TERRORISM, IRAQ, MIDDLE EAST, SUDAN AMONG CRITICAL ISSUES BEFORE SECURITY COUNCIL IN 2004

31 January 2005
SC/8301

TERRORISM, IRAQ, MIDDLE EAST, SUDAN AMONG CRITICAL ISSUES BEFORE SECURITY COUNCIL IN 2004

31/01/2005
Press Release
SC/8301
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

2004 Round-up

TERRORISM, IRAQ, MIDDLE EAST, SUDAN AMONG CRITICAL ISSUES

BEFORE SECURITY COUNCIL IN 2004

In a sweeping series of debates and actions aimed at countering new and persistent threats to international peace and security, the Security Council in 2004 remained resolute in tackling such intractable challenges as suppressing global terrorist threats, protecting civilians in armed conflict, and building peace in societies shattered by war, including by disarming former combatants, upending post-war cultures of impunity, and providing electoral assistance.

The Council convened 189 formal meetings, adopting 59 resolutions and issuing 48 presidential statements.  The veto was used three times, once by the Russian Federation on the question of Cyprus, and twice by the United States in respect of the Middle East.

Ongoing crises in the Middle East, including Iraq, outbreaks of hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Darfur, as well as stubborn pockets of resistance in Afghanistan and renewed ethnic tensions in Kosovo, topped the Council’s agenda as it strove to reinforce its central role in the present turbulent era.  It responded to the surge in demand for peacekeeping as violent internal conflicts engulfed millions of civilians, drawing in neighbouring countries and posing ever-widening threats to international peace and security.

By authorizing the establishment of missions in Burundi, Haiti, Côte d’Ivoire and the Sudan, the Council brought to 16 the total number of United Nations peace operations worldwide.  Seeking to address the problems confronting failed or failing States and prevent their relapse into conflict, it created missions that were multidimensional in nature, dealing with all aspects of peacekeeping and nation-building, from ceasefire enforcement and the disarmament of former combatants to economic reconstruction and the restoration of rule of law.

Particularly preoccupying was the question of the Middle East, one of the most enduring diplomatic challenges of the past half-century.  Assessments of the Israeli-Palestinian situation varied little each month, with the prevailing view expressed to the Council by senior Secretariat officials that neither party was doing its part to end the bloodshed and hasten the path towards peace.  The December 2003 announcement by Israel’s Prime Minister of his intention to withdraw the military and settlements from the Gaza Strip also shaped their briefings, as did the death of Yasser Arafat in November.  Towards the end of the year, the so-called post-Arafat era and the anticipated elections in January 2005 for a new Palestinian Authority President prompted fresh analysis of the situation.

Deepening unrest in Iraq and the spate of increasingly brutal attacks in Baghdad and outlying cities since the start of April formed the difficult backdrop for some positive political developments, including the establishment of an Interim Government and a National Independent Electoral Commission, as well as the handover of sovereignty on 30 June.  One year after establishing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the Council extended its mandate in August following a recommendation by the Secretary-General to implement the mandate “as circumstances permit”.

The Secretary-General had stressed in his reports to the Council that staff security remained the overriding constraint for all United Nations activities in Iraq, and that for the foreseeable future, the Organization would remain a high-value, high-impact target for attack.  Since the security environment had not improved since December 2003, UNAMI had been temporarily established in Cyprus, Jordan and Kuwait.  Still, the United Nations remained fully engaged in Iraq’s political transition and, at the end of the year, with elections just weeks away, the Secretary-General declared his intention to proceed with a further expansion of UNAMI’s presence in Iraq in implementation of the mandate given by the Council in resolution 1546 (2004) on 8 June.

Dedicating more than one third of its meetings to situations in Africa, the Council strove to keep pace with the evolving nature of the conflicts there and to mitigate their effects.  An armed rebellion in Darfur, western Sudan, and the Government’s response plunged the area into a full-scale emergency by spring, requiring the Council’s full attention throughout the rest of the year.  Thwarted by initial attempts to curtail atrocities by pro-government forces against civilians, the Council adopted resolution 1556 (2004) on 30 July, demanding that the Government fulfil its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias and bring to justice those who had carried out the atrocities.

Concerned that the Government had not fully met its obligations to protect the civilians in Darfur, the Council said in September that it would consider sanctions against Sudan’s oil sector.  It also asked the Secretary-General to investigate immediately reports of human rights violations in Darfur and determine whether acts of genocide had occurred there.  A five-member Commission appointed by the Secretary-General was asked to report to him within 90 days of the start of its activities (the team arrived in the Sudan on 8 November) or early in 2005.

Informing the Council’s consideration of the situation in Afghanistan was that country’s first-ever presidential election on 9 October.  Against the backdrop of threats by extremists, difficult terrain and adverse weather conditions, Hamid Karzai was elected President.  Deeming the election to be of historic importance a few days later, the Council congratulated the millions of Afghan voters who showed their commitment to democracy by participating in the first popular election of their Head of State.  Parliamentary elections were scheduled for April 2005.

In the wake of a number of terrorist attacks, notably in Madrid, Spain, in March and Beslan, Russian Federation, in September, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1566 (2004) on 8 October condemning all terrorist acts in the strongest terms as one of the most serious threats to peace.  Deeming such criminal acts unjustifiable for any reason –- whether of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious nature –- the Council established a working group to formulate practical measures to be imposed on anyone involved in or associated with terrorist activities, other than those designated by the Al-Qaida/Taliban Sanctions Committee, or 1267 Committee.

Concluding that the threat of Al-Qaida, which had become a global network of groups unbound by any organizational structure but held together by a set of overlapping goals, “remains as great as ever”, the monitoring team guiding the work of the 1267 Committee -- formally known as the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and Associated Individuals and Entities –- presented its first report in September.  Suggesting that the Council’s sanctions aimed at curbing Taliban and Al-Qaida terrorism had achieved “less than was hoped”, the team recommended that the Council might wish to refine those measures to address the changing threat.  The Council met in December to hear the Committee’s work plan.  It also opened the floor to a wide-ranging discussion on the global terrorist threat.

Central to the Organization’s effort to defeat international terrorism, the Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee was strengthened by the creation of a Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate.  Operational since June, the Executive Directorate seeks to redouble efforts to help arm Member States with the legal and administrative tools necessary to confront the terrorism threat.  An open debate on 19 October, in which 40 speakers participated, culminated in the read-out of a statement by the Council encouraging the ongoing work of its revitalized Counter-Terrorism Committee and reaffirming that terrorist acts were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of motivation, whenever and by whomsoever committed.

Following are summaries of major Council activities in 2004:

Middle East

Israel/Palestine

Monthly briefings by senior Secretariat staff on the Middle East situation, including the question of Palestine, were dominated by reports of persistent violence and suffering on both sides, as well as by the December 2003 announcement by Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of his intention to withdraw the military and settlements from the Gaza Strip, where Israel controls approximately 40 per cent of the land.  Yasser Arafat’s death on 11 November and the scheduled January 2005 elections for a new Palestinian Authority President prompted fresh analysis of the situation in the context of the so-called post-Arafat era.

The Council heard, in the year’s first two briefings, that the “narrow window of opportunity” cited at the end of 2003 had not opened wider and that the peace process remained in stalemate.  A cautiously positive view of the situation was tempered by the grim reality that 11 Israelis and 65 Palestinians had died in the month between the briefings.  Since October 2000, nearly 10,000 people lost their homes.  Concerning the Gaza withdrawal, attention was drawn to the Secretary-General’s view that it must be seen as a first step to be made in the context of the Road Map and as part of a cooperative engagement involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community. 

[The Road Map is a performance-based, goal-driven plan with clear phases, timelines, target dates and benchmarks, aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ending the occupation that began in 1967.  It was put forward by the “Quartet” –- United States, Russian Federation, European Union, United Nations -- and officially handed over to the parties on 30 April 2003.]

March saw an increase in violence, death and suffering, but Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk told the Council on 18 March that a “small window of opportunity” remained for restarting the peace process.  He urged the Israeli Government to provide a timetable for its Gaza withdrawal, while reporting that since the briefing in February, 101 more people had lost their lives to the conflict, 80 Palestinians and 21 Israelis, bringing the death toll since September 2000 to 946 Israelis and 3,245 Palestinians. 

On 23 March, following Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, which had been preceded by a suicide bombing at the Israeli port of Ashdod, the Council held an open debate in which many of the 41 speakers condemned the assassination and considered its ramifications.  Calling the killing a new war crime, Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations said that Israel’s policies were not an attempt to counter terrorism, but rather to instigate it in the Middle East and beyond.  Israel’s representative, noting that his country would not negotiate by day and bury its dead by night, retorted that the Palestinian leadership could continue to “get into bed with terrorists and tyrants” or it could prove to the world that it was ready to assume its responsibilities by establishing a democratic society that respected the rights of its people and its neighbours.

Two days later, on 25 March, the Council failed to adopt a resolution that would have condemned the extrajudicial execution and called for the complete cessation of the practices.  The draft, tabled by Algeria and Libya, was defeated by a vote of 11 in favour to 1 against ( United States), with 3 abstentions ( Germany, Romania, United Kingdom).  Before the vote, the representative of the United States said the text was silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas and did not reflect the realities of the conflict or further the goals of peace and security in the region.  He was deeply troubled by the killing, which had escalated tensions, but the Security Council did nothing to contribute to a peaceful settlement when it condemned one party’s actions and turned a blind eye to everything else occurring in the region.  The representatives of Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom agreed that the text was unbalanced. 

The Council held another open debate, on 19 April, following the targeted killing by Israel of another Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, who had been named on 24 March to succeed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Deeming the conflict to be at a crucial and potentially seminal juncture, Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, stressed in his briefing on 23 April that the Gaza withdrawal, if carried out in the right way, could usher in a new era of peacemaking.  If it was implemented in the wrong way, it would lead to more violence, possibly bringing the situation to a new low in the “dismal annals” of the Palestinian-Israeli tragedy.  The choices that the parties made now would shape the future of Middle East peace for years to come.

On 19 May, following the killings of Palestinians, including children, and the demolition of homes by the Israeli occupying forces in the Rafah refugee camp, and the expressed intent of further destruction at Rafah, the Council expressed grave concern about the humanitarian situation of Palestinians made homeless in the Rafah area and called on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, particularly the obligation not to undertake home demolitions.

Resolution 1544 (2004) of 19 May, in which the Council reaffirmed its support for the Road Map, was adopted by a vote of 14 in favour to none against and 1 abstention (United States).  The representative of the United States, informing the Council that his Government had urged the Israeli Government to exercise maximum restraint, said that Palestinian terrorists had been smuggling weapons through Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority had not taken sufficient action to halt those activities. 

A few days later, on 21 May, Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, expressed his regret at having to deliver a melancholy report, full of death, destruction and human misery.  The statistics were grim in terms of dead and wounded on both sides.  The Israeli army had demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes in breach of its international obligations, economic conditions were worsening, the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, although stable, was at a very low point, there were visible signs of donor fatigue, and deadlock still prevailed politically.  There was a better way, and that was the Road Map.  While it was not new, it was viable, once the leadership on both sides had the vision and courage to start following it in good faith and with determination to the end.

The briefings between June and October reflected a similar set of circumstances, with Mr. Prendergast declaring in June that bad as the situation was, it could still get worse.  Those who were waiting for guarantees in order to start moving towards peace would wait for a long time.  In July, Mr. Roed-Larsen reported no tangible progress towards implementation of the Road Map and called on the parties to carry out the crucial task of the Gaza withdrawal.  To the world community, he said there were only two options:  “Either we act, all the time, patiently and tirelessly, trying to find a way out of this conflict, or we sit and watch as more people bleed.  The choice is for each of us to make.”

Similarly, in August, Mr. Prendergast reported that there had been no tangible progress towards resuming the peace process.  Calling September a “bad month in the Middle East”, he pointed to a marked increase in the number of casualties on both sides, a resumption of suicide bombings, and no good news to report on implementation of the Road Map.  The past five weeks had been overshadowed by the first major suicide bombing since March, as well as by a number of Israeli military operations, incursions and destructive acts.  Also worrying had been Prime Minister Sharon’s statement that Israel was not following the Road Map and might stay in the West Bank long after any Gaza pullout.

