|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
IN 2007 SECURITY COUNCIL FACED DAUNTING RANGE OF PEACE, SECURITY CHALLENGES,
INCLUDING AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION, TERRORISM
The Security Council in 2007 focused intensive efforts on resolving, monitoring and managing a daunting range of complex situations already on its agenda, in concert with the new Secretary-General, developing groundbreaking peacekeeping arrangements and other innovative strategies aimed at strengthening global security.
The suffering in Sudan’s Darfur region and elsewhere in Africa, the tragic volatility of the Middle East, final status arrangements in Kosovo and other post-conflict areas, non-proliferation, terrorism, protection of human rights and a host of other difficult issues were the items Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as priorities when he addressed the 15-member body for the first time on 8 January.
To meet such challenges, the membership pledged to work with the Secretary-General on “a resolute and coherent response, based on the collective security system of the Charter of the United Nations”, recognizing the “multifaceted and interconnected” nature of global issues affirmed by the 2005 World Summit.
Towards that effort, the Council convened 170 public meetings during the year, issuing 50 presidential statements and adopting 56 resolutions, 32 of which concerned Africa. At the same time, activity on some of the most pressing items took place in closed venues, particularly when the Council had already taken action and was monitoring outside negotiations, or attempting to develop consensus for further steps on such issues as Kosovo and nuclear non-proliferation. In fact, almost all actions were taken by consensus, with only three resolutions requiring a vote and just one veto by a Permanent Council member.
The sole veto, which occurred on 12 January, concerned political repression and human rights violations in Myanmar, which China and the Russian Federation maintained did not threaten international security and which they said could be better handled through the Secretary-General’s “good offices”. In October and November, the country became a major focus of the Council, after the Government’s violent suppression of demonstrating Buddhist monks in the country’s capital. In the same region, the Council authorized a political mission in nearby Nepal (UNMIN) to assist progress towards elections after an agreement was reached aimed at ending some 10 years of civil strife.
In Africa, the Council established two innovative African peacekeeping missions, in coordination with regional and international stakeholders, to deal with the unabated violence in Darfur and its border areas. That issue dominated much of the year, including a September summit on Africa, peace and security attended by many national leaders. The result was the projected 26,000-strong African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), to be supported by a European force. Deployment of both was proceeding at year’s end, although UNAMID, in particular, still lacked crucial resources and an optimum political climate.
In response to renewed chaos in Somalia, the Council authorized a new African Union Mission (AMISOM) and requested proposals for a United Nations force and new political initiatives. Elsewhere in Africa, the Council closely monitored Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi, where implementation of new agreements was halting at best, and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where militia activity continued to terrorize the population. Progress was steadier in Sierra Leone, and as a result, the peacekeeping mission there (UNIOSIL) was set for phase-out in its last extension.
In support of Burundi and Sierra Leone, the Council also worked on forging a relationship with the new Peacebuilding Commission, established to help fragile, post-conflict States build their economies and institutions and, through that, keep them from sliding back into violence. The Council recommended that Guinea-Bissau be the third case on the Commission’s roster. The growing relationship with regional organizations in Africa, particularly the African Union, was also a priority, and a major focus of the Council’s July mission to Africa.
The troubled Middle East continued to be the subject of monthly briefings, with the Council concerned over the widening rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, continued rocket fire into Israel and Israeli settlement activity. The Council supported the November talks in Annapolis, Maryland, between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a way to get back onto the Road Map towards a lasting two-State solution. On Lebanon, with the Government deadlocked for months over the choice of a President, the Council urged dialogue and implementation of previous resolutions, and particularly an end to arms smuggling by militias. As the divided Government was unable to establish a tribunal to handle the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others, the Council took it upon itself to establish it, albeit through a divided vote, and by year’s end the Netherlands agreed to host the new court.
With continuing insurgencies and terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Council extended the mandates of the respective multinational forces. The authorization for the force in Iraq was extended for the last time, until the end of 2008. UNMOVIC, the United Nations weapons inspection unit that was rendered moot by the 2003 Iraq war, was finally terminated, although not without objection.
On nuclear proliferation issues, the Council was briefed early in the year on progress in the implementation of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, imposed in 2006 over its nuclear weapons programme, but no further action was taken during the year, as progress was reported at the six-party talks (United States, Russian Federation, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Japan and China). In March, sanctions imposed on Iran over its uranium enrichment activities were toughened and the Council promised further steps if no compliance was reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) within 60 days, but the Council did not meet again publicly on the issue.
On Kosovo, the province of Serbia administered by the United Nations since 1999, a Council fact-finding mission found the leadership in both Kosovo and Serbia far apart on a proposal for “supervised independence” and, later in the year, a Council “troika” of the European Union, United States and the Russian Federation conducted four months of negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade, and reported no change in those positions. Progress on Western Sahara also remained stalled, even as the Council supported new diplomatic activity between the parties. Rounding out Council missions was a late November trip to Timor-Leste to monitor progress in stability and institution-building, following the previous year’s violent outbreaks and the subsequent establishment of a peacebuilding unit.
In its effort to take into account the multidimensional nature of peace and security, the Council was frequently briefed by humanitarian and human rights officials, often in a regional context. Thematic issues, particularly terrorism and the protection of civilians, remained high on the agenda through public meetings and subsidiary committees. The United Kingdom added climate change to the agenda in March, although several members felt that the Council was not the best forum to address that challenge.
At the 8 January meeting that opened the year, Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa were welcomed as new Council members. Completing their two-year terms at the end of 2007 were Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia, with Burkina Faso, Libya, Viet Nam, Costa Rica and Croatia elected to take their place starting 1 January 2008. China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, of course, remain permanent members.
