Security Council: Counter-terrorism committees focus on Mali, the Sahel and Somalia
10 May 2013 The United Nations counter-terrorism panel dealing with Al-Qaida strengthened its work and cooperation with related UN bodies to more urgently address the evolving threats posed by the network in Mali, the Sahel and Somalia, the chairmen of the group today told the UN Security Council.
|The Security Council. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine|
During a briefing from the Council’s subsidiary bodies dealing with counter-terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Gary Quinlan, chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) on Al-Qaida, said that the Committee is making “every effort to ensure that the sanctions framework is as effective a tool as possible in preventing Al-Qaida and its affiliates from threatening international peace and security.”
These measures include making sure that the Al-Qaida Sanctions List is updated and as accurate as possible to facilitate the implementation of the sanctions measures. In February, the Committee officially delisted Osama Bin Laden and ensured that his frozen assets are not transferred to listed individuals or entities.
The Committee has also implemented a special agreement facilitating information exchange with INTERPOL which has improved the quality of information and enhanced the implementation of the sanctions measures via INTERPOL's special notice distribution system.
In the context of Mali and the Sahel, the Committee sanctioned the Mouvement pour l'Unification et le Jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (MUJAO) and Ansar Eddine, entities closely linked to the Organisation of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as to the leaders of, and other individuals associated with, these groups.
Mr. Quinlan urged Member States to continue their support for the Committee and application of its measures, noting that “the Al-Qaida sanctions regime can only be as effective as the sum of its parts.”
Since his last briefing in November, Mr. Quinlan noted that “Al-Qaida affiliates in the Maghreb have waged a vicious insurgency in Mali, threatening the viability of that State and security in the region; Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula continued to be a strong factor affecting the on-going security situation in Yemen; and Al Shabaab remained an ongoing threat to the security environment in Somalia.”
The Security Council also heard from Mohammed Loulichki, the chairman of the counter-terrorism committee, created pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), who noted an upcoming special meeting focused on “enhancing cooperation and technical assistance to States in the Sahel region to strengthen their capacity in the global fight against terrorism.” The meeting is expected to be held in the last quarter of the year.
In addition, the Committee will hold a meeting on 24 May on “countering terrorism through the use of new communications and information technologies,” such as the internet and mobile phone.
Also addressing the Council was Kim Sook, chairman of the 1540 (2004) committee on WMD proliferation by non-State actors, who said he looked forward to closer cooperation with the two other committees and with Member States.
In a joint statement to the Security Council, the three committees said they plan to increase their cooperation while maintaining respect for the independence of their respective expert groups and mandate.
Among the areas of further cooperation, the committees plan to coordinate on common regional approaches to engage with Member States, increase engagement in on-site visits to Member States, and enhance coordination with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).
The CTITF was set up in 2005 and brings together two dozen UN entities, working under mandates from the General Assembly, the Security Council and various specialized agencies, funds and programmes.
Security Council: European security block details priorities for collaboration with UN
7 May 2013 From stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to countering all forms of human trafficking, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the world's largest regional security grouping, today outlined areas for greater collaboration with the United Nations in its annual address to the Security Council.
|Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara of Ukraine and Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe|
“The UN is the OSCE's principal partner organization. As security challenges continue to evolve, the nature of OSCE-UN cooperation has to become more pragmatic, effective and result-oriented,” Leonid Kozhara, Ukraine's Foreign Minister and the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE, told the Security Council in an afternoon meeting in New York.
Given OSCE’s particular attention to transnational threats, Mr. Kozhara said, the organization sees particular merit in deepening co-operation with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC). OSCE recently signed a joint action plan for 2013-2014 with UNODC.
Security, political and economic transitions in Afghanistan, as well as withdrawal of international security forces in 2014 will continue to have security implications for OSCE, Mr. Kozhara said. He added that exchange of military information and contacts, particularly in the border areas, is of paramount importance.
Security in Afghanistan’s border areas is also of key importance to developing new trade and transport corridors, and where OSCE sees “great potential for building on existing cooperation with the UN,” Mr. Kozhara said.
