|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
New Crises Seize Security Council’s Attention in 2012 as Continuing Change
around Arab World Sparks Second Year of Tumultuous Transitions
Members Pass 53 Resolutions, Issue 29 Presidential Statements as Meetings Decrease
As it faced a second year of tumultuous change around the Arab world in 2012 — including ever-worsening bloodshed in Syria and steady but difficult transitions in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere — the Security Council was seized of new crises building in Mali and Gaza, but also saw long-term stabilization efforts come to fruition, most notably the successful conclusion of United Nations peacekeeping operations in Timor-Leste and the political transition in Somalia.
The Council adopted 53 resolutions in 2012 — 40 of them concerning Africa — and issued 29 presidential statements. It strove once again for consensus, with only four texts requiring a vote, although two suffered vetoes by China and the Russian Federation as the Council remained divided on the means by which to foster a peaceful, nationally led transition in Syria.
In total, the Council convened 184 public meetings in 2012, compared to 213 in 2011, with 85 of them concerning Africa, over which deep concerns were expressed early on regarding a “toxic mix” of humanitarian and political problems in the Sahel. Those challenges were exacerbated by the flow of arms and migrants out of Libya following the turmoil there and by the presence of terrorist and criminal groups in the vast region. Those elements coalesced into rebel activity in northern Mali, which was eventually overrun by militias, some of them linked to terrorist groups, the Council was told, as the previously stable country suffered a coup d’état in March. Following meetings throughout the year on the situation, the Council authorized an African-led force to help the Malian army stabilize the country, as proposed by regional organizations in December.
Elsewhere in Africa, Somalia reached the end of its political transition period with the election of a new President in September. However, the progress seen in Sudan’s North-South peace process during 2011, culminating in the birth of the Republic of South Sudan, was followed in 2012 by a relapse into tensions between the two countries over unresolved issues that flared into military action. Similarly, some progress was seen in the implementation of the latest agreements on Darfur, but not enough to end fighting and continuing displacement. A renewal of insurgent activities, with massive suffering on the part of civilians, was also seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following a mutiny by members of the M23 movement, a rebel group previously integrated into the national Armed Forces. Guinea-Bissau was rocked by a coup in April, after the Council had been warned about lagging efforts to reform the security sector and effect other changes.
On Syria, a succession of diplomatic initiatives failed to stem the escalation between Government forces and the armed opposition, both of whom seemed increasingly locked in a fight to the death. In April, the Council agreed to deploy unarmed monitors to observe a ceasefire in support of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan. They were then reinforced as part of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). However the ceasefire never took hold and the civilian toll continued to climb as population centres were further targeted. China and the Russian Federation remained opposed to language allowing coercive measures against the Government of Syria, and both wielded the veto against a text that would have extended the Mission, which expired on 19 August. That action, and their earlier veto in February, engendered some of the most divisive language of the year in explanations after the vote.
Updates on the mounting carnage in Syria continued until the end of the year in monthly briefings on the Middle East, as did information on the threat posed by the crisis to the security and stability of neighbouring Lebanon. Updates on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, also featured in those briefings, continued to warn that the status quo, frozen by a deadlock over conditions for direct negotiations, was unsustainable. That was shown once again to be true when rocket fire into southern Israel and that country’s response exploded into full aerial bombardment in November, with Israel again poised for a ground assault until a ceasefire was agreed. The Secretary-General, addressing the Council by video link from the region, commended the parties on “stepping back from the brink”, but also warned, as did other officials, that peace in the region could not hold without a comprehensive settlement.
Besides UNSMIS, the Security Council did not create any new missions in 2012, but December saw the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) complete its mandate after ensuring progress in security and the successful holding of national elections. The Council reduced the police and military components of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) towards pre-earthquake levels, amid discussions on the requirements for its eventual drawdown. Missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire were also reassessed as those countries made progress in consolidating stability.
Protection of children and other non-combatants, empowerment of women in conflict situations, and other thematic issues remained at centre stage in open meetings during 2012. Proliferation concerns over Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were also addressed, often in response to reports about nuclear activities and missile tests. Issuing 12 press statements, the Council condemned major terrorist attacks in various countries around the world, while continuing to monitor compliance with counter-terrorism resolutions through its subsidiary bodies, which briefed Council members several times.
Concerning the International Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, July saw the opening of the Arusha branch of the “Residual Mechanism”, which the Council authorized to carry out remaining tasks and legacy documentation. The Tribunals continued to report headway in completing their work despite staffing challenges, recent arrests and appeals. However, prospects for reconciliation in parts of the former Yugoslavia, such as Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, remained problematic, the Council heard in briefings.
Continuing its practice of undertaking missions to gather first-hand information on key situations, Council members visited Haiti, from 13 to 16 February; West Africa ( Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire) on 18-24 May; and Timor-Leste from 3 to 6 November.
The General Assembly elected Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea and Rwanda to serve two-year terms as non-permanent members of the Security Council, beginning on 1 January 2013. They replaced Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa, which concluded their terms on 31 December 2012. Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo will complete their terms at the end of 2013. China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members.
Following are summaries of Council activities in 2012:
While concern continued to mount over increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and other issues in West Africa, the deteriorating security, political and humanitarian situation in the overlapping Sahel subregion coalesced into a severe crisis in Mali, where the Government was overthrown in a March coup and the country’s northern two thirds overrun by rebel militias, some with terrorist ties, the Council heard. It spent much of the year considering an African-led mission to help reunify the country, proposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, which it finally authorized on 20 December. (Press Release SC/10870)
On 26 January, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs warned that drought and other endemic problems of the Sahel had been compounded by the proliferation of arms and migrants returning from Libya, terrorism and organized crime, presenting an increased threat of destabilization in the region. On 21 February, following a high-level meeting addressed by the President of Togo, the Council issued a presidential statement calling for system-wide United Nations action to combat transnational crime in West Africa and the Sahel. On 27 February, the Under-Secretary-General focused on piracy off West Africa, calling for a unified response from countries of the region, with international support. Unanimously adopting a resolution on 29 February, the Council called for a regional summit on piracy to develop a comprehensive strategy, and encouraged international partners to provide support for its implementation. (Press Releases SC/10533, SC/10546, SC/10558, SC/10562)
Events in Mali soon took centre stage, with the Council immediately condemning the coup by elements of the Malian Armed Forces in a 22 March press statement, followed by a presidential statement on 26 March demanding that mutinous troops return to barracks and calling for a return to constitutional order. On 4 April the Council issued a presidential statement strongly condemning attacks, looting and the seizure of territory by rebels in the north, expressing concern at the presence of groups affiliated with Al-Qaida, the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation and the risks posed by the fighting to Mali’s World Heritage Sites. It called for a peaceful resolution of all issues through dialogue. In a 5 July resolution, the Council called for a “road map” for restoring constitutional order and re-establishing State authority countrywide, proffering full support to ECOWAS and African Union efforts to nurture a transition, and expressing readiness to consider authorizing a regional stabilization force. (Press Releases SC/10590, SC/10592, SC/10600, SC/10698)
Warning that the situation in Mali was taking “one alarming turn after another”, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefed the Council on political and humanitarian developments in Mali on 8 August, calling on it to consider imposing sanctions on those who fanned the flames of crisis. ECOWAS representatives, speaking at that meeting and on 17 September, provided updates on preparations for the proposed stabilization force. The Under-Secretary-General briefed at the latter meeting, emphasizing that it was critical for the international community to commit to dealing effectively with the underlying structural vulnerabilities across the Sahel which had contributed to the crisis in Mali. (Press Releases SC/10737, SC/10767)
In its resolution of 12 October, the Council demanded that all armed groups cease human rights abuses, including targeted attacks against civilians, sexual violence, the recruitment of child soldiers and forced displacement. It called upon Malian rebel groups to sever all ties to terrorist organizations, notably Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, and expressed its readiness to impose targeted sanctions on those who failed to do so. Calling for international assistance to strengthen the Malian army, it affirmed that it would respond to the country’s request for the authorization of a military force once it received the Secretary-General’s recommendations. (Press Release SC/10789)
Introducing those recommendations on 5 December, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs stressed that Malians themselves must be at the centre of efforts to end the crisis through a multifaceted response. International support should focus on helping the authorities conduct an inclusive national dialogue on the road map for a return to constitutional order, as well as addressing the grievances of groups in the north. Efforts to bring about a negotiated settlement with armed groups who had disavowed ties with terrorists should continue in earnest. Finally, he urged “a well-conceived and executed military intervention in the north should be conducted as a last resort to address terrorist and criminal elements, while planning should be undertaken for stabilization activities in recovered areas”. Support for that approach, and a one-year authorization for the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), came on 20 December, when the Council condemned, in a resolution, the circumstances that led to the resignation of Mali’s Prime Minister on 11 December. (Press Releases SC/10845, SC/10870)