Following are summaries of major actions taken by the Council in the past year:
Africa , Peace and Security
The Council expressed strong support for the comprehensive approach on conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in Africa, recommended by the Secretary-General in his report (document A/60/891) at the end of a 28 August meeting featuring over 35 speakers. That approach included addressing the root causes of conflicts, effective early-warning mechanisms, mediation, humanitarian access and response, protection of civilians, targeted sanctions and systemic efforts to keep existing conflicts from spilling over into other States. (For detailed summary, see Press Release SC/9105)
On 25 September, eight Presidents, two Prime Ministers and an Emir participated in a historic Council summit on peace and security in Africa. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the United Nations full commitment to all levels of peacemaking in Africa, and African Union Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konaré welcomed the strengthened relations between the United Nations and regional organizations, but said much more investment was needed in peacekeeping, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It was essential that Africa’s partners not intervene unduly, however. “The era of colonialism is over,” he said. Darfur and Somalia were the focus of the ensuing discussion. (Press Release SC/9128)
The Council heard two briefings on its 14-21 June mission to Africa in support of ongoing peace efforts. During the mission, Council members visited Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On 26 June, the four mission leaders described their meetings in those countries, which had included extensive discussions at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, leading to agreements on harmonizing peace and security efforts. On 16 July, the same representatives presented their recommendations, urging quick deployment of the Hybrid Operation in Darfur and follow-up on the African Union agreements. (Press Releases SC/9061 and SC/9079)
The establishment of an African Union-United Nations hybrid peacekeeping operation to stem the violence in Darfur was a prominent topic in the Council’s 10 meetings on Sudan this year. At the end of the year, however, with deployment of the operation delayed and political progress halting, humanitarian and human rights officials still had to paint a grim picture in their briefings on the vast region, where fighting between rebel factions, Government troops and allied militias has left some 200,000 people dead and 2.2 million displaced since hostilities began in 2003, besides placing the delivery of humanitarian assistance under extreme strain. (Press Releases SC/9128, SC/9186 and SC/9189)
On 25 May, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/15) calling for the immediate provision of support packages to the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS). On 26 June, with AMIS unable to quell the violence on its own, the Council welcomed the Sudanese Government’s unconditional agreement to support the deployment of the hybrid operation -- which had been under planning from the beginning of the year -- after hearing a briefing by Emyr Jones Parry (United Kingdom), head of the Council mission to the region, who stressed the need to keep the pressure on both the Government and the rebels to keep their commitments regarding preconditions for the deployment. (Press Releases SC/9027 and SC/9061)
The Council authorized the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), expected to comprise up to 26,000 military and civilian personnel, on 31 July by adopting resolution 1769 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. “You are sending a clear and powerful signal of your commitment to improve the lives of the people of the region and close this tragic chapter in Sudan’s history,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said after the adoption of the resolution, which called for troop contributions within 30 days and a handover of command from AMIS by 31 December at the latest. (Press Release SC/9089)
By 27 November, however, serious obstacles to the deployment had arisen, the Council learned from a joint briefing by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Jan Eliasson, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Darfur. While the first elements of the “heavy support” package for AMIS had been deployed and most troop commitments for UNAMID secured, the latter still lacked helicopter units critical for mobility. In addition, a response to the list of troop-contributing countries had yet to be received from the Government of the Sudan, which had made clear its reluctance to accept certain non‑African units. It had also not facilitated operation rights for United Nations aircraft and had proposed troublesome provisions for a status-of-forces agreement. Little progress had been made on those issues by the end of the year, despite the General Assembly’s approval of $1.28 billion for UNAMID through 30 June 2008. (Press Release SC/9178)
On the political front, meanwhile, the Council helped lay the groundwork for peace talks to be held in Sirte, Libya, on 27 October, involving all parties to the conflict in Darfur. In a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/41), it called for a cessation of hostilities and stressed the critical importance of an inclusive political settlement alongside the deployment of UNAMID. (Press Release SC/9156) In the 27 November meeting described above, however, Special Envoy Eliasson said that, while the ensuing talks had been constructive, the rebel movements had lacked cohesion and some had failed to participate. Outreach to those factions and further phases of the talks were planned for the next several months, he added.
In addition, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, twice asked the Council –- on 7 June and 5 December -- to send a strong message to Sudan of the need to arrest the country’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and a Janjaweed militia commander, both of whom were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. In the second meeting, Mr. Ocampo said Sudan was still not cooperating with the Court and that massive crimes continued, with rampant attacks on individuals for the purpose of destroying communities. “Calling those crimes chaos or sporadic violence or intertribal clashes is a cover-up,” he said. (Press Releases SC/9036 and SC/9186)
On 28 September, the Council adopted resolution 1779 (2007), extending the mandate of the expert panel monitoring the weapons ban on Darfur until 15 October 2008. (Press Release SC/9131)
Regarding Southern Sudan, the Council met on 30 April and 31 October in support of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which monitors the accord that in 2005 ended 21 years of civil warfare in the region. The last extension is valid through 30 April 2008. Adopting resolutions 1755 and 1784, the Council called on the parties to speed up implementation of “overdue” commitments to the Peace Agreement, including the disarmament and demobilization of combatants. In the latter resolution, it called on them to help defuse tensions in Abyei and other areas where the Agreement was under threat, and to allow UNMIS unrestricted access for monitoring and verification exercises. That resolution also affirmed the role of UNMIS in supporting AMIS and UNAMID. (Press Releases SC/9008 and SC/9160)
The Council met four times in an effort to deal with the humanitarian threat posed by armed groups on the borders of Sudan’s conflict-wracked Darfur region, where humanitarian operations and the millions of uprooted people they serve are subject to attack. On 25 September, by adopting resolution 1778 (2007), it authorized the establishment of a “multidimensional presence” in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic. That presence would be made up of a new United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and troops deployed by the European Union, with a robust mandate to protect and support it. The Mission, to be headquartered in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital, will focus on civil affairs, human rights and the rule of law. The resolution also endorsed the establishment of a new Chadian police unit to maintain law and order in refugee camps and settlements for locally displaced persons. (Press Release SC/9127)
The authorizing resolution followed a 16 January presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/2) containing the Council’s request for the dispatch of a technical assessment team to the area, to be followed by proposals for a mission of the Secretary-General. Acting on the consequent proposals, the Council indicated in a 27 August presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/30) its readiness to authorize the operation. (Press Releases SC/8941 and SC/9103)
Spurring on the establishment of the Mission was a 4 April briefing by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who called for a regional approach to the area’s humanitarian perils, caused by both internal conflict and spill-over from the violence in Darfur. (Press Release SC/8993)
At the end of the year, the Secretary-General’s report to the Council (document S/2007/739) said deployment of the dual mission, which “breaks new ground in peacekeeping operations”, was on track, and recommended an extension of the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) for another year. The Council executed that action by letter.
Seeing violence surge in the capital city of Mogadishu this year, along with massive displacement and humanitarian suffering, the Council met seven times on Somalia, which has not had a functioning Government since 1991. The fighting intensified after the Transitional Federal Government, backed by Ethiopian forces, dislodged the Union of Islamic Courts from much of the country in December 2006. Through a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/13) on 30 April, the Council expressed deep concern at the displacement of civilians and the deterioration of the already desperate humanitarian situation, condemning the indiscriminate shelling of heavily populated areas and demanding that all parties end the hostilities and comply with international humanitarian law. (Press Release SC/9009)
In order to support dialogue and reconciliation in Somalia, contribute to security for humanitarian aid and protect members of the Transitional Federal Government, an African Union Mission, known as AMISOM, was authorized for six months by the Council on 20 February, through resolution 1744. The Council extended that authorization for another six months on 20 August (resolution 1772), urging Member States to provide resources for AMISON’s full deployment. At the same time, however, with the Mission subsequently coming under attack by what the Council called extremist elements, along with continued insurgent and inter-factional violence, in a 14 June presidential statement(S/PRST/2007/19), the Council requested the Secretary-General to prepare contingency plans for a possible United Nations peacekeeping force to replace AMISON, while condemning the attacks. (Press Releases SC/8960, SC/9101 and SC/9045)
