IN 2005, SECURITY COUNCIL ADDRESSES BROAD RANGE OF CONCERNS, INCLUDING TERRORISM, SITUATIONS IN AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN

20 January 2006
SC/8614

IN 2005, SECURITY COUNCIL ADDRESSES BROAD RANGE OF CONCERNS, INCLUDING TERRORISM, SITUATIONS IN AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN

20/01/2006
Security Council
SC/8614
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

2005 Round-up

IN 2005, SECURITY COUNCIL ADDRESSES BROAD RANGE OF CONCERNS , INCLUDING TERRORISM,

SITUATIONS IN AFRICA , MIDDLE EAST, IRAQ , AFGHANISTAN

Jointly with General Assembly, Council Establishes

Peacebuilding Commission to Advise on Post-Conflict Issues

The volume and scope of the Security Council’s activities increased in 2005 as the scale of peacekeeping operations reached a historic high, but in a late-year action to ease that burden, the Council, acting concurrently with the General Assembly, operationalized a major decision of the World Summit and established a Peacebuilding Commission to advise it on post-conflict situations.

Throughout 2005, the Council considered a broad range of situations in the world’s most critical trouble spots, focusing much of its attention on Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and Africa.  It also addressed a host of thematic questions, including, among others, action to counter terrorism, the impact of small arms in fuelling conflict, and the role of women in peace and security concerns.

The Council held 200 formal meetings this year, adopting 71 resolutions and issuing 67 presidential statements.  The veto was not used in 2005.

Meeting on 14 September at the highest levels of State and Government in conjunction with the World Summit, the Council unanimously adopted resolutions on two of its most pressing concerns:  global terrorism and prevention of armed conflict, particularly in Africa.  On the latter, the 15-member body reaffirmed the need for a broad conflict prevention strategy and urged all African States and the world community to develop the capacities of African regional and subregional organizations to deploy civilian and military assets quickly when needed.

Topping the agenda for the Council’s consideration of conflicts on that continent were the situations in the Sudan, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Somalia, as well as post-conflict situations in Burundi, Sierra Leone, the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau.  Its six year-long effort in Sierra Leone came to a successful conclusion on 31 December with the end of the work of the United Nations Mission (UNAMSIL) there.

Notably, the Mission had completed the task of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating more than 72,000 combatants, and facilitated the return of more than half a million refugees and internally displaced persons.  The Government’s authority was restored around the country, national and local elections were organized, and the national security apparatus was restructured.  Special Representative Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago told the Council on 20 December that the country had risen from the ruins of a devastating decade-long conflict and undergone a remarkable turnaround towards a future filled with hope and promise.

Despite what the Secretary-General has called the “consistent and forceful” Security Council response to the Darfur crisis and its important stand against impunity there when it referred war crimes charges to the International Criminal Court in March, the situation remained grim.  The conflict began with an armed rebellion against the Sudanese Government in February 2003, but, according to the Secretary-General, most of the targeted violence was the result of the armed militia’s “scorched-earth policy”.  In his latest report, Mr. Annan says “civilians continue to pay an intolerably high price as a result of recurrent fighting by warring parties, the renewal of the scorched earth tactics by militia, and massive military action by the Government”.

Capping off the debate on conflict in Africa in December, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, said that no amount of humanitarian relief could provide what those threatened by the conflict in Darfur had wanted most from day one:  effective protection against violence of the most vicious kind, and the ability to return home.  Without an effective ceasefire, a political solution, and a strong international security presence, the huge humanitarian operation involving thousands of relief workers and hundreds of millions of dollars in donor aid could be lost, he warned.

With vicious terrorist attacks this year in Egypt, Iraq, the United Kingdom and elsewhere underscoring the magnitude of that threat, the United Nations bodies most directly engaged in the fight -- the Council and its subsidiary organs and their expert panels – repeatedly underlined the need to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of those intolerable acts.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1625 (2005) in September, the Council condemned in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism, irrespective of their motivation, and the incitement of such acts, and repudiated attempts at their justification.

Also by that text, world leaders around the Council table called on States to prohibit by law such incitement, prevent such conduct, and deny safe haven to anyone guilty of such conduct.  The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, having submitted the text, warned the Council not to underestimate what the world was facing:  terrorism would not be defeated until “our determination is as complete as theirs, until our defence of freedom is as absolute as their fanaticism, our passion for democracy as great as their passion for tyranny”.  He called on all to fight the poisonous propaganda at the root of terrorism.