Refugees, illicit drug trafficking and the future of peacekeeping missions were among the top issues in a 31 May briefing on the West Africa and Sahel subregions following a Council mission to Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. On 11 July, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) briefed on the illicit drug trade in West Africa, alongside the Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), who focused on the crises in Mali and Guinea-Bissau. In a high-level meeting on the Sahel on 10 December, the Security Council issued a presidential statement calling for the finalization of an integrated strategy for North Africa, encompassing security, governance, human rights, humanitarian needs and development, while strongly condemning terrorism, human rights abuses and the destruction of historic sites in Mali. (Press Releases SC/10661, SC/10706, SC/10849)
In its single meeting on the situation in the Maghreb territory, where the holding of a Security Council-mandated self-determination referendum has been stalled for decades, the Security Council adopted resolution 2044 (2012), authorizing a mandate extension for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2013. It also expressed concern about tensions building due to the long standstill and called upon the parties, Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution that would provide for the people’s self-determination. (Press Release SC/10621)
A fragile peace that emerged from violent reactions to late-2011 presidential elections which left 3,000 people dead and nearly 1 million displaced was the focus of discussions in meetings held throughout the year, and of two resolutions. Beginning the year with a positive briefing on 26 January, top officials described Côte d’Ivoire as making remarkable progress in restoring normality, stabilizing security, returning displaced people to their homes, boosting the economy and holding successful legislative elections. (Press Release SC/10531)
In a briefing on 18 July, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) said that nearly six months later, and despite progress on the path to peace, continuous vigilance and civil protection were needed, especially since armed groups had killed nine United Nations peacekeepers in June. In addition, a rise in political anxiety had highlighted the root causes of conflict, including land-related issues, unreformed security forces, impunity and a lack of reconciliation and dialogue. (Press Release SC/10711)
To demonstrate its continued support for the peace process, the Council adopted resolution 2062 (2012) on 26 July, extending through mid-2013 the mandates of UNOCI and the associated expert panel, which would monitor developments. Stressing that the Government should maintain an arms registry, the Council also adopted, on 26 April, resolution 2045 (2012), extending a modified arms embargo and a ban on the diamond trade until 30 April 2013. (Press Releases SC/10730, SC/10627)
Poised to become “a true success story”, Liberia’s efforts on security-sector reform, national reconciliation, border control and other crucial areas were the focus of three meetings and two resolutions. Discussions on 11 September centred on the country’s progress, with the top United Nations official there saying that its achievements in rebuilding institutions and bolstering economic recovery and democratic processes represented “handsome dividends” resulting from nearly a decade of major international investment. On 17 September, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2079 (2012), extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for one year as it began a transition that would include reducing its military strength by one third and supporting Government efforts to solidify peace and stability. (Press Releases SC/10758, SC/10765)
Extending the sanctions regime on Liberia for a year, the Council also unanimously adopted resolution 2079 (2012) on 12 December, demanding that the Government fulfil its obligations to freeze the financial assets of former President Charles Taylor and his associates following the verdict against him by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. By the text, the Council also called on the Government to complete implementation of the recommendations of the 2009 review team for the Kimberley Process, a framework for certifying that diamonds were not part of the illicit trade that could fuel conflict, and to improve transparent governance over all natural resources. (Press Release SC/10852)
Tense developments leading up to the 12 April military coup that toppled the democratically elected Government led the Council to issue a presidential statement and to impose sanctions against the perpetrators and their supporters. A week after the coup, Guinea-Bissau’s Minister for Foreign Affairs described the “wave of persecution and fear” gripping the nation. During that 19 April meeting, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), described the takeover as “one more coup that took place under the UN eye”, noting that, had the international community moved more rapidly to provide the necessary resources for security-sector reform, which would have facilitated demobilization and retirement programmes, the discussion might not be taking place. (Press Release SC/10614)
Two days later, on 21 April, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/15) strongly condemning the coup and demanding the immediate restoration of constitutional order and the release of interim President Raimundo Pereira, President Carlos Gomes Júnior and other officials. Expressing deep concern over reports of violent repression of peaceful protests, arbitrary detentions and other human rights violations, the statement said that the Council stood ready to consider further measures, including targeted sanctions, should the situation persist. (Press Release SC/10617)
Considering the Special Representative’s special report on 7 May, Council members also heard from Guinea-Bissau’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Chair of the country-specific configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, Angola’s Minister for External Relations, who spoke on behalf of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, all of whom condemned the coup and demanded the restoration of constitutional order. The release of interim leaders and some officials had led to mediation talks chaired by ECOWAS that then stalled over disagreements about the electoral process and the selection of an interim president. The international community must do more to restore constitutional order, members heard. (Press Release SC/10638)
Following up on its concerns, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2048 (2012) on 18 May, approving a travel ban on five coup leaders, establishing a committee to monitor the situation and again demanding the restoration of constitutional order. (Press Release SC/10653)
By the meeting of 26 July, national and international opinion remained divided over transitional arrangements to restore constitutional order despite the efforts of the Secretary-General and UNIOGBIS, the Special Representative said. Nearly four months after the coup, the humanitarian and economic situation had deteriorated and the derailment of the electoral process had reduced international confidence and donor support, against a backdrop of pressing priorities, including security-sector reform and fighting impunity, as well as transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, top officials from Guinea-Bissau, CPLP, ECOWAS and the Peacebuilding Commission said. (Press Release SC/10732)
Prior to the coup, officials had warned the Council on 28 March that security-sector reform and credible elections were critical for national and international efforts to restore constitutional order following the death of President Malam Bacai Sanhá in January. The political transition had stalled demobilization efforts and financial constraints had impeded the national plan to fight transnational crime. All officials briefing the Council underlined the need for sustained funding to enable the Government to move ahead with its programmes. (Press Release SC/10595)
Briefings presidential statements during the year dealt mainly with the country’s presidential, parliamentary, district and local elections, as well as the need to overcome the challenge of achieving fair and transparent results a decade after a brutal civil war. Sierra Leone’s representative agreed with top United Nations officials who briefed the Council, saying that the 17 November elections were “a crucial test for peace and democratic consolidation”. Officials emphasized the importance of avoiding the political violence seen in 2011, as well as lingering concerns over the importation of millions of dollars worth of assault weapons.
The Executive Representative of the Secretary-General told the Security Council on 22 March that, in order to consolidate the “exceptional successes” that Sierra Leone had made in the 10 years since its brutal civil war, it was critical that the international community continue its support, focusing in particular on the year’s all-important elections. “ Sierra Leone must pass this crucial test in its history without allowing the demons of the past to re-emerge,” said Michael von der Schulenburg, delivering his last briefing as Executive Representative. The Council also heard from Guillermo Rishchynski ( Canada), Chairperson of the Sierra Leone configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, and Joseph Dauda, Sierra Leone’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. (Press Release SC/10589)
Welcoming election preparations, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2065 (2012) on 12 September, extending the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) until March 2013. It also requested the Secretary-General to deploy an assessment mission to review progress and make proposals for UNIPSIL’s transition, drawdown and exit strategy by 15 February 2013. (Press Release SC/10759)
On 11 September, the Council heard from the Secretary-General’s new Executive Representative, Anders Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, who said that, given the complexity of holding presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on the same date, their success would demonstrate the maturity of the country’s political leadership and institutions, as well as the consolidation of its democratic process, as he outlined preparations for that defining event on 17 November. Although the official campaign was set to begin on 17 October, the ruling All People’s Congress, and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party were touring the country to mobilize support, he said. All 10 registered political parties, as well as other major stakeholders had signed a declaration on 18 May, committing to free, fair and peaceful elections, and there had been no incidents of political violence since then, he added. (Press Release SC/10756)
During the same meeting, Sierra Leone’s representative said the end of his country’s civil war in 2002 had marked its people’s collective to bring a decisive end to “11 years of nightmare”. Since that time, with the help of the United Nations, the country had achieved remarkable progress. “It is crucial that together, we continue to tackle the remaining challenges to further advance and consolidate our peacebuilding priorities”, by addressing key economic, social and governance challenges to meet growing expectations.
