on implementation of resolution 1559 in October 2004, he said, “It is time, 14 years after the end of hostilities and four years after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, for all parties concerned to set aside the remaining vestiges of the past.  The withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history” (document S/2004/777), referring, of course, to the civil war.


Syria first deployed troops in Lebanon in May 1976, at the request of Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh.  By the end of 2004 about 14,000 Syrian troops remained in Lebanon, although, the Lebanese Government informed the Secretary-General that the “current fragile security situation in the region, and its concern regarding potential risks to Lebanon’s domestic stability, render it difficult to establish a timetable for the full withdrawal of Syrian forces”.


On 23 January 2006, the Council, in a presidential statement, noted significant progress in Lebanon towards implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), particularly the withdrawal of Syrian forces and the holding of parliamentary elections in 2005, but it regretted that other provisions of that text, mainly the disarming of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, had yet to be implemented.  At the same time, the Council condemned the continued terrorist attacks in Lebanon, which it called part of a deliberate strategy to destabilize the country and intimidate the Lebanese people, their Government and the media.


Addressing the Council on 21 April, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that, after many years of civil strife, Israeli occupation and Syrian presence, the great historic transition that the Lebanese people had begun a year earlier was not yet complete, but important strides had been made on the road towards self-governance, stability, democracy and increased prosperity.


In a presidential statement on 30 October, the Council noted important progress in the extension of the Lebanese Government’s authority throughout the country, but reiterated its call for the disbanding of militias and strict respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of the country, along with all other unmet provisions of its resolution 1559 (2004).  The Council regretted that such provisions, which also required free and fair presidential elections conducted according to Lebanese Constitutional rules without foreign interference, had yet to be implemented.


On 12 December, the Council, in another presidential statement, reiterated its full support for the legitimate and democratically elected Lebanese Government, and condemned any effort to destabilize the country.  It called on all Lebanese political parties to show responsibility, with a view to preventing, through dialogue, further deterioration of the situation in that country.


Also by that statement, the Council reiterated deep concern at the latest reports, though unverified, of illegal movements of arms into Lebanon, but welcomed initial steps by the Government, notably the deployment of 8,000 troops along the border, to prevent such arms movements.  It again called on Syria to take similar measures to reinforce border controls.


Hariri Investigation


On 16 March, Serge Brammertz, the head investigator into the February 2005 killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and 22 others, who had assumed his responsibilities on 19 January, updated the Council on progress in the probe.


Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1664 (2006) on 29 March, the Council requested the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with the Lebanese Government aimed at establishing a tribunal of an international character to try those found responsible for the killing of Mr. Hariri and 22 others.


“The crime must be considered a targeted assassination,” Mr. Brammertz told the Council in a further briefing on 14 June, citing critical forensic evidence that pointed to an above-ground explosion on 14 February 2005, a large, improvised explosive device placed in a Mitsubishi truck and detonated as the Hariri convoy passed by.   However, the investigative Commission said the evidence did not support the claim of responsibility for the attack by Ahmed Abu Adass.  The probe was developing a hypothesis regarding those who had commissioned the crime.


On 15 June, the Council, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1686, extended the investigative Commission’s mandate until mid-June 2007.


Mr. Brammertz told the Council on 29 September that, despite the war in Lebanon, progress had been made in the investigation over the last three months and 20 major investigation and analysis projects were ongoing, focusing on consolidating the results of the forensic examination of the crime scene.


On 21 November, the Council issued a presidential statement unequivocally condemning the assassination in Beirut of Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel.  It also condemned any attempt to destabilize Lebanon through political assassination or other terrorist acts, and expressed grave concern at the assassination and its possible impact on efforts to solidify democracy, extend Government authority throughout its territory and complete the reconstruction process.


Briefing the Council on the investigation for the last time in 2006 on 18 December, Mr. Brammertz said that the Commission had reached a critical stage in its work, although the political climate in Lebanon had been volatile during the reporting period.  Progress had been made in two key areas, namely, developing crime scene evidence and investigating potential perpetrators.  It could now confirm, among other things, that there had been only one blast, with an RDX-based high explosive, and the Mitsubishi van had been the carrier of the improvised explosive device.  It was also likely that a person triggered the explosion from within or immediately in front of the van, rather than via a remote-controlled device.


In addition, he said that the Commission continued to collect information about the increasing threats and pressure on Mr. Hariri during the last 15 months of his life, an analysis of which had revealed several potential motives to kill him.  The majority were, in one way or another, linked to his political activities.  At this stage of the investigation, a smaller number of motives had emerged as the most plausible.  The Commission cooperated closely with the Lebanese authorities, and he characterized cooperation with Syria as “generally satisfactory”.


Lebanon/Israel


In an urgent meeting of the Council on 14 July to discuss the intensifying violence between Israel and Hizbollah in Lebanon, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs called on all sides in the worsening conflict to show restraint and allow diplomacy to work, warning that a window of opportunity was “quickly closing”.  In the meeting requested by Lebanon, Ibrahim Gambari expressed “deep alarm” at the spiral of violence sparked by the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers.  Parts of Lebanon were now under blockade and heavy Israeli military action, while Israel was being subjected to indiscriminate bomb attacks by Hizbollah, he reported.


On 20 July, with the bloody conflict engulfing Lebanon and northern Israel, the Secretary-General, addressing the Council, called for an immediate cessation of hostilities to prevent further loss of innocent life, allow full humanitarian access to those in need and to give diplomacy a chance to work.  He urged the Council to “speak with one voice in the coming days”.


Reporting on UNIFIL’s operation on 21 July (document S/2006/560), the Secretary-General said that the hostilities between Hizbollah and Israel since 12 July had “radically changed” the context in which UNIFIL, whose mandate was due to expire on 31 July, was operating.  In the current environment, circumstances conducive to United Nations peacekeeping “do not exist”.  He reported on Lebanon’s request to extend UNIFIL’s mandate for a further six months, yet, given his view that a return to the status quo ante did not appear feasible, he recommended an extension of just one month, in order to give the Council time to consider all possible options for future arrangements with respect to south Lebanon.


Also on 21 July, in a briefing to the Council on a senior-level mission to the region, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Vijay Nambiar, said it had become clear that there were serious obstacles to achieving a comprehensive ceasefire in the immediate future.  He said a political package that would pave the way for a full and durable ceasefire should include the end of the Hizbollah threat against Israel and full respect by all Lebanese parties and all Lebanon’s neighbours for the Lebanese Government’s sovereignty and control.


Mr. Nambiar further reported that Lebanon’s leadership had expressed pain and frustration over the scope of Israel’s military actions, incredulous that Israel would carry out actions, which would, in the long run, inevitably help Hizbollah.  Israel’s leadership had stressed Hizbollah’s responsibility for initiating the conflict, making clear Israel’s decision to continue its military activities until Hizbollah was seriously weakened.  After that, Israel would welcome a political framework that ensured no return to the status quo ante and would facilitate implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), he said.


Following the firing by Israel Defence Forces on the United Nations observers post in southern Lebanon on 25 July, which caused the death of four peacekeepers, the Council, on 27 July, expressed deep shock and distress in a presidential statement, and called on the Government of Israel to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the incident.


In an emergency meeting on 30 July, held in the wake of an Israeli air strike that had killed dozens of civilians in the southern Lebanese village of Qana, the Secretary-General called on the Council to condemn the attack in the strongest possible terms and to take immediate action to halt the spiralling violence between Israel and Hizbollah, “for the sake of the people of the region and of this Organization”.


That evening, in another meeting, the Council expressed “extreme shock and distress” at the shelling of a residential building in southern Lebanon, and called for an end to the violence, in a presidential statement in which the Council also vowed to begin work immediately on a resolution that would lead to a lasting settlement of the crisis.


The next day, on 31 July, the Council, having examined the Secretary-General’s report on UNIFIL, extended the mandate for one month until 31 August, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1697 (2006).  Also by that text, it expressed the deepest concern at the escalation of hostilities and urged all concerned parties to avoid actions that might endanger United Nations staff.


When the Council met again that day at Lebanon’s request, the Minister of Culture and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, Tarek Mitri, forcefully reiterated his Government’s call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, as the necessary prelude to a political discussion.  No political settlement could emerge amid the severe bombardment of Lebanon’s towns and villages, bridges and shelters.  The onslaught, which had continued unabated, had to stop.  He had come from Beirut to the Security Council bearing images of horror and hope -- hope that no one would ever see what he had seen or heard.


Israel’s Ambassador, Daniel Gillerman, agreed that there should not be a return to the status quo ante, stressing that Lebanon should never again be the battleground of others.  Israel had never had any claim over Lebanon, but had repeatedly been compelled to act, not against Lebanon, but against the “monster” that Lebanon had allowed to hold it hostage -- by “tyrants in the north, namely Syria, who regarded northern Lebanon as southern Syria”.  Lebanon, he said, had been taken hostage by terrorism of the worst kind -- the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1980s and Hizbollah in the 1990s.


Opening a fresh round of diplomatic talks to end the crisis, Arab League officials pressed the Council on 8 August to rework a draft resolution proposed by the United States and France to include a demand for a comprehensive ceasefire, and for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Lebanon so that a proposed 15,000 Lebanese troops and a beefed-up United Nations peacekeeping force could be deployed in the war-ravaged south.


( France and the United States had presented a negotiated draft on Saturday, 5 August, calling for a “full cessation of hostilities” and saying Hizbollah must stop all attacks while Israel must halt all “offensive military operations”.  It was designed to pave the way for a second resolution that would quickly authorize an international force for the Israel-Lebanon border and the creation of a buffer zone between the Blue Line and the Litani River (about 12 miles from Israel’s border) free of Hizbollah militants and Israeli troops.  But, when the text met stiff resistance from Arab leaders, who said it disregarded critical Lebanese concerns in favour of Israel, the Council delayed a vote so that it could weigh the new proposal.)


Then, on 11 August, capping a week of intense talks on the French- and United States-negotiated text, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1701 calling for a full cessation of hostilities in the month-long war between Israel and Hizbollah, and mapping out a formula for the phased withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from southern Lebanon, while up to 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers would help Lebanese troops take control of the area.


Briefing the Council on 22 August, Mr. Gambari said that the settlement of the month-long conflict could, with “prompt, concerted action”, push the parties in the region towards reviving the stalled Middle East peace process, particularly on the question of Palestine.


Israel/Syria


The Council twice renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has supervised the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.  On both occasions, first on 13 June and then on 15 December, the unanimously adopted resolutions extending the mandate for further six-month periods were accompanied by a presidential statement, in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “… the situation is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive agreement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.  The most recent extension would take the Force through 30 June 2007.


Africa


Holding a thematic debate on the situation in Africa on 27 January, the Council stressed the need for Governments in Africa’s Great Lakes region to disarm and demobilize militias and armed groups which continued to attack civilians, United Nations and humanitarian personnel, threatening the stability of individual States, as well as the region as a whole.


By unanimous adoption of resolution 1653 following the day-long debate, in which several Foreign Ministers participated, the Council strongly condemned the activities of such groups as the Forces democratique de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), Burundi’s Palipehutu-Forces national de liberation (FNL) and Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and demanded that all such groups lay down their arms and engage voluntarily and without delay or preconditions in their disarmament, repatriation or resettlement.


The Council held another debate on the Great Lakes Region on 20 December, hearing two briefings on the situation in the region, by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Ibrahima Fall, and the First Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, Liberata Mulamula.


Adopting a presidential statement at the conclusion of the meeting, the Council congratulated regional leaders on the signing of the 15 December Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, heralding it as an important cornerstone in the architecture for peace and prosperity in the region.  Commending the countries of the region for the successful conclusion of the second summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Nairobi, Kenya, the Council welcomed the decision to establish a regional follow-up mechanism to include a Conference Secretariat and to establish its offices in Bujumbura, Burundi.


The Council also supported the request of the regional inter-ministerial committee to extend the mandate of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for a final three-month period, until 31 March 2007, with a view to ensuring “regional ownership” of the follow-up mechanism and successfully completing the transition to the Conference Secretariat.


Briefing the Council on African conflicts in his capacity as the African Union Chairman on 31 May, the Congo’s President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, said it was possible to glimpse light at the end of the tunnel as scenarios developed for the ending of such African conflicts as those in Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur, thanks to the road maps, timetables and scenarios developed by the international community.  Most of Africa’s conflicts were not new, he said, noting the tragic case of Somalia, the situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the crisis in northern Uganda and the Western Sahara dispute.  On the other hand, conflicts that had been among the worst on the continent had been settled in an encouraging way.  The Angolan civil war was just a “bad memory”, as were the crises in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and, more recently, Burundi.


The continent was heading in the right direction, he said, even if that movement was not in a straight line and often remained fragile.  In implementing the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, Africa had the appropriate tools, particularly the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and the non-aggression and common defence pact adopted in Abuja in January 2005.  While there was a long way to go, the longest journey always began with the first step, and nowhere was it written that tragedy must remain at the heart of Africa’s future.


Taking up the issue of peace consolidation in West Africa in a day-long debate on 9 August, the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement, called for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to help the region’s Governments consolidate peace and address such cross-border issues as the flow of illegal small arms, youth unemployment, disarming ex-fighters and the exploitation of natural resources.  Reading out the statement, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nana Akufo-Addo, stressed the continued need for West African States and ECOWAS to curb illicit cross-border activities, and reiterated the importance of all West African leaders to work together for peace and security.


Sudan


The deteriorating situation in Darfur, a territory roughly the size of France, and the threat of the conflict spilling over its borders to Chad remained a source of grave concern in 2006, with the Council meeting more than 20 times to address the question of the Sudan.


At least 200,000 people are estimated to have been killed as a result of the three-year conflict in the remote western province of the Sudan.  Further compounding the situation is the fact that the Darfur conflict has been playing out amid the civil war between the north and south of the Sudan, which lasted more than 20 years and was not halted until the peace agreement of 9 January 2005.


With repeated warnings of the consequences of inaction coming from many quarters, including the Secretary-General, his Special Representative, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and the International Criminal Court’s lead Prosecutor, the Council sought to shore up support for the transition from an African Union force -– originally sent in 2004 as a ceasefire military force -- to a United Nations operation.  Facing resistance from the Sudan’s Government to the idea of a United Nations force, the Council later in the year set out to establish the grounds for a “hybrid” African Union-United Nations force.  While the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May ushered in new hope that a lasting settlement was in sight, those hopes were shattered as the fighting and suffering in Darfur continued unabated throughout the year.


An announcement on what was expected to be the Council’s last day of business for the year brought renewed hope, however, that the Council “was at least close to rescuing the people of Darfur from their agony”.  Addressing the Council in a farewell statement, Secretary-General Kofi Annan informed members that he was hopeful that Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would indicate, as early as the next day, his agreement to a full ceasefire in Darfur and the eventual deployment of an African Union-United Nations hybrid force to protect the population.