In the wake of escalating deadly violence in the Gaza Strip, the Council convened an emergency meeting on 4 October at the request of the Algerian delegation on behalf of the Arab States.  That country’s representative warned that the unfettered use of brute force would persist as Israel had promised more death and destruction, bearing down on an already suffering civilian population.  Israel’s representative, claiming that the Council had been galvanized into action, not because of the murder of children, but rather in defence of them, urged the Council to stand by the side of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and to remind the Palestinian side that the path to peace and security lay in the end of terrorism and the beginning of reform.

On 5 October, a draft resolution that would have demanded an end to the Israeli military offensive in Gaza was defeated owing to a negative vote by the United States.  Eleven members voted in favour, and 3 abstained ( Germany, Romania, United Kingdom).  The representative of the United States said the text was “dangerously disingenuous” because of what it failed to say.  When the rest of the world “ganged up” on Israel with silence about terrorism, it did not advance the cause of peace.

In his regular briefing on 22 October, Mr. Prendergast said he had painfully little that was positive to report on the situation and much that was negative.  Describing the statistics as staggering, he said that in just over a month, 206 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed, and approximately 1,033 Palestinians and 62 Israelis injured.  The number of Palestinians killed since September 2000 was now 3,838, and that of Israelis totalled 979.  Even to speak in terms of a peace process seemed to put one at a distance from present reality, he noted.

On 15 November, Mr. Roed-Larsen, announcing that the briefing was his last in his capacity as Special Coordinator and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, delivered a message to the opponents of Middle East peace:  “It is time to wrest control from them and to take charge.  The need to act could not be any clearer.”  Asserting that the passing of Mr. Arafat marked the end of an era, he urged both the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the friends of both peoples around the world, to strive harder to bring about the peaceful realization of Palestinian self-determination.

Stressing on 16 December that there was, once again, a window of opportunity to revitalize the peace process, Mr. Prendergast urged the international community to encourage the parties to persevere as they moved along the “narrow and difficult road” to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.  Both parties seemed to have realized the potential for change inherent in the present situation:  support among the Palestinian public for violent acts and terror directed against Israelis had declined dramatically; and the optimism and hope prevailing among Palestinians was mirrored on the Israeli side.

A recent poll had shown that, for the first time since September 2000, a majority of Palestinians opposed all acts of violence against Israelis, he noted.  In contrast to previous polls, the survey had also found that Palestinians once again looked to the future with hope.  On the Israeli side, the latest Peace Index had shown that 70 per cent of the Jewish Israeli public was now more optimistic about the chances of peace with the Palestinians, and a clear majority of 75 per cent favoured the resumption of talks.  Many Israelis believed that the current Palestinian leadership had been handling Palestinian Authority affairs positively.

Israel/Lebanon

The Council twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for six-month periods, most recently by resolution 1553 (2004), unanimously adopted on 29 July.  The Secretary-General, in his report and addendum on the situation, dated 21 July (documents S/2004/572 and Add.1), had warned of mounting tensions at the “Blue Line”, or withdrawal line, between Israel and Lebanon and recommended extending the Force’s mandate for a further six months until January 2005.  He also cited ongoing clashes, warning that “considerable risk remains that hostile acts will escalate and lead the parties into conflict”.

Lebanon

On 2 September, the Council declared its support for a free and fair presidential election in Lebanon conducted according to Lebanese constitutional rules devised without foreign interference or influence and, in that connection, called on all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from that country.  By a vote of 9 in favour (Angola, Benin, Chile, France, Germany, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom, United States), none again and 6 abstentions (Algeria, Brazil, China, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation), the Council adopted resolution 1559 (2004), reaffirming its call for the strict respect of Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence under the sole and exclusive authority of the Government of Lebanon throughout the country.

The text drew sharp criticism from the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Mohamad Issa, who said that friendly Syria had helped his country maintain stability and security.  Syrian troops had been deployed and redeployed at Lebanon’s request and had contributed to rebuffing the radical reactions emanating from repulsive Israeli actions.  He stressed that matter relating to the upcoming presidential elections was “purely internal”.

The French and United States representatives, whose delegations had introduced the text, asserted that Syrian actions in the previous week had made a mockery of the principle of a free and fair presidential electoral process, with the Syrian Government imposing its political will on Lebanon and compelling its Cabinet and National Assembly to amend its Constitution, thereby extending the term of the current President by three years.  Persistent serious interference in the political life of Lebanon might cause it to retreat from the objectives consistently reaffirmed by the international community.

Among those who had abstained from voting, Pakistan’s representative said the resolution was not consistent with the Council’s functions and responsibilities.  Moreover, there was no evidence of any urgent threat to peace and no complaint from the country whose sovereignty and integrity the draft purported to uphold.

On 19 October, following a report of the Secretary-General indicating that the resolution had not yet been implemented (document S/2004/777) dated 1 October, the Council reaffirmed its strong support for Lebanon’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence and noted with concern that the requirements set out in resolution 1559 had not been met.

Israel/Syria

The mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was extended twice through unanimously adopted resolutions, accompanied by a presidential statement in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “... the situation is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.  The most recent extension was on 15 December and stretched UNDOF’s mandate until 30 June 2005.  The UNDOF has supervised the ceasefire and disengagement between Israel and Syria since 1974. 

Iraq

Council consideration of the situation in Iraq began on 24 February with a briefing by the representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority.  The United States representative noted that, while progress was not always as rapid as one wanted, it was a time of hope for Iraq as it prepared for the 30 June transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi Government.  He highlighted major accomplishments since his last update three months earlier, including near completion of the draft transitional administrative law and the capture of Saddam Hussein, who would undergo due process for crimes committed against the Iraqi people and humanity.

A briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi on 24 March announced that one of last major benchmarks had been reached -– a date had been established for the holding of free and fair elections.  To equip the new government with the tools essential for effective governance, further progress was required in security sector reform.  Without significant demilitarization, genuine political choice as required for a credible election was simply not possible, he warned.

Against the backdrop of deepening unrest in Baghdad, and with the spate of increasingly brutal violent attacks in outlying Iraqi cities and towns since the start of April, the United States representative, speaking for the Coalition on  16 April, said that the multinational force remained committed to the creation of a democratic, peaceful and stable Iraq and would stay the course in the face of the continuing threat posed by insurgent forces, loyalists of the former regime and terrorists who had infiltrated the country from outside.

The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Lakhdar Brahimi, reported to the Council on 27 April that many Iraqis had favoured a new caretaker government and had suggested the convening of a national conference to engage in genuine national dialogue on the challenges facing Iraq.  Among them was the security situation, which remained “extremely worrying”.  An atmosphere of great tension and anxiety persisted owing to the siege of Fallujah, the Mahdi Army uprising in the south, and a general increase in violence.  On 17 March, the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority had requested United Nations’ assistance in forming an interim government to which sovereignty would be transferred in June and in preparing for direct elections to be held before the end of January 2005.

Following Mr. Brahimi’s briefing, the Council issued a presidential statement expressing strong support for his efforts and welcoming the provisional ideas he had submitted as a basis for the formation of an interim government.

In his last regular briefing to the Council, on 19 May, before the handover of sovereignty to Iraq, the United States representative, on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority, said that 30 June would mark a vital step towards realizing the goal of an independent and stable Iraq.  Stressing that the fight against terrorism and for Iraqi security and stability was a shared one, he urged the international community to participate in the important task of expanding the Iraqi security forces.  That would facilitate the return of United Nations’ staff to Iraq and enable the United Nations to continue its vital role in assisting the Iraqis in election preparations.  Regarding the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, he said his country stood with the rest of the world in shock and disgust.

Seeking a “new and unambiguous resolution” that underlines the transfer of full sovereignty to the people of Iraq and their representatives, the newly appointed Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, in a historic briefing on 3 June, called on the Council to endorse the interim government, express its support for the ongoing political process, and recognize Iraq’s need for the continued presence of a multinational force in partnership with the new Iraqi authorities.

On 7 June, Mr. Brahimi told the Council that, after a long, complicated and delicate process under less than optimal conditions, Iraq had two institutions essential for the next phase -– an Interim Government and a National Independent Electoral Commission.  He said the Interim Government had generally found acceptance among the Iraqi people.  There was an overwhelming desire for an elected government to take over from the Coalition Provisional Authority, but the technical assessment had been that the conditions simply were not there for that to happen before 30 June.  Delaying the end of occupation had not been an option.

The next day, the Council coalesced around a comprehensive resolution in Iraq (1546), which endorsed the formation of the interim government and the holding of democratic elections by January 2005.  It welcomed the end of occupation by 30 June, and determined the status of the multinational force and its relationship with the Iraqi Government, as well as the role of the United Nations in the political transition.  Among the several provisions concerning the multinational force, the Council decided that the force should have the authority “to take all necessary measures” to contribute to maintaining security and stability in Iraq in accordance with two letters dated 5 June to the Council President from the Prime Minister of the Interim Government, Ayad Allawi, and from United States Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. 

On 12 August, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for 12 months, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1557 (2004).  It also expressed its intention to review the mandate in one year or sooner, if requested by Iraq’s Government.  (Initially established by resolution 1500 (2003) for a one-year period to support the Secretary-General in fulfilling his mandate under resolution 1483 (2003), and to consolidate United Nations activities in Iraq, UNAMI began its operations on 1 September 2003 with an approved strength of more than 300 international and national civilian staff).

The Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, in his first formal briefing to the Council on 14 September, said that, with UNAMI’s deployment, the “blue flag” was flying once more in Iraq, but a light footprint was unavoidable in the current security situation.  Nevertheless, UNAMI was committed to actively supporting the Iraqi Election Commission.  The extent and scale of its activity, however, would be determined by prevailing circumstances, including the security environment, he said. 

In order to be able to expand United Nations’ staffing and activities in Iraq, the Council, on 1 October, welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposed arrangements for an integrated United Nations security structure for its Mission there (UNAMI), and urged Member States to respond positively with contributions.

By approving a letter from the Secretary-General on 30 November, the Council endorsed the creation of a trust fund to support a United Nations protection force in Iraq.  (Council resolution 1546 (2004) had expressed that body’s intention to create a “distinct entity under unified command” to provide security for the United Nations presence in Iraq). 

On 13 December, Mr. Qazi, the Special Representative, told the Council in a briefing that, against the backdrop of the overall difficult security situation and polarized public opinion, the upcoming elections would represent a test of Iraq’s new political order and of the transition process under way.  It was critical for the elections to provide a platform for the expression of all shades of Iraqi political opinion.  While violence, much of it extreme in its brutality and indiscriminate in its nature, had disrupted a significant portion of the country, he was convinced that most Iraqis abhorred such violence and demanded a way out of the situation through the establishment of a government that enjoyed the assent of the majority of Iraqis.

Iraq’s representative insisted that few issues before Iraq loomed larger than the upcoming election.  Any risk to the election and its credibility and inclusiveness would likely come, not so much from a boycott, but from the campaign of violence and intimidation.  While he welcomed the Secretary-General’s recent decision to increase the number of election workers in Iraq, he said that increase was still not enough.  He wondered how the United Nations could play the “leading role” mandated by resolution 1546 if it remained largely insulated from the Iraqis.  The phrase “as circumstances permit” should not be used to justify insufficient presence on the ground in Iraq, he stressed.

‘Oil-for-Food’ Programme

The Council, on 21 April, expressing the desire to see a full and fair investigation of efforts by the former Government of Iraq to evade the provisions of resolution 661 (1990) and subsequent relevant resolutions, including through bribery, kickbacks, surcharges on oil sales, and illicit payments in regard to purchases of humanitarian goods, welcomed the Secretary-General’s appointment of an independent high-level inquiry to investigate the matter.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1538 (2004), the Council called on the Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq and all other Member States, including their national regulatory authorities, to fully cooperate. 

The members of the inquiry are:  Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve; Mark Pieth of Switzerland, an expert on money-laundering in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and Richard Goldstone of South Africa, former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Begun in 1996, the “oil-for-food” programme allowed Iraq to use a portion of its petroleum revenues to purchase humanitarian relief.  The effort was monitored by the Security Council’s “661” committee, which included representatives from all 15 Council members.  Until its termination in November 2003, the programme oversaw the delivery of some $39 billion in humanitarian assistance to about 22 million people, many of whom were largely dependent on outside aid to survive, since normal economic activity had been severely constrained by sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

(A number of parallel probes are under way, including in the United States Congress).