Fears over massive arms imports were assuaged when the Council, issuing a presidential statement on 11 April, acknowledged receipt of a clarification from the Government that the weapons were destined for the police force. The Council also called for dialogue, compliance with previous agreements and adherence to international law by all parties to ensure free and fair elections. In another presidential statement, the Council commended the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 9 October for its role in ending impunity, hailing its completion of proceedings against former President Charles Taylor of Liberia. A third presidential statement, on 30 November, urged the Administration to finalize a robust and inclusive development and peace consolidation programme. (Press Releases SC/10605, SC/10787, SC/10839)
In addition to its continued focus on the persisting piracy and security threats posed by the Al Shabaab militia, the Council’s efforts in Somalia were dominated by the completion of the political transition to a more representative Government, an important part of the peace process in the Horn of Africa country that had lacked effective governance for two decades. Transitional tasks ended with the selection of a new President on 10 September, which the Council welcomed on 18 September in resolution 2067 (2012). It also called for the formation of an inclusive Government, the definition of post-transition priorities and the bolstering of security, peacebuilding, anti-corruption and anti-piracy efforts, in coordination with continued international support. (Press Release SC/10768)
The transition’s completion was not always assured, though it was facilitated by improvements in security due to Al Shabaab’s 2011 withdrawal from the capital, Mogadishu, and other important areas. In a briefing on11 January, the Council heard that it was critical for the international community to nurture the fragile peace process, help the Transitional Federal Government establish its authority throughout the country, build security and rule-of-law institutions, and strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), for which an enhanced strategic concept had been developed. Some delegations attending the meeting stressed that Somali leaders must meet deadlines in the road map to the transition in order to retain international support. (Press Release SC/10516)
Adopting resolution 2036 (2012) on 22 February, the Council welcomed the relocation of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the United Nations Political Office (UNPOS) to Mogadishu, and authorized an increase of AMISOM’s strength by more than 5,000 troops and formed police units. Issuing a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/4) on 5 March, the Council called for a greater United Nations footprint in the country, depending on conditions, underlining that Somalia’s leaders, supported by the international community, must use the results of the 23 February London Conference on Somalia to pursue a comprehensive strategy for peace, security and development. “There will be no further extension of the transitional period,” it stressed. Before that day’s open debate, the Secretary-General warned that the window of opportunity for progress was narrow. (Press Releases SC/10550, SC/10566)
On 15 May, the Council heard that deadlines had been missed for some steps in the road map. In adopting resolution 2060 (2012) on 25 July, by which it extended the mandate of its Sanctions Monitoring Group, the Council reiterated its insistence that the 20 August deadline must be kept. On 16 October, however, Special Representative Augustine Mahiga cited the “remarkable” achievements of the transition process, stressing that the country’s new leaders and institutions needed urgent support as they sought to consolidate those gains. The Council authorized a seven-day extension of AMISOM’s mandate by adopting resolution 2072 (2012) on 31 October, and a further four-month extension on 7 November, adopting resolution 2073 (2012), with an expansion of the United Nations support package, while awaiting the results of an assessment of the mandate in relation to the post-transition goals of expanding the State administration, undertaking national reconciliation and facing the threat posed by Al Shabaab. (Press Releases SC/10648, SC/10725, SC/10792, SC/10804, SC/10806)
Regarding piracy off the coast of Somalia, the Council heard briefings on 22 February by the United Nations Legal Counsel and the Head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). They said a full range of legal, preventative measures was needed to thwart attacks, as the Council took up the Secretary-General’s report on specialized anti-piracy courts. Following a 19 November meeting on global piracy, in which speakers welcomed a decline in attacks but called for more integrated action to eradicate it, the Council adopted resolution 2077 (2012) on 21 November, renewing for another year its authorization of international action to fight piracy, in cooperation with the new Somali Government, whom it requested to create a national legal framework that would include anti-piracy laws and an exclusive off-shore economic zone. (Press Releases SC/10551, SC/10820, SC/10824)
Marking the first anniversary of its liberation, Libya remained flooded with weapons and riddled with armed clashes and sporadic violence, including a deadly September attack on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi which left four dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The security situation was a sober reminder of the country’s challenges, even as it held elections in July and formed a new Government in October. Those challenges were the focus of 10 meetings throughout the year, including one in which the Council adopted resolution 2040 (2012) modifying the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Members also heard two briefing by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who remained deeply concerned about impunity for perpetrators of crimes during the 2011 conflict that toppled Muammar al-Qadhafi.
Highlighting pressing issues on 25 January, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNSMIL emphasized that the Libyan authorities must be given the space to address internal priorities, such as public frustration, armed clashes, the multiplicity of brigades, proliferation of weapons and tight electoral schedules. He also announced the signing, 10 January, of a status-of-mission agreement with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as the Mission’s excellent relations with the National Transitional Council. (Press Release SC/10528)
Libya’s representative stressed the importance of dealing with the question of Tuareg fighters, targeted because Colonel Qadhafi had recruited Tuareg from Libya, Mali and other neighbouring States, and expressed hope that the latter would be repatriated. In the same meeting, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about displaced persons and commended the commitment of the authorities to addressing human rights abuses before and during the conflict.
Updating the Council on 29 February, the Special Representative welcomed the adoption of national electoral and transitional justice laws, elections in Misrata and progress in extending the State’s authority over security brigades. UNSMIL had worked to mitigate the consequences of recent deadly clashes between two tribal brigades, urging investigations, better protection measures and strengthened rule of law following a 6 February attack on a camp for the internally displaced in Tripoli, which had resulted in seven dead, mostly women and children. Providing an update on the work of the Committee established pursuant to the Council’s resolution 1970 (2011), its Chair reported on implementation of an arms embargo, travel ban and freeze on assets. Meanwhile, Libya’s representative appealed to the Council to “unfreeze” his country’s assets so it could establish, with other countries of the Sahel and Northern Africa, a unified counter-terrorism strategy in the greater Maghreb. (Press Release SC/10563)
During a meeting on 7 March, the Special Representative reinforced his previous observations, saying that a flexible mission to support Libya’s efforts should not impose a heavy international presence. Heeding that advice less than a week later, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2040 (2012) on 12 March, extending the mandate of UNSMIL for 12 months while modifying it and that of the related sanctions regime. By the text, the latter maintained the arms embargo, terminated the wide authorization for Member States to conduct inspections for sanctioned cargo, and called on the Sanctions Committee to review remaining asset-freeze measures and to lift them as soon as practically possible. Following the adoption, Libya’s representative assured the Council that revolutionary factions were looking forward to demobilizing, disarming and resuming normal lives. “There is nothing to fear from Libya, not in terms of liberty and not in terms of security threats,” he stressed. (Press Releases SC/10570, SC/10574)
However, violent clashes and other grave challenges persisted two months later. At a meeting on 10 May, the Special Representative said that, while Libya should be praised for its efforts to establish a functioning State based on democracy and the rule of law, high expectations were straining the political system, people were dissatisfied and security remained a serious issue. The deadly September attack on the United States diplomatic compound triggered a sharp condemnation from the top United Nations political affairs official, who told the Council on 12 September that the incident was evidence of a persistent security vacuum and a reminder of challenges that must be confronted. (Press Releases SC/10644, SC/10760)
Expressing further security concerns while briefing the Council on 16 May and again on 7 November, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said the international community should provide the needed support to combat impunity and ensure a rule-of-law culture. The Office of the Prosecutor was confident that it could bring perpetrators of serious crimes to justice after the Libyan authorities had requested that proceedings against a son of Colonel Qadhafi be held in the country rather than transferred to The Hague, the first time in the Court’s decade of existence that such a challenge had been made. By November, the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber was in the process of deciding on the merits of hearing the case in Libya or at The Hague, and the Prosecutor told the Council that no matter what decision was made, she was confident that the Libyan authorities and the Court would cooperate. (Press Releases SC/10651, SC/10807)
The Council concluded its discussions on Libya following the formation of a new Government on 8 November, with the Special Representative saying that the country’s problems “should not be underestimated but are not insurmountable”. UNSMIL would work closely with the Government, civil society and the international community to ensure that no effort was spared in the endeavour to build a democratic State. (Press Release SC/10809)
Clashes between Sudan and the newly independent Republic of South Sudan over unresolved issues — including borders and the sharing of oil revenues — in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended decades of civil war became a sources of great concern to the Council as did inter-communal fighting in South Sudan and surging violence in Darfur as implementation of the Doha peace process lagged. (Press Releases SC/10515, SC/10544)
The Council expressed its grave concern over fighting between the two countries in two presidential statements, on 6 March and on 12 April. Warning of a return to full-scale civil war, it demanded that both sides immediately end cross-border violence and support to armed proxies, redeploy their forces from forward positions and implement previous understandings. Urging the two countries to activate recently agreed border security mechanisms and complete the demilitarization of designated zones, it extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA). (Press Releases SC/10568, SC/10606, SC/10818)