Five days later, on 27 December, the Secretary-General announced in a statement that the Sudan’s President had accepted a three-phased approach leading to the deployment of a hybrid United Nations-African Union force in Darfur.  The hybrid force could have about 17,000 troops and 3,000 police, compared to the current African Union Mission’s strength of 7,000.  Responding to the news in a press statement, the Council underlined its willingness to continue their close cooperation with the African Union and to continue to give priority to the issue.


Fighting first broke out in Darfur in early 2003 between the pro-Government Arab militias known as the Janjaweed and rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  The rebels were demanding economic and political reforms, reportedly frustrated by what it deemed Khartoum’s marginalization of Darfur.  While the current conflict started with an armed rebellion against the Government, most of the targeted violence resulted from a scorched-earth policy adopted by the armed militias, resulting in the displacement of some 2 million people within Darfur and across the border to Chad.


Starting off the year with a comprehensive briefing on the situation in the country, Jan Pronk, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the Head of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), told the Council on 13 January that, a year after its signing, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan’s Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) stood firm.  While the tragic death of John Garang, leader of the South, less than a month after he had been sworn in as the Sudan’s new Vice-President, had caused consternation and delays, neither party had found a reason to deviate from the Agreement.  The Agreement’s implementation, though slow, remained on track and was moving forward.


In one year, two new Constitutions had been adopted, one for Sudan and one for Southern Sudan, he added.  Two new Governments had been formed and all institutions that had to be established on the basis of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had been set up.  While some had hardly met and others faced political disputes, the spirit of the agreement “stood tall”.  Having started convening shortly after the adoption of resolution 1590 (2005) mandating the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to monitor the Peace Agreement, the Ceasefire Joint Military Committee (CJMC), the only United Nations-led institution, had been able to reach consensus on most issues regarding the interpretation and implementation of the ceasefire paragraphs of the Agreement. 


Just a few days later, sounding the alarm about the rising threat level for humanitarian workers in areas of West Darfur, Antonió Manuel Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, warned on 24 January that the conflict had now spread across the border into Chad, and described Sudan-Chad as probably the largest and most complex humanitarian problem on the globe.  Averting catastrophe in Darfur would require bold measures and the full involvement of the United Nations and the African Union.  Preventing a disastrous human toll in Darfur required a peace agreement, not as a solution to the problem, but as the start to a complex peace process of reconciliation.  To reach that required the Council’s full commitment.  “Who can defy you if you act together?” he asked.


In a presidential statement adopted on 3 February, the Council asked the Secretary-General to initiate immediate contingency planning on options for a possible transition from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) to a United Nations operation.


The Council adopted three resolutions during the year extending UNMIS, which was originally established in 2005.  Resolution 1663 extended the mandate until 24 September, resolution 1709 extended the Mission until 8 October and resolution 1714 extended it until 30 April 2007.


The Council expanded the Mission’s mandate to include its deployment to Darfur in order to support the early and effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement by adopting resolution 1706 on 31 August by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions ( China, Qatar, Russian Federation).  The Council invited the consent of the Sudanese Government of National Unity for that deployment, and called on Member States to ensure an expeditious deployment.


Updating the Council on 21 March, Special Representative Pronk said that, as the people of Darfur continued to yearn for peace, the killings, rapes and abuse of human rights, in direct violation of the agreements and Council resolutions, constituted a threat to peace in the Sudan.  Demands laid down in Council resolutions were brushed aside.  The Ndjamena ceasefire agreement did not function.  The Joint Committee did not meet, and the sanctions foreseen with the establishment of the Security Council panel of experts existed only in theory.


In a presidential statement adopted on 11 April, the Council expressed its regret at the decision of the Sudan’s Government of National Unity to deny entry of the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator to Darfur and called for an explanation on its decision.  The Council also expressed grave concern over the humanitarian consequences of the Government’s decision not to renew the contract of the Norwegian Refugee Council.  Reiterating its full support for the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the Conflict in Darfur in Abuja, Nigeria, the Council endorsed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council that 30 April was the final deadline for reaching an agreement.


Briefing the Council on 18 April, the African Union’s Special Envoy and Chief Mediator for the Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks on the Darfur Conflict, Salim Ahmed Salim, explained that a power-sharing formula was at the centre of proposals made by the African Union’s mediation in the Darfur conflict.  Stressing that security arrangements would probably make or break the Abuja negotiations, he pointed out the complexity of arranging both an immediate ceasefire and long-term final status arrangements.


Adopting a presidential statement on 25 April, the Council reiterated its endorsement of the 10 March decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council that an accord must be reached by 30 April, and strongly reiterated the need for all parties to the Darfur conflict to put an immediate end to the violence and atrocities in the region.


Also on 25 April, adopting resolution 1672 (2006) by a vote of 12 in favour to none against with 3 abstentions (China, Qatar, Russian Federation), the Council decided to impose the travel restrictions and financial sanctions specified in resolution 1592 (2005) on four Sudanese individuals:  Major General Gaffar Mohamed Elhassan, Commander of the Western Military Region for the Sudanese Air Force; Sheikh Musa Hilal, Paramount Chief of the Jalul Tribe in North Darfur; Adam Yacub Shant, Sudanese Liberation Army Commander; and Gabril Abdul Kareem Badri, National Movement for Reform and Development Field Commander.


On 5 May, an agreement was reached at the Intra-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja, and the Council meeting at the ministerial level on 9 May, in a presidential statement, strongly welcomed the agreement as a basis for lasting peace in Darfur, urging the movements that had not signed the accord to do so without delay, and not to impede its implementation.  The statement, read out by Congo’s Foreign Minister, Rodolphe Adaba, also expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Darfur and at the shortfall in funding.


Opening the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the ministerial meeting -– convened at short notice -- showed that the international community not only recognized the historic opportunity that was at hand, but also the urgency with which the international community must act if that opportunity was not to be lost.  Commending the Sudanese Government and the faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement that had signed the agreement, he stressed that this was not a moment for anyone to “bask in congratulations or rest on their laurels”.


Planning for the transition to a United Nations operation in Darfur must accelerate, he said, stressing that helping to protect the people of Darfur and to implement the Abuja agreement would be one of the biggest tests the United Nations had ever faced -– perhaps the biggest since those in Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia in the early 1990s.  “But it is a challenge we cannot refuse; and, having accepted it, we cannot delay,” he said.


The Council endorsed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the need for concrete steps to effect the transition in Darfur from AMIS to a United Nations operation, by unanimous adoption of resolution 1679 on 16 May.  It also called for the deployment of a joint African Union-United Nations technical assessment mission within one week from the resolution’s adoption.


A few days later, briefing the Council on his visit to the Sudan and Chad, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, said that, while the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement had brought real hope for the region, the next few weeks would be “make or break” for the millions whose lives were at stake.  With the Darfur Peace Agreement signed the day before his arrival in the Sudan, there was finally real hope that the corner was being turned.  “But, we can also still enter a downward spiral that will pull millions even further into the abyss,” he warned, adding that the alternative to peace could be catastrophic.


The Security Council sent a fact-finding mission to the Sudan and Chad, from 4 to 10 June and, on its return, the head of the mission, Emyr Jones Parry of the United Kingdom, said that, while agreement by the Sudanese Government to transfer the peacekeeping force in the still violent Darfur region from the African Union to the United Nations had not been reached, and might still be tortuous, the mission had edged further towards the probability that the Government would accept such a deployment.


France’s representative, Jean-Marc de La Sablière, who had jointly led the Chad portion of the mission, said that Chad’s refugee camps, which were filled with Chadians displaced by raids into their own country, as well as those fleeing Janjaweed attacks in Darfur camps, had revealed the vital need for the Council to address Darfur and the wider Sudan in parallel with the Chadian situation.  He urged the Secretary-General to devise a plan to provide international assistance to the camps, as a serious deterioration of the situation would follow if the issues were not quickly addressed.


“It is time to act on Darfur,” the Secretary-General told the Council on 11 September, noting that the tragedy there had reached a perilous moment.  He strongly urged the Council to rise to the occasion, adding that it was not the time for the middle ground or for half measures.


Amid deeply dismaying reports of renewed fighting, particularly in north Darfur, he said thousands of Sudanese armed forces had been deployed in clear violation of the peace accord and, even worse, the area had been subjected to renewed aerial bombardment.  He strongly condemned the escalation, saying the Government should stop the offensive immediately.  With 1.9 million people displaced and nearly 3 million dependent on international aid for food, shelter and medical treatment, the fighting had made it much harder for humanitarian workers to reach them.  Never since July 2004 had access been so severely limited.


On 18 September, Mr. Pronk returned to the Council and said that the Darfur Peace Agreement, while only four months old, was “nearly dead”.  Presenting his proposal for reviving the plan, he said the Agreement “ought to be under intensive care, but it is not”.  Bringing the Agreement “out of the coma” would require bringing on board the groups that had taken a political decision to step aside.  Also needed was the implementation of the Council’s resolution 1706 (2006), which made it crystal clear that the international community wanted a transition from an African Union to a United Nations force. 


Then, on 14 December, briefing the Council on the International Criminal Court investigation into those who bear the greatest responsibility for the worst crimes in Darfur, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Court’s lead Prosecutor, told the Council that the evidence provided “reasonable grounds to believe” that the individuals had committed crimes against humanity, such as murder, wilful killings and rape; and war crimes, such as torture and intentional attacks against civilians.  By referring the situation in Darfur to the “Court of last resort”, the Council had reaffirmed that peace and security required justice, not only for the past, but also for current crimes.  [The Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court on 31 March 2005.] 


In a presidential statement adopted on 15 December, the Council, expressing grave concern regarding the increase in military activities of armed groups in eastern Chad, strongly condemned all attempts at destabilization by force, including the recent offensive carried out by such groups in the Biltine and the Ouaddei, and expressed its concern regarding the threat that they posed for the safety of the civilian population and of humanitarian personnel and their operations.


In another presidential statement, adopted on 19 December, the Council called for immediate deployment of the United Nations Light and Heavy Support Package to AMIS and a hybrid operation in Darfur.  By the close of the year, the initial group of 25 uniformed personnel had arrived in Darfur to support AMIS, as part of the shared approval agreed to by the Sudan’s Government.


Somalia


Appealing to Somalia’s neighbours to stay out of the spiralling violence in that war-ravaged country, in his last days as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, leaving a closed-door meeting of the Council on 27 December, said it was essential that neighbouring countries respect Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Recalling that the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had indicated its willingness to deploy troops in Somalia, he said he was not sure that could happen in the current climate.


On 26 December, urging the Council to call on the two sides to immediately halt the fighting in Somalia, François Lonseny Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia and the Head of the United Nations Political Office for that country, said the crisis there had escalated dangerously, as hostilities between the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts had expanded across a 400-kilometre wide front, involving foreign forces and the use of heavy weapons and aircraft.  In that regard, he noted that, in the weeks leading to the Council’s adoption of resolution 1725 on 6 December that modified the arms embargo and authorized the establishment of a joint IGAD-African Union force to protect the Transitional Government in Baidoa, there had been a gradual escalation in war rhetoric and tension between the sides.


On 22 December, meeting on what was expected to be its last day of business in 2006, the Council called on all parties to draw back from conflict, recommit to dialogue and immediately implement its resolution 1725 of 6 December.  Through its adoption of a presidential statement, the Council expressed the call to refrain from any action that could provoke or perpetuate violence and human rights violations, contribute to unnecessary tension and mistrust, endanger the ceasefire and political process or further damage the humanitarian situation.


Somalia has not had a functioning Government since 1991.  While the Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts had been holding talks in Khartoum, the latest round scheduled for October was postponed over the issue of preconditions, with violence flaring between the parties earlier in December.


Following a decade of anarchy and famine in the country, a national reconciliation process began with a multi-faction peace conference in Arta, Djibouti, in the middle of 2000, and the formation of a Transitional Government.  Absent the support of several Somali parties, major challenges of security, reconstruction and development remained.  On 27 October 2002, a Declaration of Hostilities and Structures and Principles of the Somalia Reconciliation Process was signed in Eldoret, Kenya.


In a Chapter VII resolution adopted on 6 December, the Council authorized IGAD and African Union member States to establish a protection and training mission in Somalia, to be reviewed after an initial period of six months.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1725, the Council mandated the mission, among other things, to protect the members of the Transitional Federal Institutions and Government and to train their security forces to enable them to provide their own security.


Endorsing the specification in the IGAD Deployment Plan that bordering States would not deploy troops in Somalia, the Council decided that measures of the arms embargo, imposed by resolution 833 (1992) and further elaborated in resolution 1425 (2002), would not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment, and technical training and assistance intended solely for the support of, or use by, the IGAD-African Union mission.


The Council took several actions during the year regarding the 1992 arms embargo, including its adoption of resolution 1724 on 29 November, which, among other things, requested the Secretary-General to re-establish, within 30 days and for a six month period, the Monitoring Group focusing on the ongoing arms embargo violations.  Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1676 on 10 May, the Council requested the Secretary-General to re-establish the Monitoring Group, again within 30 days and for a six-month period.  By other terms of the resolution, the Council, in light of a report by the Monitoring Group, expressed its intention to consider specific actions to improve implementation of and compliance with the arms embargo.


Adopting a presidential statement on 13 July, the Council expressed its readiness to consider an exemption to the 1992 arms embargo in order to pave the way for deployment of a peace support mission and help facilitate the re-establishment of the country’s national security forces.  It also stated its willingness to consider possible deployment of a peace support mission on the basis of a detailed mission plan from IGAD or the African Union, and welcomed the 22 June ceasefire agreement in Khartoum between the Transitional Federal Parliament of Somalia and the Union of Islamic Courts.


On 15 March, the Council commended the efforts of the President of the Transitional Federal Government, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, towards reconciliation and dialogue, particularly the signing of the Aden Declaration on 5 January 2006, which culminated in the convening of the first session of the Transitional Federal Parliament at Baidoa, Somalia, on 26 February.


Democratic Republic of Congo


With the transitional process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo entering its final phase, the Council maintained its focus on the daunting reconstruction and security challenges facing the war-weary country, while also devoting many of its 14 open meetings on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the preparation for and outcome of the first democratic elections in the vast African nation in more than 40 years.


Meeting on 6 December to welcome the announcement by that country’s Supreme Court of Justice on 27 November of the formal results of the second round of the historic presidential election that was held on 29 October, the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement, congratulated President Joseph Kabila on his election and welcomed opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba’s commitment in his 28 November statement to participate actively in Congolese politics within the framework of the country’s institutions.


In a statement adopted just after the 29 October elections, on 7 November, the Council’s President paid tribute to the sense of civic responsibility demonstrated by the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who had participated peacefully and in large numbers in the historic provincial elections and the second round of the presidential election.