As for the fight against trafficking in human beings, a mutual key issue for both organizations, Mr. Kozhara said that the OSCE under the Ukrainian Chairmanship continues to pursue a comprehensive, human rights based approach to this global crime in close cooperation with a number of UN agencies within the OSCE initiated Alliance against Trafficking in Persons, and on a bilateral basis under the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
These include UNODC, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Labour Organisation (ILO), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR).
In addition, OSCE notes the importance of strengthening media freedom, as well as a number of other core UN thematic areas, including improvement of the environmental footprint of energy-related activities and promotion of tolerance and non-discrimination.
In the fight for conventional arms control and non-proliferation, Mr. Kozhara noted that OSCE and the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support regional work on Security Council Resolution 1540, which affirms that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
Later in the day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Mr. Kozhara to discuss Europe’s protracted conflicts and other main priorities for Ukraine as OSCE Chair.
Mr. Ban expressed his appreciation for Ukraine’s valuable role in UN peace operations and encouraged Ukraine to continue and further strengthen its support in this regard. The two leaders also exchanged views on the expanding UN-Ukrainian partnership, including on issues of human rights, health and nuclear security.
UN striving to ‘get prevention right,’ Secretary-General says in Andrew Carnegie lecture
1 May 2013 While the United Nations has done much to help countries establish early warning systems, build rule-based institutions and bolster civil society action, more work was needed to tackle the drivers of conflict, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said today in an address on conflict prevention.
|Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré|
“The UN and its Member States have much work to do. As we strive to get prevention right, let us continue to be inspired by the contributions of David Hamburg,” the Secretary-General said in the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture on conflict prevention, which honoured Mr. Hamburg.
The event, which took place this evening at Headquarters, was co-sponsored by the United Nations and the Foreign Policy Association. Honouree David A. Hamburg, who discussed his new book Give Peace A Chance, was introduced by Robert Orr, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning.
“David Hamburg has made truly important intellectual contributions to the world and to the work of the United Nations,” the Secretary-General said, noting that Mr. Hamburg, during 15 years as head of the Carnegie Corporation, helped to transform the way the United Nations, Governments and the broader public looked at a range of issues, from public health and education to nuclear non-proliferation to conflict prevention.
“His work on conflict prevention has been especially notable,” Mr. Ban said, recalling that one the main priorities of his tenure as UN Chief has been to improve the Organization’s ability to address brewing tensions before they become bigger and costlier crises.
“I wanted us to make greater use of the many tools available under Chapter VI of the UN Charter to prevent armed conflict,” he said, adding that in that endeavour, a major reference point has been the seminal 1997 report of the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict.
The key elements of that report still resonated today, he said, citing its focus on early action, national ownership and the critical role of civil society; the need to address the full range socio-economic and political factors to ensure lasting peace; and the acknowledgement that in extreme situations, the use of force remains an important tool to prevent even greater atrocities.
“The United Nations has come a long way in internalizing and operationalizing these insights,” the Secretary-General said, noting that UN special envoys are the most visible manifestations of the world body’s growing emphasis on preventive diplomacy.
“These envoys can now call on rapidly deployable expertise on cease-fire negotiations, power-sharing, constitutional design, gender issues and other aspects of peace processes,” said Mr. Band, adding that UN regional offices in West Africa, Central Asia and Central Africa act as forward platforms for preventive work.
“We have worked hard to bridge the gap between the political and development arms of the United Nations to more effectively address drivers of conflict,” he said. The Organization had also helped to solidly embed the Responsibility to Protect in its normative framework.
While those efforts have yielded concrete results – from Kenya to Kyrgyzstan, the UN has kept tensions from escalating, and it was accompanying difficult transition processes in Guinea, Yemen and Somalia – “we are reminded on a daily basis that prevention has limits and shortcomings,” he said citing situations in Syria, Mal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic
“Our efforts in preventive diplomacy are hampered by sovereignty concerns of Member States and fears of external interference,” Mr. Pan said, stressing that preventive action can only succeed when the international community speaks with one voice. Divisions in the Security Council or in approaches among organizations can undermine the effectiveness of mediators.
He noted that early warning also remains a challenge. Social media are helping the United Nations to take the pulse of a country or a situation. “But we have also been caught unprepared. And we need to improve our ability to engage preventively in fragile countries where we have only a development presence, as was the case in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Concluding, he said that Mr. Hamburg’s work has enabled the international community to make quantum leaps in its approach to addressing armed conflict. “As the title of his new book puts it, he is helping us all to ‘Give Peace a Chance’” the Secretary-General said.