Afghanistan

The first ever presidential election in Afghanistan on 9 October, in which Hamid Karzai was elected, and the preparations leading up to the election, informed the Council’s consideration of that situation in 2004.  The Council stressed the election’s historic importance in a 12 October presidential statement and congratulated the millions of Afghan voters who had showed their commitment to democracy by participating.

In a 12 October briefing, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hedi Annabi told the Council that, against the backdrop of extremists’ threat, difficult terrain and sometimes adverse weather conditions, the election, while not perfect, had placed under the best auspices the Afghans’ journey towards a vigorous democracy.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guehenno said in a 9 November briefing that, while Afghans had shown remarkable political maturity during the presidential election, they would continue to require the international community’s full backing as they embarked on the next stage of the electoral process -- the parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 2005.  Those would be much more complicated and fraught with more security concerns than the presidential elections, he warned.

Earlier, on 28 September, Mr. Guehenno had briefed Council members on election preparations.  On 17 September, the Council had authorized for another year the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, extending it to other urban centres and areas outside Kabul.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, it voted unanimously to adopt resolution 1563 (2004), by which it also authorized Member States participating in the Force to take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate.  Recognizing the need to strengthen the Force, the Council called on countries to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to it, and to contribute to the Trust Fund established by resolution 1386 (2001).

Briefing the Council on 25 August, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, reviewed preparations, including registration, for the presidential election.  He also reviewed the critical need for counter-narcotics efforts in the face of the dramatic expansion of poppy cultivation this year.  And, he warned that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and the cantonment of heavy weapons had been slow.  In a briefing on 27 May, he reported that the level of violent opposition to the electoral process was still difficult to gauge, but precautions were being taken as registration pushed into rural areas.

In a 15 July presidential statement, the Council welcomed the upcoming presidential election and called on the Afghan Government and the international community to maintain and intensity efforts to strengthen the national army and national police, accelerate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and support the Government in eliminating opium production.

On 6 April, in a presidential statement, the Council welcomed the commitment of $8.2 billion over the next three years for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, made at the Berlin Conference, held on 31 March and 1 April.  The Council endorsed the Berlin Declaration and stressed the relevance of the Afghan Government’s work plan, as well as the progress report and the Berlin Declaration on Counter-Narcotics, annexed to the Berlin Declaration.  It also welcomed President Karzai’s announcement to hold direct presidential and parliamentary elections by September.

In recognition that the United Nations must continue to play its central role in efforts to assist the Afghan people in consolidating peace and rebuilding their country, the Council, on 26 March, extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for an additional 12 months, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1536 (2004).

In a briefing on 24 March, Mr. Annabi said that 26 months of successful implementation of the peace agreement in Afghanistan had led to the decision to hold free and fair elections, which would confer political legitimacy on the new Government.  That legitimacy alone was not sufficient, however.  It was also essential to accelerate reconstruction and the building of State institutions that could ensure security and establish a credible base for the country’s development.  Further progress was also needed in the implementation of security sector reform.

In his capacity as Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi briefed members for the last time on 15 January, asserting that Afghans and their international partners could not afford to rest long on the laurels of the successful Loya Jirga, which on 5 January had adopted the new Constitution.  Opening the meeting, the Secretary-General said that Afghans, with international support, must tackle the deeply troubling security situation and ensure an inclusive, broadly representative Government.  They must also hasten the pace of reconstruction.

Counter-Terrorism

Counter-Terrorism Committee

In the face of the continued and evolving nature of terrorist threat during the course of the year, the Council intensified its anti-terrorism activities through revitalization of its Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).  Formally known as the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), the Counter-Terrorism Committee was established to monitor the implementation of that resolution, through, among other things, reports from States on actions they had taken to that end.

Adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, resolution 1373 called on Member States to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism, refrain from providing any support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, and deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support and commit such acts.

Briefing the Council on the Committee’s work on 4 March, the Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, Inocencio Arias (Spain), noted that his proposal to revitalize the CTC, presented in mid-February, had originated from a dual conviction, namely, that terrorism was one of the major threats to international peace and security and that the United Nations must play a central role in the fight against that threat, with the Council, through the CTC, leading the effort.  In the day-long session that followed, some 30 speakers voiced support for the plan that would enhance the Committee’s ability to evaluate the landmark resolution.

Stressing the importance of enhancing the monitoring of the implementation of resolution 1373, the Council, unanimously adopting resolution 1535 (2004) on  26 March, restructured the Counter-Terrorism Committee and decided that the revitalized Committee would consist of the Plenary -– composed of the Security Council’s member States –- and the Bureau, assisted by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).  The Executive Directorate was established as a special political mission for an initial period ending 31 December 2007, subject to a comprehensive review by the Council by the end of 2005.  The Executive Director of the newly established CTED, Javier Ruperez ( Spain), took office in June.

In a presidential statement adopted on 30 March, the Council confirmed the continuation of current arrangements for the Committee Bureau until 4 October.  On 19 July, the Council, through the adoption of a presidential statement, invited the Counter-Terrorism Committee to accelerate its work on country assessments of assistance needs that could be shared with interested donor States and organizations, and welcomed the Committee’s initiation of preparations for its first visit to a Member State.

On 8 October, the Council, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1566 (2004), condemned all terrorist acts in the strongest terms, as one of the most serious threats to peace, and provided concrete steps to bolster existing anti-terrorism machinery and legal norms.  The Council recalled that criminal acts, including against civilians, or taking of hostages, with the purpose of provoking a state of terror, were not justifiable for any reason.  Also by the resolution, the Council established a working group consisting of all its members, which would submit recommendations on practical measures to be imposed on individuals, groups or entities involved in or associated with terrorist activities, other than those designated by the Al-Qaida/Taliban Sanctions Committee.

Speaking after the resolution’s adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation, whose delegation spearheaded the initiative, co-sponsored also by China, France, Germany, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, said that the killing of hostages, as well as the recent tragedies in Beslan, Russian Federation, underscored the need for more decisive action by the Council and the further development of a global anti-terrorist strategy.

Adopting a presidential statement on the work of the revitalized Committee on 19 October, the Council noted the importance of continuing the Committee’s efforts to enhance Member States’ capabilities to combat terrorism and, among other things, to:  address problems they faced in implementing resolution 1373 (2001); facilitate the provision of technical assistance; and encourage the largest possible number of States to become parties to the relevant conventions and protocols.

That action followed a day-long debate on combating terrorism and briefings by Andrey Denisov ( Russian Federation), who assumed the Committee’s chairmanship from Spain on 28 May, and the first briefing by the Executive Director of the CTED, Mr. Ruperez ( Spain).

Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999)

On 30 January, the Council, through resolution 1526, improved the world body’s sanctions regime against Usama bin Laden, members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban and other individuals and groups associated with them.  The Council expanded the broad set of measures it had adopted in 1999, which required States to, among other things, freeze financial assets, including those controlled by the Taliban, and to ensure that they are not used by the group.  Countries were also obliged to freeze funds and other financial assets of Usama bin Laden and his associates in the Al-Qaida organization, and to prevent their entry or transit through the States’ territory.

The Chair of the Committee established to oversee implementation of sanctions imposed on Usama bin Laden, Al-Qaida and the Taliban, also known as the “1267” Committee, briefed the Council on 12 January, 25 May, 13 September and 17 December.  In his final briefing to the Council on 22 December, Heraldo Muñoz ( Chile) stressed the need for long-term cooperation with States wanting to strengthen their ability to combat terrorism.  While the struggle against terrorism had made headway, the international community was far from winning the war.  It was necessary to redouble international efforts and understand that the world was not only facing a military challenge, but a political and ideological one.

Other Action

On 11 March, within hours of deadly coordinated bombings that killed scores of commuters on packed trains in Madrid, the Council adopted resolution 1530, in which it strongly condemned the act of terrorism as “a threat to peace and security”.  In a presidential statement on 10 May, the Council condemned the previous day’s terrorist bomb attack in Grozny that killed President Ahmad Kadyrov of the Chechen Republic, Russian Federation, and many other people.  On 1 September, the Council adopted a presidential statement condemning, in the strongest terms, the heinous terrorist act involving the taking of hostages at a secondary school in the town of Beslan, Russian Federation, and demanded the hostages’ immediate and unconditional release.

Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Taking up the issue of the possible acquisition of mass destruction weapons by non-State actors, in particular terrorists, the Council held an open debate on 22 April ahead of action on a United States-led draft resolution on the question.  Members hailed the draft as a necessary response to the present era of “wholesale terrorism”, in which the most dangerous technology was becoming easily available through trafficking.  Doubt was expressed, however, about the content and implications of the proposed text, which contained several measures to be taken at the State level.  In particular, concern was voiced about the Council’s increasing tendency to assume new and wider legislative powers.

On 28 April, the Council adopted resolution 1540 (2004).  Acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, it decided that all States should refrain from supporting any means attempted by non-State actors to acquire, use or transfer nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.  Through the text’s unanimous adoption, the Council also decided that all States would establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of such weapons and delivery means, in particular for terrorist purposes, including by establishing appropriate controls over related materials and adopting legislative measures.

The Council called on States, as a first step, to report to the Committee, no later than six months from the text’s adoption, on steps they had taken or intended to take towards implementation.  And, it established, for a period of no longer than two years, a committee comprising all Council members, to report on implementation of the resolution.

The Council then met on 9 December to hear a briefing by the Chairman of the new “1540” Committee, Mihnea Motoc ( Romania), who informed members that the Committee had been focusing since June on becoming fully operational before it started consideration of the first national reports.  By the time of the briefing, the Committee had received reports from 86 Member States.

Africa

Sudan

“Chaos is looming as order is collapsing”, the Secretary-General warned the Council in his December report on the situation in the Darfur region of the Sudan (document S/2004/947), explaining that the optimism generated on the political front was overshadowed by regression in the security situation.

Fighting first broke out in Darfur in March 2003 between the pro-Government Arab militias known as the Janjaweed and rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  The rebels were demanding economic and political reforms, reportedly frustrated by what it deemed Khartoum’s marginalization of Darfur.  The conflict traumatizing the region was being played out amidst the longest-running civil war in Africa, between the north and the south of the Sudan.

The carnage in the remote region aroused world attention and prompted the Council to convene 12 formal meetings on the question, including two in Nairobi, Kenya, in November.  Among the highlights of the Council’s actions were:  its expressed intention to consider the imposition of sanctions if the Government did not show substantial, irreversible and verifiable progress towards ensuring security in Darfur (July); and its request that the Secretary-General establish an international commission of inquiry to immediately investigate reports of human rights violations in Darfur and to determine whether acts of genocide had occurred there (September).

The Council’s formal consideration of the crisis began on 25 May, when, in a presidential statement that noted the killings of thousands of people in Darfur and the risk of dying to hundreds of thousands more in the coming months, it expressed grave concern over the deteriorating situation and strongly condemned those acts that jeopardized a peaceful solution.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1547 (2004) on 11 June, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish, for an initial three months, an advance team in the Sudan to prepare for a future United Nations peace-support operation that will follow the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Reiterating its grave concern on 30 July at the ongoing humanitarian crisis and widespread human rights violations, the Council, acting underChapter VII, adopted resolution 1556 (2004) by 13 votes in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (China, Pakistan), by which it demanded that the Government disarm the Janjaweed militias and bring to justice those who had carried out the atrocities.  It also asked the Secretary-General to report on compliance with the text in 30 days, and it expressed its intention to consider further actions, including the imposition of sanctions, in the event of non-compliance.

In a report dated 30 August, the Secretary-General said that certain measures by the Government had resulted in some progress, but that it had not fully met its obligation to stop the attacks against civilians and ensure their protection.  In addition, the vast majority of armed militias had not been disarmed.  Similarly, no concrete steps had been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or perpetrators of those attacks, he said.

In a briefing on 2 September, the Council was told that, while the Government had made some progress towards meeting the requirements of resolution 1556(2004) to restore security in Darfur, it had not been able to disarm the militias or stop their attacks against civilians.  The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the Sudan, Jan Pronk, also said that no concrete steps had been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or perpetrators of those attacks, allowing human rights violations to continue in a climate of impunity.