Regarding South Sudan, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said that a failure to resolve security, economic and political problems continued to have a direct impact on the country’s fragile stability. He called for more progress on a range of issues, including the establishment of national institutions alongside reconciliation and civilian disarmament initiatives in troubled Jonglei State, the site of heavy inter-communal fighting. (Press Release SC/10837)
Briefing on Darfur on 11 January, 26 April and 24 October, United Nations officials at first told the Council that initial steps taken by the parties to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur — the Government of Sudan and the Liberty and Justice Movement — gave reason for optimism. However, after the early establishment of regional institutions and other progress, they saw implementation slowing as the year wore on, with fighting flaring up, new displacements and little by way of getting non-signatory movements to join the peace agreement. On 24 July the Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) called for recovery and development initiatives that could persuade communities outside the peace process to join it. (Press Releases SC/10515, SC/10628, SC/10724, SC/10801)
Addressing the Council on 5 June and 13 December, respectively, the former and current Prosecutors of the International Criminal Court expressed serious concern that impunity in Sudan, reinforced by the Government’s failure to implement arrest warrants against top officials indicted by the Court, encouraged further crimes in Darfur, as well as Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. During both sessions, Sudan’s representative countered that the Council’s referral of his country to the Court was not legitimate, and Sudan would focus on the Darfur peace process, which was advancing. On 17 February, the Council extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring the arms embargo and other sanctions on those impeding peace in Sudan, while tightening the measures involved. (Press Releases SC/10663, SC/10855, SC/10544)
Focusing on the continuing regional threat posed by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/17) on 29 June, strongly condemning, and reiterating its grave concern about the atrocities committed by the armed group, including kidnapping children and recruiting them as soldiers or sex slaves, other grave human rights violations and the displacement of more than 445,000 people. Urging international support for the African Union-led Regional Cooperation Initiative launched in March, the Council stressed the need for peacekeeping missions in the subregion to continue coordinating with each other, as well as with humanitarian, development, gender, child-protection and military actors. Following briefings by top officials, the Central African Republic’s representative echoed a commonly held view: “Mr. Kony and his band of barbarians must be neutralized.” He called for further mobilization of the international community “to put an end to this affront to a civilized world”. (Press Release SC/10693)
By year’s end, the LRA remained one of the Secretary-General’s top concerns, his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) said, telling the Council on 18 December that, while the regional security situation remained stable, violence by armed militias continued to spill over borders. Following his briefing, Council members suggested ways to end the atrocities, with South Africa’s representative suggesting that the Council treat the group as a terrorist organization, and his United Kingdom counterpart calling for a sustained focus on strengthening security in the affected countries. (Press Release SC/10860)
Protecting civilians from armed groups in that country’s eastern provinces remained a major concern for the Council and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as alarm mounted during the year about the 23 March (M23) rebellion. The rebels overran Goma, capital of North Kivu, on 20 November, prompting the Council’s adoption of resolution 2076 (2012), which demanded M23’s immediate withdrawal from the city and an end to “any and all outside support” to the group. (Press Release SC/10823)
During a briefing the next day, 21 November, the head of MONUSCO said hundreds of thousands of civilians were experiencing a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation due to the M23 rebellion. He described the Mission’s efforts to confront the security threat through “very robust engagement” by ground and air elements, despite being “stretched”, and called for intensified help from the international community. In that meeting and on 28 November, the Council renewed the arms embargo and related sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo through resolution 2078 (2012), and signalled its intention to target any party found supporting M23. The country’s representative cited “strong evidence” of Rwandan support for the rebels, as reported by the Experts Panel on the sanctions, which his Rwandan counterpart strongly denied. (Press Releases SC/10825, SC/10836)
In the year’s first public briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 7 February, the MONUSCO chief focused on the tensions generated during and after the national elections of November 2011, and on renewed attacks by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). That and other armed groups further stepped up their attacks with the emergence of M23, which began on 4 April 2012 with a mutiny by fighters integrated into the national army through an agreement signed on 23 March 2009, the Council heard in a briefing on 12 June. A 19 October presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/22) strongly condemned the M23 movement, calling for those responsible for human rights abuses, including sexual violence and recruitment of child soldiers, to be brought to justice. (Press Releases SC/10538, SC/10672, SC/10798)
On 27 June, the Council extended the mandate of MONUSCO until 30 June 2013 by adopting resolution 2053 (2012), by which it reaffirmed its priority of protecting civilians and urged the Congolese authorities to reform the security sector in order to end insurgencies and widespread abuses of human rights in the country. (Press Release SC/10687)
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) told the Council on 6 June that after decades of political and security crises that had left hundreds of thousands dead or displaced, the country had arrived at a critical juncture. Its future depended on sustained support, he said, urging the Council to sensitize the international community to the country’s pressing needs. While progress had been made towards establishing a tripartite force to stabilize the north and thereby allow the return of displaced populations, additional funds were needed to complete disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes there. Other challenges included the suspension of consultations on electoral matters between the Government and political parties, rising tensions in the north-east, increasing reports of human rights violations, the economic hardship plaguing vulnerable populations and attacks by armed militias. (Press Release SC/10664)
Emerging in 2005 from 15 years of conflict and ethnic tensions that left 200,000 dead and many more displaced, Burundi’s continuing advances in critical peacebuilding and development strategies remained free of large-scale violence, top officials told the Council on 5 July. Decisive and confident leadership was now required to consolidate good democratic governance, with major concerns focusing on the socio-economic situation and rising prices. (Press Release SC/10699)
Karin Landgren told the Council in her final briefing as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BNUB), that Burundi looked “immeasurably different” from the conflict-ravaged country of a few years ago. However, “decisive and confident leadership” was required to consolidate governance that would allow dissent, shun corruption and spur development, she cautioned. While “this fragile, beautiful and courageous country has travelled a long and difficult distance along the road of peace consolidation in a little over a decade”, she said, “it should no longer surprise us that war-torn countries do not put away their weapons and blossom instantly as plural and stable democracies”.
Paul Seger, Chairperson of the Burundi configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, briefed the same meeting about his mid-April visit to Burundi, saying it had confirmed that the overall situation had stabilized and some progress had been made towards consolidating peace. The people’s greatest concern was the socio-economic situation and rising prices, he said.
Burundi’s representative cautioned that it would be naïve to rule out the possible resurgence of armed groups and a power struggle. Since eliminating poverty was the best way to prevent armed conflict, he urged the inclusion of social and economic development in less developed countries on the Council’s agenda.
Spearheaded by the South African delegation was a high-level meeting of the Security Council on 12 January aimed at achieving greater strategic political coherence between the United Nations and the African Union, especially in the area of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts in Africa. In proposing the gathering, the delegation noted in a concept paper that more than 60 per cent of Security Council deliberations concerned the region and nearly 80 per cent of its United Nations peacekeepers were deployed there. (Press Release SC/10519)
Leading the meeting, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa said the African Union sought to give practical meaning to the vision of the United Nations Charter concerning cooperation between the world body and regional organizations. That cooperation was advantageous because those bodies were closer to the situation and familiar with the issues at hand, he said. Capping the discussion, the Council adopted resolution 2033 (2012), by which it committed to taking “effective steps” to enhance United Nations relationships with regional organizations, particularly the African Union.
In nearly 30 formal meetings, the Security Council was seized of events unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa, with the world anticipating a transfer of power to a civilian Government in Egypt, meaningful reform in Bahrain, harmonious power-sharing in Yemen, a revival of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a resolution of the Iran nuclear issue, and, in Syria, an end to the bloodletting and acceptance of a peaceful transition of power.
The region’s leaders “must choose the path of meaningful reform or make way for those who will”, Secretary-General Ban told the Council on 12 March during the first of two high-level meetings on the region. Six months later, on 26 September, he told ministers that, with old orders crumbling and new ones struggling to emerge, people looked to the Security Council and the League of Arab States to be on their side in the fight for justice and dignity. Capping the meeting, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/20) seeking to strengthen institutional links between the Council and the Arab League. (Press Releases SC/10575, SC/10775)
The Council took up the question of Palestine in the course of its regular monthly briefings on the Middle East, on 24 January, 28 February, 27 March, 23 April, 29 May, 19 June, 25 July, 22 August, 17 September, 15 October, 21 November and 19 December. It held an additional meeting on 27 November amid the latest flare-up in the Gaza Strip. (Press Releases SC/10527, SC/10560, SC/10593, SC/10620, SC/10659, SC/10678, SC/10727, SC/10747, SC/10766, SC/10790, SC/10827, SC/10863, SC/10833)
Diplomatic frustration at the lack of tangible progress was evident during those briefings, held against the backdrop of seismic shifts in the region and a troubling mix of factors on the ground in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory that would boil over by 14 November into a deadly clash between the two sides. The Government of Israel moved to quash rocket attacks from Gaza by launching a series of air strikes against the enclave as a sharp escalation saw more than 1,450 rockets fired into Israel and air strikes launched against a similar number of targets in Gaza.