Nuclear ambitions of DPR Korea and Iran top agenda at UN-backed non-proliferation forum
22 April 2013 Tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme and threats from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) dominated today’s opening of the second preparatory conference of the parties to the United Nations-backed treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in Geneva.
|Head of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, addresses the opening of the second preparatory conference of the parties to the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in Geneva. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré|
Speaking at the start of the conference, the head of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), Angela Kane, urged member states to create an enabling environment that will help to address nuclear threats posed by the DPRK and Iran.
“The whole raison d’être of this review process is to focus on implementation of commitments relating to the treaty’s three pillars, nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” Ms. Kane said.
“What is most needed now in NPT arenas is to revive a sense of forward progress, however slow, however difficult it may be,” she added.
The two-week Geneva preparatory committee meeting focuses on a range of issues to prepare the agenda for the 2015 Review Conference.
The NPT, a landmark international treaty which entered into force in 1970, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
The DPRK withdrew from the NPT in 2003, but Iran remains a signatory, one of 189 parties to the treaty.
Ahead of today’s meeting, representatives of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States, which make up the permanent membership of the UN Security Council, met in a two-day advance meeting under the rotation leadership of the Russian Federation.
In their final statement, the representatives stressed “the fundamental importance of an effective IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards system in preventing nuclear proliferation.” They also discussed support for the IAEA in detection of possible nuclear weapon programmes in non-nuclear weapons states.
In today’s speech, Ms. Kane said that the readiness of the nuclear-weapons States to increase the detail of their reporting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation activities will get increased scrutiny in the years ahead.
As a result, she said, her office has created a “place-keeper page” on its web site to serve as a future repository of data voluntarily submitted by the nuclear-weapons States.
She also welcomed the increased attention from civil society to the importance of accountability in implementation of past commitments on disarmament and non-proliferation.
Ban calls for total elimination of chemical weapons within five years
8 April 2013 Warning that the fog of war must never again be composed of poison gas, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appealed to the 188 States Parties to the United Nations-backed treaty outlawing chemical weapons to do all in their power to bring on board the eight nations that still have not signed on.
|Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opens the Third Review Conference of the States Parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas|
Eight countries remain outside of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – Angola, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria – and Mr. Ban has repeatedly urged them to join.
“I urge all of you who are in a position to do so to show political leadership and encouraging these countries to join the Convention,” he told Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague today.
“Nothing can justify the possession of this heinous category of weapons of mass destruction. Nothing,” he said, noting that 80 per cent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles have already been destroyed thanks to CWC. He voiced the hope that the 100 per cent target will be reached by the next review conference in five years’ time.
Mr. Ban’s words gained added urgency following allegations that chemical weapons have been used in the Syrian conflict, and he announced today that arrangements are now ready for an advance UN-team to investigate the reports in the Middle Eastern country, where over 70,000 people have been killed and more than three million displaced since the uprising against President al-Assad began in March 2011.
“We know that until the last stockpiles have been destroyed – and until the Convention is binding worldwide – the threat posed by chemical weapons will remain. Look no further than today’s headlines,” he said.
“Let me reiterate my conviction: As long as chemical weapons exist, so, too, does the risk of their use – by accident or design. There are no right hands for the wrong weapons,” Mr. Ban added, noting that the probe of allegations in Syria would be the first into the use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.
He called on the Parties to focus us on three issues: to build on CWC’s achievements so that it remains an effective bulwark against the re-emergence and proliferation of chemical weapons, including to terrorists; to forge a stronger partnership with the chemical industry to address safety and security issues; and to make full use of the treaty’s robust and reliable monitoring and verification mechanism.
“With that expertise, your Organization can play a constructive role in the process of establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Ban declared, referring to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the implementing body of CWC, which entered into force in 1997.
“Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere hope that that important conference convene without further delay,” he added.
An international conference on setting up a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, which was initially planned for December 2012 in Helsinki, Finland, was postponed last year at the request of the United States, Russia and United Kingdom – the three depositary States of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – which felt that conditions were not being met for such a conference.