The 29 October run-off elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo --  the largest and most complex ever organized by the United Nations -- capped off a seven-year effort by the Organization to bring peace and democracy to the country following a six-year civil war that cost some 4 million lives through fighting, hunger and disease.


Briefing the Council on the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said that country had seen the worst haemorrhage of human life in the present generation, noting that war and preventable disease had taken a death toll of 4 million people -– six Rwanda genocides -– in the last eight years.  “We must not fail to stop once and for all this tragedy,” he said.


In a measure to support the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in the run-up to the elections, the Council, in resolution 1671 of 25 April, authorized, for a period ending four months after the date of the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections, the deployment of a European Union reserve force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It decided that the authorization for the deployment of the reserve force -- known as Eufor RD Congo -- would not exceed the term of MONUC’s mandate and would be subject, beyond 30 September 2006, to the extension of its own mandate.


Briefing members on 16 June following the Council’s mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jean-Marc de La Sablière, France’s Ambassador and the head of the mission, said the mission –- the Council’s seventh to the country -- had demonstrated the importance of what was at stake and its resolve to give the Congolese its utmost support for fully successful elections.  The success of the important phase of recovery in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would affect the stability of not only the country, but also the whole region and possibly the whole continent, owing to the country’s location, size and abundant natural resources in the heart of Africa.


On 6 July, formally introducing the report of the Council’s mission, Mr. de La Sablière noted that, as the country prepared for landmark presidential and parliamentary elections, it was the international community’s responsibility to help it meet a new rendezvous with history and begin the country’s recovery.  The elections would not be an end in itself, he added, noting that the post-election period would also be important.  Much work remained to be done and the situation was far from stable.


Then, on 3 August, the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement, paid tribute to the citizens of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for taking part in the 30 July elections -– in great numbers, peacefully and freely –- appealing also to the Congolese people to receive the election results, which could take up to three weeks to tabulate, with the same spirit of civic responsibility.


In a statement adopted on 22 September, the Council stressed its commitment to the peaceful conduct of the second round of presidential and provincial elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its determination to ensure the success of the peace process in the country.  Deploring the violence that had erupted in Kinshasa on 20 to 22 August between security forces loyal to President Kabila and Vice-President Bemba, the Council called on all parties to restate their commitment to the peace process and to work within the framework they had agreed to with the assistance of MONUC.


In an effort to shore up support for the elections and responding to the unpredictable security environment, the Council took several actions throughout the year regarding the mandate of MONUC.


On 10 April, the Council authorized, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1669, the redeployment of military personnel from the United Nations Mission in Burundi (ONUB) to MONUC until 1 July.  The Council authorized the Secretary-General to redeploy temporarily a maximum of one infantry battalion, a military hospital and up to 50 military observers from ONUB to MONUC in the context of the increased military observer capacity required during the electoral process.


On 30 June, reiterating its concern regarding the continuation of hostilities by militias and foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the country, and the threat they posed to the holding of elections, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1693, extending until 30 September the increase in the military and civilian police strength of the United Nations Mission.


Then, on 29 September, the Council extended MONUC’s mandate until 15 February 2007 at its current strength.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1711, the Council also extended until 15 February 2007 the increase in the military and civilian police strength authorized to assist in the electoral process, and until 31 December 2006, an authorization to redeploy a maximum of one infantry battalion, a military hospital and 50 military observers from ONUB to MONUC.


On 22 December, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1736, authorized an increase in MONUC’s military strength of up to 916 military personnel, from 1 January to 15 February 2007, when the Mission’s mandate is set to expire.


Condemning the illicit flow of weapons within and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and determined to closely monitor compliance with the arms embargo it imposed in July 2003 and expanded in April 2005, and the travel ban and assets freeze on those in violation of it, the Council decided, in resolution 1698 of 31 July, to renew the existing sanctions regime in the country for a further year, in light of the failure by the parties to comply with its demands.


On 31 January, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1654, had asked the Secretary-General to re-establish through 31 July 2006 the four-person expert group to help monitor illicit arms flows into the country.


Adopting a presidential statement on 23 January, the Council condemned the aggression on 23 January that killed eight Guatemalan peacekeepers and severely wounded five others, calling the attack against a MONUC detachment an “unacceptable outrage”.  The peacekeepers, according to the statement, were involved in an operation against suspected elements of the Lord’s Resistance Army reportedly present in Garamba Park.  The Lord’s Resistance Army has conducted a long-running and vicious insurgency in northern Uganda, causing the death, abduction and displacement of thousands of innocent civilians in Uganda, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Burundi


Welcoming Burundi’s progress in emerging from over a decade of civil conflict, but stressing its Government’s need for continued international support, the Council decided to establish a new integrated office in that country for an initial period of one year, commencing 1 January 2007, following the end of the mandate of its predecessor, the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB).


Taking that action on 25 October through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1719, the Council requested that the new office –- the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) -– help support the Government in its efforts towards long-term peace and stability and coordinate the work of the Organization’s agencies in the country under the leadership of the Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, who could also serve as Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Humanitarian Coordinator.


Reinforcing the need for the new United Nations Office, the Secretary-General in a December report warned that human rights abuses, political tensions and other “troubling developments” in Burundi could cause the hard-won peace process there to unravel.


Through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1692 on 30 June, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi, first authorized by the Council on 21 May 2004, until 31 December, noting that factors of instability continued to threaten peace and security in Burundi and Africa’s Great Lakes region.


Prior to that, on 10 April, the Council adopted resolution 1669, by which it authorized the redeployment of personnel from ONUB to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) until 1 July.


In the Council’s first open meeting on Burundi in 2006, on 23 March, it adopted a presidential statement calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and human rights abuses.  Deeply concerned by continuing violence carried out by the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), by fighting between that rebel group and the Burundian army and by the human rights abuses committed by both sides, as well as by factors of instability remaining in the region, the Council welcomed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s commitment to bring those responsible for such abuses to justice and encouraged Burundi’s Government to work closely with United Nations human rights monitors to that end.


Long-standing internal conflict between the largely Tutsi army and Hutu rebels, which resulted in some 200,000 deaths and massive displacement, culminated in the signing by most of the parties of a Peace and Reconciliation Agreement on 28 August 2000 in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.  On 1 November 2002, a power-sharing plan came into force that allows for a Hutu and Tutsi President to alternate at Burundi’s helm.  On 2 December 2002, a ceasefire was agreed between the Government and the Forces of the Defence of Democracy (FDD).


Central African Republic


In a statement by its President on 22 November, the Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) for a one-year period, until 31 December 2007.  Expressing deep concern at the deterioration of the security situation in the country, the Council was also concerned that instability along the border areas of Chad, the Sudan and the Central African Republic represented a direct threat to the country’s security and stability and that of its neighbours, while noting that the Central African defence and security forces were still unable to repel the armed groups in the northern and north-eastern parts of the country.  Reaffirming its commitment to the Central African Republic’s territorial integrity, the Council called for the adoption of a subregional approach to stabilize its borders.


Côte d’Ivoire


With the Ivorian political parties failing to meet the election deadline –- initially set for 2005 but rescheduled for 31 October 2006 -- a second time, Côte d’Ivoire’s political leaders and civil society needed to take a “hard and honest” look at that country’s political dispensation, the Secretary-General stressed in his last progress report on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) for the year.


Noting that the Council’s decision on 1 November to extend Côte d’Ivoire’s stalled transition process for another year was final, the Secretary-General appealed to all parties to extend full cooperation to Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minister in the implementation of the road map for the new transition.


Côte d’Ivoire, divided into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north since 2002, announced at the end of 2005 a 32-member unity Government, which included rebel, opposition party and governing party ministers, and represented a rare decisive step towards national reconciliation.


The country has been virtually divided following an attempted coup in September 2002, which resulted in widespread violence and a humanitarian crisis.  The country’s southern part was under the Government’s control and the north was held by rebel groups.  The ceasefire was brokered on 3 May 2003.  Efforts to maintain it, however, were shattered on 4 November 2004 when Government forces attacked rebel-held positions in the north, killing and wounding dozens of civilians and causing the United Nations to suspend its aid operations in the country.  On 6 November 2004, Government forces attacked a French position, killing nine French peacekeepers and a United States citizen.


During 2006, the Council held 17 formal meetings on the situation in the country.  In a presidential statement adopted on 19 January, the Council strongly condemned violent attacks against the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and international and non-governmental organization facilities by street militias and other groups associated with the “Young Patriots” and expressed its deep concern at the violent and orchestrated street protests against them.


The Council established UNOCI on 27 February 2004, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1528 (2004), for an initial period of one year, from 4 April 2004.  Its mandate, among other tasks, was to observe and monitor implementation of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement of 3 May 2003.  UNOCI replaced the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI), a political mission set up by the Council in May 2003 with a mandate of facilitating the implementation by the Ivorian parties of the peace agreement signed by them in January 2003.


On 24 January 2006, the Council, through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1652 (2006), extended the respective mandates of UNOCI and the French forces which support it until 15 December, and renewed an earlier decision to increase the mission’s strength.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1657 on 6 February, the Council authorized temporary redeployment of military personnel from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI to provide extra security coverage for United Nations personnel and property, and perform other tasks mandated to UNOCI.


Expressing its serious concern at the persistent crisis in Côte d’Ivoire and obstacles to the peace and national reconciliation process from all sides, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1682 on 2 June, by which it authorized until 15 December an increase in the UNOCI’s strength of up to 1,500 additional personnel, including a maximum of 1,025 military personnel and 475 civilian police personnel.


Seriously concerned at the deterioration of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, including its grave humanitarian consequences and large-scale civilian suffering and displacement, the Council through its adoption of resolution 1726 (2006) on 15 December extended UNOCI’s mandate, as well as that of the French forces that support it, until 10 January 2007.


In a presidential statement adopted on 23 February, the Council, reiterating its full support for the International Working Group on Côte d’Ivoire, endorsed its fourth communiqué.  Commending Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny for his efforts to implement the road map established by the Working Group, in accordance with its resolution 1633 (2005), the Council welcomed the cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minster and President.


Briefing the Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire on 29 March, foreign Minister Youssouf Bakayoko appealed to the international community to help Ivorians weather the storms ahead, particularly to reach the general elections which were the only way out of the country’s crisis.  While everyone should be pleased with recent developments, he said, it must be recognized that great tasks assigned to the Government within the road map called for continued vigilance and stepped up efforts.


Adopting a presidential statement on the same day, the Council welcomed recent progress achieved in Côte d’Ivoire, including the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission and the preparation of population identification and disarmament operations.  Underlining the urgency of progress in the identification process and the beginning of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, the Council urged Ivorian leaders to fulfil all their commitments in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, on 28 February and to rapidly implement the road map towards free, fair and transparent elections by 31 October.


On 27 April, Côte d’Ivoire’s Prime Minster, Charles Konan Banny, briefed the Council on developments in the country.  Noting that the peace process was making significant strides, he appealed for the international community’s continued support, particularly in ensuring security, as the country prepared for the holding of free and fair elections by 31 October.  In a presidential statement adopted in the wake of that meeting, the Council expressed its grave concern over serious delays in implementing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, as well as identification operations for the elections scheduled for October.


Adopting another presidential statement on 24 May, the Council welcomed the launching of Côte d’Ivoire’s first public hearings in seven locations, but also strongly condemned the acts of violence against civilians, political leaders and impartial forces, and demanded that all parties refrain from publicly inciting hatred and violence.


Then on 19 July, the Council welcomed the 5 July high-level meeting convened in Yamoussoukro by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the implementation of the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, urging all Ivorian parties to implement all the commitments taken there and to meet agreed deadlines.


With presidential elections fast approaching, the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement on 7 August, strongly condemned an attack against the High Representative for the Elections, stressing the importance of speedy implementation of programmes to identify undocumented Ivorians and foreign residents, as well as operations to disarm militias, in order to ensure a free, fair and transparent poll within the agreed timetable.  It also reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the peace process and road map established by the International Working Group, which had called for the establishment of 50 mobile courts by 15 July -– as part of an identification programme necessary for voter registration -– and had set a 31 July deadline for the disbandment of armed militias.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1708 on 14 September, the Council extended until 15 December the mandate of the three-person team it had created to monitor the arms embargo in Côte d’Ivoire.  [The Group of Experts was created through resolution 1584 (2005) as part of a set of measures aimed at ensuring an effective embargo and better means of arms surveillance and control in the West African country following demobilization and disarmament agreements that were part of peace accords.]


On 15 December, the Council adopted resolution 1727, by which it renewed until 31 October 2007 the arms and rough diamond bans it had imposed on Côte d’Ivoire under, respectively, resolutions 1572 (2004) and 1643 (2005).  By a further term of the resolution, the Council extended for another six months the mandate of the Group of Experts, demanding that all Ivorian parties, including the transitional Government and the Forces nouvelles, provide unhindered access to equipment, sites and installations to the Group, the UNOCI and the French forces that support it.


On 1 November, the Council, noting the 31 October expiration date of the transitional mandates of President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, extended those mandates for a period of not more than one year, aimed at fully implementing the peace process and organizing free, open, fair and transparent elections by 31 October 2007.  Taking that decision by its unanimous adoption of resolution 1721 (2006), the Council, endorsing the decisions taken by the African Union Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa on 17 October, determined that no Ivorian party should invoke any legal provision to impede the peace process, which should be led by Prime Minister Banny.


Then, adopting a presidential statement on 21 December, the Council reiterated its full support for the International Working Group as guarantor and impartial arbiter for the country’s peace process and urged all Ivorian parties to cooperate fully with Prime Minster Banny to implement all provisions of the Working Group’s road map.


Ethiopia/Eritrea


The Council, in a presidential statement adopted on 24 February, welcomed the successful meeting of the “Witnesses to the Algiers Agreement”, namely Algeria, African Union, European Union, United States and United Nations, on 22 February at United Nations Headquarters to resolve the impasse between Eritrea and Ethiopia and called on both parties to show maximum restraint and refrain from any use of force.


Under the Algiers Agreement, both countries had agreed to accept the delimitation and demarcation decisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission as final and binding.


In the statement, the Council demanded that the parties permit the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to perform its duties without restrictions and provide the Mission with the necessary access, assistance, support and protection, including its task to assist the Boundary Commission in the expeditious and orderly implementation of the Delimitation Decision, in accordance with Council resolutions 1430 (2002) and 1466 (2003).


Noting that the impasse in the peace process had become increasingly untenable, the Secretary-General in his 6 March report to the Council warned that, given the situation, any miscalculation could result in a rapid escalation, with unpredictable consequences for the countries and for regional stability.  Requesting a two- to three-month extension of UNMEE’s mandate to allow the diplomatic process to proceed, the Secretary-General also stressed the need to the lift all restrictions on the Mission’s operations.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1661, the Council extended the Mission’s mandate for one month, until 15 April.  On 13 April, it extended the Mission’s mandate for another month, until 15 May, through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1670.  The Council also affirmed its intention, in the event that the parties had not demonstrated full compliance with its demands, as expressed in resolution 1640 (2005), to review UNMEE’s mandate and troop levels, with a view to a possible adjustment of the Mission, including a transformation into an observer mission.