Shortly thereafter, on 18 September, the Council, concerned that the Government had not fully met its obligations to protect civilians in Darfur, declared that, should it fail to comply fully with resolution 1556 or to cooperate with the expansion and extension of the African Union monitoring presence in Darfur, it would consider taking additional measures, including sanctions, to affect Sudan’s oil sector and the Government or its individual members.

By adopting resolution 1564 (2004) under Chapter VII that day by a vote of 11 in favour to none against, with 4 abstentions (Algeria, China, Pakistan, Russian Federation), the Council asked the Secretary-General to rapidly establish an international commission of inquiry, which would immediately investigate reports of human rights violations in Darfur, and determine whether acts of genocide had occurred there.

On 8 October, the Secretary-General announced his appointment of a five-member Commission to:  investigate reports of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed in Darfur by all parties in the current conflict; qualify the crimes and determine whether or not acts of genocide have occurred or are still occurring; and determine responsibility and identify individual perpetrators responsible for the commission of such violations, and recommend accountability mechanisms.

The Secretary-General asked the Commission to report to him within 90 days from the start of its activities.  The five members -- Antonio Cassese ( Italy), former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Chairman; Therese Striggner Scott ( Ghana); Mohamed Fayek ( Egypt); Hina Jilani ( Pakistan); and Diego Garcia-Sayan ( Peru) -- arrived in the Sudan on 8 November.

The African Union sent 60 monitors to Darfur in July as part of a ceasefire observer mission and for humanitarian assistance.  It committed itself in early August to sending a 300-strong protection force to Darfur before the end of the month to support the monitors.  The Union also sponsored political talks between the Government and the rebels, which began on 23 August in Abuja, Nigeria.]

The Council heard a briefing on the situation on 24 September by Nigeria’s President and Chairman of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, who stressed that the “command and control” role being played by the African Union in the Darfur region had strained all of its resources.  He called on the Council to ensure that the Union had the capacity to overcome the current challenges, including by maintaining a force level of approximately 3,000 troops.

Opening that meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the unspeakable violence in Darfur was not simply an African problem, but one which concerned the entire international community.  He called on the entire world community to make unambiguously clear to both sides that it firmly expected them to return to the African Union-led negotiations for a political settlement, and that they must bring to the table the spirit of compromise necessary to reaching agreement.

On 5 October, Special Representative Jan Pronk warned that the man-made conflict in the Sudan, if not properly addressed, could create the conditions for a widening regional, if not global, confrontation.  Once the struggles were perceived as a clash between cultures -- Arabs against Africans -- they became unmanageable and spread to other places.  In the key areas of security and impunity, he reported no progress, although there had been signs of improvement on the political front.

That briefing had followed a number of closed-door talks in the Council the prior week on the unfolding tragedy, including with the Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, at his request.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, reported the findings of their week-long mission to Darfur, where more than 1.65 million people had fled their homes and armed militias had been accused of killing thousands more.

Then, on 26 October, the Council adopted resolution 1569 (2004), by which it decided to hold the two-day meeting on the situation in the Sudan on 18 and 19 November in Nairobi, with representatives of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

Prior to the Nairobi meetings, the Council heard a further briefing on 4 November by Mr. Pronk, who warned the Council that the worsening situation in Darfur might easily enter a state of anarchy -– a total collapse of law and order.  Asserting that the conflict was changing in character, he said that the Government had co-opted para-military forces, and now it could not count on their obedience.  The borderlines between the military, the para-military and the police were blurring.  Within the rebel movements, there was a leadership crisis, and the world might soon find that Darfur was ruled by warlords.

Mr. Pronk advocated a three-pronged approach to reversing that situation, starting with the deployment of a third-party force, the African Union, to effectively deter violations, followed by an acceleration of all negotiations, and the holding accountable all political leaders, both official and self-selected, for ongoing violations of agreements and further human misery.

Addressing the meeting in Nairobi on 18 November, Mr. Annan said that in large parts of that country of deep-rooted and complex divisions, especially in the south, people had lived for decades in fear, hunger and misery, both natural and man-made.  The Naivasha ( Kenya) peace process led by IGAD offered hope of an escape from that long nightmare and a chance to transform Sudan’s political landscape and system of governance.

Insisting that it was high time to conclude negotiations between the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), he said that the effects of delay were being felt, not only in the south, but elsewhere too, as conflict spread to more parts of the country.  The devastating conflict in Darfur was glaring evidence of that.  The speedy conclusion of the North-South talks would not only help curb the further spread of conflict to other parts of the country, but that would trigger the resolution of existing conflicts.

While he advised the Council to focus at that meeting on the conclusion of the North-South talks, he recognized that the conflict in Darfur also demanded its attention.  “Because of the magnitude and intensity of the human suffering in the region, the conflict remains a burning concern”, he said.

On 19 November, the Council, encouraged by the commitment of the Sudanese Government and the SPLM/A, which that day had signed a memorandum of understanding promising to reach a comprehensive peace agreement before the end of the year, declared its strong support for those efforts and reiterated its readiness to establish a United Nations peace support mission to help implement such an agreement.

Concluding its two-day session, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1574 (2004), by which it also extended the mandate of the advance mission already operating in the Sudan until 10 March 2005.  Also by that text, the Council demanded that the Government and rebel forces immediately cease all attacks, refrain from the forcible relocation of civilians, and cooperate with humanitarian relief efforts in accordance with earlier agreements.  The Council indicated it would monitor compliance and take action against any party failing to meet those demands.

Council members took the floor to voice support for the peace efforts, with several emphasizing the exceptional nature of the Kenya meeting, both as a signal of the importance it gave to ending the war in Africa’s largest country and as an opportunity to take back to New York a better understanding of the continent.

On 7 December, in the Council’s last formal meeting on the situation, Under-Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast warned that clashes between the pro-government militias and the SPLM/A threatened to plunge Darfur into chaos.  He urged the international community to send an unequivocal message to all Sudanese parties that violence and hostile military actions were not an acceptable means to achieving political gains.

Calling the humanitarian situation dire, Mr. Prendergast said that access to vulnerable persons in Darfur had fallen from 90 per cent to 80 per cent, owing to increased insecurity and the rainy season.  In North Darfur, tens of thousands had been cut off from relief.  The overall number of conflict-affected persons had risen to nearly 2.3 million.  The Sudan required an estimated $1.5 billion, including some $620 million for Darfur, he said.

On 31 December, in Naivasha, Kenya, the parties to the North-South peace process, namely, the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, initialled an integral part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement -- the Agreement on the Implementation Modalities of the Protocols and Agreements, and the Agreement on the Permanent Ceasefire and Security Agreements Implementation Modalities. 

Central and West Africa

Meeting in January to hear a briefing by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs on the Secretary-General’s progress report concerning the recommendations of the Council’s West Africa mission in mid-2003, Council members agreed on the importance of a regional approach to resolving the interrelated conflicts ravaging West Africa.  Considering the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Council also emphasized the importance of greater international support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had spearheaded peacekeeping operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone and had led mediation efforts in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau.

In February, the Council considered the Secretary-General’s progress report on the recommendations of its mission to Central Africa in June 2003, focusing on developments in the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

On 6 March, the Council held a public meeting on West Africa, focusing on a Secretary-General’s report on ways to combat subregional and cross-border problems there, the first such report devoted specifically to cross-border problems in the subregion.  Presenting the report, the Secretary-General urged a coordinated approach to tackling the problems of West Africa and described the recommendations in the report as both practical and a “call to action”.

A Council mission to West Africa, from 20 to 29 June, visited Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.  From 20 to 25 November, the Council mission visited Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Uganda in support of the peace efforts in Central Africa.

The simple aim of the Council’s mission to West Africa, the head of the mission said, was to identify a coherent United Nations strategy for intervention across the spectrum of challenges.  In a preliminary briefing upon the Council’s return from West Africa on 30 June, Emyr Jones Parry ( United Kingdom) said development, security and stability were essential if peace was to be maintained in West Africa, a region of rich potential but fragile States.

In a public meeting on the West Africa mission on 16 July, speakers from the region stressed that the continued investment of United Nations peacekeeping and international development assistance offered a way out of the cycle of conflict and poverty, and an opportunity to forge sustainable peace and development in the affected subregion.

A Council mission to Central Africa took place from 20 to 25 November to, among other things, assess the Congolese and Burundi peace processes.  Providing an initial analysis on 30 November, Jean-Marc de La Sablière ( France), head of the mission, said the extent of the progress achieved since the Council’s June 2003 visit was evident.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the local population had a desire to hold elections, and in Burundi, a spirit of reconciliation and power sharing had made remarkable progress.

In a public meeting in December on the Central Africa mission, which visited Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Uganda, speakers from the region stressed the urgent need to solidify peace processes in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in their crucial transitional phase, particularly in light of disturbing developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The head of the mission, Mr. de La Sablière ( France) outlined some of the key recommendations of the mission, which coincided with the conclusion of the Great Lakes Conference.

Great Lakes Region

Briefing the Council on preparations for the Great Lakes Conference, which was held on 19 and 20 November in Dar es Salaam, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Great Lakes region, Ibrahima Fall, noted that with two major meetings in Africa in the course of the same year, including the Council’s meeting on the Sudan in November, Africa would be given very special attention.  Regional preparatory meetings had taken place in Bujumbura and Kinshasa, as well as a third meeting just prior to the summit in Kampala.

The convening of an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region “at an appropriate time” had been supported by the Council on various occasions in the decade since the Council’s adoption of a presidential statement on Rwanda in 1994.  The Conference, organized by the United Nations and the African Union, had the objective of establishing a regional framework for adopting a stability, security and development pact around four main areas:  peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development, and humanitarian issue.

C ôte d’Ivoire

The Council’s intense focus on the peace and national reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire resulted in the adoption of five presidential statements and three resolutions, which, among other things, established a new United Nations peacekeeping operation and imposed a 13-month arms embargo on the West African nation.  While 2004 began with a number of encouraging developments, violent events in March and a fresh outbreak of hostilities in November marked a year of tense political impasse.

Following an attempted coup in September 2002, which resulted in widespread violence and a humanitarian crisis, Côte d’Ivoire remained virtually divided, with its southern part under the control of the Government, and the north held by rebel groups.  Efforts to consolidate the peace were shattered on 4 November when government forces attacked rebel-held positions in the north, killing and wounding dozens of civilians and causing the United Nations to suspend its aid operations across the country.  On 6 November, government forces attacked a French position, killing nine French peacekeepers and an American citizen.

Determining that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained a threat to international peace and security in the region and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council, through its resolution 1528 of 27 February, established the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), for an initial period of one year, from 4 April.  The mission, among other things, was mandated to observe and monitor the implementation of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement of 3 May 2003.

By resolution 1528, the Council requested the Secretary-General to transfer authority from the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI) (whose mandate was extended under resolution 1527 until 27 February) and ECOWAS forces to UNOCI on 4 April, and decided, therefore, to renew MINUCI’s mandate until that date.  The Council also decided to renew until 4 April the authorization given to the French forces and those of ECOWAS through resolution 1527, and authorized the French forces to use all necessary means to support UNOCI in accordance with the agreement reached between UNOCI and the French authorities.

Expressing grave concern at the impasse in the Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement in Côte d’Ivoire and at violent events in Abidjan on 25 and 26 March, the Council adopted a presidential statement on 30 April, in which it underscored the importance of investigating all alleged human rights violations committed in the country and emphasized the individual responsibility of each of the Ivorian actors in the settlement of the crisis.

In a presidential statement on 25 May, the Council strongly condemned the violations of human rights and international law committed in Côte d’Ivoire, including those that occurred on 25 and 26 March, expressing also its determination to ensure that those responsible were identified and brought to justice.  Reiterating its concerns at the continuing non-participation of opposition parties in the Government of Reconciliation, the Council expressed its deep concern at the announcement by President Laurent Gbagbo that he would dismiss opposition ministers.  The Secretary-General was asked to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate all human rights violations committed in the country since 19 September 2002, and determine responsibility.

On 5 August, in a presidential statement, the Council welcomed the signing by the President of Côte d’Ivoire, the Prime Minister of the Government of National Reconciliation and all the political forces of the country of the “Accra III Agreement”.  [Signed on 30 July in Accra, Ghana, the Agreement aims at consolidating implementation of the peace process that began with the signing of a peace agreement in Linas-Marcoussis, France, on 30 January 2003.]