Following intensive diplomatic activity at Headquarters, in the region and in capitals around the world aimed at quelling the fighting, the guns fell silent on 21 November when a ceasefire brokered by Egypt and backed by the United States took effect. Addressing the Council by video link from Tel Aviv that day, Secretary-General Ban commended the parties for “stepping back from the brink”. Days later, on 27 November, his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Council that the crisis, which “could have engulfed the region”, was “a wake-up call” to restore prospects for a durable peace in a region “headed for an unpredictable future”. (Press Releases SC/10827, SC/10833)
Also worth noting was the General Assembly’s overwhelming adoption on 29 November of a resolution granting Palestine the status of a United Nations non-Member Observer State.
The Council’s first regular monthly briefing, on 24 January, struck a somewhat positive chord as a senior political official said that, after 15 months without direct talks, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had started meeting under the auspices of Jordan’s King and Foreign Minister, and in the presence of Quartet envoys. But he warned that neither the international community nor the parties could afford to lose the opportunity to hold serious negotiations on a two-State solution by the end of the year. (Press Release SC/10527)
However, subsequent meetings were held against the familiar backdrop of a languishing peace process, with senior United Nations officials offering the same message from one month to the next: events on the ground were imperilling the two-State option and, by failing to take advantage of current opportunities, a “dangerous one-State solution” could result. Hopes for peace continued to fade nevertheless in the face of the persistent stalemate, as sporadic clashes, military operations and continuing settlement construction challenged the positive environment created by the fragile forward steps represented by the talks. The financial and economic crises crippling the Palestinian Authority were another “sobering manifestation” of the risk to the viability of the two-State solution, briefers said.
Stoked by ongoing tensions on the ground — settler violence, clashes at religious sites in Jerusalem and outside Nablus, attacks on Israelis, Palestinian protests at checkpoints and the barrier, Israeli military operations in the West Bank, and serious outbreaks of violence in the Gaza Strip — the parties’ stated adherence to the goal of two independent States was “not translating into meaningful steps to renew dialogue on the core issues”, the Council heard. Additionally, language calling for the destruction of one of the parties was unacceptable and undermined the Palestinians’ ability to achieve their goal, a senior political official warned. Absent a credible political horizon for establishing a Palestinian State, the international community’s own efforts in pursuit of that goal would increasingly lack credibility, Council members heard in briefings which reiterated that no breakthrough had been achieved on restarting direct talks.
As 2012 drew to a close, announcements by the Israeli leadership of fresh settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians further polarized the situation, and in the last briefing, on 19 December, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs told the Council that “momentum is slipping” for a two-State solution, with tensions on the ground worsening after the General Assembly’s upgrade of Palestine’s status. He urged all stakeholders to put bitterness aside and focus on the hard, practical work of forging an agreement in the year ahead. (Press Release SC/10863)
What had begun as sporadic demonstrations early in 2011 had by mid-March transformed into a large-scale revolt, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Bashir al-Assad and the overthrow of nearly five decades of Ba’athist rule. The Council first met formally on the situation on 31 January, following agreement by the Arab League on a plan calling for genuine dialogue between the Government and the opposition, leading to the formation of a unity Government and President Assad’s handover of power to his Vice-President for the transition period. However, the Chairman of the League’s Ministerial Council told the Security Council that the regional body’s efforts had so far been in vain owing to the Syrian Government’s “clear resort to a military solution”. (Press Release SC/10534)
In the Council Chamber that day, high-level officials from the United States, United Kingdom, France and other Member States pressed for a resolution that would support the Arab League’s plan to stem the bloodshed and call on President Assad to step aside as part of a democratic transition. However, representatives of China and the Russian Federation opposed any action hinting at regime change, coercive measures or other foreign interference in Syria. Such an intervention could spark catastrophic civil war and destabilize the region, the Russian Federation’s representative warned.
Ending days of intense negotiations to halt the deadly 10-month crackdown on anti-Government protesters, a draft resolution that would have demanded that all parties stop all violence and reprisals, and that the Government immediately implement the Arab League’s plan, was defeated on 4 February owing to vetoes by the China and the Russian Federation. Explaining his position, the Russian Federation’s representative said the draft sought to send an unbalanced message to Syria. Moreover, no proposal had been made to end attacks by armed groups, or their association with extremists. Three other permanent members — France, the United Kingdom and the United States — expressed outrage at the text’s rejection. Denouncing those who had obstructed its passage under the “obviously false” belief that military intervention was its aim, France’s representative said history would judge harshly those who had prevented the Council from lending its support to the Arab League’s efforts. (Press Release SC/10536)
In a presidential statement on 21 March (document S/PRST/2012/6), the Council threw its full support behind the efforts of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan and the Arab League to end the violence, calling on both the Government and opposition to work in good faith to implement “fully and immediately” the six-point proposal presented to Syrian authorities. (Press Release SC/10583)
In a presidential statement on 5 April (document S/PRST/2012/10), the Council signalled its intention to authorize a mechanism to monitor the end of the violence or “consider further steps”. Days later, on 14 April, it unanimously adopted resolution 2042 (2012), authorizing an advance team of unarmed observers to monitor a ceasefire, in line with the six-point plan proposed by Joint Arab-League-United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan, and called again on the Syrian Government to pull back its military forces from population centres and cease the use of heavy weaponry there. A week later, on 21 April, the Council, noting that the cessation of armed violence was “clearly incomplete”, unanimously adopted resolution 2043 (2012), beefing up the United Nations monitoring team and establishing, for an initial 90 days, a supervision mission with 300 observers. (Press Releases SC/10601, SC/10609, SC/10618)
Then, 19 July saw the rejection — by 11 votes in favour to 2 against ( China, Russian Federation), with 2 abstentions ( Pakistan, South Africa) — of a Chapter VII resolution that would have extended the Mission’s mandate for 45 days and threatened to impose sanctions on Syria if demands to end the spiralling violence were not met. The next day, the Council renewed the mandate for 30 days, with the Council indicating that further extensions would be possible only if it could be confirmed that the use of heavy weapons had ceased and a reduction in violence by all sides was sufficient to permit the mandate’s implementation. (Press Releases SC/10714 and SC/10718)
In the last briefing on the region, on 19 December, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs said the military approach pursued by both sides had a “devastating cost” in terms of human lives and destruction, and bred a serious risk of sectarian and communal strife, radicalization and terrorism. “If nothing is done to change the current dynamic and to move towards a political solution, the destruction of Syria will be the likely outcome,” he warned. (Press Release SC/10863)
As for the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the ceasefire in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria, the Council renewed its mandate for six-month periods, unanimously adopting resolutions 2052 (2012) on 27 June and 2084 (2012) on 19 December. (Press Releases SC/10686 and SC/10862)
The Council held four meetings on Yemen. They focused mainly on assessing adherence to the November 2011 Peace and Transition Agreement aimed at establishing a representative Government. The Council also took the situation in Yemen on board during its monthly briefings on the Middle East, and in two high-level meetings. Progress towards implementing the agreed national reconciliation talks between all separatist groups, foreseen under a deal that averted civil war in 2011, was the context for the Council’s consideration of the situation in 2012.
Uprisings in Yemen first broke out in early 2011, following the collapse of dialogue between President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition. Having been in power for more than three decades, President’s Saleh’s term was set to end in 2013 but proposed constitutional amendments could have allowed him to remain in office for many more years. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in January 2011, insisting that the Government step down or consent to reform. The Government responded by sending security forces into the streets, while maintaining that it respected the right to peaceful assembly.
Following months of deadly clashes, a detailed road map on power-sharing arrangements was brokered by United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar, the Gulf Cooperation Council and Friends of Yemen. By its terms, President Saleh would hand over power to Vice-President Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi and presidential elections would be held within 90 days. Over the next two years, a Government of national unity would establish a national dialogue to ensure broad participation in determining Yemen’s future, and a constitutional review would follow.