On 15 May, extending the Mission’s mandate until 31 May, the Council, through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1678, decided it would adjust the Mission’s mandate, as well as its troop level by the end of the month if it determined, in light of the outcome of the 17 May Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission meeting, that the parties had not complied fully with resolution 1640 of 23 November 2005.


[According to that resolution, the Council deeply deplored Eritrea’s continued imposition of restrictions on UNMEE’s freedom of movement and demanded that the Government reverse its decision to ban Mission helicopter flights, as well as additional restrictions on its operations.  It also demanded that Ethiopia accept fully and without delay the Boundary Commission’s final and binding decision and take immediate concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly.]


Adopting resolution 1681 (2006) on 31 May, the Council extended the Mission’s mandate for another four months, until 30 September, and authorized the reconfiguration of its military component, approving the deployment within the Mission of up to 2,300 troops, including up to 230 military observers within its existing mandate.


The Council agreed to another four month extension of the Mission’s mandate on 29 September, and requested the Secretary-General to present updated options for possible changes to the Mission’s mandate before the end of November.


Responding to the Council’s request, the Secretary-General in his report dated 15 December presents four possible options for the Mission’s future and welcomes the Boundary Commission’s decision on 27 November, noting that it will give the parties an additional 12 months to try to reach the necessary agreement on the emplacement of the boundary pillars.  Given the situation, the Secretary-General said the Council may wish to authorize the implementation of the first option, namely a reduction in the UNMEE military strength from the current 2,300 to 1,700 military personnel, as it would allow the Mission’s present observation capability to be maintained while reducing its overall strength.


Liberia


Addressing the Council on 17 March, just two months after her inauguration, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the newly elected Liberian President, urged members to maintain Council support for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), noting that her inauguration on 16 January had opened up many possibilities that portended a brighter chapter in the country’s history.  Following a conflict that had touched virtually every individual in the land, Liberia must confront the legacy of the past, so that the nation could go forward in the future, she said.


Two weeks later, on 31 March, the Council extended UNMIL’s mandate until 30 September through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1667.  By the resolution, the Council also extended a temporary increase in the Mission’s personnel ceiling to a total of 15,250 military personnel until 30 September, to ensure that the support provided to the Special Court for Sierra Leone did not reduce UNMIL’s capabilities in Liberia during its period of political transition.  It also reaffirmed its intention to authorize the Secretary-General to redeploy troops between UNMIL and the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) on a temporary basis, as needed.


The Council’s first action of the year regarding UNMIL was its decision in resolution 1657, adopted unanimously on 6 February, to authorize the temporary redeployment of military personnel from UNMIL to UNOCI to provide extra security coverage for United Nations personnel and property, and perform other tasks mandated to the Mission in Côte d’Ivoire.


On 13 June, recognizing the need for the newly vetted and trained security forces to assume greater responsibility for Liberia’s national security, the Council adjusted the arms embargo it had imposed on that country in 2003 to allow for weapons and ammunition to be used for training purposes and by members of the Government, police and security forces.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1683, the Council decided that weapons and ammunition already provided to members of Liberia’s Special Security Service would remain in their custody for the Service’s unencumbered operational use.


Three days later, on 16 June, the Council approved a measure that paved the way for the transfer of former Liberian President Charles Taylor –- awaiting trial at a United Nations-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone on charges related to his role in that country’s civil war -– to The Hague, Netherlands, where he would be tried for war crimes.  Resolution 1668, adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, allows a chamber of the Freetown-based Special Court for Sierra Leone to sit outside its jurisdiction, and requests the Secretary-General to “assist, as a matter of priority, in the conclusion of all necessary legal and practical arrangements” for Mr. Taylor’s transfer to the Special Court in the Netherlands, and the provision of all necessary courtroom facilities for the conduct of the trial.


The Council’s action capped a series of events sparked by Mr. Taylor’s late March disappearance and then arrest in Nigeria -– where he had been living in exile since fleeing Liberia in 2003 -- and transfer back to Liberia and, finally, to the Special Court, to face an 11-count indictment for crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, including sexual slavery and mutilations allegedly committed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war.


On 13 July, the Council, acting on a recommendation of the Secretary-General, decided to increase the authorized size of UNMIL’s police component by 125 and to reduce its military component by the same number, through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1694.  Endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a phased drawdown of peacekeeping troops “as the situation permits and without compromising” Liberia’s security, the Council extended UNMIL’s mandate for six months, until 31 March 2007, emphasizing that significant challenges remain in completing reintegration and repatriation of ex-combatants and the urgent restructuring of the West-African subregion.


On 20 June, the Council extended measures aimed at preventing the import of rough diamonds from Liberia, but chose not to renew a measure aimed at preventing the import of round log and timber products, though it threatened to reinstate the measure if appropriate forestry legislation was not passed.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1689, the Council renewed for six months the measures imposed by resolution 1521 (2003), which called on Member States to prevent the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from Liberia, regardless of whether such diamonds originated there.


On 20 December, the Council, through its unanimous adoption of resolution 1731, renewed the arms and travel embargoes for another year, the diamond restriction for another six months and agreed to consider lifting the sanctions at the Government’s request, once it had met the conditions for doing so.


Sierra Leone


Describing Sierra Leone as “definitely one of the success stories” of his work with the Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his farewell speech to the Council on 22 December that the country was a good example of what could be achieved by the United Nations and its Member States working together.  Sierra Leone was stable, but still fragile and needed continued help in building effective State institutions, especially those dealing with security, human rights, justice and the preparation of next year’s elections, which would be critical to the consolidation of peace.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1734 immediately following the Council’s tribute to the outgoing Secretary-General, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) until 31 December 2007.


Established by resolution 1620 (2005) for an initial period of 12 months beginning on 1 January 2006, UNIOSIL succeeded the large United Nations peacekeeping operation -– the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) -- which successfully completed its mandate in December 2005, helping to restore peace and stability in the country after a long civil war.


Emphasizing the importance of continued support of the United Nations system and the international community for Sierra Leone’s long-term peace, security and development, the Council also endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation for an increase in the number of UNIOSIL personnel for a period from 1 January 2007 to 31 October 2007 in order to enhance the support provided by UNIOSIL for the July 2007 elections in Sierra Leone.


Calling on the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive assessment of UNIOSIL’s role closer to the election date, with a view to developing an exit strategy, the Council called upon all parties in Sierra Leone to demonstrate their full commitment to the democratic process and to ensure that the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections are peaceful, transparent, free and fair.


Western Sahara


Calling again on the parties to the conflict in Western Sahara to overcome their long-standing impasse, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) twice in 2006.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1675 on 28 April, the Council extended the Mission until 31 October and requested the Secretary-General to report on the situation in Western Sahara before the end of the mandate period.


The second extension was on 31 October through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1720, in which the Council called on Member States to consider voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures that allowed for increased contact between separated family members, especially family-unification visits.


In his report before the Council at that meeting, the Secretary-General noted that, due to the fact that, 15 years after the ceasefire agreement, the two military parties remained without direct contact with each other, Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario) should drop any preconditions and begin negotiations with a view to “achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.


Morocco and Polisario have contested the Territory since Spain relinquished control in 1974.  MINURSO was established in 1991 to oversee the holding of a referendum, in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco, as part of the United Nations Settlement Plan.  That referendum has been stalled for years.


Uganda


Welcoming efforts aimed at ending the long-running conflict in northern Uganda, and closely following the Juba talks process between Uganda’s Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement on 16 November, stressed the importance for peace and stability in the region of both parties respecting the 29 August cessation of hostilities, which had been renewed on 1 November 2006.


The Council also demanded that the LRA release immediately all women, children and other non-combatants, in accordance with its resolution 1621 (2005) on children and armed conflict and that the peace process there be concluded expeditiously.  The statement also noted that the conflict between Uganda’s Government and the LRA had caused the displacement of up to 2 million people and the death of about 100,000 people in the region, as well as leading to the death of eight United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Talks between the Government of Uganda and the LRA took place in Juba, southern Sudan, on 1 July in an effort to reach a comprehensive peace agreement to end Uganda’s 20-year civil war.  During the conflict, the LRA became notorious for abducting children and then using them as soldiers or porters, while subjecting some to torture and allocating many girls to senior officers in a form of institutional rape.


Briefing the Council on 15 September on his assessment mission to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said the picture in northern Uganda was more promising than it had been in years.  Since negotiations between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army had begun in Juba earlier in the year, security had increased dramatically.  He added that the question of impunity and the International Criminal Court’s indictments against LRA leaders had been the number one topic of discussion with the internally displaced persons in Uganda and the parties in Juba.


Earlier in the year, on 19 April, the Council heard briefings by Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and its Defence Minister, Amama Mbabazi.  Mr. Mbabazi called on the Council to support strong measures, including an adequate mandate for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), to forcefully disarm the LRA and send a message to the rebel group’s supporters that such backing would not be tolerated.  Noting that Uganda hoped to engage the Congolese and Sudanese Governments in the near future, he emphasized the importance of developing combined regional efforts to disarm, capture and arrest indicted LRA terrorist leaders and hand them over to the International Criminal Court.  While the LRA had been severely degraded and on the verge of defeat, he was very concerned that it was slowly rebuilding its capacity and using the Garambe National Park as a safe haven.


Nuclear Non-Proliferation


Democratic People’s Republic of Korea


The Council’s three meetings on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2006 included two emergency weekend meetings in response to its July missile launches and an October nuclear test, and resulted in sanctions being imposed against that country.


Seeking to maintain peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in North-East Asia at large, the Council on 15 July unanimously adopted resolution 1695, by the terms of which it condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 5 July test of a series of missiles, and demanded that the country suspend all ballistic missile-related activity and reinstate its moratorium on missile launches.  It also required all Member States to prevent the transfer of missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology to the country’s missile or weapons of mass destruction programmes, as well as procurement of such items and technology from the country.


The resolution affirmed that such launches jeopardize peace, stability and security in the region and beyond, particularly in light of the country’s claim that it had developed nuclear weapons.  The Council underlined that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea needed to refrain from any action that might aggravate tension, and strongly urged that country to return immediately and without precondition to the six-party talks concerning the its nuclear programme (involving the United States, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Japan, Russian Federation and the Republic of Korea); to work towards expeditious implementation of the September 2005 joint statement; and return to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.


On 3 October the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Foreign Minister announced that the country intended to conduct its first nuclear test in the near future.  Through a statement read out by its President on 6 October, the Council urged the country not to carry out that action, which it said would jeopardize peace and security in the region and beyond.


Three days later the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reported carrying out the test.  The Council, on 14 October, unanimously adopted resolution 1718, imposing sanctions and calling on the country “to return immediately to the six-party talks without precondition.”  The text -- adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter, but barring automatic military enforcement under Article 41 -- prevented a range of goods from entering or leaving the country and imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on persons related to its nuclear-weapon programme.  It also called upon all States to take cooperative action, including through inspection of cargo, in accordance with their respective national laws, to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery and related materials.


Following the vote, members of the Council condemned what many called an irresponsible step by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stressing the importance of the Council’s swift and decisive action and emphasizing that, should the country implement the provisions of the new resolution, the sanctions could be lifted.


The United States representative said the test posed “one of the gravest threats to international peace and security that this Council has ever had to confront”, and the Council’s resolution would send a strong message to North Korea and other would-be proliferators that they would meet with serious repercussions, should they choose to pursue the weapons of mass destruction.


Japan’s representative not only supported the Council’s sanctions, but also outlined a set of national measures undertaken by his country, including closure of Japanese ports to DPRK vessels; denial of imports from the DPRK; and prohibition of entry for DPRK nationals into Japanese territory.


China’s representative agreed with the position of the Russian Federation that the Council’s sanctions should both indicate the international community’s firm position and make the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea resume the efforts to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue.  However, China did not approve of the practice of inspecting cargo, and urged the countries concerned to adopt a responsible attitude in that regard.  China still believed that the six-party talks were the realistic means of handling the issue.  It also firmly opposed the use of force.


The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, however, “totally rejected” the text, saying that it was “gangster-like” of the Security Council to adopt such a coercive resolution against his country, while neglecting the nuclear threat posed by the United States against his own country.  It was a clear testament that the Council had completely lost its impartiality and was persisting in applying double standards to its work, he said.


Although the country has since agreed to return to the six-party talks aimed at achieving a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it declined to discuss disarmament until United States-imposed financial restrictions were lifted.  No agreement was reached in the negotiations, which took place in Beijing on 18-22 December, but the participants agreed to reconvene at the earliest opportunity.


Iran


On 3 January, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it “has decided to resume from 9 January 2006 those R & D (research and development) on the peaceful nuclear energy programme which has been suspended as part of its expanded voluntary and non-legally binding suspension”.


The Vienna-based IAEA is the independent intergovernmental, science and technology-based organization, in the United Nations family, which verifies, through its inspection system, States’ compliance with their commitments under the NPT and other non-proliferation agreements to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes.


On 10 January, IAEA inspectors confirmed that Iran had started to remove IAEA seals on enrichment-related equipment and material at Natanz –- a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in central Iran.  In response, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei expressed his serious concern about Iran’s decision to unravel the suspension of enrichment-related activities -- previously requested by the IAEA -- before it had clarified the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.


He said that, although the Agency had been investigating Iran’s nuclear programme for three years, a number of important issues relevant to the scope and nature of Iran’s programme remained outstanding, owing to the less than full and prompt transparency on the part of Iran.


On 13 January, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, informally known as the “EU 3” said that Iran’s decision to restart enrichment activity was a “clear rejection” of the process the “EU 3” and Iran had been engaged in for more than two years, with the support of the international community.  In addition, that constituted a further challenge to the IAEA’s authority.  It, thus, had decided to inform the Agency that its discussions with Iran had reached an “impasse”.


In a letter to the Agency, the Europeans also said that Iran’s nuclear activities had been “of great concern” to the international community since 2003, when the country “was forced to admit to the International Atomic Energy Agency Authority that it was building a secret installation to enrich uranium, which could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons… given Iran’s documented record of concealment and deception, the need for Iran to build confidence has been and continues to be the heart of the matter”.


On 4 February, the 35-nation IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution by a vote of 27 in favour to 3 against (Cuba, Syria, Venezuela), with 5 abstentions (Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, South Africa) requesting the Director General to report to the United Nations Security Council all IAEA reports and resolutions relating to the implementation of safeguards in Iran.


On 8 March, the Director General “transmitted” his 27 February 2006 report on Iran’s nuclear programme to the Security Council (document GOV/2006/15) listing a number of outstanding issues and concerns, including topics that could have a military nuclear dimension.  It stated that the IAEA was unable to conclude that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.  Speaking to the press, he had called for a “cool headed approach” from all parties.