On 6 November, the Council, in a presidential statement, condemned the attack against French forces in Bouake, Côte d’Ivoire, that resulted in fatalities and other casualties, and also the fatal air strikes in the north of the country by the national armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire, as violations of the 3 May 2003 ceasefire agreement.  It also further condemned any effort to send forces through the Zone of Confidence, and demanded the immediate cessation of all military operations by all Ivorian parties and full compliance with the 3 May 2003 ceasefire agreement.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1572 on 15 November, the Council, deploring the resumption of hostilities and repeated violations of the 3 May 2003 ceasefire agreement, imposed an immediate 13-month arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire and gave the Ivorian parties to the conflict until 15 December to implement their commitments under the existing peace process or face further restrictions on finance and travel.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that it would review the sanction in light of progress accomplished in the peace and national reconciliation process at the end of 13 months.

On 16 December, the Council adopted a presidential statement in which it deplored the fact that the parties had not implemented all their commitments and expressed its intention to consider without delay further steps to ensure the effective monitoring and implementation of the arms embargo.  The Council expressed full support for the facilitation mission taken by South African President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the African Union to relaunch the peace process.  Any failure by the Ivorian parties to respect their commitments to President Mbeki would constitute a threat to the implementation of the peace and reconciliation process.

Guinea-Bissau

A military mutiny in October further complicated the complex and multisectoral challenges confronting Guinea-Bissau.  Expressing its deep concern at developments in the country that led to the killings on 6 October of the Armed Forces Chief of Staff and of the Chief of Human Resources, the Council, in a presidential statement on 2 November, condemned in the strongest terms such use of force to settle differences or address grievances and, bearing in mind the position of the African Union on unconstitutional changes of government, called on the Guinean-Bissau parties to refrain from attempting to seize power by force.

The Secretary-General, in his report on the situation, dated 15 December (document S/2004/969), said, however, that all segments of the country’s population are actively engaged in a comprehensive reflection on a way out of the recurrent crises so that Guinea-Bissau can begin to build sustainable peace and progress.  To contribute to that effort, he proposed, in a letter dated 19 November to the Council President, not only an extension of the presence of the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), but also a revision of its mandate to take into account the diverse tasks at hand and the importance of strengthening national capacity to confront the challenges.

Thus, the Council, on 22 December, recognizing the risks presented by the recent developments to the conclusion of the country’s transitional process, extended UNOGBIS’ mandate and revised it in light of the diverse tasks it faced.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1580 (2004), the Council decided that the Office, among other things, would support efforts to enhance political dialogue and promote national reconciliation and respect for the rule of law and human rights.  It would also support the efforts of all national stakeholders to ensure the full restoration of constitutional normalcy, including through the holding of free and transparent presidential elections.

Also as part of its revised mandate, the special political mission would encourage national efforts to reform the security sector, including the development of stable civil-military relations and, within the framework of a comprehensive peace-building strategy, actively support efforts to strengthen State institutions and structures in order to enable them to uphold the rule of law, respect for human rights and the independent functioning of the Government’s executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Earlier this year, on 18 June, the Council, in a presidential statement, had commended the national authorities and the people of Guinea-Bissau for their continued support and dedication to democracy, but expressed concern over the “fragility of the democratization process” in that country and the need to improve the situation of the military, particularly payment of salary arrears.  That fragility was due mainly to the weakness of State institutions and structures, as well as persistent economic and social crises, despite the installation of a new National Popular Assembly and a new Government on 12 May

Liberia

Concerned that former Liberian President Charles Taylor and his associates were actively undermining Liberia’s transition to democracy, the Council in March adopted resolution 1532 (2004) further fleshing out the United Nations sanctions regime imposed on that country three years earlier by calling on Member States to search for and freeze financial assets and economic resources owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the former President and his associates.

Three months later, on 3 June, the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Charles Gyude Bryant, appealed to the Council to lift the timber and diamond sanctions, in order to contribute to an economic revival, the successful disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants and the transition from conflict to peace.  He said that the sanctions imposed by Council resolution 1521 (2003) had contributed to the perception that Liberia was a very dangerous place.  There was a surcharge on all imports, thus, raising the cost of living for the Liberian people and adversely affecting the orderly transition to peace, he said.

(Owing to Liberia’s support for armed groups in the West Africa subregion, the Council had imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Liberia in 2001, including an embargo on arms and rough diamonds and a travel ban for officials.  Those were reimposed last year.)

Taking note of that request, the Council, on 17 June, re-established the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions to investigate, including through an assessment mission to Liberia and neighbouring States, implementation and violations of the sanctions.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1549 (2004), the Council mandated the Panel to investigate ongoing violations of the arms, diamonds, and timber embargoes, and travel bans.  The Panel would also assess progress in maintaining the ceasefire and establishing stability in Liberia and the subregion, which were the conditions set forth for the lifting of sanctions.

Following appointment by the Secretary-General of no more than five experts to fulfil the Panel’s mandate, the Panel was then requested to provide a mid-term report by 30 September and a final report by 10 December.

In response to the Panel’s final report, the Council, on 21 December, renewed the arms, timber, travel and diamond sanctions on Liberia, after determining, through the August-to-November assessment mission, that the National Transitional Government had not yet met the conditions for lifting the measures.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1579 (2004), the Council renewed the arms, timber and travel bans for one year and would review those after six months, while the ban on the sale of rough diamonds was renewed for six months, to be reviewed after three.

Also by the text, the Council re-established until 21 June 2005 the Panel and asked it to carry out a follow-up mission to investigate implementation and violations of the sanctions.  It was also asked to provide a preliminary report by 21 March 2005 on progress towards meeting the conditions for lifting the measures on diamonds, and to report by 7 June 2005 on the other issues.  The Secretary-General, acting in consultation with the Committee, was asked to appoint no more than five experts, drawing on the expertise of the original Panel.

Sierra Leone

The Council twice voted in 2004 to extend the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), with the second action resulting in extending the Mission’s residual presence until 1 January 2005, as the drawdown progressed.  Resolution 1562 (2004) defined the nature of the tasks for the residual presence.

In terms of the military and civilian police tasks, the Mission was tasked to:  monitor the overall security situation; support the Sierra Leone armed forces and police in patrolling the border and diamond-mining areas; and monitor the growing capacity of the Sierra Leone security sector.  Other responsibilities entailed supporting the Sierra Leone police in maintaining internal security, including security for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and assisting the police with its recruitment, training and mentoring programme and protecting United Nations personnel, installations and equipment.

The conflict dates from March 1991 when fighters of the Revolutionary United Front launched a war from the east of the country near the border with Liberia to overthrow the Sierra Leonean Government.  In October 1999, the Council, through resolution 1270 (1999), established UNAMSIL to aid with implementation of the Lomé (Togo) Peace Agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front, which had been signed on 7 July 1999.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Throughout the year, the Council focused on ensuring support for the Transitional Government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it tried to implement the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement.  In the face of continued violence and instability, the Council strengthened the Organization’s presence on the ground, expanding the deployment of military and civilian police personnel.  It also responded to ongoing security issues, especially in country’s eastern region.  The conflict dates from August 1998, when, in an attempt to stabilize the country and consolidate his control, then President Laurent Kabila expelled Rwandan troops from the country. That action soon evolved into a regional dispute.

A ceasefire agreement was signed in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 1999 by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, with the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) -– one of the rebel groups -– signing on in August.  To help monitor its implementation, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) was established in November 1999.

On 15 January, the Council, through the adoption of resolution 1522, welcomed efforts to set up the first integrated and unified brigade in Kisangani, as a step towards the formation of a Congolese national army.  It decided that since the Government of National Unity and Transition had been established and was in place, its demand for the demilitarization of Kisangani and its surroundings, as spelled out in resolution 1304 (2000), did not apply to the country’s restructured and integrated forces and to the armed forces included in the comprehensive programme for the formation of an integrated and restructured national army.

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1533 on 12 March, establishing a Committee to monitor progress in implementing the arms embargo imposed by resolution 1493 (2003) against all foreign and Congolese armed groups operating in the east of the country.  Condemning the illicit flow of weapons in the country, driven chiefly by armed groups and militia in the North and South Kivu and in Ituri, it also authorized MONUC to seize or collect, and to dispose of arms or related material found in violation of the ban.

In a presidential statement, on 14 May, the Council condemned any impediments to the freedom of movement of MONUC and reaffirmed its full support for its efforts to stabilize the situation in the eastern part of the country.  The Council expressed concern over reports of an incursion into the Democratic Republic of the Congo by elements of the Rwandan army and further expressed its concern at reports of increased military activity by the Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) in the eastern part of the country and of incursions by them into Rwanda.

On 7 June, the Council, in a presidential statement, condemned the seizure of the town of Bukavu by dissident forces led by former Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD-Goma) commanders Major-General Laurent Nkunda, Colonel Jules Mutebusi and others, as well as atrocities and human rights violations which occurred in that context.  It urged all parties represented in the Government of National Unity and Transition to remain fully committed to the peace process and to abstain from any action that could endanger the unity of the transitional Government.

Meeting on the evening of 22 June, the Council warned all parties against any attempt to seize power by force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, underlining that any attempt to disrupt the peace and transition process would not be tolerated.  The Council also reiterated its grave concern at the continued violence and instability in the country and condemned in the strongest terms any involvement by outside forces.

The Council, through the adoption of resolution 1552 on 27 July, extended the weapons embargo against movements and armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo –- set to expire on 31 July -- for a further year.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council requested the Secretary-General to re-establish, within 30 days and for a period ending on 31 January 2005, the Group of Experts established by resolution 1533 (2004) to monitor the embargo.  The Council took that action in light of the failure by the parties to comply with the demands set out in operative portions of resolution 1493 (2003).

The Council extended MONUC’s mandate twice in 2004, first on 29 July by its resolution 1555, and again on 1 October by its resolution 1565.  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council, in October, extended the deployment of the Mission until 31 March 2005, authorized an additional 5,900 personnel and defined wide-ranging terms for its expanded capacity, giving it the authority to use “all necessary means” to carry out its tasks.  The Council requested the Secretary-General to arrange the rapid deployment of additional military capabilities for MONUC and to deploy all brigades and appropriate force enablers in the provinces of North and South Kivu.

Speaking in October after the adoption of resolution 1565, the Secretary-General noted that while the decision to expand the Mission’s strength by some 5,900 military and civilian police personnel would improve the Mission’s operational capacity, the new ceiling of 16,700 fell well below the figure of 23,900 troops and 507 civilian personnel he had recommended.

Recognizing that continued tension in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo undermined regional peace and security, the Council adopted a presidential statement on 7 December, in which it expressed its very deep concern at multiple reports of military operations by the Rwandan army in the eastern part of the country.  The Council also strongly condemned any and all such military action and demanded that the ex-Forces armées rwandaises (ex-FAR) and Interahamwe elements there disarm and disband without delay, with a view to their repatriation or resettlement.

Burundi

An attack against Congolese refugees in Gatumba, Burundi, on 13 August left 152 dead and dozens more wounded.  Two days later, in a presidential statement on 15 August, the Council condemned the massacre and called on the authorities of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate actively to bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.

On 21 May, the Council authorized the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) for an initial six-month period to support and help to implement efforts by Burundians to restore lasting peace and bring about national reconciliation, as provided for under the peace accord, which was signed in 2000.

On December 1, the Council extended ONUB’s mandate for a further six months, until 1 June 2005.  Also through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1577 (2004), it reiterated its strong condemnation of the Gatumba massacre of 13 August and reaffirmed that the perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice.  Deeply troubled by the fact that a faction of the Forces national de liberation, known as Palipehutu-FNL, had claimed responsibility for the Gatumba massacre, the Council expressed its intention to consider measures that might be taken against individuals who threatened the peace in Burundi.

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

Ethiopia and Eritrea

In the first of two meetings this year on the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Council, on 12 March, approved a six-month mandate extension for the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), until 15 September.  The Mission, among other tasks, monitors implementation of peace agreements between the two Governments, as well as demarcation activities on the ground.  Also by resolution 1531 (2004), the Council expressed concern and disappointment at the recent stalemate in the peace process, including Ethiopia’s refusal to cooperate with the Boundary Commission demarcating the disputed border, and Eritrea’s refusal to meet with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Lloyd Axworthy.