Also condemning the continued flow of weapons into Somalia that helped fuel such violence, the Council on 23 July extended the mandate of the group that monitors the arms embargo in the country for another six months. On 6 December, however, Under-Secretary-General John Holmes reported that the grim humanitarian situation desperately required progress on the political and security fronts. “Business as usual” efforts were not enough to stem the turmoil, warned the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, in a meeting on 17 December. He urged immediate, effective action on the political and security fronts, with the objective of forming a Government that could support itself and administer the country. In a presidential statement two days later (S/PRST/2007/49), the Council said it looked forward to hearing more details on a possible United Nations mission to replace AMISON, requesting a report from the Secretary-General on the issue by 8 February 2008. (Press Releases SC/9083, SC/9189, SC/9203 and SC/9211)
The Council held eight meetings on the vast Central African country, which it saw inching towards democracy after a brutal six-year civil war, but whose North and South Kivu Provinces were still plagued by violence and displacement. In four of those meetings, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). On 15 February, it adopted resolution 1742 (2007), authorizing a two-month extension until 15 April and requesting the Secretary-General to recommend on possible adjustments to the Mission’s mandate and capacities. On 13 April, it extended the mandate further until 15 May by adopting resolution 1751 (2007). (Press Releases SC/8955 and SC/8996)
On 15 May, the Council adopted resolution 1756 (2007), authorizing the extension of MONUC’s mandate until 31 December and refocusing it towards helping the Government cement stability. Finally, on 21 December, its adoption of resolution 1794 extended the mandate for a year, through 31 December 2008, requesting the Mission to give the highest priority to the crisis in the Kivu Provinces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in all its dimensions. (Press Releases SC/9016 and SC/9213)
Following the deaths of hundreds of people in the capital, Kinshasa, during March fighting between Government forces and the guards of unsuccessful 2006 presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/9) on 3 April that called on the authorities and MONUC to conduct an investigation. It also called on political parties to pursue national reconciliation and resolve their differences through dialogue. (Press Release SC/8992)
In another presidential statement, on 23 July (S/PRST/2007/28), the Council expressed deep concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the east of the country due to the increased activities of armed groups, including fighters of the former Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR (Forces armées rwandaises), now known as the Forces démocratiques de la libération du Rwanda (FDLR), forces loyal to dissident General Laurent Nkunda and so-called “mixed” brigades meant to be integrated into the national army. It condemned the recruitment of children, urged all key players to seek a political solution and strongly encouraged the Government to carry out security sector reforms. (Press Release SC/9084)
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on that situation in a public meeting held on 9 January and, on 10 August, the Council extended its arms embargo against militia groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for six more months by adopting resolution 1771, which condemned the continuing flow of weapons. (Press Releases SC/8936 and SC/9097)
Great Lakes Region
With over 800,000 displaced this year in the still turbulent eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council, on 21 November, issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/44) commending the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda on their 9 November agreement to cooperate in ending the problem of illegal armed groups there, calling on the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), ex-FAR/Interahamwe and the dissident militia of Laurent Nkunda to lay down their arms. (Press Release SC/9177)
Earlier in the year, at a 9 March meeting, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Ibrahima Fall, briefing the Council as his four-year mandate came to a close, said the countries of the region must “take ownership” of implementing the security and development pact signed at a December 2006 regional conference in Nairobi. (Press Release SC/8968)
On 28 March, the Council issued resolution 1749, terminating the requirement that States report the delivery of arms and related materiel to the Government of Rwanda, modifying the sanctions first imposed in 1994 amid ethnic killings that took some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu lives. The prohibition against the sale or supply of such materiel to other entities in the country remaines in effect. (Press Release SC/8985)
Welcoming a meeting between the Ugandan Government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) -- which has waged a brutal rebellion in the country’s north that has left over 1 million displaced and tens of thousands killed and abducted over two decades -- the Council on 22 March issued a presidential statement calling for the extension of last year’s cessation of hostilities agreement and expressing hope that peace talks could soon resume (S/PRST/2007/6). Council members urged LRA, notorious for its forced conscription of children, to release all non-combatants to the conflict and called for bringing to justice those who had perpetrated human rights abuses. The statement followed a briefing on the issue by Joaquim Chissano, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the LRA-affected areas. (Press Release SC/8976)
With Burundi’s progress towards stability running into serious obstacles this year, the Council met four times on the tiny East African country, one of the first cases taken on by the Peacebuilding Commission, to help keep it from sliding back into the ethnic strife that had recurred since independence in 1962. In 2006, a ceasefire was finally achieved with the last standout rebel group, Palipehutu-FNL. To help support the country’s recovery, on 2 January, the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) replaced the peacekeeping mission known as the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB).
In its meeting on 30 May, the Council called on all political parties in the country to maintain the spirit of consensus-building and inclusiveness that had allowed a successful transition thus far, through a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/16). It also urged authorities to intensify security sector reform and to address the issue of human rights abuses committed by members of the security services. The pact with the Palipehutu-FNL was put into question, however, when the rebels withdrew from a Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism in July. (Press Release SC/9030)
In a report to the Council in late November (document S/2007/682), the Secretary-General warned that the blockage in the peace process, along with political crises, “underscores the fragility of the situation and the continued need for vigilance”, and on 6 December, Johan Løvald (Norway), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s meetings on Burundi, urged the Council to closely monitor the ceasefire and take action when appropriate. (Press Release SC/9190)
On 19 December, renewing BINUB’s mandate until the end of 2008, the Council urged the Palipehutu-FNL to return to the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism “without delay or preconditions and to immediately release all children associated with it”, and urged both parties to the ceasefire to “refrain from any action that might lead to a resumption of hostilities” (resolution 1791). (Press Release SC/9208)
The Council met nine times on the West African country, which has been divided since 2002 between a rebel-held north and a Government-controlled south, and which has seen resurgent violence in the past several years. The Ouagadougou Agreement signed by President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in the capital of Burkina Faso in March was credited by the Council with reducing tensions, but the pact’s slow implementation stirred deep concern in subsequent meetings. A 28 March presidential statement endorsing the Agreement (S/PRST/2007/8) called it a “good basis for a comprehensive settlement of the crisis”. (Press Release SC/8986)
In an 18 May briefing, Djibrill Bassole of the Burkina Faso facilitation praised the Agreement, which includes a schedule for dismantling of militias, unification of armed forces, voter identification and elections. On 22 October, however, Council members voiced growing concern at the delay in the Agreement’s implementation, after Abou Moussa, the Secretary-General’s Principal Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said that none of the benchmarks had been met that would allow the adjustment of his mission’s mandate. (Press Releases SC/9019 and SC/9150)
The mandate of UNOCI, which has been assisting the peace process since 2004, was extended three times this year along with that of French support forces, with some mandate readjustment. The first extension on 10 January (resolution 1739) called for cooperation with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to control arms flows and repatriate foreign ex-combatants. On 29 June, the mission was extended for only two weeks through resolution 1763, and then until 15 January 2008 through resolution 1765, with a refocus on implementing the Ouagadougou pact and helping the country conduct elections, which were required by 31 October 2007, but were then postponed. (Press Releases SC/8937, SC/9065 and SC/9078)
With the election and other requirements of the Ouagadougou pact stalled, the Council, on 29 October, renewed sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire until 31 October 2008, through resolution 1782, over the objections of the Ivorian delegate. The measures include a ban on the trade in arms and rough diamonds, along with travel and asset restrictions on individuals. The panel monitoring the sanctions was also extended in the same resolution. (Press Release SC/9158)
The Council met five times on this West African country, which is striving to rebuild itself after a devastating 14-year civil war, with the assistance of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), established in 2003 to support a ceasefire and peace process. The Mission remains important, despite the inauguration of a democratically elected President, a large increase in public revenues and other progress, because, the Secretary-General notes in his latest report, the “slow progress in strengthening the security sector is a source of great concern” (document S/2007/479).