Then, on 29 March, acting for the first time on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Security Council issued a presidential statement noting with serious concern Iran’s resumption of uranium enrichment-related activities and its suspension of cooperation with the IAEA.  It underlined the importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.  The Council also expressed its conviction that such suspension, and full, verified compliance with the requirements set out by the IAEA Board of Governors, would contribute to a diplomatic, negotiated solution that would guarantee that Iran’s nuclear programme was for exclusively peaceful purposes.  It requested a report in 30 days from the IAEA Director General on Iranian compliance with the steps required by the Board of Governors.


The Agency’s 28 April report to the Council, (document GOV/2006/27), indicated that all the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency had been accounted for and that the Agency had found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran.  However, it said that gaps remained in the Agency’s knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran’s centrifuge programme.  Because of that and other gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency was unable to make progress in it efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared material and activities in Iran.


After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme, the existing gaps remained a matter of concern, the report to the Council stated.  Any progress in that regard required full transparency and active cooperation by Iran -– transparency that went beyond the measures prescribed in the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol -- if the Agency was to be able to understand fully the 20 years of undeclared nuclear activities by Iran.


On 4 May, a draft resolution on the Iranian nuclear issue was submitted to the Security Council by the United States, United Kingdom and France.


Seriously concerned that the Agency was still unable to provide assurances about Iran’s undeclared nuclear material and activities after more than three years, the Security Council, on 31 July, demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, and gave it one month to do so or face the possibility of economic and diplomatic sanctions to give effect to its decision.  It adopted resolution 1696, by a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against ( Qatar).


One month later, on 31 August, the IAEA sent its restricted report on Iran to the Council (document GOV/2006/53).  Briefing the IAEA Board of Governors on 11 September, Mr. ElBaradei said that Iran had not suspended its enrichment related activities.  Although the inspectors’ findings indicated that there had been little qualitative or quantitative build-up of Iran’s enrichment capacity at Natanz, the Agency was not able to fully assess Iran’s enrichment-related research and development activities, including the possible production of centrifuges and related equipment.  He added that it was counterproductive for Iran to link its cooperation with the Agency to its ongoing dialogue with its European and other partners.  Increased cooperation and transparency were indispensable to resolving these gaps in knowledge regarding Iran’s past nuclear programme, and would assist greatly in overcoming concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.


A further report on implementation of resolution 1696 (2006) was submitted to the Council on 15 November (document GOV/2006/64).  It stated, among other things, that Iran had been providing the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and facilities, and had provided the required nuclear material accounting reports.  It had not, however, provided the Agency will full access to the operating records of the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant and continued to decline to discuss the implementation of remote monitoring of the Plant.  While the Agency had been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, it would remain unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities unless Iran addressed the long outstanding verification issues, including through the implementation of the Agency’s Additional Protocol, and provide the necessary transparency.  Progress in that regard was a prerequisite for the Agency to be able to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, the report said.


The Security Council, determined to give effect to its unmet 31 July demand that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and deploring the country’s refusal to take that and other steps required of it by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, imposed sanctions on Iran on Saturday, 23 December, blocking the import or export of sensitive nuclear material and equipment and freezing the financial assets of persons or entities supporting the country’s proliferation sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear-weapon delivery systems.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1737 under Article 41 of the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Council decided that Iran should, without further delay, suspend the following proliferation sensitive nuclear activities:  all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development; and work on all heavy-water related projects, including the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water.  The halt to those activities would be verified by the IAEA.  The Council would terminate the measures if Iran fully complied with its obligations, or adopt additional ones or possible further decisions if the country did not.


Iraq


In a sober and urgent warning in a report to the Council on 5 December, the Secretary-General said that Iraq stood on the brink of civil war and chaos.  The prospects of an all-out civil war and even a regional conflict had become much more real in the past three months.  Across many parts of the country, increasing numbers of Iraqis had been affected by growing violence and insecurity.  A significant rise in sectarian violence, insurgent and terrorist attacks, and civilian casualties and displacement daily were breeding a sense of insecurity and deep pessimism.


The Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, addressed the Council in connection with that report on 11 December, in a joint briefing with the United States representative, who spoke on behalf of the 25-country multinational force.  Mr. Qazi said that efforts by the Iraqi Government and the multinational force had been unable to prevent the continuous deterioration of the security situation, which, if not reversed would progressively undermine Iraq’s political prospects.  “The violence seems out of control,” he warned.  “This has provoked widespread concern for Iraq’s future.”


The Council first convened on the Iraq situation on 14 February to issue a statement welcoming the announcement of the final election results for Iraq’s Council of Representatives.  The Council congratulated the Iraqi people for their commitment to a peaceful, democratic political process, and for having braved difficult conditions and the threat of violence to cast their votes.


On 22 February, however, a Shia shrine in Samarra had been bombed and Mr. Qazi, briefing members later, said the violent aftermath had demonstrated that Iraq’s political transition was increasingly threatened by inter-sectarian violence.  Despite the notable achievement in 2005 of all the political transition benchmarks envisaged in resolution 1546 (2004), the recent developments had made negotiations on government formation more difficult, creating a dangerous and elongated political vacuum.  He urged that efforts be directed at strengthening the momentum of the political process, with a view to developing an agreed national compact that was responsible to the aspirations of all communities.


In a statement on 24 May, the Council congratulated the Iraqi people on the 20 May inauguration of their constitutionally elected Government, but also wholly condemned acts of terrorism in the country, including the horrific attacks on civilians and religious sites callously aimed at provoking inter-communal tensions.  It urged all Iraqis to participate in the political process peacefully and demanded that those who continued to use violence lay down their arms.


Briefing on developments in the nascent democracy on 15 June, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Angela Kane welcomed the completion of Iraq’s political transition, which had begun three years earlier and moved successfully from the Governing Council to the Interim Government and the Transitional Government, culminating in December 2005 with Iraq’s first balloting for a constitutionally elected Government.  She stressed, however, that the key to success remained finding lasting inclusive solutions to the country’s most pressing challenges, within an overall framework of national reconciliation.


Acting on the Secretary-General’s recommendations made earlier, the Council, on 10 August, extended for one year the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1700.  By so doing, it reaffirmed the United Nations lead role in assisting the Iraqi people and Government in strengthening institutions and promoting national dialogue and unity.  The Secretary-General had warned the Council in his accompanying report, however, that Iraq “continued to face formidable political, security and economic challenges” and still needed the international community’s support.


In a briefing on 14 September, Mr. Qazi described the country as one of the most violent conflict areas in the world, saying that the challenges had never appeared more daunting.  Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks, as well as gross human rights violations, continued to inflict untold suffering.  The key challenge for the Government was to develop a truly national agenda that was responsive to the needs and aspirations of all Iraqis.  Given Iraq’s importance and potential, its neighbours and the wider international community had a vital stake in helping it to become a peaceful, stable and prosperous partner.  The International Compact with Iraq -- an economic initiative of the Government, co-chaired with the United Nations, for a new partnership with the international community -- could become an important vehicle towards that goal, he said.


On 28 November, the Council extended the mandate of the multinational force in Iraq until the end of 2007, unanimously adopting resolution 1723 under Chapter VII, in response to a request of the Iraqi Prime Minister.


Afghanistan


Afghanistan remained a challenging environment for the United Nations in 2006, with the Council-authorized peacekeeping operation continuing to facilitate the complex transitional political process increasingly aimed at blunting a relapse into the dynamics that had plunged the country into years of war.


On 22 November, Kenzo Oshima ( Japan), who headed the Council mission to the country during that month -– the first in three years -- said that, without determined efforts by the Government and sustained international support over the long haul, there was no guarantee that Afghanistan would not slide back towards broad conflict.  Indeed, the progress made in 2006 towards realizing the vision set out in the Afghanistan Compact –- the five-year framework for cooperation between the Government, the United Nations and the wider international community –- had not been as smooth or rapid as had been hoped.


On 7 December, Mr Oshima said that the mission had been concerned that growing insecurity in parts of the south and south-east had been disrupting rehabilitation and reconstruction.  While the insurgency appeared more or less confined to one third of Afghanistan, the security situation was precarious throughout the country.  The growth in the insurgency was fed in part by the failure of the Afghan Government and the international community to provide basic social services and credible governance, and by insecurity in many urban centres and rural communities.  Also, the narcotics industry and the money it generated were allegedly feeding the insurgent forces.


After decades of conflict, Afghanistan had begun its reconciliation and reconstruction, not just from zero, but from “deep minuses”.  Under those circumstances, progress would not be linear or swift, and “there are bound to be zigzags and ups and downs”, he warned.


The country was at a crossroads, facing a host of challenges, he said, stressing to the Council at year’s end


Having just returned from the mission, Mr. Oshima cautioned the Council on 22 November that, without international support for quick gains and sustained progress over the long term, there was no guarantee that Afghanistan would not slide back into conflict and once again become a failed State.  Worrying developments during the year, including the growing Taliban-led insurgency and the increase in illegal drug production, against the backdrop of fragile State institutions, had given rise to widespread “despondency and disillusionment”.


The Council heard three earlier briefings on the situation by Secretariat officials, on 17 January, 10 February and 14 March, respectively.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1659 (2006) on 15 February, the Council endorsed the Afghanistan Compact and its annexes as providing the framework for partnership between the Government and the international community to help bolster the country’s security, economic development and counter-narcotics efforts.  The Compact was launched on 31 January at a conference in London, and set out a five-year agenda for sustained engagement in Afghanistan, leading to consolidation of democratic institutions, curbing insecurity, controlling the illegal drug trade, stimulating the economy, building rule of law, providing basic services to the Afghan people and protecting their human rights.


On 23 March, the Council unanimously extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for a further year through the adoption of resolution 1662 (2006), expressly to provide political and strategic guidance to the Afghan leadership and its international partners as they embarked on the ambitious and vital next phase of State-building.  The Council had also called on all Afghan parties and groups to engage constructively in the peaceful political development of the country and to avoid resorting to violence.


Recognizing the interconnected nature of the challenges facing Afghanistan, such as security, governance, development and counter-narcotics, the Council, on 12 September, extended the authorization of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for a further 12-month period, beyond 13 October, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1707 (2006).  Acting under Chapter VII, and in recognition of the need to strengthen ISAF, the Council had called on all Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources and to make contributions to the Trust Fund established pursuant to resolution 1386 (2001).


Counter-Terrorism


Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999)


In the wake of numerous requests to make the procedures for placing individuals and entities on and removing them from sanctions lists fairer and clearer, the Council made sweeping changes to listing and de-listing procedures, by its adoption of resolution 1735 (2006) on 22 December.  That resolution aimed to tighten procedures for names submitted to the Consolidated List of the Committee established to oversee implementation of sanctions imposed on Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaida and the Taliban, also known as the “1267 Committee”.  The Council decided that, when proposing names to the List, States should provide as much detail as possible on the basis for the listing, and submit additional identifying information on the individuals and entities on the List, including updates on assets frozen and movements, as data became available.


Also by that text, the Council decided that the Committee should continue to develop guidelines for de-listing, possibly taking into consideration whether there had been a mistake of identity, or if the individual was deceased or had severed all association with the relevant groups and actors.  In addition, it further extended the mandate of the Committee’s New York-based Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team for a period of 18 months to assist the Committee in fulfilling its mandate.


By resolution 1730, adopted on 19 December, the Council asked the Secretary-General to establish a focal point within the Secretariat to ensure “fair and clear” listing and de-listing procedures for all sanctions committees.  The focal point would receive requests, verify and forward them to the relevant designating Government(s) and to the Government(s) of citizenship and residence for their recommendations.  The resolution also directed the sanctions committees to revise their guidelines, so that only one committee member needed to recommend de-listing in order to place the issue on the committee’s agenda.


The Chair of the 1267 Committee briefed the Council several times during the year.  On 28 September, Cesar Mayoral ( Argentina) said that the Committee had worked intensely on the revision of its guidelines and had been well aware of numerous calls for the adoption of better procedures.  On 30 May, he told the Council that, during a recent visit to Qatar, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, officials had expressed concerns about the need for greater consultation with relevant States before placing individuals on the Consolidated List.  He added that Saudi officials saw a direct link between the Committee’s work and efforts to dispel misconceptions in the West that equated Islam and terrorism, which needed to be addressed.


In order to provide the sanctions committees with better tools to fulfil their mandates, the Council also urged closer cooperation between the United Nations and Interpol.  By resolution 1699, adopted on 8 August, the Council requested the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps to increase that cooperation, with the aim of providing Member States with better tools to implement sanctions committee measures, particularly the freezing of assets, travel bans and arms embargoes.  Stressing that Council sanctions measures were often implemented under national law, the Council also encouraged Member States to use Interpol’s tools, particularly the I-24/7 global police communication system.


Counter-Terrorism Committee


In a presidential statement delivered at a 20 December meeting, the Council President called on States to implement their international counter-terrorism obligations “as a matter of priority”.  The Council called on its “Counter-Terrorism Committee” to report on the status of implementation of resolution 1373 (2001) and encouraged the Committee to report to the Council on any outstanding issues in order to receive strategic guidance.


Formally known as the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), the Counter-Terrorism Committee was established to monitor the implementation of that resolution, through, among other things, reports from States on actions they had taken towards that goal.  Adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, resolution 1373 calls on Member States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, refrain from providing any support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts and deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support and commit such acts.


Briefing the Council on 30 May, Ellen Margrethe Løj ( Denmark) said that many States had raised the issue of “reporting fatigue” -- the seemingly endless requests for reports, which took away essential resources that could otherwise have been spent on implementation.  She said the Committee would spend some time testing its newly developed “Preliminary Implementation Assessment”, in order to ease the reporting burden on States.


On 21 February, she said that the Committee had cleared the backlog of reports from States on their implementation of resolution 1373, and she hoped that greater progress could be made towards achieving the Committee’s mandate.  As a first step, the Committee would focus on analysing individual States’ accomplishments in implementing resolutions.


On 28 September, she said that the Committee had been addressing the problem of incitement to terrorism through dialogue with Member States on their efforts to implement resolution 1624 (2005) and assisting capacity-building and promoting exchange of information.  That text condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, irrespective of their motivation, and the incitement of such acts.


Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction


The Council decided on 27 April to extend for two years the mandate of its “1540 Committee”, which was established in 2004 by resolution 1540 to address the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.


Briefing the Council on 30 May, the Chair of the 1540 Committee, Peter Burian ( Slovakia), said that continuous monitoring required a lasting effort.  He noted that, on 19 May, the Committee had decided to publish on its official website a legislative database containing links to public sources of relevant information about national legislative and other regulatory measures.


Briefing the Council again on 28 September, Mr. Burian emphasized the importance of the Committee’s outreach activities and efforts to facilitate reporting by States.  He said the Committee had received first national reports from 132 States and 1 organization.  In the future, the Committee would continue to identify, upon request, national practices in implementing resolution 1540, which could prove useful in providing guidance to States.