On 14 September, still concerned about the lack of progress in the border demarcation, the Council approved a further six-month mandate for UNMEE, until 15 March 2005, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1560 (2004).  It also approved adjustments to the Mission’s presence and operations, including the repatriation of infantry battalion and support elements from Sector East and the consolidation of the existing three sectors into two.  During the second phase of adjustments already in progress, the drawdown of troops would be offset -– to the extent possible –- by an increase in flying hours of existing air assets.

War between Ethiopia and Eritrea erupted in May 1998 as a result of a border dispute.  The UNMEE was established after both countries signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on 18 June 2000 in Algiers, Algeria.  A comprehensive peace agreement was signed on 12 December 2000, also in Algiers.

Somalia

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

The Council held four meetings in 2004 on Somalia.  In the first, on 25 February, it issued a presidential statement reiterating its firm support for the reconciliation process and welcomed the recent signing of a declaration aimed at harmonizing the issues as an important step towards lasting peace.  It called on the Somali parties to build on their progress and swiftly conclude the National Reconciliation Conference by establishing a transitional government.

On 14 July, with the national reconciliation process mired in an impasse at the Somali National Reconciliation Conference in Kenya, the Council condemned elements obstructing the peace process and warned that those who persisted on the path of confrontation and conflict would be held accountable.  It also welcomed steps by the African Union to prepare for the deployment of military monitors to Somalia, and called on the Somali leaders to cooperate with that initiative.

The following month, on 17 August, the Council requested the re-establishment for a further six months of the group monitoring Somalia’s arms embargo, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1558 (2004).  It requested the Monitoring Group, whose mandate was due to expire that day, to continue the tasks entrusted to it, including the investigation of the violations of the arms embargo covering access to Somalia by land, air and sea.

Sharing the Secretary-General’s assessment of the situation in Somalia that the current stage of progress in the peace process would likely require an expanded peace-building role and presence for the United Nations, the Council, in a presidential statement on 26 October, said that any such enhanced role must be incremental and based on the outcome of discussions with the new Government.

Recent progress at the Somali National Reconciliation Conference had included the establishment of the Transitional Federal Parliament, which the Council, in that statement, encouraged to take further steps to select a Prime Minister and an efficient Cabinet, and to develop a preliminary action programme and timetable for the transition.

Libya

On 22 April, the Council, in a presidential statement, welcomed Libya’s decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programmes, as well as the positive steps taken to meet its commitments and obligations, including its active cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Last year, on 12 September, the Council adopted resolution 1506 (2003) by which it lifted sanctions on Libya after that country accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials in terrorist acts against Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and France’s Union de transports aeriens (UTA) flight 772 over the Niger in 1989, renounced terrorism and arranged for payment of appropriate compensation for the families of the victims.  The resolution, however, was adopted with the support of only 13 States; France and the United States had abstained.  The United States said its bilateral sanctions against Libya would remain in force, as it continued to have serious concerns about Libya’s poor human rights record, its history of involvement in terrorism and, most importantly, its pursuit of mass destruction weapons and their delivery systems.

Western Sahara

Consideration of the situation in Western Sahara this year again revolved around extending the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), both to give the parties to the dispute more time to consider a January 2003 peace proposal and to give the Council time to consider the Secretary-General’s proposal for a possible downsizing of the Mission in 2005.

In his report of 20 October (document S/2004/827), the Secretary-General outlines options for the possible reduction of MINURSO staff.  The first option was to maintain the status quo, that is, 203 military observers working out of nine team sites on both sides of the buffer strip, with two sector headquarters at Smara and Dakhla, the force headquarters at Laayoune, and the MINURSO Liaison Office at Tindouf, Algeria, supported by a medical unit.

The second option would result in an overall reduction of 37 observers, representing 16 per cent of the current strength, bringing to 193 the Mission’s total military strength.  While the number of ground patrols and liaison visits would correspondingly decrease, this option would allow MINURSO to continue to monitor the ceasefire, report violations and maintain daily liaison with the parties, albeit at a reduced level.  It would have no major implications for MINURSO logistics or civilian support requirements.

In January 2003, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, James Baker III, presented a “peace plan for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara” to the parties involved in settling the long-running dispute over the Territory.  The proposed plan (document S/2003/565, annex II) provides for a United Nations-conducted referendum on the final status of Western Sahara and for an interim authority until the referendum’s results are implemented.

Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Harma and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) have contested the Territory since Spain relinquished control in 1974.  The MINURSO was established in 1991 to oversee the holding of a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara would choose between independence and integration with Morocco, as part of the United Nations Settlement Plan.  That referendum process has been stalled for years.

Europe

Kosovo

On 6 February, the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Harri Holkeri, told the Council that implementation of the “standards before status” policy was the Mission’s core political project.  The most urgent task was to produce an implementation work plan setting out clearly the actions necessary to reach the standards.

Then, in mid-March widespread violence swept the province, shaking UNMIK and informing the Council’s consideration of that situation for the rest of 2004.

The onslaught, led by Kosovo Albanian extremists against minority Serb, Roma and Ashkali communities, erupted on 17 March in the divided city of Mitrovica after a protest over the drowning of at least two Albanian children and the shooting of a Kosovo Serb youth.  The protesters blamed Serbs for the children’s deaths.  In the two days of violence that followed, 19 people were killed and 954 were injured.  From 17 to 19 March, communities were surrounded and threatened, and residents were forced to leave their homes; 730 houses near or belonging to Kosovo minorities were burned or damaged.  The extremists had also looted and destroyed Serbian Orthodox churches and other religious and cultural sites.

That broad and targeted campaign was considered to be the most serious setback to UNMIK’s efforts in the last five years and represented a huge setback to stabilization and reconciliation in Kosovo.

In a presidential statement on 18 March, the Council condemned the large-scale inter-ethnic violence that had begun the day before, and insisted that it must immediately stop.  The Council also strongly condemned the attacks on the troops of the multinational security force -– KFOR -– and the personnel and sites of the United Nations Mission.  It warned the perpetrators that “an attack on the international presence is an attack on the international community as a whole”, and that extremism had no role in Kosovo’s future.

Speaking in a debate that preceded the statement, the Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanovic, said that the attacks had sent a signal to the Serbs that there was no life for them in the province and that they should leave; they were saying to KFOR and to the United Nations Mission that they had no real authority and power.  To the Security Council, that was a signal that resolution 1244 would not be implemented, he said.

Albania’s representative, deploring the tragic events as contrary to building a democratic and multi-ethnic society, said they were indicative not of a failure of the positive engagement there, but rather of the constant policies that kept alive parallel administrative and paramilitary structures.  That fed ethnic isolation and drove new waves of ethnic cleansing aimed at dividing Kosovo.

On 13 April, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, in a briefing to the Council, reviewed the recent violence and the huge setback it represented.  He also commended the constructive role played by the Government of Serbia and Montenegro in efforts to stem the violence, but worried that the initial response by the leadership of the Kosovo Provisional Institutions of Self-Government had been ambivalent.  Concrete action by Kosovo’s leaders and its people was needed to address the causes of the ethnically motivated violence that continued to plague the province and to ensure that it would not be repeated.

In a statement issued on 30 April, the Council reiterated that the Kosovo Standards Implementation Plan, as presented on 31 March in Pristina, Kosovo ( Serbia and Montenegro), should serve as a basis for the assessment of progress of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in meeting the standards.  The Council strongly urged the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government to demonstrate their full and unconditional commitment to a multi-ethnic Kosovo.

On 11 May, the Council was again briefed by Mr. Holkeri, who said that the wave of violence in March had challenged the sustainability of the international community’s efforts to build a multi-ethnic Kosovo where all citizens could live in peace and security.  “The violence has forced us at UNMIK to take a long hard look at ourselves”, he said, adding that the Mission was questioning whether its response had been adequate and whether it had done enough to prevent the violence.  The UNMIK had since been reviewing its operational procedures in responding to crises, for which a review board had been appointed.

Briefing the Council on 5 August, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hédi Annabi, said that, following the widespread violence in March, efforts in Kosovo had focused on creating an environment in which confidence between communities could be strengthened and dialogue could move forward.  While there had been concrete developments, he characterized the overall progress as fragile with serious persistent concerns.

On 29 November, the new Special Representative and Head of UNMIK, Soren Jessen-Petersen, told the Council in a briefing that after almost five years of a “holding operation”, the endgame in Kosovo, including talks on final status, might be in sight.  In the last four months, significant steps forward had been undertaken.  A comprehensive, integrated strategy had been developed, along with a clear consistent plan of action, and a tight, but not impossible, timetable.  Since March, there had been only one serious ethnic-related incident, and the recent elections of 23 October had been peaceful.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Council’s consideration of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina was capped this year by the adoption on 22 November of a two-part resolution defining the mandate for the main multinational stabilization body – known as EUFOR -- to be led by the European Union AND beginning on 2 December.  The mandate for the legal successor to the Multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was for an initial 12 months.

Also by resolution 1575 (2004), which was adopted unanimously under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council welcomed NATO’s decision to conclude the SFOR operation by the end of the year and to maintain a presence there by establishing a headquarters, in order to continue to assist in implementing the Peace Agreement in conjunction with EUFOR.  Member States were authorized to take all necessary measures, at the request of either EUFOR or NATO headquarters, in defence of either presence, and to assist both organizations in carrying out their missions.  The Council also recognized the right of both EUFOR and the NATO presence to take all necessary measures to defend themselves from attack or threat of attack.

Earlier, on 9 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1551 (2004) authorizing participating Member States to continue SFOR for a further six months, in light of the recent decision of NATO to conclude its SFOR operation in December.  Also by that two-part text, the Council welcomed NATO’s decision and the European Union’s intention to launch a follow-on mission, which would include a military component.

Consideration of the situation in 2004 began with a briefing on 3 March by High Representative Paddy Ashdown, who said that country continued to make progress towards a return to normalcy and towards becoming a modern European country.  Time was running short, however, for the country to meet the conditions both for joining a Partnership for Peace (PfP) and to qualify for the launch of a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA), he told the Council.

Efforts were also continuing to crack down on the support networks of indicted war criminals, and the necessary legal orders had been enacted to freeze the bank accounts of 10 individuals supporting Radovan Karadzic and to remove several others from office, including the vice-president of the ruling party in the Republika Srpska, he said.  Measures were also being taken to establish a domestic capacity to prosecute war criminals.

Owing to the increasing number of challenges to the police certification process conducted by the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), the Council, through a presidential statement read out on 25 June, called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure, through the adoption or amendment of domestic legislation, that all International Police Task Force (IPTF) certification decisions were fully and effectively implemented.

Briefing the Council again on 11 November, the High Representative said that, although the situation was much improved, further progress would depend on resolving the issue of past war crimes, maintaining reform efforts and sustained involvement of the international community.  He stressed that, in nine years, not a single indictee had been handed over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia by the Republika Srpska authorities, and Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic remained at large.  Time was running out for the Republika Srpska to take action to comply with international law, he warned.

Also at the meeting, NATO’s Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, reviewed the scope of NATO operations in the Balkans.  He said the message from the Council should be unambiguous and firm that the time for excuses was over, because the war crimes issue was now the biggest stumbling block towards a brighter future.  The longer it remained unresolved, the longer it would take Bosnia and Herzegovina to make that final, crucial break with the past, and embrace a brighter future as a modern European nation.

Georgia

Elections of a new President and Parliament in Georgia early this year informed the Council’s consideration of the situation there.  On 26 February, Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakshvili briefed the Council and pledged his unwavering commitment to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Abkhazia, the north-west region of the country.  He appealed to the Council to enhance its efforts to advance the cause of lasting peace and stability in his country.

Briefing the Council on 29 April, Georgia’s Prime Minister, Zurab Zhvania, said the new Government was committed to serious reforms and to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.  The Government had disarmed and neutralized the illegal armed factions, and it had detained several criminal groups operating in western Georgia, especially in areas adjacent to Abkhazia, which had been involved in kidnappings and abductions, including in the kidnapping of United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) personnel.