UNMIL’s mandate was extended through resolutions 1750 of 30 March and 1777 of 20 September. The last extension, until 30 September 2008, also set in motion a three-year plan to reduce UNMIL’s military and police component to fit the changing situation, with the option to redeploy some personnel to the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). (Press Releases SC/8990 and SC/9123)
The other meetings concerned sanctions. On 27 April, through resolution 1753, the Council unanimously lifted its six-year-old ban on the export of diamonds from the country, originally established to stop so-called “blood” gems from funding wars in the region, after the body agreed that the country had instituted adequate internal controls. On 20 June, however, the Council, through resolution 1760, called on the Secretary-General to set up a panel to renew investigations into the results of an asset freeze on former President Charles Taylor and associates, who is now facing war crimes charges brought by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Established in July, the panel’s mandate was extended by the Council on 19 December, through resolution 1792, which also renewed for another 12 months the arms and travel embargoes on the country. (Press Releases SC/9006, SC/9051 and SC/9209)
Council members were able to point to major signs of progress in both its meetings this year concerning the West African country, which is emerging from 11 years of devastating civil war. In view of that progress, on 21 December, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) for what it said was the last time. Renewing UNIOSIL until 30 September 2008, resolution 1793 welcomed the holding of peaceful and democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in August and September, as well as progress in security sector reform. It also welcomed the adoption, on 12 December, of the framework for cooperation between the Government and the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, the new body assisting countries emerging from conflict, which took on Sierra Leone as one of its first cases. By other provisions of the resolution, the Council requested a completion strategy for UNIOSIL, expressing the intention to replace it with a political office to liaise with the Peacebuilding Commission. (Press Release SC/9212)
Frank Major ( Netherlands), Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific meetings on Sierra Leone, described the peacebuilding framework for Sierra Leone as “another major milestone” in the country’s journey towards stability, when he briefed the Council on 14 December. The Council also met twice to discuss the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which had handed down its first verdicts for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and had begun the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in The Hague (see Tribunals). (Press Releases SC/9202, SC/9037 and SC/9062)
The tiny West African State, which has been assisted since 1999 by the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) in the wake of a 1998 civil war, this year became the third country to come under the purview of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Council recommended that the country be added to the Commission’s agenda following its 19 October meeting, at which the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/38) warning that drug and human trafficking and other organized crime threatened the rule of law and democracy, as well as regional stability. On 11 December, the Council President sent a letter backing the Government’s request for inclusion on the Commission’s agenda. The body’s Organizational Committee approved the Council’s request on 19 December. (Press Releases SC/9145 and PBC/26)
Ethiopia and Eritrea
The Council met three times on the still tense border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which remained at an impasse during the year and was deemed “a potentially unstable security situation”. The mandate of the United Nations Mission in those countries (UNMEE), which monitors the ceasefire reached in 2000, was extended twice, on 30 January and 30 July, for six months each time. (Press Releases SC/8944 and SC/9086)
In the first extension (resolution 1741), the Council, expressing frustration with the lack of progress on the demarcation of borders, reduced the number of peacekeepers it would authorize. In both resolutions, it demanded that Ethiopia accept the Boundary Commission’s 2002 decision on the border and called on Eritrea to withdraw its troops from the Temporary Security Zone and reverse its restrictions on UNMEE operations. In the final meeting, on 13 November, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/43) urging both countries to take concrete steps to implement the border decision immediately and without preconditions. (Press Release SC/9169)
Noting that Morocco and Frente Polisario remained at an impasse over the future of the Saharan Non-Self-Governing Territory, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for two more six-month periods, through resolutions 1754 and 1783, respectively. MINURSO has been in the Territory since 1991 to monitor the ceasefire between the two sides and to conduct a long-stalled plebiscite on self-determination. The second resolution, adopted on 31 October, renewed the Mission through April 2008, while calling on the parties to continue negotiations towards the goal of self-determination of the people of the Territory. (Press Release SC/9159)
In the first resolution, of 30 April, the Council requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to sponsor negotiations between the two sides and called on both parties to participate in “good faith”. (Press Release SC/9007) The parties did participate in talks sponsored by the United Nations in Manhasset, New York, in June and August, but Mr. Ban, in his latest report on the situation, said the two sides held incompatible positions that prevented them from seriously discussing each other’s proposals. Morocco holds that its sovereignty should be recognized, proposing autonomy, while Frente Polisario’s position is that the Territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum that includes independence as an option.
Question of Palestine
The Council heard its usual monthly briefings on the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, with perhaps the most notable occurring on 30 November, when B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, hailed the Annapolis meeting of late November -- at which the Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached a joint understanding to conclude a peace treaty and resolve all outstanding issues without exception for the long-troubled region before the end of 2008 -- as the “most significant breakthrough” for the Middle East peace process in several years. (Press Release SC/9184)
In a subsequent briefing, Mr. Pascoe told the Council on 21 December that bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization had indeed begun, but new settlement activity and ongoing violence remained of concern. He noted the holding of the Paris donors’ conference on 17 December, reiterating that donors must follow through on the reported $74 billion pledged for the next three years, the Palestinian Authority would have to implement its reform agenda and Israel would need to ease significantly its restrictions on movement and access. Casualty figures during the reporting period underscored the insecurity facing civilians on both sides of the conflict. (Press Release SC/9214)
During a briefing in January, the then Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, cast the situation in a gloomier light, warning: “None of us can afford another year like the last one in Lebanon and the Middle East”. The period since the Secretary-General’s last report on the situation in December 2006 had been marked by heightened levels of instability and suffering, combined with a renewed sense of international urgency to find a political way forward, he noted, stressing the urgent need for solutions to the political impasses among the Palestinians and in Lebanon. (Press Release SC/8943)
On 13 February, a day-long debate, in which some 40 delegates participated, followed a briefing by Alvaro de Soto, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority. He cited a newly active Quartet, a Palestinian national unity Government, a more closely involved Arab world and the beginning of a political dialogue between the parties as holding the potential to help restore calm and re-energize the peace process. (Press Release SC/8953)
Israel and 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 20 June and then on 14 December, the unanimously adopted resolutions extending the mandate for further six-month periods were accompanied by presidential statements, 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 2008. (Press Releases SC/9050 and SC/9200)
Preoccupying the Council during 14 meetings on the situation in Lebanon were the 10 postponements by lawmakers of the presidential election, which elicited the Council’s deep concern. On 11 December, the 15-member body emphasized that the ongoing political impasse might lead to a further deterioration of the Lebanese situation. (Press Release SC/9195)
The monthly briefings on the situation in the Middle East touched on events in Lebanon. In the one on 21 December, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told the Council that there appeared to be agreement in principle on the presidential candidature of General Michel Suleiman. However, the parties remained deeply divided over how to bring about the election of General Suleiman, currently Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces. (Press Release SC/9214)
The Council was seized with the repeated terrorist attacks in Lebanon, meeting four times in their wake. They included, most recently on 12 December, the attack in Baabda, which killed two people, including General Francois el-Hajj of the Lebanese Armed Forces. The other attacks occurred on 19 September in Beirut, killing Member of Parliament Antoine Ghanem and at least six others; 24 June in south Lebanon, killing six peacekeepers of the Spanish contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which also included Colombian nationals; and 13 June in Beirut, which killed at least nine people, including Member of Parliament Walid Eido, and injured several others. (Press Releases SC/9197, SC/9125, SC/9059 and SC/9043)
Council actions concerning the investigation of the 14 February 2005 attack that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others included authorizing the formation of an international tribunal to try suspects, according to a resolution adopted on 30 May by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (China, Indonesia, Qatar, Russian Federation, South Africa). (Press Release SC/9029) On 21 December, the United Nations and the Netherlands signed a Headquarters Agreement to base the seat of the Special Tribunal in that country.