In the 28 February regular monthly briefing on the Middle East, a United Nations political affairs official told the Security Council that implementation of the power-transfer agreement was on track. Presidential elections had been held on 21 February, and four days later, former Vice-President Hadi had been sworn in as the new President. Still, the 15-member body heard, Yemen’s transition remained delicate. (Press Release SC/10560)
During a high-level meeting on 12 March, ministers discussing the situation were of the view that Yemen’s transition to a more representative Government had yielded fruit. President Hadi’s election was a milestone in the political transition, it was generally agreed, although tremendous challenges remained, requiring the international community’s patience and support. Indeed, on 29 March, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/8) welcoming the nationally led transition process, particularly President Hadi’s election, but expressed concern about intensified terrorism and deteriorating relations among political actors. (Press Releases SC/10575, SC/10596)
In an open briefing on 29 May, Mr. Benomar reiterated that Yemen’s transition remained largely on track, citing, among other examples, the presidential elections and the launch of preparations for national dialogue. At the same time, he warned that “those who encourage sabotage and obstruction from behind the scenes must know that they are being observed, that they will be held accountable and that international patience is wearing thin”. In addition, he reported that some commanders were refusing to follow the President’s directives on military reorganization, and a standoff persisted over the leadership of a critical battalion, one of Yemen’s best-equipped units, located in the heart of the capital, Sana’a. (Press Release SC/10660)
Barely two weeks later, on 12 June, the Council coalesced around resolution 2051 (2012), demanding an end to all actions undermining the Government of National Unity, such as attacks on oil, gas and electricity infrastructure, interference with the restructuring of the armed and security forces, and obstruction of the implementation of presidential decrees. It expressed its readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter, if such actions continued. It also expressed concern at the growing number of attacks carried out or sponsored by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and its determination to address that threat. (Press Release SC/10671)
Ministers attending a high-level meeting on 26 September voiced support for Yemen’s journey and held that the international community had a duty to help the country find the way forward. They agreed that providing security was a great challenge as the country had a fast-growing young population and faced depletion of its oil and water supplies, as well as threats from Al-Qaida. (Press Release SC/10775)
By the time the Council met on 4 December, roughly a year after the signing of the Peace and Transition Agreement, Special Adviser Benomar said Yemen had crossed a critical phase, having learned that peace could emerge from the ashes of conflict. For Yemenis, the “gun as a tool to answer the legitimate aspirations has passed”, he said, adding that they had armed themselves instead with the principles of wisdom, mutual respect and peaceful interaction, thus avoiding the “abyss of civil strife”. The upcoming National Dialogue Conference could be the “crucible for a new Yemen”. He cautioned, however, that the road to national elections in 2014 would be long and arduous. (Press Release SC/10844)
The Council held one formal meeting on Lebanon, on 30 August, authorizing a one-year mandate extension for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In a separate action, on 23 February, the Secretary-General renewed the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for three years from 1 March. (Press Release SC/10751, 23 February)
The broader regional context informed reports on Lebanon during the Council’s regular monthly briefings on the Middle East. Members heard that the country’s northern border remained tense owing to deadly cross-border shelling from Syria, and the influx of thousands of refugees from the neighbouring country. The conflict next door had exacerbated factional divisions in Lebanon, with fresh clashes erupting between groups from Sunni and Alawite neighbourhoods. They coincided with a mid-year speech by the leader of Hizbullah, who reiterated the group’s support for the Syrian regime. Attention was also focused on safeguarding Lebanon from the impact of regional tensions.
By late August, the situation in UNIFIL’s area of operations remained “cautiously calm and stable”, with the Force stepping up operational activities, the Council heard. By year’s end, the Council was told that Lebanon remained “severely affected”, by border shelling and arms smuggling. Clashes near the town of Tal Kalakh in Syria left 14 Lebanese fighters dead on 30 November, further proof, the Council heard in mid-December, that Lebanese were implicated in the Syrian crisis, in violation of the Lebanese Government’s “dissociation” policy.
Attention was focused in recent months on determining the systems and structures for implementing and monitoring the Tokyo Conference commitments, made in July, the Secretary-General said in his report to the Council (document S/2012/907) on 6 December. Earlier, discussion both inside and outside the country had centred on reinvigorating previously fragmented or stalled efforts. The drawing down of the 11-year war in Afghanistan and the departure of international forces provided the backdrop for the Council’s discussions on that country, held in six meetings.
But even as the United States military withdrew, by September, the 33,000 troops deployed in 2009, strikes by the Taliban continued, although security incidents from July to December remained considerably lower than in 2011 and were comparable to those of 2010. However, from 1 August to 31 October, 4,801 incidents were recorded, and insider attacks targeting international and national personnel had taken a toll on a strategy based on fast-paced, large-scale recruitment and dependent on mutual trust. Completing the phased transfer of security responsibility from international to Afghan forces continued to dominate the discourse, with Afghan troops now covering areas inhabited by 75 per cent of the country’s population, and the distribution of districts in the final two tranches of the security transition expected to be announced early in 2013. By late November, Afghanistan’s international partners began sketching the outlines of a post-2014 presence.
Afghan and international stakeholders, the Secretary-General reported in December, had demonstrated the seriousness of their efforts to ensure momentum through the transition and a solid foundation for the transformation decade of 2015-2024. Political activity had gathered momentum, with realignments within and between groups in a very fluid environment. The Independent Election Commission had set 5 April 2014 as polling day for simultaneous presidential and provincial council elections.
In the first of two actions, on 22 March, the Council extended for another year the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), first established in 2002 at the request of the Government to help lay the foundations for sustainable peace and development. In its second action, on 9 October, the Council unanimously approved a one-year mandate extension for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF). (Press Releases SC/10588, SC/10786)
Just before renewing UNAMA’s mandate, the Council heard a briefing on 20 March by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, who reported that the transition was on target and that the Afghan National Security Forces had shown they were up to their designated tasks. Enhancing Afghan sovereignty and building self-reliance “must be at the very core of the way we work”, he emphasized. As speakers in the ensuing debate stressed the need to end the brutal killing of civilians, Afghanistan’s representative recalled the burning of Korans north of Kabul, warning that such incidents undermined trust and sowed sorrow, anger and frustration among the Afghan people. (Press Release SC/10582)
On 27 June, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations emphasized the critical importance of commitments affirmed in international conferences to long-term support beyond 2014. Clarity on and commitment to continuing support to the security sector, he said, “helps to dampen growing anxiety both within Afghanistan, as well as among its international partners as to the post-2014 situation”. It also reinforced the international community’s message that “transition will not translate into abandonment”. (Press Release SC/10688)
Senior political officials, including during the 20 September meeting, hailed the Chicago, Tokyo and Kabul conferences as having redefined and reinvigorated the long-term partnership between Afghanistan and the world community. They were beginning to shape the country’s future as it made its way towards “self-reliance”. All agreed that the true test, and the one with profound implications for improved governance, would come on election day. (Press Release SC/10771)
“Eleven years ago, we were a weak nation,” Afghanistan’s representative told the Council on 19 December. Conflict and consecutive foreign interventions had turned the country into a “failed State and a broken society”, leaving it on the verge of collapse. However, in the historic decade that followed, Afghanistan and the international community had “struggled together, worked together and joined hands for the noble objective of peace and a better future for the Afghan people”. The Government was now taking full responsibility for nation-building and for normalizing the situation through a process of transition and transformation, he pledged. (Press Release SC/10866)
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative agreed, saying that such progress had been “unthinkable a decade ago”. However, remaining challenges and tragedies required the Government and its international partners to follow through on commitments made in international conferences, he stressed.