Iraq was exposed daily to all kinds of “blind terrorism”, aimed at halting the democratic changes taking place and sending Iraq back into darkness, its representative told the Council on 14 December, adding that the major challenge facing Iraq as it built its democracy and launched its reconstruction was “standing up to terrorism”.  The Secretary-General said in his annual report on the work of the Organization that “nowhere were the stakes higher and the challenges to global peace and security greater than in Iraq”.  Most recently, the Council responded quickly and unanimously on 8 November to a request of the Iraqi Government to extend the multinational force in Iraq until the end of 2006.

The Council also continued to monitor closely the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, through its monthly open briefings by senior Secretariat staff.  In the last such briefing, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari, cited some positive developments, notably steps towards the implementation of the Access and Movement Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but he reported that violence had continued in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in Israel and Lebanon.  That violence undoubtedly raised tension in the region at a time when the political situation was evolving rapidly.  He urged the parties to strive for a return to calm.

Asserting that promoting Lebanon’s stability was a vital part of efforts to achieve a comprehensive Middle East peace, Mr. Gambari said that the country had endured yet another attempt to undermine its stability and independence through the brutal killing of Gebran Tueni and three others on 12 December.  Mr. Tueni had been a champion of a democratic, sovereign, Lebanon and of a free press.  By resolution 1644 (2005) on 15 December, the Council also extended the International Independent Investigation Commission concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri until 15 June 2006, and expanded its scope.

Following are summaries of major Council activities in 2005.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan crossed a major milestone in 2005 in its return to democracy, since the fall of the Taliban, with the holding of parliamentary elections on 18 September -- the final step in the political process set out in the 2001 Bonn Agreement.

The holding of those elections, and addressing extremist violence and combating the illicit drug trade, were among the Council’s primary concerns regarding to Afghanistan last year, following the country’s first-ever presidential election in 2004.

As Jean Arnault, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Council on 10 January, the principal answer to the challenges of terrorism, factionalism and narcotics lay in building a strong, effective, balanced and representative Government able to translate the will of the overwhelming majority of Afghans to live in peace under the law, protected from violent extremism and the political and ethnic divisions that had fuelled the conflicts of the past two decades.

He then informed the Council on 22 March that the parliamentary elections would not take place in April-May, as originally planned, owing to the choice of electoral system, and the earliest possible date would be mid-September.  However, he added, the four-month delay was not without advantages, including time for the annual poppy-eradication campaign and further demilitarization, as well as for more in-depth civic education of the public, candidates and parties, which would enhance the magnitude and quality of participation.

Two days later, the Council stressed the importance of urgently establishing a framework for the holding of free and fair elections at the earliest possible date, when it unanimously adopted resolution 1589, extending the mandate of UNAMA for an additional 12 months.

Also by that text, the Council welcomed the announcement of the Joint Electoral Management Body that elections for the Lower House of the Parliament (Wolesi Jirga) and provincial councils would be held on 18 September.  Stressing the importance of security for credible elections, the Council called on Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other resources to support the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Reporting that the worsening security situation in the country was negatively affecting election preparations, Mr. Arnault told the Council on 24 June that the violence had caused unspeakable suffering, jeopardized the chances for rebuilding in the most seriously affected regions, and obliged United Nations agencies and other international bodies to assume a low profile.

Also briefing the Council that day, Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), warned that some of the more dubious characters involved in drug production and trafficking would run for parliament in some of the troublesome provinces to seek impunity through parliamentary immunity.

In a presidential statement issued on 23 August, the Council expressed the view that, following the parliamentary and provincial council elections on 18 September, the international community must maintain a high level of commitment to assist that country in addressing its remaining challenges, including the security situation, disbandment of illegal armed groups, and drug production and trafficking.  It welcomed the desire of the international community and the Afghan Government to agree on a new framework for international engagement beyond the completion of the Bonn process.

In that connection, the Council also expressed its readiness to review UNAMA’s mandate after the completion of the electoral process, in order to allow the United Nations to continue to play a vital role in the reconstruction of the country, as well as to consider the renewal of the ISAF’s mandate prior to its expiration, on the request of the Afghan Government.

Recognizing the challenges facing Afghanistan regarding the security situation in parts of the country, the Council extended ISAF’s mandate on 13 September for a 12-month period, unanimously adopting resolution 1623.

Following the highly anticipated ballot, Council members, in a statement to the press on 22 September, welcomed the holding of the parliamentary (Wolesi Jirga) and provincial council elections on 18 September.  They commended the Joint Electoral Management Body for its dedicated efforts, and the people of Afghanistan for their determination and commitment to rebuilding their State through a democratic process.

The Council congratulated the Afghan people on the confirmation of the final results of the parliamentary and provincial council elections in a presidential statement on 23 November.  Following the inauguration of the new Afghan Parliament, the Council, in a statement to the press on 20 December, reiterated the crucial importance of continued constructive cooperation between the country and the international community in addressing such remaining challenges as security, narcotics, development and the fight against terrorism.