The UNOMIG had been established in August 1993 to verify compliance with ceasefire agreements and to monitor human rights, following social unrest in Abkhazia, which had escalated into separatist violence in 1992.  The Council unanimously extended UNOMIG’s mandate twice in 2004, most recently until 31 January 2005, through resolution 1554.

Cyprus

Hopes that the long-standing issue of Cyprus could be resolved were dashed in April by the outcome of simultaneous referenda among Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the Secretary-General’s plan to reunite the island.  Disappointed that an “extraordinary and historic” opportunity to resolve the Cyprus issue had been missed, the Council, in a statement to the press on 29 April, reiterated its strong support for an overall political settlement in Cyprus, where, since 1964, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has been active on the island nation.

Briefing the Council four days after the historic referenda, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Kieran Prendergast, noted that while the results of the referenda that would have reunited the island were disappointing, the United Nations had come closer than ever before in resolving one of the Council’s most complex and delicate issues.

Addressing the Council at the beginning of the month, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto, said April would be one of the most critical times in the last 30 years for the people of Cyprus, as they decided whether to reunite their country on the basis of the Secretary-General’s settlement plan.  Achieving a Cyprus settlement was a complex task, and the result would be a bicommunal, bizonal, federal system, a State of Cyprus with a single international legal personality, sovereignty and citizenship based on the principle of political equality between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

On 21 April, a draft resolution that would have had the Council approve the mandate of a new United Nations operation in Cyprus and ban arms sales to the island nation was defeated, owing to a veto by one of its permanent members, the Russian Federation.  The new United Nations operation, according to a Secretary-General’s report on the matter, would include monitoring and verification of the parties’ compliance with the Secretary-General’s plan relating to troop withdrawals, dissolution of local forces and police activities.

Speaking after the vote on the resolution, the representative of the Russian Federation had stressed the need for the 24 April referenda to take place freely without any pressure or interference from outside.  It had been necessary to await their result, he said, after which the Council would have been in a position to adopt a considered decision, including on the deployment of a new United Nations operation.

Briefing the Council on 8 June, Mr. de Soto noted that with rejection of the settlement plan by Greek Cypriots, the final opportunity to ensure that Cyprus acceded to the European Union as a united country had been missed, and as the current standoff remained, the Secretary-General did not see any basis for resuming his active good offices.

The UNFICYP was established through Council resolution 186 in 1964, with the mandate to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order.  Following the hostilities of 1974, the Council expanded the mandate to include maintaining a buffer zone between forces.  In the absence of a political settlement, UNFICYP has been extended thereafter every six months.

The Council, through its resolution 1548 (2004), decided to extend UNFICYP’s mandate for a further period ending 15 December 2004, and welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to review, within three months, UNFICYP’s mandate, force levels and concept of operations in light of the 24 April referenda, when Greek Cypriots voted against a reunification plan for the island.

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s review pursuant to resolution 1548, the Council, through its resolution 1568 of 22 October, endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendations for amending UNFICYP’s concept of operations and force levels and decided to extend the Force’s mandate for a further six-month period, starting on 15 December 2004 and ending on 15 June 2005. 

Asia

Bougainville

In its only formal meeting this year on the situation in Bougainville, the Council heard a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Danilo Türk, who said that, in completing the current stage of the peace process, one should keep in mind that the conflict had been one of considerable proportions, during which some 15,000 people had been killed.

In the discussion that followed, speakers welcomed the continued progress towards peace and prosperity in Bougainville, especially the 80 per cent completion of weapons destruction, along with efforts to draft a constitution and elect an autonomous government.  Completion of the weapons destruction programme would clear the way for free and democratic elections and for the setting up of the autonomous Bougainville government.  Council members expressed appreciation for the facilitating role of the small United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB), which had recently been reconfigured under the leadership of a new director.  There was broad agreement that, with UNOMB’s support for the Bougainville Peace Agreement, implementation had been impressive.

East Timor/Timor-Leste

Defining the Council’s consideration of the situation in Timor-Leste was its decision in November to withdraw the United Nations Mission there in May 2005, three years after the country’s independence.  Another highlight was the statement in May by the Minister of State and Minister in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers of Timor-Leste, Ana Pessoa Pinto, in which she told the Council that her country’s association with the United Nations had been a unique and inspiring chapter in its history.  There had been no road map, in historical terms, but, together, the international community had managed to rebuild a nation, which had only recently emerged from the debris of disorder and desperation.

Hailed in 2003 as a “text book” success of the United Nations, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) -- established in October 1999 to administer the Territory of East Timor after the referendum there of 30 August -- ceased operations as that Territory gained independence on 20 May 2002.  Just prior to independence, on 17 May 2002, the Council established the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) as a follow-up.

In his first briefing to this Council this year on the situation on 20 February, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno urged a one-year “consolidation phase” of the peacekeeping operation, due to expire on 20 May, deeming that essential to reinforcing the gains made to date.  He also pointed out that agreement on the border with Indonesia had not been reached, and the creation of structures and relationships on the ground also required more time.  An additional year of support would help to consolidate the public administration, advance the investigations of serious crimes, and establish an effective and professional police force, all of which would make a meaningful difference in enabling the country to reach the threshold of self-sufficiency.

Broad support was expressed in the Council on 10 May for the proposal to extend and reform the Mission by adjusting its size and mandate.  Briefing on the Secretary-General’s report, Special Representative Kamalesh Sharma indicated his support for continuing what he called the “exceptional association” of the United Nations with that newly independent State.  The constructive exchange between the Government of Timor-Leste and UNMISET had been a model of collaboration.

On 14 May, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1543 (2004), by which it extended the Mission’s mandate for a period of six months, with a view to subsequently extending it further for a final six-month period, until 20 May 2005.  The Council also decided to reduce the size of the Mission and revise its tasks.  The mandate would now consist of the following elements, as outlined by the Secretary-General:  support for the public administration and justice system and for justice in the area of serious crimes; support for the development of law enforcement; and support for the security and stability of Timor-Leste.

Briefing the Council on 24 August, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi told the Council that Timor-Leste was making steady progress towards self-sufficiency, but it would continue to require international assistance for some time to come.  While progress had been made in all areas of UNMISET’s mandate, much remained to be done in the remaining months before the expiration of the mandate next May.  In the debate that followed, speakers warned that, without the sustained assistance of the international community, the gains made in that country could be in danger of a reversal.

Following the continued expression of general and broad agreement in a Council debate on 15 November to further extend the Mission’s mandate until 20 May 2005, the Council, on the following day, extended the Mission for a final six months until that date, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1573 (2004).  The UNMISET would maintain its current tasks, configuration and size, in order to allow it to complete key tasks and consolidate the gains made thus far.

Americas

Haiti

United Nations involvement in Haiti began in February 1993, with deployment of the joint United Nations-Organization of American States (OAS) International Civilian Mission in Haiti.  In September 1999, the Security Council set up the first United Nations peacekeeping operation in the country -– the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH).  Following a succession of peacekeeping missions through 2001, several positive developments occurred, including the restoration of some measure of democracy, with the first peaceful handover of power between two democratically elected presidents.  However, a political stalemate following the 2000 presidential and parliamentary elections, in which “victory” had resulted from a turnout of barely more than 10 per cent of the voters, eventually deepened into a political crisis.

In early February 2004, armed conflict broke out in the city of Gonaïves, and in the following days, fighting spread to other cities.  Gradually, insurgents took control of much of the northern part of the country.  Despite diplomatic efforts, the armed opposition threatened to march on the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Deeply concerned about the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian environment in Haiti, the Council stated in a presidential text on  26 February that it would urgently consider options for international engagement, including that of an international force in support of a political settlement.

Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned on 29 February and was replaced that day, on an interim basis, by the President of the Supreme Court.  That evening, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the United Nations submitted the interim President’s request for United Nations assistance, which included the authorization for international troops to enter the country.

That night, in response to the deteriorating political, security and humanitarian situation, the Council, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1542 (2004), authorized the immediate deployment of a Multinational Interim Force for three months to help secure and stabilize the capital and elsewhere in the country.  The Council also declared its readiness to establish a follow-on stabilization force to support the continuation of the political process and the maintenance of a secure and stable environment.

On 30 April, the Council, noting the challenges to the political, social and economic stability of the country, established the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for an initial six months and requested that authority be transferred from the Multinational Interim Force to MINUSTAH on 1 June.

The Council stressed in presidential statement on 10 September that the Mission, in accordance with its mandate, needed to actively assist the country’s security institutions in addressing the activities of all illegal armed groups.  It called on the Transitional Government to complete, without delay, the establishment of the structures and legal framework required for the implementation of the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, noting that MINUSTAH would also provide assistance in that respect.

Determining that the situation in Haiti continued to threaten international peace and security in the region, the Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate on 29 November until 1 June 2005, with the intention to renew it for further periods.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1576 (2004), it encouraged the Transitional Government to continue to explore actively all possible ways to include in the democratic and electoral processes those who remained outside the transition process, but had rejected violence.

International Tribunals and Courts

International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

The Council’s consideration this year of the two United Nations war crimes Tribunals was capped by a meeting on 23 November at which the high officials of the two courts -- Presidents and Prosecutors -- expressed their determination to meet the Council-imposed deadline of 2008 for completing all trials and 2010 for completing all work stemming from the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the conflicts of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia.  Last year, Council resolution 1503 (2003) had defined the completion strategies for the Tribunals.

Earlier, on 29 June, the Tribunals’ top officials warned that serious financial and staffing shortfalls, as well as the failure of some regional States to execute outstanding arrest warrants for high-priority fugitives, could delay the completion of their work by the 2008 deadline.  (In October 2003, those officials told the Council in briefings that it might not be possible to implement the completion strategies.)

In a presidential statement on 4 August, the Council strongly urged the Tribunals to remain on track to meeting the target dates for completion.  It stressed that the full cooperation of all States was essential to completing their work, and it called on all States, particularly Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina -– including the Republika Srpska –- to intensify cooperation with the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, especially in apprehending Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and all other such indictees.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1534 (2004) on 26 March, the Council called on the Prosecutors to review their caseloads quickly to determine which cases should proceed and which should be transferred to competent national jurisdictions, as well as the measures needed to meet their completion strategies.  It called on each Tribunal, in reviewing and confirming any new indictments, to ensure that those concentrated on the most senior leaders suspected of being most responsible for crimes within each Tribunal’s jurisdiction.

International Court of Justice

On 4 November, the Council decided that the election to fill a vacancy on the International Court of Justice would take place on 15 February 2005, at a meeting of the Council and at a meeting of the General Assembly.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1571 (2004), the Council, noting with regret the resignation of Judge Gilbert Guillaume effective 11 February 2005, further noted that a vacancy in the Court for the remainder of his term of office must be filled in accordance with the terms of the Court’s statute.  (According to article 14 of the Statute, the Security Council fixes the election date to fill the vacancy).

Peacekeeping, Peace-Building, Thematic Issues

Peacekeeping Operations

A day-long debate on peacekeeping operations on 17 May, in which more than 40 delegations participated, culminated in a presidential statement stressing that, in today’s challenging environments, United Nations peacekeepers might need sufficiently robust rules of engagement and the necessary military resources to enable them to fulfil their mandates and defend themselves if necessary.  The Council also stressed in that text the need to regularly assess the size, mandate and structure of peace operations, with a view to making the necessary adjustments.  It emphasized the need for improved integrated mission planning, as well as enhanced capacity for the rapid deployment of personnel and materiel to ensure sufficient start-up of peacekeeping operations.

In that regard, the Council called on Member States to contribute sufficient levels of trained troops, police and civilian personnel, including those with specialized capabilities and skills.  It also called on them to ensure that the United Nations was provided with full political and financial support to meet challenges effectively, keeping in view the specific requirements of each mission and bearing in mind the human and financial resource implications for the Organization.  Recognizing that effective peacekeeping operations should be part of an overall strategy to consolidate and sustain peace, the Council stressed the need to ensure from the outset the coordination, coherence and continuity between the different parts of that overall strategy, particularly between peacekeeping, on the one hand, and peace building, on the other.

Role of Business

Earlier, on 15 April, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a meeting of the Council that the bottom lines of private corporations could not longer be separated from such key United Nations’ goals as peace, development and equity.  As the Council considered the role of business in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace-building, he said that business had an enormous stake in the search for solutions, as companies required a stable environment to conduct their operations and minimize their risks.  He said, further, that the economic dimensions of armed conflict were often overlooked, but should never be underestimated.  The decisions of private companies operating in conflict zones could help a country turn its back on conflict or it could exacerbate the tensions that had fuelled the conflict in the first place.