On 27 March, the Council extended the mandate of the International Independent Investigation Commission created to investigate the February 2005 attack, until 15 June 2008, by adopting resolution 1748 (2007). The Council heard three briefings on progress made by the Commission, on 21 March, 19 July and 5 December. The last briefing for the year was also the last for Serge Brammertz in his capacity as Commissioner. (Press Releases SC/8982, SC/8973, SC/9082 and SC/9187)
Persistent reports of breaches of the arms embargo along the Lebanon-Syria border informed three presidential statements, respectively on 17 April, 11 June and 3 August. (Press Releases SC/9002, SC/9040 and SC/9091)
On 24 August, the Council extended the mandate of UNIFIL for another year, until 31 August 2008, by adopting resolution 1773 (2007). The extension was requested by the Prime Minister of Lebanon (document S/2007/396) and recommended by the Secretary-General, who, in a letter to the Council President (document S/2007/470), noted that, while the swift and effective deployment of UNIFIL had helped to establish a new strategic, military and security environment in southern Lebanon, much work remained to be done, as tragically shown by recent events in the country. (Press Release SC/9102)
Against a complex backdrop of overlapping sectarian, political and ethnic conflicts that persisted this year, the Council expanded the United Nations role in the crisis-ridden country on 10 August, approving a 12-month mandate extension for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), under resolution 1770. (Press Release SC/9095)
In an October briefing, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, noted some positive trends, including the lowest monthly casualties for the year recorded that month, the ceasefire declared by the Mahdi Army, the Sunni insurgent alliance against Al-Qaida and the efforts of the multinational force and the Iraqi security forces. (Press Release SC/9146)
On 18 December, the Council adopted resolution 1790 under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, extending the mandate of the multinational force -– “for the last time”, according to the address to the Council by Iraq’s Permanent Representative -- until the end of 2008. (Press Release SC/9207)
Describing the deepening sense of insecurity and pessimism among many Iraqis, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said in an earlier briefing on 13 June that the international community not only had a vital security stake in Iraq’s stability, but it also had an inescapable moral obligation to encourage and enable the Government to build inclusive and cumulative processes that could bring about stability. Hoshyar Zebari, Minister for Foreign Affairs, briefed the Council on steps the Iraqi Government was taking to secure the nation, forge political reconciliation and implement the economic measures to which the Government had committed itself. (Press Release SC/9041)
Before the Council’s approval of the further extension of the multinational force, it heard from Warren Sach, United Nations Controller and designated representative on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), the audit oversight body for the Development Fund for Iraq. He said that, from inception to 31 December 2006, the Board had been informed that about $70.4 billion had been deposited from the sale of oil and oil products, and $10.2 billion from the balance of “oil-for-food” funds. A further $1.5 billion had been deposited as proceeds from frozen assets. IAMB, having early on identified major issues in contracting practices, had pointed to the lack of oil metering as a key element in the establishment of controls over oil revenues. Some of Iraq’s oil resources had not been accounted for in the Development Fund, and had been smuggled. (Press Release SC/9207)
In response to a request from the Iraqi Government, the Council approved, on 23 May, the transfer of funds from the escrow account for the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to settle the Government’s arrears to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the regular United Nations budget, peacekeeping, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and to the Capital Master Plan. In related action, the Council terminated the weapons inspectors’ mandate in Iraq, adopting resolution 1762 (2007) on 29 June by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention ( Russian Federation). (Press Releases SC/9022 and SC/9064)
The situation in Myanmar was marked by the violent suppression by the Government of peaceful opposition demonstrations, which was strongly deplored by the Security Council on 11 October and the Human Rights Council 10 days earlier. The Security Council’s presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/37) also emphasized the importance of the early release of all political prisoners and remaining detainees and stressed the need for the Government to create the conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who has long been under house arrest. Further, the Council reaffirmed its strong and unwavering support for the “good offices” mission of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari. (Press Release SC/9139)
A few days earlier, the Secretary-General had addressed the Council, noting that he had asked Mr. Gambari, who visited the country from 29 September to 2 October, to convey a very clear message to Myanmar’s senior leadership expressing his deep concern over reports of continued human rights violations in the country. The use of force against peaceful demonstrators was, he said, “abhorrent and unacceptable”. In the briefing that followed, Mr. Gambari said that the demonstrations were, for the most part, the expression of deep and widespread discontent about socio-economic conditions in the country. Any decrease in tensions could only be sustained if accompanied by positive steps to address the root causes, and the key areas in which tangible progress could be made were the release of all political prisoners; the promotion of an all-inclusive national reconciliation process; full cooperation with and better access for humanitarian organizations; the cessation of hostilities in conflict areas, including Karen State; and continued cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO). (Press Release SC/9136)
He added that the good offices was a process, not an event, and stressed the importance of recognizing that one mission by itself could not resolve the fundamental challenges facing Myanmar. Advancing the causes of all-inclusive national reconciliation, democratization and full respect for human rights would require sustained engagement by the United Nations, including through the Secretary-General’s good offices, with the active support of neighbouring States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the international community, including a united Security Council.
Mr. Gambari delivered another briefing on 13 November, describing his further mission to Myanmar and saying a process was now in motion that would hopefully lead to dialogue between the Government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. He noted that, since his last visit, the Government had lifted the curfews put in place during the demonstrations, withdrawn visible military presence from the streets and, by its own account, released 2,700 persons detained in the course of the crisis. While serious concerns remained about ongoing reports of human rights abuses and the willingness of the Government to move forward in a new direction, on balance, he said, the positive outcomes of the latest mission showed that the Government of Myanmar could be responsive to the concerns of the international community. (Press Release SC/9168)
Earlier in the year, the issue of Myanmar had prompted the Council’s only veto. On 12 January, the Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on the issue, owing to the negative votes of China and the Russian Federation. Both explained that, while there were internal problems in that country, they did not believe the situation posed any threat to regional or international peace and security. (Press Release SC/8939)
Noting the request of the Nepalese Government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) for United Nations assistance in implementing the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Council established the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) for one year by unanimously adopting resolution 1740 on 23 January. UNMIN is mandated to monitor the ceasefire and assist in the election of a Constituent Assembly. (Press Release SC/8942)
The Security Council responded on 22 February to the Secretary-General’s call that it signal its willingness to sustain its commitment to Timor-Leste by extending the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) until 26 February 2008 in support of the first national elections since independence in 2006. Adopting resolution 1745 (2007), it also approved a temporary reinforcement of the Mission’s police component during the pre- and post-electoral periods. (Press Releases SC/8962)
In a presidential statement on 10 September (S/PRST/2007/33), the Council welcomed the formation of Timor-Leste’s new Government, following the 30 June legislative elections, and expressed its readiness to help tackle critical challenges. (Press Release SC/9111)
Reporting on the Council’s South Africa-led mission to Timor-Leste from 24 to 30 November, Dumisani Kumalo, that country’s Permanent Representative, reported on 13 December that, while Timor-Leste was on the path to sustainable peace, stability, unity and prosperity, the international community, United Nations agencies and international financial institutions must continue to provide resources and support to address such critical challenges as the internally displaced persons, political differences and sustainable development. Timor-Leste’s delegate stressed the need to extend the UNMIT mandate until 2012, with police and security sector capacities for at least an initial two and a half years, followed by a Council-mandated peacebuilding mission for a further two and a half years. (Press Release SC/9199)
On 23 March, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for one year by unanimously adopting resolution 1746. That action followed a debate on 20 March, in which two United Nations officials urged the international community to move quickly to help the Government and long-suffering people of Afghanistan create a sustainable environment for socio-economic development and reconstruction. (Press Releases SC/8977 and SC/8972)
In subsequent action, the Council followed up a 17 July closed-door meeting by issuing a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/27) welcoming recent international and Afghan-led endeavours to bolster security, stability and reconstruction in the war-torn country. However, it emphasized that strengthening Afghan institutions, advancing regional cooperation, rooting out Al-Qaida and other extremist forces and tackling the booming opium trade remained key factors for long-term peace and development. (Press Release SC/9080)
Briefing the Council on 15 October, Tom Koenigs, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said an integrated political-military strategy was needed to overcome increased violence and bring peace to the country. Despite improved coordination of international and Afghan military actors and significant tactical military success in the south and east, compared to last year, the number of violent incidents was up by approximately 30 per cent on a month-to-month basis, with a significant increase in civilian casualties -– at least 1,200 of them killed since January. (Press Release SC/9143)
The Council met only twice on Kosovo, the Serbian province administered by the United Nations since 1999, as negotiations on its final status deadlocked. “Neither party was willing to cede its position on the fundamental question of sovereignty,” concluded a 7 December report (document S/2007/723) of the negotiating troika, comprising the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United States, which was set up to break the stalemate that emerged over a proposal by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Martti Ahtisaari, for “independence, supervised by the international community”.