Strategies and conditions for transition from the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which had assisted with security and governance issues since the crisis of 2006, were discussed in briefings during a year that saw the fledgling nation celebrate the tenth anniversary of its declaration of independence, hold successful elections and plan for the post-UNMIT period. President José Ramos-Horta provided an upbeat assessment of the country’s progress, as well as its remaining challenges, on 22 February as the Council extended the Mission’s mandate until the end of the year. The next day, it endorsed a phased drawdown of the Mission, in accordance with Government wishes and conditions on the ground. (Press Releases SC/10552, SC/10554)
On 12 November, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIT called for innovative international engagement when the Mission concluded, while the head of a Security Council mission to Timor-Leste, undertaken from 3 to 6 November, stressed that national ownership would be the key to that engagement. In its 19 December presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/27), the Council welcomed the progress made in building State institutions, including those relating to security, justice and governance, as well as the holding of elections, noting the Government’s stated wish for a continuing partnership with the United Nations as the Mission’s work wound down towards the 31 December deadline. (Press Releases SC/10810, SC/10861)
The Council heard that Haiti was making important progress since the devastating earthquake of January 2010, following which the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been expanded. Putting that message forth on 28 February, the representative of the United States, who led a Council mission to Haiti from 13 to 16 February, also noted a disturbing level of political in-fighting. Similarly, the Head of MINUSTAH said on 8 March that peacekeeping goals were in sight, but expressed concern over the resignation of the Prime Minister, as well as other signs of political divisions. (Press Releases SC/10559, SC/10572)
Briefing again on 3 October, ahead of the Council’s mandate extension for MINUSTAH, he said that despite continued displacement and tenuous food security, steady strides forward had been made, allowing him to foresee the Mission’s final stages and to convey the Secretary-General’s recommendation for lowered deployments of uniformed personnel. On 12 October, the Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate until 15 October 2013, reaffirming the paramount importance of strengthening the Haitian National Police as the Mission continued to assist on human rights and resettlement issues. (Press Releases SC/10780, SC/10788)
The Council heard that gains made early in the year had steadily deteriorated due to a gridlocked political landscape that threatened to unravel progress. Seventeen years after the Dayton Peace Agreements ended the country’s armed conflict, the passage of a budget and the Government’s formation had been followed by inflammatory rhetoric and a lack of political progress, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina told the Council on 13 November. (Press Releases SC/10811)
The next day, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2074 (2012), calling on all political leaders to refrain from using divisive rhetoric and make further concrete and tangible progress towards integration with the European Union. Also by the text, the Council authorized a one-year mandate renewal for the European Union multinational stabilization force (EUFOR ALTHEA), giving it the main peace-stabilization role under the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement. Reflecting a broadly held view among speakers, the United Kingdom’s representative said 2012 had been a year of contrasts, with gains returning to political inertia, symptomatic of authorities not putting the interests of their citizens first. (Press Release SC/10815)
By contrast, the High Representative said in his briefing on 15 May that he had hoped Bosnia and Herzegovina would remain on track to make 2012 a “breakthrough year”. Council members commended recent progress and highlighted the myriad challenges associated with the establishment of a new, multi-ethnic society, with India’s representative describing as “a noble experiment” the country’s efforts to build a new nation from the rubble of civil war. (Press Release SC/10650)
The Council followed the situation in Kosovo closely, holding four briefings, the first on 8 February. Members heard the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations stress that, while fragile calm had been restored following the 2011 clashes over border-crossing points and other issues, real political progress demanded a thorough re-examination and greater cohesion of international efforts as the European Union stepped forward in a leadership role. “Optimistic assumptions that a durable solution will simply evolve — even without a clear vision from a more united engagement of the international community — are belied by dynamics on the ground,” he cautioned. (Press Release SC/10539)
However, a window of opportunity emerged three months later, according to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), who told the Council on 14 May that progress in the European integration process reduced tensions following Serbian elections, and cooperation among the parties on practical issues could hasten the settlement of all unresolved issues in Kosovo. He urged the Council’s support in “demonstrating increased unity of purpose that may help the sides and all of us to deal with unfinished business and reach sustainable solutions sooner than later”. (Press Release SC/10646)
Similarly, on 21 August, the Special Representative called for “a more active and deliberate political international engagement with the parties”, noting as a positive sign assurances that the new Government of Serbia would implement in full its previous agreements with Kosovo leaders. That new Government had been formed in July and the Secretary-General’s official visit to Kosovo during that month had helped to set the stage for discussing essential issues such as human rights, rule of law and the rights of returnees and minority groups. (Press Release SC/10746)
Providing a snapshot of the situation on 27 November, he pointed to indications by both Belgrade and Pristina of their intention to move forward with European Union-mediated talks, saying that “both parties showed that they are looking to the future rather than to the past”. Still, he cautioned, given the complexity of issues that had inhibited progress for some time, “it would be unreasonable to expect solutions to emerge easily”, he cautioned. (Press Release SC/10835)
Representatives of Serbia and Kosovo also addressed those meetings, as did Council members. Serbia’s delegate called for sustained status-neutral efforts, indicating that, 20 years since the former Yugoslavia’s break-up, the region’s peoples continued to live in the past, in mutual accusation, instead of finding a sustainable solution to the future. Consolidating regional peace, security and stability was among the newly elected Government’s priorities, Serbia’s Prime Minister pledged on 21 August.
Speakers representing Kosovo highlighted “State-building” progress, saying that independence had brought peace, stability and security throughout the region. Nearly half of all United Nations Member States recognized Kosovo, which had made important progress towards integrating the ethnic Serb community into the central and local levels of governance.
In its only meeting on the divided island, the Council adopted on 19 July resolution 2058 (2012), extending until 30 January 2013 the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), established in 1964 to prevent further fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. Adopted by 13 votes in favour and 2 abstentions ( Azerbaijan, Pakistan), the resolution urged the leaders of both sides to work towards “decisive progress” on the core issues still dividing them. Azerbaijan’s representative said the text did not sufficiently support the good offices mission of the Secretary-General in fostering a settlement, and lacked a focus on a result-oriented negotiation process. Also describing deficiencies, Pakistan’s representative expressed regret over the lack of inclusiveness in drafting the text. (Press Release SC/10713)
Following up on its September 2009 summit, during which it adopted resolution 1887 (2009) with the stated aim of creating the conditions for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, the Council debated the issue this year on 19 April. It also issued a presidential statement expressing grave concern over the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of trafficking networks and other non-State actors. It urged full compliance by all States with their arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation commitments, and called for improved national capabilities to detect, deter and disrupt trafficking in nuclear weapons throughout national territories. (Press Release SC/10612)
Speaking at that meeting, Secretary-General Ban lamented the existence of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, the still-pending ratifications of the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and the deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament, declaring the years-long stalemate “unacceptable”. If the Geneva-based body could not begin work this year, the General Assembly must exercise its primary responsibility to carry the disarmament process forward, he said. The five nuclear-weapon States could consider “elaborating elements” for a fissile material cut-off treaty. On 29 June, the Council decided, adopting resolution 2055 (2012), to increase the size of the expert group attached to its committee monitoring implementation of resolution 1540 (2004), aimed at keeping weapons of mass destruction and their components out of the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors. (Press Release SC/10692)
Four of the Council’s meetings on non-proliferation concerned Iran. On 21 March, the Chair of its committee monitoring sanctions imposed in 2006 over that country’s nuclear programme briefed on alleged violations as members warned that Iran’s stonewalling of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the true nature of its nuclear activities had created an “unsustainable and dangerous status quo”. On 7 June, the Council extended the monitoring Committee’s expert panel by unanimously adopting resolution 2049 (2012) and asking it to report regularly on compliance. On 12 June, the Committee presented the panel’s report for 2012, noting that, while the sanctions had been effective, the “cost of acquisition” had not yet forced Iran to reach a compromise solution. A final briefing by the Committee, on 13 December, highlighted ballistic missile tests by Iran as some Council members called for an investigation of reported Iranian arms flows to conflict areas in the region. (Press Releases SC/10584, SC/10666, SC/10673, SC/10856)
Meeting on 16 April, in the wake of a satellite launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Council issued a statement strongly condemning the event and deploring the grave security concerns it posed in the region. It underscored that the satellite launch, as well as any launch using ballistic missile technology, “even if characterized as a satellite launch or space vehicle”, was a serious violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). Two months later, on 12 June, the Council extended for another year the mandate of the expert panel overseeing compliance with the sanctions imposed on that country. (Press Releases SC/10610, SC/10670)
Meeting concurrently with, but independently from, the General Assembly on 27 April, the Council elected Dalveer Bhandari ( India) by secret ballot to serve out the term of Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh ( Jordan) on the Court, which adjudicates disputes between States. With his term ending on 5 February 2018, Judge Khasawneh resigned on 31 December 2011. (Press Release SC/10629)