Other Action


In a presidential statement on 25 April, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist bombings that took place in Dahab, Egypt, one day earlier, underlining the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of those “intolerable acts” to justice.


A presidential statement on 29 June condemned in the strongest possible terms the “horrific death” of members of the Russian diplomatic mission in Iraq, who had been kidnapped by a terrorist group and later executed by their captors.  The Council also underlined the importance of the Government of Iraq providing protection to the diplomatic community, United Nations staff and other foreign civilian personnel working in the country.


The Council also condemned in the strongest terms the 11 July bomb attacks in different parts of India, including in Mumbai.  In a presidential statement issued the next day, the Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means terrorist acts and reminded States that any measures they took to combat terrorism should comply with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law.


Europe


Kosovo


Dominating the Council’s four meetings on Kosovo in 2006 was the pending decision on the final status of that disputed province of Serbia.


Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority wants full independence, but Belgrade insists on retaining some control over what it considers a crucial part of Serbia.  Serbia’s representative told the Council on 13 September, for example, that it was inadmissible to rob the internationally recognized State of Serbia of 15 per cent of its territory, in order to create the second Albanian State in the region.


Kosovo has been run since 1999 by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), established after NATO air strikes halted a crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanian forces by the troops of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  The province is currently governed by UNMIK and the local Provisional Institutions of Self-Government, with security provided by the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR).  The provisional institutions have been created in the intervening years through democratic elections and have been assuming more authority from the United Nations mission, under a process called standards before status.  Those standards -– targets meant to foster democracy and trust between ethnic Serbs and Albanians -- include such things as protecting minorities and creating conditions for sustainable refugee returns.  In late 2005, it was decided that enough progress had been made to open talks on status and Martti Ahtisaari was appointed Special Envoy to mediate an agreement.


Mr. Ahtisaari, the former Finnish President, facilitated talks between the two sides throughout the year and initially planned to present his proposal on the province’s future by the end of 2006.  However, that plan was postponed to allow for the 21 January 2007 parliamentary elections in Serbia, and final recommendations are now expected to be presented to the Council early in 2007.


Briefing the Council on 13 December, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Joachim Rücker, said that any further delays to settling the question of Kosovo would raise tension and play into the hands of extremists on all sides, making a solution more difficult.  After more than seven years of international administration and local capacity-building, the timelines attached to the status process were now the key focus of attention.  Once the status decision was made, the Mission would have to provide for a smooth handover to future local and international institutions established under the status settlement.


Important work on standards, including protection of minorities and community rights, remained a top priority of both the Kosovo Government and UNMIK, he added.  Standards remained at the core of the daily work on the ground in Kosovo, with particular concentration on the 13 priority areas set out by the Contact Group earlier this year.


Following Mr. Rücker’s briefing, the President of the Coordination Centre of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija, Sanda Rašković-Ivić, said the situation must be viewed realistically, and stressed that any precipitous solution could “open up a Pandora’s box”.  The Albanian side was just idly waiting to be given yet another Albanian State in the Balkans within Serbia’s internationally recognized borders.  Such an outcome was unacceptable.  A solution had to be a compromise between Serbs and Albanians -- a durable solution on their coexistence in a modern, democratic and decentralized State.


The representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the decision to interrupt the status talks until the end of Serbia’s elections, saying that any strict timeline must be rejected.  Achieving the standards would influence the rate and outcome of the negotiations on the status.  Concrete proposals by Belgrade should be examined, as there was no alternative but to negotiate a compromise, however difficult.


The United States supported the decision to present the report on status -- without delay -- following the 21 January elections in Serbia.  The report should be received with open minds, understanding the importance of an integrated settlement.  As the status process neared its concluding stages, both sides should be realistic about the probable outcome:  there would be no return to the pre-1999 situation; there would be no partition of Kosovo and no union of Kosovo with any other, or part of another, country.


Albania’s representative agreed that further slippage after the January deadline might seriously put at risk an orderly settlement.  The most pragmatic and just solution was independence, with a continuation of a civil and security presence by the international community.


Several speakers also urged Kosovo Serbs to engage with the Provisional Institutions, calling on the leaders of the Serb National Council to put an end to their boycott of the contacts with the Provisional Institutions and on Belgrade authorities to remove all impediments to such participation.  On the other hand, they said, leaders of the Provisional Institutions must persist with standards implementation to create the basis of a truly multi-ethnic and democratic society and all communities needed to exercise moderation.


On 14 February, just before negotiations on Kosovo’s future status were to start, Mr. Rücker’s predecessor, Søren Jessen-Petersen, briefed the Council, stressing that the international community’s focus must remain on helping to build a Kosovo society that was democratic, multi-ethnic, inclusive and tolerant.  Serbia’s President said that Serbia and Montenegro, while ready to seek a negotiated solution, remained committed to the principles and norms of international law, in particular those concerning the territorial integrity of States.


In several other briefings to the Council during the year, the overall thrust remained the same, with the Special Representative urging an early and successful conclusion to the status process, and Serbia’s representative maintaining that a solution must be found through dialogue and not imposed from the outside, and Albania arguing that the best option was independence, with Serbs returning to participate in Kosovo’s democratic institutions.


Bosnia and Herzegovina


With post-war reconstruction coming to an end, Bosnia and Herzegovina stood at the threshold of a promising future and had an opportunity to be a fully independent sovereign State, the top United Nations envoy to that country told the Security Council on 18 April.  Addressing the Council at what he called “a crucial time” for Bosnia and Herzegovina, High Representative Christian Schwartz-Schilling said that the country must now take on the responsibility for its own political reforms and economic development.


He looked forward to the support of the Council in completing a successful transition, which, depending on a number of factors, could take place in the first or second quarter of 2007.  The main priorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina included constitutional reform, the general elections in October and the ongoing Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations with the European Union.  Also, stable economic development was the prerequisite for a sustainable future.


Briefing the Council again six months later, however, Mr. Schwartz-Schilling on 8 November called the reality in Bosnia and Herzegovina “uncomfortable in many ways”.  In that connection, he noted the impatience of the international community for progress and the reluctance of local politicians to step forward and take ownership of the process, as well as the frustration of citizens who needed jobs.  Even so, the international community needed to hold its course and continue handing over responsibility to those leaders, “not so quickly as to overwhelm them, but not so slowly that they fail to develop a sense of duty towards the citizens who have elected them”.


On transitional issues, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative said that the Peace Implementation Council’s decision in June to authorize his Office to prepare for its closure and likely replacement in July 2007 by an office of the European Union Special Representative testified to the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina was reclaiming its full sovereignty.  Enhanced efforts by domestic authorities to take ownership of necessary reforms and the international community’s consistent stewardship would, however, be required to make that happen.


Also outlining the situation in the country, Adnan Terzić, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that in October, Bosnia and Herzegovina had, for the first time, single-handedly financed and organized general elections.  Unlike most other transition countries, it had demonstrated that there was no “reform fatigue”.  The general course set earlier had received the people’s support for the next four years.


As for the outcome of the elections, he said that the victory of the so-called “nationalists” had triggered disappointment among international stakeholders, but it had created a single platform on which to act.  That platform was Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Euro-Atlantic prospective, or its future membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was the Government’s top priority.


The biggest obstacle now was the third government of Republika Srpska, he said.  Instead of joining the ongoing momentum in fulfilling the Stabilization and Association Agreement criteria, it had blocked all reform processes, unilaterally deciding to withdraw from all previous agreements.


In the discussion that followed, Council members supported the High Representative’s efforts to ensure local ownership of the reform processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while urging that such reforms, as well as trust-building measures between ethnic communities, be accelerated.  The Constitution and the police force were mentioned among the areas in urgent need of reform.  Many speakers also noted the importance of rendering the indictees who were still at large to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.


With the situation in the country still requiring international attention, the Council, on 21 November, unanimously adopted resolution 1722, extending the European Union’s stabilization force, EUFOR, for a further 12 months.  EUFOR was first authorized by the Council in resolution 1575 on 22 November 2004, as a successor mission to the NATO-led multinational stabilization force (SFOR).  By the text, the Council also authorized the continued presence of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a legal successor to SFOR, under unified command and control.


Georgia


Acting against the background of renewed tensions in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict in 2006, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for the third time on 13 October, unanimously adopting resolution 1716.  Prior to that, the mandate was extended by unanimous action on resolutions 1656 and 1666 on 31 January and 31 March, respectively.


The Mission was established in 1993, after Abkhazia -- a former autonomous republic within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic of the former Soviet Union -- declared independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Government of Georgia deployed its troops there.  A ceasefire agreement that was concluded following a series of armed confrontations in 1992 was never fully implemented, and the fighting forced nearly 30,000 refugees to flee their homes.


In May 1994, the Georgian and Abkhaz sides signed the Agreement on a Ceasefire and Separation of Forces in Moscow, agreeing to the deployment of a peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to monitor compliance with the Agreement, with UNOMIG monitoring implementation of the Agreement and observing the operation of the CIS force.  In July 1994, the Council expanded the mandate of the Mission and increased its strength to up to 136 military observers.


Prior to the adoption of the latest UNOMIG resolution in October, the Secretary-General informed the Council in a report (document S/2006/71) that, after expectations of a new momentum in the negotiations earlier in the year, and exchanges of proposals between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides, the situation in the area had become tense.  The Abkhaz side insisted on the resolution of the situation in the upper Kodori Valley as a precondition for the resumption of dialogue, and the Government of Georgia challenged the status quo, which it believed was increasingly detrimental to Georgia’s vital interest in the recovery of its territorial integrity.


On 18 July, the Parliament of Georgia adopted a resolution calling for an immediate suspension of peacekeeping operations in Georgia and asking the Government to request immediate withdrawal of peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation.  The Government was also requested to start working immediately on a change of the peacekeeping format and deployment of international police forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and to inform the international community of its plans for peaceful resolution of the conflicts.  On 22 September, Georgia’s President presented proposals on the resolution of the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia, which included demilitarization of those areas, direct dialogue between the parties, establishment of an international police presence followed by the signing of a comprehensive pledge on the non-use of force, and economic rehabilitation.


The Secretary-General concluded that a negotiated solution for the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict is undoubtedly difficult to reach, as the positions of the two sides on political status have grown further apart over the years.  However, there is no alternative to dialogue; the threat of force can only deepen existing mistrust, and a resumption of violence would be the worst possible outcome for the communities concerned and for the stability of the region and beyond.


By its resolution 1716, the Council extended UNOMIG’s mandate until 15 April 2007, recognizing that a “new and tense situation” had resulted, at least in part from Georgia’s special operation in the upper Kodori Valley, during which that country’s military forces were introduced into the area, despite Georgia’s commitment under the 1994 Moscow Agreement to withdraw them.


The Council urged Georgia to ensure that no troops unauthorized by that agreement were present in the Valley, and for the Abkhaz side to facilitate the dignified, secure return of refugees and internally displaced persons and to reassure the local population in the Gali district that their residency rights and identity would be respected.  Calling on both parties to follow up on dialogue initiatives, it further urged them to comply fully with all previous agreements regarding non-violence and confidence-building, in particular those concerning the separation of forces.


Regarding the disputed role of the CIS peacekeepers, the Council stressed the importance of that force’s close, effective cooperation with UNOMIG and looked to all parties to continue to extend the necessary cooperation to them.  It also noted with satisfaction the resumption of joint patrols in the upper Kodori Valley by UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force and reaffirmed that such patrols should be conducted on a regular basis.


Cyprus


In 2006, the Council twice extended the mandate of the 42-year-old United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which monitors the ceasefire lines extending some 180 kilometres across the island.


On 15 June, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1687, extending the mission’s mandate for six months, and on the last day of that period, 15 December, it acted on resolution 1728, this time unanimously extending the mission until 16 June 2007.


Reaffirming the importance of keeping UNFICYP’s operations under close review, with possible further adjustments to its mandate, strength and concept of operation as soon as warranted, the Council, by the terms of its latest Cyprus resolution, welcomed the progress made by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s efforts over the last 10 years, and those of his staff, aimed at achieving a comprehensive solution.


The Council particularly welcomed the developments since 8 July, when the two sides committed to ending mutual recriminations and signed a set of principles and decisions recognizing that the status quo was unacceptable and that a comprehensive settlement was both desirable and possible.  They agreed to begin immediately a two-track process involving discussions by technical committees of issues affecting the day-to-day life of the people and, concurrently, consideration by working groups of substantive issues, leading to a comprehensive settlement.


The Council expressed its full support for the process agreed by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, encouraged active participation in bicommunal discussions and called for early completion of the preparations for the resumption of a fully fledged good offices process.


Speaking before the December vote, a representative of Greece said that a Cypriot-owned solution through a Cypriot-owned process, with the international community’s invaluable assistance, was the way forward.  While that way would be difficult, no step was small if it was in the forward-looking direction.  Step-by-step approaches could lead to major breakthroughs.  The two communities had agreed on the basic form of reunification of the island -- a bizonal, bicommunal federation.  The 8 July agreement provided a platform on which to move the political process forward and reach a comprehensive, permanent and durable settlement that respected international legality.


Montenegro


Following Montenegro’s vote, in a May referendum, to end its 88-year confederation with Serbia, the Council recommended to the General Assembly that the Republic of Montenegro be admitted as a member of the United Nations.  That decision was taken by unanimous adoption of resolution 1691 on 22 June 2006.


In a statement read out by Per Stig Møller, Foreign Minister of Denmark, which held the Council’s presidency in June, the 15-nation body noted with great satisfaction the Republic of Montenegro’s solemn commitment to uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter and to fulfill all the obligations therein.  “We look forward to the Republic of Montenegro joining us as a Member of the United Nations and to working closely with its representatives,” the Council President said.


Prior to that, the Council had referred Montenegro’s application to its Committee on the Admission of New Members, during a short meeting on 21 June.


Asia


Timor-Leste


The Council’s consideration of the Organization’s future presence in Timor-Leste, particularly in the wake of violence that erupted there in April-May, culminated in the establishment of a new, expanded United Nations Mission in August, formally known as United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).


The Organization’s presence in Timor-Leste had been drawn down since the original United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), set up in 1999, helped to usher the South-East Asian country to independence in 2002.  That was then replaced with a downsized operation, the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), which, in turn, was succeeded by a residual United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL).


With UNOTIL’s one-year mandate expiring in May, the country’s President, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, asked the Security Council on 23 January to consider establishing a follow-on special political office in his country.  During that meeting, the Council also had a debate on the situation in Timor-Leste, following a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOTIL, Sukehiro Hasegawa.