Under the proposal, presented to the Council in March, the province would be gradually steered towards independence, but with multiple guarantees of minority rights -- in a province where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1 -- and an international representative, supported by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops and a European Union police mission to oversee implementation. Kosovo’s Albanian leadership supported the plan, but Serbia rejected independence and pushed for autonomy.
The impasse was discussed in a private formal Council meeting on 19 December, after which representatives of the European Union and the United States said, in a joint statement, that the potential for a negotiated solution had been exhausted. They added that the European Union would take the lead in implementing Mr. Ahtisaari’s plan, which was permitted under the resolution that established the United Nations presence, 1244 (1999). A Russian Federation statement the same day maintained, however, that there was still room for negotiation and any move towards unilateral independence would be outside the limits of international law and the Council resolution. At nearly the same time, authorities in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, threatened to declare independence unilaterally, while Serbia’s Parliament in late December voted overwhelmingly to condemn any attempt at independence and reconsider diplomatic relations with those who recognized statehood.
When he released his report in March, Mr. Ahtisaari declared that, for more than a year, he had exhausted every possible avenue for a negotiated settlement and the irreconcilable positions of the parties had made the goal unattainable. Thus, his comprehensive proposal was a “realistic compromise” and the only viable option. The Council subsequently sent a fact-finding mission headed by Belgian Ambassador Johan Verbeke. Mr. Verbeke addressed the Council on the issue on 2 May and presented his report on 10 May. The report noted that the two sides remained far apart on many issues, including future status, and also expressed concern at the very low numbers of internally displaced returning to their homes. (Press Releases SC/9013 and SC/9015)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Briefing the Council on 16 May, before he stepped down as High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schwarz-Schilling said the country had a unique and historic opportunity to move closer to integration with Europe, and its leaders must “seize the moment”. The European Union had approved the text of a stabilization and association agreement and it was ready to be initialled, but certain political conditions still had to be met, particularly in police reform and full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. (Press Release SC/9018)
He added that, following the elections of the previous October, the long, difficult process of Government formation had taken many months, and political reform had been blocked for more than a year. Further, nationalist rhetoric had not calmed after the elections, as politicians had ruthlessly manipulated ethnic tensions, distracting the country from police and constitutional reform. Some politicians had also exploited tensions that had continued to rise in the Republika Srpska following the Srebrenica verdict by the International Court of Justice, which ruled that genocide had occurred there, but that Serbia was not complicit in the crime, although it had violated its international obligations by failing to prevent it and failing to cooperate with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
He also told the Council that the Peace Implementation Council had taken a decision in principle to close his Office in June 2007, but had recently decided that the Office should be continued for another year, in order to help the country take the final steps towards Euro-Atlantic integration as soon as possible. Two months later, the Council welcomed Mr. Schwarz-Schilling’s replacement, Slovakia’s Miroslav Lajčák, noting that the aim was to end his mandate by 30 June 2008. (Press Release SC/9067)
On 21 November, recognizing that the country had still made only “very limited” progress towards integration with European Union, the Council authorized for one more year the approximately 2,500-strong European Union Stabilization Force (EUFOR), which took over from the NATO-led stabilization force in 2004 and is mandated to ensure compliance with the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. In its resolution 1785, the Council reiterated that the primary responsibility for the full implementation of the Peace Agreement lay with the Bosnian authorities, and that their compliance –- including the surrender for trial of all persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal -- would determine the continued willingness of the international community to provide support. Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, the political and military leaders of the Bosnian Serb separatist movement, were indicted by the Tribunal in 1995 and remain at large. (Press Release SC/9176)
The Council met twice this year, on 13 April and 15 October, respectively, to extend the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) through resolutions 1752 and 1781, for six months each time. Through those resolutions, it voiced serious concern over deadly attacks violating the 1994 Moscow Agreement that ended fighting between Georgia and Abkhaz separatists, along with an as-yet-unexplained rocket firing that occurred in the Kodori valley on 11 March. (Press Releases SC/8997 and SC/9142)
In his most recent report on the situation, the Secretary-General characterized a 20 September clash as “the most serious incident involving the Georgian and Abkhaz sides in many years”, and also expressed concern about “dangerous stand-offs” that had occurred between the Georgian side and the peacekeeping force of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Council called on the parties to increase their dialogue, to bolster security and to reach a lasting settlement. In its October resolution, which extended UNOMIG until 15 April 2008, the Council welcomed the commitments made by both sides during a United Nations-sponsored meeting in June in Bonn, Germany, and called on both sides to finalize documents on forswearing violence and on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
The Council held two meetings to extend the mandate of the 43-year-old United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) by adopting resolutions 1758 (2007) and 1789 (2007). The first six-month extension was from 15 June to 15 December and the second from the latter date until 15 June 2008. In the first of the two texts, the Council noted with concern the lack of progress on the 8 July 2006 Agreement -- a set of principles and decisions signed by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, which recognized the status quo as unacceptable and a comprehensive settlement as both desirable and possible. (Press Release SC/9047)
The two sides had agreed to immediately begin a two-track process involving technical discussions of issues affecting the day-to-day life of the Cypriot people and, concurrently, consideration by working groups of substantive issues, leading to a comprehensive settlement. The first draft resolution reaffirmed that talks on a final political solution to the Cyprus problem had been at an impasse for too long. Adopting the second text on 14 December, the Council again expressed concern over the lack of progress. (Press Release SC/9201)
The Security Council met twice to consider the situation in Haiti, both times extending the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission there (MINUSTAH). According to the terms of resolution 1743, by which the Mission’s operation was extended until 15 October, the Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, requested the Mission to continue to support the Haitian national police against armed gangs, notably in Port-au-Prince. It also called on MINUSTAH to support the constitutional and political process under way in the country. Unanimously adopting resolution 1780 on 15 October, the Council extended the Mission for a further year, reducing its military force level to 7,060 personnel and increasing the police component to 2,091, so as to better support the Haitian national police to consolidate security gains in urban areas. (Press Releases SC/8956 and SC/9141)
Capping a day-long debate on stemming the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, the Council issued a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/4) on 23 February, affirming its determination to promote increased multilateral cooperation as an important way to boost worldwide implementation of its resolution 1540 (2004). That three-year-old text obligates all States to take measures to prevent non-State actors from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and to prevent the general proliferation of such weapons. (Press Release SC/8964)
In connection with its item on non-proliferation, the Council held five meetings on Iran –- four to hear briefings on the Committee set up under resolution 1737 (2006) to monitor sanctions against the country. (Press Releases SC/8978, SC/9055, SC/9118 and SC/9205)
A fifth meeting was held on 24 March, during which members unanimously adopted resolution 1747 (2007), moving to toughen sanctions against Iran and adding an arms embargo. The Council promised further steps if no compliance was reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 60 days. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, addressed that meeting. (Press Release SC/8980)