Briefings the Council on 7 June and 5 December, the presidents and prosecutors of the International Tribunals established to prosecute serious crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the 1994 Rwanda genocide said they had recently made great strides towards completing their work by the December 2014 deadline. They were also on track to ensure the transfer of remaining tasks and a repository of documents to a “Residual Mechanism”, with the branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda opening in Arusha on 1 July. Challenges to finishing on schedule included appeal processes, staff attrition due to the winding down of the Tribunals, and outstanding cases of fugitives recently arrested or still at large. (Press Releases SC/10667, SC/10846)
Stressing that it was acting on an exceptional basis, the Council extended the terms of judges of the Rwanda Tribunal to enable them complete their remaining work by adopting resolutions 2054 (2012) on 29 June and 2080 (2012) on 12 December. It also extended the tenure of judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 17 December by adopting resolution 2081 (2012) by a vote of 14 in favour, with 1 abstention ( Russian Federation). That country’s representative argued, in explaining his position, that the Tribunal’s work was affected by systemic problems and costly delays, and urgent measures were needed to rectify those problems. The Council urged all Member States to intensify their cooperation in apprehending remaining fugitives and, in the case of the Rwanda Tribunal, called on Member States to help relocate acquitted persons as well as those who had completed their sentences. (Press Releases SC/10691, SC/10853, SC/10858)
On 17 October, the Council convened a day-long debate on “Peace and justice, with a special focus on the role of the International Criminal Court” in a year that saw the Court celebrate its tenth anniversary and hand down its first verdict. With members exploring how the Court, as a tool of preventive diplomacy, could help the Council carry out its mandate to uphold the rule of law, maintain peace and security, and combat impunity while ensuring accountability for mass atrocities, Secretary-General Ban said that in the “new age of accountability” and amid growing demands for justice, the Court and the Council must work together to ensure that those contemplating horrific acts could no longer be confident that their heinous crimes would go unpunished. The two bodies frequently operated in the same political space, he noted, adding that they must support each other in building local justice responses and in strengthening the rule of law. (Press Release SC/10793)
Meetings on strengthening United Nations peacekeeping took on three distinct themes in as many meetings. The first, on 26 March, heard from the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support on the interrelationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, with the former maintaining that successful transitions between the two endeavours required clear priorities rather than expanding operational mandates. On 20 June, the Council discussed a range of issues with force commanders of various missions, who highlighted strategies to ensure unity of command and synergy of efforts to achieve operational goals. In the final meeting, on 12 December, senior officials focused on inter-mission cooperation, saying that lending resources between missions could leverage the United Nations presence and fill emergency needs. However, that must be considered a temporary stop-gap and not a substitute for advance planning for resources and logistical needs, they emphasized. (Press Releases SC/10591, SC/10679, SC/10854)
Speakers affirmed the value and accomplishments of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, including the Peacebuilding Commission, while also stating that much work remained to increase its impact on the ground through a greater focus on national ownership of activities and coordination among all actors in support of national priorities. In the presidential statement (document S/2012/PRST/29) of 20 December, which followed an open debate on 12 July opened by the Secretary-General, the Council emphasized the importance of ensuring, within nationally owned processes, that the needs of all segments of society were taken into account through an integrated approach based on coherence among political, security, development, human rights, rule of law and justice activities. (Press Releases SC/10868, SC/10707)
Starting off this year’s day-long debate on the topic, the Secretary-General described the appalling catalogue of violence inflicted on civilians, including sexual violence, forced disappearances, torture and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Calling on Member States to do more to protect civilians, speakers affirmed their obligation to do so, as they discussed ways to increase accountability on the part of parties in conflict and possible international responses under the principles of the United Nations Charter. (Press Release SC/10683)
Adopting resolution 2068 (2012) as it held its sole meeting on the issue on 19 September, the Council stated its readiness to impose targeted sanctions against parties that persistently violated the rights of children in situations of armed conflict. It strongly condemned the recruitment and abuse of children and the denial of aid to them, as well as attacks on schools and hospitals. Featuring multiple briefers, the meeting drew some 60 speakers as the Council considered the Secretary-General’s report on the subject, annexed to which was a list of 32 parties named as perpetrators for five years or more. The resolution passed by a vote of 11 in favour, with 4 abstentions ( Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, Russian Federation). China’s representative explained that he had abstained because it was important to avoid creating obstacles for States fighting terrorism. Azerbaijan’s representative said the issue was addressed “too selectively”. (Press Release SC/10769)
Among the emphases in discussions on implementing the landmark resolution 1325 (2000) were the need to strengthen accountability in ending sexual violence in conflict situations, and strategies to enable women to play a greater role in preventing, resolving and ending conflicts. On 23 February, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/3) at the conclusion of a day-long meeting to consider the Secretary-General’s report on conflict-related sexual violence. The statement explicitly named, for the first time, military forces and other armed groups suspected of being among the worst offenders, and demanded an end to such crimes. (Press Release SC/10555)
On 24 April and 30 November, the heads of Peacekeeping Operations and UN-Women briefed the Council on the implementation of resolution 1325 (2000) and on the need to increase the capacities of women’s organizations, as well as individual women to participate more effectively in peace processes. In a 31 October presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/23), the Council called on the international community to give women’s civil society organizations a prominent role in negotiating, planning and implementing peace processes and post-conflict development programmes. (Press Releases SC/10622, SC/10840, SC/10803)
Outlining the priorities for 2012 as Chair of the 56-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on 9 February, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade told the Council that his country would be a loyal steward of the regional organization’s concept of a “common, comprehensive and indivisible security”, while working to enhance cooperation with the United Nations. (Press Release SC/10540)
“At a time of constrained resources and ever more complex transnational threats, a closer partnerships between OSCE and the United Nations is indispensable,” he said, adding that cooperation had advanced, both in the development of common approaches to global challenges and in field operations. He described an ambitious agenda for the organization’s work on the human, politico-military, economic and environmental dimensions of security.
As for ongoing conflicts in the OSCE area, especially as related to Transdniestria, Georgia and Nagorno-Karabakh, he said that, in all such efforts, Ireland would draw from its own experience of conflict resolution. He announced that his Government would host a conference in Dublin on 27 April with the aim of using Northern Ireland as a case study in exploring aspects that might apply to conflict situations in the OSCE area.
Recognizing that terrorism continued to threaten the security of civilians around the world despite global efforts, the Council focused on the changing nature of the threat in 2012. In its presidential statement (document S/PRST/2012/17) of 4 May, issued during a ministerial-level meeting briefed by the Secretary-General, the Council expressed concern that the threat was becoming more diffuse, exploiting advanced technology and integrating with criminal enterprises. It urged a sustained and united global response. Unanimously adopting resolutions 2082 (2012) and 2083 (2012) on 17 December, the Council refined the recently separated sanctions regimes on Al-Qaida and the Taliban, strongly urging Member States to consult with the Government of Afghanistan on requests for the listing and delisting of those targeted for the latter measures in order to ensure coordination with Afghan reconciliation efforts. (Press Releases SC/10636 and SC/10859)
The Security Council’s subsidiary bodies relating to terrorism include the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida; the 1540 Committee concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and the 1373 Committee, also known as the Counter-Terrorism Committee. In their 2012 briefings (10 May, 14 November and 7 December), their respective Chairs highlighted the need to adapt counter-terrorism efforts to the threats posed by increasingly complex networks seeking footholds in susceptible regions. They also emphasized efforts to help States in implementing counter-terrorism resolutions and to enhance fairness and transparency in the application of sanctions. (Press Releases SC/10642, SC/10816, SC/10848)
Reaffirming that “any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed”, the Council, through press statements, condemned in the strongest terms terrorist attacks in Syria on 6 January, 21 March, 10 May and 5 October; Nigeria on 26 January; India on 23 February; Yemen on 7 March, 21 May and 13 September; Bulgaria on 19 July; Afghanistan on 17 August; Iraq on 11 September; Somalia on 21 September; and Lebanon on 19 October. (Press Releases SC/10513, SC/10585, SC/10643, SC/10784, SC/10530, SC/10556, SC/10571, SC/10656, SC/10762, SC/10717, SC/10745, SC/10757, SC/10774, SC/10799)
During the Council’s fifth annual debate on its working methods, on 26 November, speakers acknowledged recent progress towards greater transparency and efficiency, but called for more meaningful engagement between the Council and the wider United Nations membership. Portugal’s representative and Chair of the Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, said the increase in the number of open debates was for the benefit of greater transparency, adding that the Working Group was considering measures to allow more meaningful interaction with non-Council members. Despite recent improvements, however, “working methods is always a work in progress, never completed”, he noted. (Press Release SC/10831)
In the ensuing discussion, most speakers welcomed efforts to increase the Council’s efficiency and improve its engagement with other United Nations organs, the wider membership, regional organizations and troop-contributing countries. However, some said that speaking in meetings was not enough, emphasizing the need to make participation more meaningful by ensuring that positions expressed were reflected in outcomes. The representative of a permanent member sounded a note of caution, saying that, while the Council’s procedures should continue to evolve, they “should not be subjected to populism”. It was also important not to take on topics that were primarily the purview of other organs.
At the Council’s meeting to adopt its annual report to the General Assembly for the period 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012 (document A/67/2), the representative of Colombia, which had been in charge of the introductory sections, explained the length of the report by citing the amount and sequence of events, situations, conflicts and activities that had occurred during the reporting period, demanding intense work on the part of Council members. The Council adopted the report without a vote. (Press Release SC/10808)
* *** *For information media • not an official record