Expressing gratitude for the critical role that the Security Council had played in Timor-Leste’s recent history, President Gusmão said that the senseless violence and destruction of 1999 might seem like a thing of the past, but it should not be forgotten that it had all happened only a few years ago.  Much remained to be done in ensuring further improvement of State institutions, law and order agencies and the administration.  In view of upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007, the proposed United Nations presence should also have an electoral assistance component.


A reminder that the situation in Timor-Leste remained fragile came at the next briefing to the Council on 5 May, when the Secretary-General’s Special Representative described recent violence in Timor-Leste, sparked by dismissal of nearly 600 soldiers, with five people killed and thousands fleeing the capital.  Mr. Hasegawa said that, despite the achievements of the past five years, State institutions were increasingly challenged in addressing the grievances of various groups and the rising expectations of the people, as well as the potential risks associated with the conduct of the first post-independence presidential and parliamentary elections next year.


Expressing its deep concern over the April incidents, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1677 on 12 May, extended the mandate of UNOTIL until 20 June, also requesting the Secretary-General to provide an update on the situation and on the role of the United Nations following the expiration of UNOTIL’s mandate.


With the security situation in Timor-Leste deteriorating even further, the Council, in a presidential statement on 25 May, urged the country’s Government to take all necessary steps to end the violence and urged all parties to participate in the democratic process.  It also fully supported the deployment of defence and security forces from Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, in response to a request from the Timorese Government, and welcomed the initiatives of the Secretary-General, including his intention to send a special envoy to Timor-Leste in order to facilitate political dialogue.


After deadly incidents in April and May had displaced more than 100,000 people and troops had been deployed from four countries to quell the violence, the Security Council considered the situation in the country again on 13 June.  Addressing the Council, Secretary-General Kofi Annan pointed out that Timor-Leste was a “child of the international community” that the United Nations was determined not to abandon at its time of need.


Through four successive missions, the United Nations had played a key role in laying the foundation for Timor-Leste’s democratic institutions and processes, he said.  Today, however, those stood exposed.  “We have learned -- at a painful price for Timor-Leste -- that the building of institutions on the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law is not a simple process that can be completed within a few short years,” he concluded.  Clearly, tremendous work lay ahead, both for the Government and the international community.


The Council was also briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Ian Martin, who highlighted not only immediate security challenges, but also the complex political situation and other problems, requiring longer-term attention of the political leadership and support of the international community.  At the same time, he cautioned against viewing Timor-Leste as a failed State, saying that, rather, it was a four-year-old State “struggling to stand on its two feet and learn to practice democratic governance”.


On 20 June, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1690, extended the mandate of UNOTIL for two months, giving the Secretary-General until 7 August to report on the United Nations future role after that mandate expired.


The Secretary-General’s recommendations for a new, “multidimensional and integrated” United Nations mission in Timor-Leste were considered on 15 August.  Introducing the Secretary-General’s proposals, Mr. Martin said that, asked to mandate a large mission after downsizing former missions, the Council should not see it as a reversion.  The proposals would establish a more effective compact between Timor-Leste and the international community.  The central failure revealed by the April and May crisis had been in the security sector -- therefore, reforming that sector was a core task.  Also, the challenge to the justice system as it confronted serious crimes was greater than ever, and the protection of human rights needed strengthening.


Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, Jose Luis Guterres, conveyed his people’s gratitude to Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal -- the countries that had contributed to the international stabilization force after the April events.  Those developments had revealed an acute need for continued long-term international assistance for the building of viable State institutions, notably in the areas of security, justice and development, he said.


Many speakers in the debate stressed that, despite the “regrettable” events of April and May, the young country had made great strides forward and deserved continued international support.  The representative of the Philippines echoed many speakers’ sentiments, by saying that, despite the events in the past months, Timor-Leste was still one of the best examples of a successful international enterprise engineered through combined cooperative efforts of the United Nations, regional players and partners.


As deliberations on the Secretary-General’s proposal for a new mission continued, the Council extended the mandate of UNOTIL for another five days on 18 August, unanimously adopting resolution 1703.


Finally, on 25 August, the Council established a new, expanded operation – the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) -- for an initial period of six months, to be manned with up to 1,608 police personnel and up to 34 military officers.


According to resolution 1704, which was unanimously adopted that day, UNMIT’s mandate would include supporting the Government in “consolidating stability, enhancing a culture of democratic governance, and facilitating political dialogue among Timorese stakeholders in their efforts to bring about a process of national reconciliation”.


The Mission was also tasked with supporting the country in holding 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections and to ensure, through the presence of United Nations police, the restoration and maintenance of public security.  Also, its mandate also included providing assistance to the Government in reviewing the security sector; strengthening the national capacity for promoting and protecting human rights; and promoting justice and reconciliation.  The international security forces from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Portugal were called on to fully cooperate with, and provide assistance to, UNMIT.


Myanmar


In procedural action on 15 September -- in which no member had the right to veto -- the Council decided, by a vote of 10 in favour to 4 against (China, Congo, Qatar, Russian Federation), with 1 abstention (United Republic of Tanzania), to include the item “the situation in Myanmar” on its agenda, with the intention of considering it shortly after 19 September.  Although such a meeting did not take place during 2006, the Council can now take this item up, should it be warranted by the situation.


A request to place Myanmar on the Council’s agenda came from the United States, whose representative, in two letters to the President of the Council, expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in Myanmar -- marked, in particular, by the detention of more than 1,100 political prisoners, an outflow of refugees, drug problems and HIV/AIDS and other diseases -- which was likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security.


During the meeting, China’s representative said that, under the Charter, only threats to international peace and security warranted inclusion on the Council’s agenda.  If other issues, such as human rights, were considered for inclusion, any country facing similar issues could be inscribed on the agenda, which was “preposterous”.  Also, Myanmar’s efforts to solve its own problems had been recognized, and the situation was gradually taking a turn for the better.  He also recalled that, previously, the Non-Aligned Movement had expressed its opposition to the item’s inclusion.


Qatar’s representative agreed that placing Myanmar on the Council’s agenda would be inappropriate, noting that Myanmar’s neighbours did not consider the country’s human rights situation to constitute a threat to regional peace and security, and the door should be left open for relevant organs to deal with such questions.


Nepal


In a presidential statement on 1 December, the Council warmly welcomed the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on 21 November, and agreed that the United Nations should respond positively and expeditiously to the request of the parties for assistance in implementing key aspects of the Agreement, in particular monitoring of management of arms and armed personnel of both sides, and election monitoring.  It also expressed support for the Secretary-General’s intention to send a technical assessment mission to Nepal with a view to proposing a United Nations political mission to deliver the assistance requested, and to dispatch an advance deployment of essential personnel of up to 35 monitors and 25 electoral personnel.


Americas


Haiti


On 22 February, interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue told the Security Council that, having capped a restless two-year transition period with successful elections on 7 February, the people of Haiti and their newly elected leaders now faced a moment of truth, and would need the international community to match their determination, as they prepared to push towards full democracy and socio-economic development.


“To the great surprise of the world, Haitians showed their confidence in the democratic process,” he said, thanking the Council for its continuous support for Haiti, as well as those countries that had provided troops and police.  The Transitional Government had accomplished its mission of organizing free, honest, democratic, transparent and inclusive elections.  And, while there had been many threats to the holding of the elections, including organizational and institutional problems, as well as security concerns, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had done a wonderful job.


The Council’s consideration of the situation in Haiti began with the 15-nation body pledging its support for restoring democracy and stability in that country in a presidential statement of 6 January.  Following a delay in the holding of the elections, the Council urged the Transitional Government and the Conseil Electoral Provisoire to expeditiously announce definitive dates for the elections, for the first round to be held no later than 7 February.


After those expectations came through on the set date, the Council, in a presidential statement on 9 February, congratulated Haiti on the successful first round of elections, which it called “a fundamental step” towards restoration of democracy.  On 27 March, the Council commended the Haitian people on the successful completion of the first round of their electoral process and congratulated René García Préval on his election as President, saying the process would give the country “a unique opportunity to break with the violence and political instability of the past”.


In a statement read out by Jorge Taiana, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina, whose country held the presidency for March, the Council also welcomed the announcement by the Haitian authorities of their intentions to hold the second round of parliamentary elections on 21 April, which would allow the prompt inauguration of the President Elect.  Among other priorities, the Council also stressed the need to ensure a secure and stable environment in Haiti and expressed its support for continued efforts by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti to assist the Haitian authorities.


Council members reaffirmed that the establishment of the rule of law, including the protection of human rights, institutional capacity-building and rapid progress on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, would be crucial to Haiti’s future over the next few years.  To that end, sustained political will and common strategic vision of the Haitian authorities and the international community were essential. There was an urgent need to proceed with a thorough and comprehensive reform of the Haitian police and justice system, create jobs and ensure provision of basic social services.


Earlier that day, President Elect René García Préval described the massive turnout of Haitian voters as an eloquent manifestation of their wish to live in peace and to take part in national reconstruction.  It bore witness to their legitimate aspirations to see an improvement of their material conditions and was a positive step towards stabilization.  Describing the challenges the next Government would face, he mentioned widespread poverty, unemployment, dilapidated infrastructure and chronic insecurity.  Under those circumstances, international assistance was indispensable for the consolidation of the democratic process and for laying the socio-economic basis for Haiti’s lasting development.


Secretary-General Kofi Annan, emphasizing that Haiti was only just beginning its long journey towards a stable and democratic future, called on the international community to reinforce President Elect Préval’s efforts to encourage broad political reconciliation.  Haiti’s institutions of governance required generous support, as did the Haitian people, who had endured an unacceptable level of daily hardship and insecurity.


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti was also among some 30 speakers during the meeting, as were the Foreign Ministers of Greece, Vice-Minister and Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Peru, Deputy Foreign Minister of Chile, and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of Brazil.


And finally, in a presidential statement on 15 May, the Council was able to congratulate Mr. Préval on his inauguration as President of Haiti and called on all the newly elected parliamentarians to work constructively to build a better future for their country.  The Council also underlined that many challenges remained and stressed that timely holding of municipal, local and remaining parliamentary elections was fundamental to democratic governance.


In addition, the Council emphasized the need to reform and strengthen Haiti’s police, judiciary and correctional systems, and looked forward to the results of the discussions between MINUSTAH and the new authorities on how to address those and other security-related issues.  It also called on donors and relevant stakeholders to continue to assess and coordinate assistance priorities, in close cooperation with the new Government.


During the year, the Council also twice extended the mandate of the Haiti Mission -- first by resolution 1658 on 14 February, and then resolution 1702 of 15 August.  Both texts were adopted unanimously.


As it extended the mandate until 15 February 2007, the Council, by the terms of resolution 1702, also urged Haitian authorities to complete run-off elections -- in places where the electoral process was disrupted or appeals were upheld -- as soon as feasible, and called on the Mission to provide all appropriate assistance in that regard.  The Mission was also requested to reorient its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts towards a community violence-reduction programme, where it would assist the Government of Haiti and the donor community on initiatives to provide employment opportunities to former gang members and at-risk youth.  MINUSTAH would also assist Haitian authorities in restructuring and strengthening the justice sector, through, among others, the review of legislation and by identifying mechanisms to address prison overcrowding.


For the implementation of that mandate, the Council decided that MINUSTAH would consist of a military component of up to 7,200 troops and a police component of up to 1,951 officers, and further urged Member States to provide well-qualified, particularly francophone, police candidates with specific expertise in, among other things, anti-gang operations.


International Tribunals and Courts


International Tribunals


At the end of December, just two years away from the 2008 deadline set by the Security Council for completion of the trials of those accused of war crimes, including genocide, in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the Presidents and lead Prosecutors of the two International Tribunals spoke about the likelihood of meeting that target and of leaving behind a legacy of having fulfilled the expectations of the victims and the international community.


Customarily briefed by the Tribunals’ top officials twice a year, the Council received updates from those courts on 7 June and 15 December in 2006.  Briefing the Council on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the end of the year, its Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, sought “fresh guidance” from the Council about whether The Hague Tribunal should stay open beyond the scheduled closing of its doors in 2010, until the two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, still at large, were tried.


The President of the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Fausto Pocar, said that to date, cases against 100 accused, out of a total of 161 indicted, had been closed.  At the current rate of progress, and barring any unforeseen difficulties, all trials of the accused in the Tribunal’s custody would be completed no later than 2009.  However, with the capture of six fugitives still outstanding, despite repeated calls on Member States to ensure their arrests, completing all trials by 2009 was doubtful.  The court’s mandate would not be fully implemented without the trials of the high-level accused.


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda remained committed to the deadlines set by the Council, its Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, said.  The trials of 25 accused persons were in progress, with 22 accused being tried jointly in five multiple-accused cases.  Those major cases were expected to conclude at various times during 2007 and 2008.  The option of transferring cases to African countries, other than Rwanda, did not seem viable, owing to capacity and resource constraints, or overloaded national judicial systems.  Meanwhile, the evasive strategies of the 18 fugitive indictees -– including their constant mobility across a large belt of East, Central and Southern Africa; refuge in inaccessible areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; as well as changes in identity and State cooperation -- had posed severe challenges to the tracking team.


The Rwanda Tribunal’s President, Erik Møse, said, with 18 inductees still at large, the court would not be able to prosecute all the accused by December 2008, should they be found.  Some of them should, however, be tried by the Tribunal.  It was essential that Member States cooperate in the arrest and transfer of those persons.


Serbia’s Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, Zoran Loncar, said his Government and all State authorities were investing all necessary efforts to cooperate with the Tribunal to bring it to a successful close.  Thanks to the Government’s outstanding efforts, 16 indictees had been transferred to The Hague Tribunal since January 2005, including the highest-ranking military and police officers.


Rwanda’s representative said that the Tribunal’s completion strategy should not be seen as an “exit strategy” on the part of the international community.  Appropriate measures should be put in place to ensure that all of the accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal’s mandate had expired.  As part of the completion strategy, court documents should be transferred to Rwanda, so the Government, together with the United Nations and the international community, could establish a genocide prevention and education centre, which would serve not just as a memorial for the genocide’s over 1 million victims, but also be a centre of research on the genocide and promote justice, reconciliation and human rights.


In the course of the year, the Council also took a series of actions concerning judges sitting on the Tribunals.


On 28 February, it unanimously adopted resolution 1660, by which it amended articles 12 and 13 quater of the statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, to allow the Secretary-General to appoint reserve judges from among the court’s ad litem judges (judges appointed to a particular case or cases) to be present at each stage of a trial to which they have been appointed and to replace a judge if that judge is unable to continue sitting.


Also in connection with the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1668 on 10 April, extended the term of office of an ad litem judge, allowing him to finish the case he had begun before the expiry of his term of office.  Similar action was taken in relation to the Rwanda Tribunal by the terms of resolution 1705, which was unanimously adopted on 29 August.


With the mandate of 11 permanent judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda set to expire in May 2007, but with trials expected to continue well beyond that time, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1684 on 13 June, extended their terms of office until the end of 2008, the deadline for the completion of all the Tribunal’s proceedings.