On 11 January, Peter Burian (Slovakia), Chairman of the Committee tasked with monitoring and adjusting the sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under resolution 1718 (2006), briefed the Council for the first time since the Committee’s establishment. He recalled that all States, regardless of whether they possessed materials covered by the resolution, were required to report on steps they had taken to implement it, noting that, as of 10 January, 46 countries had done so. The Committee was continuing the process of determining additional material and equipment to be specified for the purposes of the resolution and considering draft guidelines for its work. There was a brief discussion about proposed amendments to the lists of items prohibited for export to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and those prohibited for import from the country. (Press Release SC/8938)
As part of the effort to combat impunity for severe human rights violations, the Council met 10 times on various criminal tribunals, weighing in on a new judicial body for Lebanon and the unfinished business of the courts for Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Council also heard pleas from the Head Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on 7 June and 5 December, on the pressing need to obtain Sudan’s cooperation in bringing to justice those responsible for massive war crimes in Darfur. (Press Releases SC/9036 and SC/9186)
With Lebanon itself unable to resolve conflicts over a Special Tribunal to try suspects in the assassination of its former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Council, on 30 May, acted on the request of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and authorized the establishment of such a court through resolution 1757, with China, Indonesia, Qatar, Russian Federation and South Africa abstaining in the vote. The Tribunal had yet to be established by the end of the year, since the political crisis had not abated. The head of the United Nations probe into the killing, Serge Brammertz, briefed the Council on 5 December and said he was “more confident and optimistic than ever that the investigation can be concluded successfully”, as his team had been able to answer many key questions concerning the February 2005 attack. (Press Release SC/9029 and SC/9187)
The Council heard a briefing on 8 June from officials from the Special Court for Sierra Leone and issued a presidential statement on 28 June (S/PRST/2007/23) welcoming the start of the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor in The Hague (later postponed until early 2008) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, including mass murder, mutilations, rape, sexual slavery and the use of child soldiers, in the Sierra Leone civil war. It also welcomed the Court’s first verdicts against other principals in such abuses, reached in June in Freetown. The Council appealed for sufficient funding and other support from the international community to allow the Court to finish its business. (Press Releases SC/9037 and SC/9062)
The International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were proceeding towards completion in a timely manner, officials of both Tribunals said during a joint briefing on 18 June, but they added that justice would remain incomplete if fugitives from either court were allowed to evade prosecution. (Press Release SC/9048)
The Council extended the term of the Prosecutor for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, Carla Del Ponte, on 14 September, to the end of the year, when she said she wished to step down. A few months later, the Council appointed Mr. Brammertz, who has been directing the Hariri investigation, to take her place. The Council also reappointed Hassan Bubacar Jallow for another four-year term as Chief Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal. The appointment resolutions stressed the importance of full, timely completion of the respective Tribunals’ work. (Press Releases SC/9115, SC/9197 and SC/9114)
In her farewell briefing on 10 December, Ms. Del Ponte said that the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal had paved a “wide and solid road for international justice”, but that the continued freedom of Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić, indicted for the worst crimes committed in Europe since the Second World War, was a “stain” on that record. (Press Release SC/9192)
Restating its view that all acts of terrorism were criminal and never justifiable, and underlining the need to bring perpetrators and their supporters to justice, the Council met 11 times in 2007 to issue presidential statements condemning the following deadly attacks:
-- The 11 April suicide attacks in Algiers, Algeria, that caused numerous deaths and injuries. (S/PRST/2007/10, Press Release SC/8995)
-- The terrorist attack in Iraq on 12 April targeting the Council of Representatives. (S/PRST/2007/11, Press Release SC/8998)
-- The 12 June attack in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed at least nine persons, including Member of Parliament Walid Eido. (S/PRST/2007/18, Press Release SC/9043)
-- The attack of 25 June in south Lebanon that killed six peacekeepers of the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL, which also included Colombian nationals. (S/PRST/2007/21, Press Release SC/9059)
-- The attack in Marib, Yemen, on 2 July. (S/PRST/2007/26, Press Release SC/9071)
-- The 7 September terrorist attack in Batna, Algeria. (S/PRST/2007/32, Press Release SC/9110)
-- The 19 September attack in Beirut that killed Member of Parliament Antoine Ghanem and others. (S/PRST/2007/34, Press Release SC/9125)
-- The bombings in Karachi, Pakistan, on 18 October, targeting former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and killing at least 140 people. (S/PRST/2007/39, Press Release SC/9149)
-- The bombings in Algiers, Algeria, on 11 December near the United Nations offices and the Supreme Court, which killed 17 of the Organization’s staff members and dozens of others. (S/PRST/2007/45, Press Release SC/9193)
-- The 12 December attack in Baabda, Lebanon, that killed General François el‑Hajj of the Lebanese Armed Forces. (S/PRST/2007/47, Press Release SC/9197)
-- The 27 December suicide attack that killed former Prime Minister Bhutto and many others, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. (S/PRST/2007/50, Press Release SC/9217)
The work of the Council’s subsidiary committees on terrorism was addressed on 22 May and 14 November, in briefings on the activities of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, created after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and its Executive Directorate (CTED); the Taliban and Al-Qaida Committee; and the Committee created pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), dealing with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (Press Releases SC/9021 and SC/9170)
In those meetings, the Committee Chairpersons pledged greater cooperation among the three subsidiary bodies and with regional and subregional organizations. The Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee said it would continue promoting and monitoring implementation of the anti-terrorism measures required by resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1624 (2005), which deals with incitement to terrorism and facilitating technical assistance to developing countries. The Chair of the Al-Qaida and Taliban Committee said it was improving its Consolidated List of individuals and entities associated with the two groups and monitoring the arms embargo, travel ban and financial sanctions against them. The Chair of the 1540 Committee said it would continue its consideration of country reports and outreach activities. On 10 December, the Council extended until 31 March 2008 the mandate of CTED, which provides the Counter-Terrorism Committee with expert advice. (Press Release SC/9191)
Addressing the Council for the first time in his new official capacity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a debate on threats to international peace and security on 8 January by assuring members of his deep sense of mission, duty and dedication. A presidential statement issued by the Council (S/PRST/2007/1) stressed the importance of establishing comprehensive strategies on conflict prevention in order to avoid the high human and material costs of armed conflict. It also called for more analytical reporting by the Secretary-General on regions of potential armed conflict. (Press Release SC/8933)
The Council held two meetings on protection of civilians in armed conflict, the first on 22 June highlighted by a briefing by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the second a day-long debate on 20 November, at which the Secretary-General urged the Council to create a working group to ensure civilian protection. Opening the discussion, he said that establishing such a body would not only underline the Council’s commitment to the cause, but it would give practical meaning to its commitment and ensure more timely and systematic consideration of the protection of civilians in its deliberations. (Press Releases SC/9057 and SC/9174)
Women, Peace and Security
Through a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/40) issued on 23 October, the Security Council expressed its deep concern that gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, remained pervasive, despite the Council’s repeated condemnation of all acts of violence, including killing, maiming, exploitation and abuse in situations of armed conflict. It said such acts had become systematic in some situations, reaching “appalling levels of atrocity”, and stressed the need to end impunity. The statement followed a debate in which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, since the Council’s adoption of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), women had increasingly participated in all levels of peacemaking and peacebuilding, but stressed the need to strengthen the collective and individual response to violence against women, which had reached hideous proportions. (Press Release SC/9151)