The German presidency for April, in his national capacity, said that, ideally, corporate participation in the post-conflict phase of reconstruction would provide twin benefits:  investment, with the result of more jobs and business opportunities; and managerial know-how and expertise.  In the end, however, it was not for governments or international organizations to decide what was in the best interests of the private sector -- companies would make their own decisions, weighing opportunities against the risks of engagement in conflict zones.  Private sector engagement in all phases of a conflict could only succeed if it was embedded in a broader concerted effort, he stressed.

Participants included Siemens President and Chief Executive Officer, Heinrich von Pierer, who identified the basic factors critical to private sector engagement in post-conflict situations, namely, security, infrastructure, financing, post-conflict planning and visible progress.  World Bank President James Wolfensohn turned the discussion towards the need to establish a framework for restoring business, once peace had been restored.  The aims of the private sector in conflict prevention accorded with the entirely human targets of the Millennium Development Goals –- providing people with the chance to live.

Peace-Building

A ministerial-level meeting to discuss the ways in which durable peace could be built in societies shattered by war, held on 22 September, culminated in a presidential statement in which the Council recognized the increasing importance of such civilian aspects as police, justice and the return of the rule of law in addressing complex crises and preventing their recurrence.  The Council affirmed the importance of conflict resolution and acknowledged the importance of civil-military cooperation in crisis management.  Military and police components were essential to addressing and stabilizing certain serious crisis situations and guaranteeing security, it said.

The ministers also agreed by the text that participation of a strong civilian component was key to the provision of humanitarian assistance, the re-establishment of public order, the functioning of public institutions, reconstruction, rehabilitation and peace-building for longer-term sustainable development.  Civilian participation was also essential for a strategy of military disengagement and played a crucial role in post-conflict peace-building.

Opening the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the complex business of building a durable peace could be truly successful; witness the examples of El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia and, more recently, Timor-Leste.  Certain elements were required.  First and foremost among them was the long-term commitment of the Council, as its disinterest or division could leave the root causes to fester and blow up again some day.  “We saw the bitter consequences of failed peace building in Haiti and Liberia, where we are engaged once more.  We must not repeat those mistakes”, he said.

Role of Civil Society

Convened by the delegation of the Philippines during its presidency, the Council held a lengthy discussion on 22 June on the role of civil society in post-conflict peace-building, during which Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a two-way dialogue between the United Nations and civil society, not so that one could direct the other, but to ensure that their respective efforts complemented each other.  He emphasized that civil society organizations should not be seen as peace-building partners only after the United Nations had arrived in a country with a mandate in its pocket.  Both local and international civil society groups had a role to play in the deliberative processes of the United Nations, including the Security Council, where civil conflict and complex emergencies had taken centre stage in recent years.

The Secretary-General urged the Council to view inputs by civil society, not as attempts to usurp its role, but as a way to add quality and value to its decisions and ensure their effective implementation.  In addition, civil society groups should seek to reduce the influence of forces promoting exclusionary policies or violence.  They could help reduce the appeal of those trying to reignite conflict, assist in building national consensus on the design of post-conflict structures and programmes, and prepare local communities to receive demobilized soldiers, refugees and internally displaced persons.  In short, they could give voice to the concerns of the marginalized.  He said it was time for the Council to deepen its dialogue with civil society groups and to place their relations on a firmer footing.  The International Center for Transitional Justice and CARE International were among the participants in the day’s debate.

Post-Conflict Reconciliation

More than 40 speakers shared their views on the United Nations’ role in post-conflict reconciliation in a meeting on 26 January, followed by the read out of a presidential statement, in which the Council reaffirmed the vital importance of the United Nations’ role in that regard and stressed the necessary close cooperation within the United Nations system and within the Council.  Council members considered it appropriate to further examine how to harness and direct the relevant expertise existing within the United Nations system and Member States, so that it would be more readily accessible to the Council, to the wider United Nations system and membership, and to the international community as a whole.

Opening the meeting, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, Maria Soledad Alvear Valenzuela, whose delegation held the Council presidency in January, said the topic of post-conflict reconciliation lay at the intersection between ethical responsibility and political responsibility for creating international peace.  Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, said that every armed conflict was a human disaster whose real ending required genuine reconciliation and solutions addressing its root causes.  Reconciliation, he said, was about allowing people who had shared a painful and divided past to resume harmonious relations and to live together once more.  How that was achieved varied according to specific national circumstances.

Justice and Rule of Law

At a meeting on 6 October, the Council, in a presidential statement, stressed the importance and urgency of restoring justice and the rule of law in post-conflict societies, not only to come to terms with past abuses, but also to promote national reconciliation and to help prevent a return to conflict.   Speaking at the outset of the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that reintroducing the rule of law and ensuring its impartial application was essential for resuscitating societies shattered by conflict.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, and the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, also addressed the meeting.

Dominating the day-long meeting were calls to integrate justice and rule-of-law provisions into the mandates of peace operations from the outset, to allow for early reconciliation and reconstruction to take hold in societies fractured by conflict.  Speakers cautioned, however, against pre-packaged solutions and “one-size-fits-all” formulas.  Several speakers described the International Criminal Court as the embodiment of the hopes and aspirations of victims of the most serious international crimes, insisting that it offered the best hope for ending impunity.

Civilians in Armed Conflict

The Council’s consideration of the protection of civilians in armed conflict was based on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the matter (document S/2004/431), which notes that civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflicts.  A presidential statement of 15 March 2002 (document S/PRST/2002/6), which contains an aide-memoire on the subject, identified 13 core objectives for protecting civilians in conflict situations:  access to vulnerable populations, separation of civilians and armed elements; justice and reconciliation; security, law and order; disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation; small arms and mine action; training of security and peacekeeping forces; effects on women; effects on children; safety and peacekeeping forces; safety and security of humanitarian and associated personnel; media and information; natural resources and armed conflict; and the humanitarian impact of sanctions.

Briefing the Council in June, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, suggested the Council consider adopting a new resolution on the theme, noting that as long as civilians constituted the majority of victims in situations of armed conflict, progress made in the protection of civilians in armed conflict would remain insufficient, and the establishment of a culture of protection would continue to be a distant goal.  In a briefing on 14 December, Mr. Egeland challenged the Council to move to action in creating a culture of protection that addressed the real needs of civilians trapped by conflict.  Adopting a presidential statement on the same day, the Council reaffirmed its strong condemnation of all acts of violence targeting civilians or other persons protected under international law.  It also stressed the need to adopt a broad strategy of conflict prevention that addressed the root causes of the conflict.

Children and Armed Conflict

Strongly condemning the recruitment and use of child soldiers, the Council adopted resolution 1539 on 22 April, asking the Secretary-General to urgently devise -- preferably within three months -- an action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism to provide timely, objective and accurate information on that practice, for consideration in taking appropriate action against the parties concerned.  Calling on the parties concerned to prepare, within three months, concrete time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children in conflict, it also expressed its intention to consider imposing targeted and graduated measures, through country-specific resolutions, such as small arms and light weapons bans.

The focus of the Council’s open debate on the issue, held on 20 January, was a report of the Secretary-General (document S/2003/1053), which listed some 32 parties, both governments and armed groups, in six situations on the Council’s agenda that continued to recruit or use child soldiers, including Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Somalia.  Introducing the report was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu.  The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Carol Bellamy, also briefed the Council.

Women, Peace and Security

On 28 October, the Council held a day-long debate on the fourth anniversary of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), which, among other things, expressed concern that women and children accounted for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict, and stressed the need to increase their role in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution.  The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, briefed the Council on the resolution’s implementation in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the very purpose of resolution 1325 was to address the needs of women and girls in crisis such as Darfur.  Fifty speakers, including representatives of 42 Member States, took the floor to suggest ways to accelerate the elimination of gender-based violence in armed conflict and integrate women in all stages of peace-building.

Adopting a presidential statement immediately following the discussion, the Council strongly condemned the continued violent acts against women in situations of armed conflict.  It condemned also all violations of the human rights of women and girls in conflict, and the use of sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.  It urged the complete and immediate cessation of such acts, and stressed the need to end impunity, as part of a comprehensive approach to seeking peace, justice, truth and national reconciliation.

Complex Crises and UN Response

In a new thematic debate, the Council presidency for May, Pakistan’s delegation, convened a debate on the 17th of that month on complex crises and the United Nations’ response, owing to what he described, in his national capacity, as the sharp increase in the number and intensity of complex crises.  That fact, he told Council members, had imposed formidable political, economic and humanitarian costs and required the evolution of a coherent response.

Opening the discussion, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, said that United Nations success in that regard would be determined by the number of people it assisted and protected through swift and decisive action.  Emphasizing that the Council’s continued commitment to the shared goals of assistance and protection was vital, he said it was the collective responsibility of all, within the United Nations and outside it, to assure sustainable results.  Complex emergencies and their aftermath embodied not only military and security dimensions, but also political, economic, social and humanitarian ones.

Collaboration with Regional Organizations

A presidential statement read out on 20 July invited regional organizations to take the necessary steps to increase their collaboration with the United Nations in order to maximize efficiency in the stabilization processes.  The Council also encouraged enhanced cooperation and coordination among regional and subregional organizations themselves, particularly through an exchange of information and sharing experiences and best practices.  It welcomed the practice of high-level meetings between the Secretary-General and the heads of regional organizations, as well as the consensus reached over modalities and cooperation in conflict prevention and principles of cooperation in peace-building.

Prior to the statement, the Council held a day-long meeting on the topic, in which Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled his statement to the Council in April 2003 when he had urged the Organization to create a network of effective and mutually reinforcing regional and global mechanisms that would be both flexible and responsive to today’s complex realities.  On 20 July, he said, the United Nations was cooperating with regional organizations in stabilization processes in many countries, including in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Kosovo and Afghanistan.  He called on the international community to more thoroughly consider the comparative strengths of different organizations, and to move towards the creation of strategic partnerships that met today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

Arms Embargoes

Following a review on 19 January of the Secretary-General’s report on small arms, introduced to the Council by the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuyasu Abe, the Council President read out a statement encouraging the arms-exporting countries to exercise the “highest degree” of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions, and also encouraged international and regional cooperation in the consideration of the origin and transfers of such weapons to prevent their diversion to terrorist groups.  The Council also reiterated its call on all Member States to effectively implement its arms embargoes and other sanctions, and urged Member States able to assist interested States in strengthening their capacity to fulfil their obligations in that regard.

Briefings to Council

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Briefing the Council formally during Pakistan’s presidency on 7 May was the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), whose Chairman-in-Office and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Solomon Passy, said the OSCE was a special partner of the United Nations.  As the largest security organization in Europe, the OSCE had helped to end civil war in Tajikistan; had constrained conflict in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia; and had defused inter-ethnic conflict in a number of States.

He said that, with the United Nations, the OSCE had continued to play a major role in building civil society in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo.  With its unique and comprehensive approach to security, its emphasis on political-military issues, human rights and economic development, the OSCE was the primary instrument for early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation in the region.  It was taking a practical approach to terrorism, by working on such issues as travel-document security, the threat of man-portable shoulder-fired missiles to civilian aviation, and improving ways of stopping financing for terrorism.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

On 20 May, the Council heard a briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, who told members that never before had there been so many opportunities for lasting solutions to the refugee problem in so many parts of Africa, including Eritrea, Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Burundi.  Despite some gains, however, he was concerned on the inequity of resources committed to Africa.  For example, while teams struggled to move tens of thousands of refugees from the border areas in Chad, that life-saving operation and the funds being sought to prepare for the refugees’ eventual repatriation had remained seriously under-funded.  Operations in Liberia had also faced severe shortages.

He called it a “common responsibility” to reduce the risk of the recurrence of conflicts, although the many challenges included the need for strong support of the peace processes at all levels and ensuring the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former combatants, including child soldiers.  Regarding refugee security, he said that, although host governments were primarily responsible to ensuring the safety of refugee-populated areas, the international community had a responsibility to assist States that lacked the capacity and resources to fulfil that obligation, themselves, as had been acknowledged by the Security Council in resolution 1296 (2000).

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.