On 13 October, through unanimous adoption of resolution 1717, the Council extended until 31 December 2008 the terms of 18 ad litem judges of the Rwanda Tribunal, all of whom had been elected to their positions on 25 June 2003.


Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, Thematic Issues


Peacekeeping


Meeting on the premise that sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as corruption and mismanagement, could erode the effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping, the Council took up peacekeeping-related matters on two consecutive days in February.


After an audit by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) uncovered evidence of mismanagement and the risk of “serious financial loss” in peacekeeping procurement, the Council, on 22 February, held a debate on the matter, despite the objections of the Non-Aligned Movement, which maintained a principled position that such issues were within the purview of the General Assembly and that, by taking them up, the Council was encroaching on the Assembly’s powers.


Briefing the Council, Mark Malloch Brown, Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General, said that the Organization’s senior management had adopted a policy of “zero tolerance” for fraud or gross negligence, and had suspended eight staff members, with pay, while the investigation continued.  The Department of Management was also undertaking a comprehensive review of rules, regulations and policies, focusing on updating procurement procedures and enhancing internal control mechanisms.


Several speakers in the debate that followed the briefing also welcomed the establishment of the OIOS Procurement Fraud Task Force to conduct the investigations, stressing the need to expeditiously take all necessary measures to clarify alleged wrongdoings and hold those found responsible fully accountable.


The representative of Japan said that the issue clearly fell under the purview of the Council as the organ responsible for creating peacekeeping mandates.  At the same time, management, budget and procurement in their specific details had generally been the prerogative of the Assembly, which had the responsibility of overseeing administrative and financial aspects of peacekeeping, including a comprehensive review of relevant practices, rules and regulations.  In light of the seriousness of alleged wrongdoing, both bodies needed to work with a sense of urgency, by complementing each other and ensuring coherence in the overall approach to the matter.


The representative of the United States, which held the Council’s presidency for the month and had requested the meeting, called for a “wholesale change” in the culture of how many agencies and entities within the United Nations system operated and stressed that the issue of procurement fraud and waste directly affected United States tax dollars, as the United States was the Organization’s largest contributor, paying 27 per cent of peacekeeping costs.  That meant that the United States paid one quarter of every case of waste, fraud and abuse.


While reaffirming the importance of the issue, the representative of South Africa, who spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Council was not the right forum for discussing matters within the purview of the Assembly.  The fundamental principal that underpinned the ongoing collective reform effort was that the United Nations was an intergovernmental body, where the voice of each and every Member State must be heard, irrespective of contributions made to the budget.  The fact that there may be a difference in the level of monetary contribution did not imply any difference in the decision-making role of Member States.


On 23 February, two senior officials briefed the Council on steps taken to address sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.  The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said that with the severity of the problem openly recognized and a broad United Nations strategy in place, concrete meaningful progress was being made to address the issue.  However, not all troop contingents or staff on the ground fully supported all aspects of the “zero tolerance” policy, particularly as it pertained to prostitution.  He sought cooperation to address that particular point and called for the strengthening of peacekeeping operations and the OIOS capacity to investigate violations, while respecting due process.  Once those hurdles were overcome, it should be possible to significantly narrow the gap between zero tolerance and full compliance, he said.


The Secretary-General’s Adviser on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, said that sexual exploitation and abuse must be viewed not as some ephemeral issue of passing importance, but as the serious topic it was.  It was difficult to change a culture of dismissiveness, but with peacekeepers and their colleagues performing a service of immense worth for the world community, it was all the more urgent to remove the blight of sexual exploitation and abuse on what was otherwise a distinguished performance.


Speakers in the ensuing debate voiced broad agreement that only by holding itself to the highest standards of ethical conduct could the Organization preserve the credibility and moral authority necessary to carry out its mission in societies already deeply wounded by war.  They rejected the behaviour of those individuals within the peacekeeping operations who threatened to tarnish the name and image of the United Nations and echoed their support for a zero tolerance policy.


They also noted that considerable efforts had been made to ensure progress in that regard.  For example, more than 221 peacekeepers had been investigated, 10 civilians had been fired, and more than 88 uniformed personnel had been repatriated.  Conduct and discipline units had been established in some peacekeeping missions and the number of mission advisers on gender and children had increased.  It was generally acknowledged, however, that the problems persisted in several missions.  Troop-contributing countries, therefore, were urged to ensure that their deployed personnel were appropriately trained and held to the highest standards of conduct.  Continuing to tear down the “wall of silence” was deemed imperative to restoring the reputation of the United Nations and all those who represented it.


Civilians in Armed Conflict


In 2006, the Council twice evaluated progress achieved since the introduction of “protection of civilians in armed conflict” as a topic on its agenda in 1999, and unanimously adopted resolution 1674 to reinforce the legal framework established by two previous texts on the subject in 1999 and 2000.


That wide-ranging text, adopted on 28 April, condemned in the strongest terms all sexual and other forms of violence against civilians in armed conflict, particularly women and children, and undertook to ensure that all peace support operations employed all feasible measures to prevent such violence and to address its impact where it took place.  By its terms, the Council also emphasized the importance of preventing armed conflict and its recurrence, and stressed the need for a comprehensive approach through the promotion of economic growth, poverty eradication, sustainable development, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy and the rule of law, as well as respect for, and protection of, human rights.


Condemning deliberate attacks against United Nations and associated personnel involved in humanitarian missions, as well as other humanitarian personnel, the Council urged States on whose territory such attacks occurred to prosecute or extradite those responsible.  It also underscored the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants and addressed such issues as targeting of civilians, as well as sexual abuse by peacekeepers.


As the Council followed up on the issue on 28 June, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, in his briefing, stressed the need to make resolution 1674 a real platform for action, and to use the range of protection tools at the Council’s disposal more effectively.  Peacekeeping missions must be equipped with better, more comprehensive mandates and the means to fulfil them.  Also, new creative approaches to peacekeeping were required.  Peacekeepers must be given tools, guidance and support, if they were to respond to threats and provide better protection for civilians.


In the discussion that followed, several speakers said the Council should act as early as possible in conflict situations to effectively protect civilians at risk.  Among the issues addressed were gender-based and sexual violence; respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States; recruitment and use of child soldiers; forced displacement; and ensuring access by, and the safety of, United Nations and associated humanitarian personnel.


Briefing the Council for the last time on 4 December in his capacity as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Egeland asserted that the real measure of United Nations success would be the extent to which it had made a difference in protecting the rights and freedoms of civilians in armed conflict.  The Organization was still far away from translating that duty into predictable and adequate action to provide protection for all beleaguered communities, irrespective of time, place and circumstance.


He added that the good news was that overall progress was being made towards protecting civilians in armed conflict -- there were fewer armed conflicts, better humanitarian and peacekeeping work and better mediation than before.  But, the bad news was that armed groups were more ruthless than ever, intent on making the situation as bad as possible.  In 2006, the abuse of defenceless civilian populations had regressed to the “darkest Middle Ages”.  The violations were really crimes against humanity and war crimes, which, in some cases, amounted to genocide.


Protection of Journalists


Acting on a related matter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1738 on 23 December, condemning attacks against journalists in conflict situations.  By the text, it recalled, without prejudice to the war correspondents’ right to the status of prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention, that journalists, media professionals and associated personnel engaged in dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict are to be considered civilians, to be respected and protected as such.  All parties in situations of armed conflict were urged to respect the professional independence and rights of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel as civilians.


Children and Armed Conflict


The Council reiterated its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children in two presidential statements that capped day-long open debates on the issue in 2006, focusing on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) and all previous texts on children and armed conflict, which provided a comprehensive framework for the protection of affected children.


By resolution 1612, the Council endorsed a mechanism of monitoring and reporting child abuse in situations of armed conflict and established a working group on the matter.  It also expressed its intention to combat impunity through targeted measures against repeat violations of children’s rights, including killing and maiming of children, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, sexual violence, child recruitment and denial of humanitarian access.


In a statement read out by its President at the conclusion of the 24 July meeting, the Council expressed its determination to ensure respect for its resolutions on children and armed conflict and underscored the importance of a sustained investment in development, especially in health, education and skills training, to secure successful reintegration of children into their communities and prevent their re-recruitment as soldiers.  The situation of girls exploited by armed forces and groups must be recognized and adequately addressed, the statement said.


Addressing the Council earlier, the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said that, despite the groundswell of support for resolution 1612 -- and the fact that the situation of children in Sierra Leone, Burundi, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had improved markedly -- children continued to suffer.  More than 250,000 of them continued to be exploited as child soldiers by armed forces and groups around the world.  Tens of thousands of girls were subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence.  Abduction of children was becoming more systematic and widespread.  Since 2003, more than 14 million had been forcibly displaced within and outside their home countries, and between 8,000 and 10,000 had been killed or maimed each year by landmines.


By its November presidential statement, the Council strongly condemned continued recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of international law and welcomed steps by national, international and “mixed” criminal courts and tribunals against those accused of grave violations against children in armed conflict.


Taking note of the positive developments in implementing resolution 1612, including the first reports of the monitoring and reporting mechanism and the activity of its working group on children and armed conflicts, the Council reiterated its invitation to States affected by armed conflict that are not yet involved in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism to join it on a voluntary basis.  It also called again on relevant parties to implement, as a matter of priority, concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of international law, as called for in Council resolution 1539 (2005).


Opening the debate that day, Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that, despite significant progress, the international community had only begun to “scratch the surface” in addressing the issue of children and armed conflict.  Expressing hope that the Council would consolidate the gains made and move forward to cover all situations of concern and all grave violations, he said the tangible gains of the past few years showed that, with political will in the Council, it was possible to improve the lives of millions of children trapped in situations of armed conflict.


Small Arms


Meeting ahead of the conference to review the implementation of the 2001 Programme of Action on the illicit small arms trade, the Security Council on 20 March examined the progress made in combating that scourge, with most of 40 speakers agreeing that the event would present a vital opportunity to improve international efforts to reduce their negative impact.


Outlining recent achievements in that regard, Hannelore Hoppe, Officer-in-Charge of the Department for Disarmament Affairs, highlighted the adoption by the General Assembly in November 2005 of a politically binding international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons.  Among the areas requiring further efforts, she listed the need to build States’ capacity to improve the effectiveness of the Council’s arms embargoes, which could include technical assistance for improved monitoring of national air spaces and maritime borders, as well as development of means to identify and prosecute arms embargo violators.  It was also necessary to systematically integrate long-term small arms and light weapons control measures in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in post-conflict situations.


While welcoming the adoption of the instrument for marking and tracing, the majority of speakers regretted that it did not have a legally binding character or contain provisions regarding ammunition.  Also welcomed was the Assembly’s authorization for the convening of the Group of Governmental Experts, which would hopefully lead to progress towards eventual regulation of arms brokering.  Among the areas that required further attention, speakers also mentioned marking and tracing, brokering regulations, transfer controls, integration of small arms measures into development assistance and the need to include adequate funding for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the budgets of peacekeeping operations.  Also addressed in the debate were ways to improve compliance with arms embargoes and ban accessibility of weapons to non-State actors.


Women, Peace and Security


The Council took stock of progress achieved in implementing its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, six years after its adoption, on 26 October, with some 50 speakers taking part in the debate on the matter.  It focused, in particular, on the first follow-up report to assess implementation of the United Nations system-wide action plan.


While acknowledging the progress achieved, speakers expressed concern that the Council still had no systematic way to ensure integration of a gender perspective in its work, and that translating the goals of resolution 1325 into reality on the ground remained a challenge.  Speakers also stressed the need for the Peacebuilding Commission to incorporate a gender perspective in its activities, and for countries -- especially those emerging from conflict -- to adopt national action plans.


In a statement read out by its President at the conclusion of the meeting, the Council acknowledged the vital roles and contributions by women in building peace and welcomed their increased participation in decision-making in several countries emerging from conflict.  It encouraged Member States, donors and civil society to provide support for the implementation of the resolution and requested the Secretary-General to identify remaining gaps and challenges in that regard.  Recognizing the importance of integrating gender perspectives into institutional reform in post-conflict countries, the statement encouraged them to mainstream gender perspectives in institutional reform, providing for the protection of women’s rights and safety.


The Council also reiterated its utmost condemnation of all forms of violence against women in armed conflicts, including killing, maiming and sexual violence, calling upon all parties in conflict to ensure effective protection of women and emphasizing the need to end impunity for gender-based violence.  Condemning again, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual misconduct by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, the Council expressed its support for further efforts by the United Nations to fully implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.


Cooperation with Regional Organizations


Through the adoption of a presidential statement following a high-level debate on 20 September, the Council expressed its intention to consider further steps to promote closer and more operational cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and peacekeeping.


The Council invited organizations with the capacity for peacekeeping or rapid response to crisis to enhance their working relations with the United Nations Secretariat, and urged the Secretariat, United Nations agencies, States and international organizations to contribute to the capacity-building of regional and subregional organizations, in particular of the African Union and African subregional organizations, which play a useful role in brokering peace agreements, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict stabilization.


Welcoming the intent of many regional and subregional organizations to be closely associated with the work of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Council also welcomed efforts to enhance cooperation between the United Nations Secretariat and regional organizations in mediation and peacemaking, and invited the Secretariat to expand its peacemaking databank to regional and subregional organizations to facilitate mutual information.


“We have a better sense today of our respective strengths and advantages,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, addressing the meeting.  Regional actors’ political engagement was improving the Organization’s knowledge of specific situations, their peacekeeping capacities had made it possible to respond more quickly at key moments and their resources were proving to be a linchpin of post-conflict peacebuilding.


“We sometimes forget how quickly our world evolves,” he added.  Not too long ago, the idea of more than 90,000 United Nations peacekeepers in the field, an African standby force or a European Union police mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been unthinkable.  Those were reality today.  The reality of the next decade was that the demand for peacekeeping would continue to grow, and the United Nations must be ready.  The time had come for the international community to take the regional-global partnership to a new level of clarity, practicality and seriousness.


OSCE


Following a briefing on 16 January by the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), several delegations took the floor in the Council Chamber to commend OSCE’s work, particularly in the Balkans.  With increasing recognition of the important role of regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security, speakers called for enhanced cooperation between OSCE and the United Nations, as the two shared the same values and common areas of action.


Among the priorities for the Belgian Chairmanship of OSCE -- presented by Foreign Minister of Belgium, Karel De Gucht -- were institutional reform and conflict resolution.  OSCE sought to achieve a better balance between various dimensions of its approach to security, promoting the rule of law and resolving and preventing conflicts and crises, with a special focus on Kosovo and “frozen conflicts”, such as Transdniestria, South Ossetia, and Nagorny Karabakh.  OSCE intended to play the role of honest broker for the benefit of all, for which good cooperation between his organization and the United Nations was crucial.


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For information media • not an official record