Meeting twice to consider the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, the Security Council was briefed on the first occasion, 31 January, by Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins ( Angola), Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s new Organizational Committee, during an open debate on post-conflict peacebuilding. Warning that the Commission would only be relevant if it paved the way for engaged partnership with the donor community, regional organizations, international financial institutions and the Governments on its agenda, he said its efforts should be aimed at preventing relapse into conflict and moving countries swiftly onto the path of stability, recovery and development. (Press Release SC/8945)
During the second meeting, on 17 October, the Council took up the Peacebuilding Commission’s report on its first year of operation (document A/62/137-S/2007/458), which was introduced by Yukio Takasu ( Japan), the new Chairman of the Organizational Committee. (Press Release SC/9144)
Security Sector Reform
Security sector reform in post-conflict countries was the subject of a meeting on 20 February, during which the Council’s President read out a statement (S/PRST/2007/3) acknowledging the need for the Secretary-General to compile a comprehensive report with “concrete recommendations” on how to improve the effectiveness and coordination of all United Nations system entities that supported security sector reform. (Press Release SC/8958)
The Council held two meetings on its relationship with regional and subregional organizations. The first, on 28 March, was a day-long meeting concerning its relationship with the African Union. Led by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, the meeting concluded with the issuance of a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/7) asking the Secretary-General for specific proposals on how the Council could foster deeper partnerships with other intergovernmental organizations, and regional and subregional actors, especially the African Union. It also invited further collaboration with the African Union Peace and Security Council in order to help build the latter’s capacity to undertake rapid and appropriate responses to emerging situations and to develop effective strategies for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, among other things. (Press Release SC/8984)
Addressing the second meeting, held on 6 November, Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon stressed that such partnerships were “stronger and more active than ever”. The Council issued a further presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/42) recognizing the important role of regional and subregional organizations in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, and inviting Member States to help strengthen the capabilities of such organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. (Press Release SC/9163)
In addition, the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Miguel Angel Moratinos Cuyaube, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, briefed the Council on 28 September. He said the organization was conscious that challenges affecting security were interrelated and necessitated cooperation in a globalized and interdependent world. It had strengthened its objective of constructing a Europe free and at peace with itself, and thanks to its concept of multidimensional and cooperative security and the varied instruments it had developed, OSCE was well placed to assist in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions. Moreover, its human, political-military and economic-environmental dimensions allowed it to work in conflict prevention, crisis management and reconstruction. (Press Release SC/9132)
On 17 April, more than 50 speakers addressed the Council during its first ever debate on the impact of climate change on international security. The session was called by the United Kingdom, which held the presidency of the Council for that month, and whose Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, chaired the meeting, which was also addressed by the Secretary-General. Ms. Beckett said that the changes to come threatened “our collective security in a fragile and increasingly interdependent world”, warning of migration and competition for resources on an unprecedented scale, due to flooding, famine and disease.
China’s representative, however, maintained that the Council was not the venue for decision-making on an issue that was much better suited to other bodies. His objection was echoed by many, particularly those in the developing world, though the representative of Papuan New Guinea, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, countered that his members, who faced massive dislocation, expected the Council to keep the issue under continuous review even if it could not get involved in climate change negotiations per se. (Press Release SC/9000)
Natural Resources and Conflict
A day-long debate on the topic held on 25 June, on the initiative of Karel De Gucht, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium, concluded with the Council issuing a presidential statement (S/PRST/2007/22) that recognized the role played by natural resources in armed conflict and stated that the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations should consider helping the Governments of resource-rich countries prevent the illegal exploitation of natural resources from fuelling further violence. It emphasized that, in countries emerging from conflict, lawful, transparent and sustainable management and exploitation of natural resources was a critical factor in maintaining stability and preventing a relapse into conflict. (Press Release SC/9060)
Small Arms and Light Weapons
Underlining the need to address the small arms issue, in a presidential statement it issued on 29 June, the Council asked the Secretary-General to submit to it, on a biennial basis beginning in 2008, a report on small arms, containing his analysis and recommendations, as well as his observations on the implementation of the 2001 United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. The Council also called on all Member States to observe the arms embargoes established under its resolutions and encouraged them to destroy surplus and obsolete small arms and light weapons. (Press Release SC/9063 and Press Releases DC/2795 and DC/3037)
Other Subsidiary Bodies
On 17 December, the Council heard briefings by the departing members who had chaired subsidiary bodies over the past two years. (Press Release SC/9204) The Council heard from the representatives of:
-- Congo, Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa. He said the Group had met 17 times and organized a seminar on a global strategy to prevent and resolve conflicts in Africa.
-- Ghana, which headed the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1518 (2003) mandated to identify individuals and entities associated with the former Iraqi regime whose funds and assets should be frozen. He said that the names of 89 individuals and 208 entities were currently inscribed on the Committee’s list and work had focused on helping Iraqi authorities seek information relating to assets frozen outside Iraq.
-- Peru, on the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2005) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, aimed at preventing militias from being supplied with arms or engaging in military activities. The Committee, he said, had created a list of persons and entities that were illegally financing those on the list by trafficking natural resources and other means. It had encountered many obstacles in monitoring the embargo. On the activities of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group created by resolution 1566 (2004), he said that, in April 2006, it had verified that the conclusions in the President’s current report had not changed and conditions were not favourable to advancement.
-- Qatar, which headed the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) concerning Sierra Leone. He said the Committee now focused on the embargo on weapons for non-State actors and a travel ban for violators. In regard to the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1521 (2003) concerning sanctions on Liberia, which Qatar also chaired, he said that Committee was now coordinating compliance with the Kimberly diamond Process, following the lifting of most sanctions on Liberia.
-- Slovakia, which chaired the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) regarding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He stressed the long-term, collective nature of the Committee’s work. In regard to the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, he said that, during the past year, the Group had focused on enhancing the transparency of the Council.
On 25 October, the Council met briefly to adopt its annual report to the General Assembly for the period 1 August 2006 to 31 July 2007 (published as a report of the General Assembly, document A/62/2). The annual report is required under Article 15, paragraph 1, and Article 24, paragraph 3, of the United Nations Charter. (Press Release SC/9157)
Documents of the Security Council are available on the Council’s website at http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/.
* *** *For information media • not an official record