Iraq

The Council continued to closely monitor the situation in Iraq during 2005, a year which saw the successful holding of elections and the adoption of a constitution in the fledgling democracy.

Although only a first step, the 30 January elections -- for the Transitional National Assembly, 18 governorate councils and the Kurdistan National Assembly –- had marked a major development in Iraq’s transition from dictatorship to representative government.

Briefing the Council on 16 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast said no one could fail to have been moved by the way that Iraqis had gone to the polls on 30 January, with courage, determination and confidence in the future of their country.  More than 8.5 million Iraqis, out of a voter population exceeding 14 million, turned out to vote despite concerns about the security environment, attempts at disruption and ongoing violence.  The next key steps, he said, were the building of a constitution, the referendum due in October, and then the holding of general elections.

In a presidential statement, also on 16 February, the Council commended the Iraqi people for having taken the step to exercise their right to freely determine their own political future and encouraged them to continue to do so in moving ahead with their political transition.

Following Iraq’s historic elections, the convening of its Transitional National Assembly on 16 March and the election of a new President and two Vice-Presidents in early April were further testimony to the country’s progress towards a democratic future, Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq, told the Council in a briefing on 11 April.  A credible political process, he said, offered the best prospect for improving the security environment, which remained difficult in certain parts of the country.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari informed the Council on 31 May that the drafting of a permanent constitution by 15 August would be the most critical step in Iraq’s political process, and warned that any delay could provide a vacuum to be exploited by anti-democratic forces.  He urged the United Nations to appoint an electoral adviser and also sought the formal continuation of the Multinational Force, which was due for review.

Speaking on behalf of the Multinational Force, Ambassador Anne Patterson of the United States said the Force was committed to “stay the course” in Iraq and would continue to assist the Iraqi Government to provide security.  Iraqis wanted to defend themselves and the Force was making progress in its goal of helping Iraqi security forces move towards self-reliance, including through training and equipping Iraqi soldiers and police.

The joint United States-European Union initiative, at the Iraqi Government’s request, to hold an international conference in Brussels on 22 June in support of Iraq’s political and economic reconstruction, and the meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) held in Jordan, were among several regional and international initiatives that had contributed to maintaining attention on the need for the success of the reconstruction process.

Reaffirming that the United Nations should play a leading role in assisting Iraq in the formation of institutions for representative government, the Council extended the United Nations Mission in that country on 11 August for another 12 months, unanimously adopting resolution 1619.

Special Representative Qazi told the Council on 21 September that with the recent designation by Iraq’s Transitional National Assembly of a draft national constitution marking an important benchmark in that country’s political transition, Iraq could now move forward in its political process.  Among the major points of contention in the drafting process were the issues of federalism, modalities for the formation of regions in addition to the Kurdistan region, the role of Islam as a source of law, and the distribution of powers with respect to natural resources, including oil and water.

The Council welcomed the Iraqi referendum completed on 15 October, and commended the courage of the millions of Iraqis who, braving difficult conditions and the threat of violence, again demonstrated their commitment to a peaceful, democratic political process and their willingness to decide their political future through peaceful means.  In a statement to the press on 17 October, it also noted that, whatever the results of the referendum, the next major milestone in the political process would be the national election scheduled for 15 December.

On 8 November, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1637 extending the mandate of the Multinational Force in Iraq until the end of next year, and extending until 31 December 2006 the arrangements for depositing proceeds from export sales of petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas into the Development Fund of Iraq, as well as the arrangements for monitoring the Fund by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board.

[The Development Fund for Iraq was established on 22 May 2003 with the adoption of Council resolution 1483 (2003), by which the Council ended economic sanctions against Iraq.  The Fund was set up to administer proceeds from the export sales of Iraq’s oil, as well as funds remaining from the United Nations “oil-for-food” programme and other assets seized from the former regime.]

Responding to a request from the Government of Iraq, the Council approved on 9 November a proposal to transfer more than $2 million from the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) escrow account to the budget of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in order to settle the outstanding arrears of the Iraqi Government with the Agency.

[The UNMOVIC, created through resolution 1284 (1999), replaced the former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), with a mandate to verify Iraq’s compliance with its obligation to rid its territory of mass destruction weapons, and missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres, and to operate a system of ongoing monitoring and verification to ascertain that it did not reacquire the same weapons prohibited to it by the Council.]

Earlier, on 24 June, the Council approved transfers of some $200 million from the escrow account to the Development Fund for Iraq and to credit the balance against assessments issued in respects of the Iraqi Government’s obligations for the regular budget, peacekeeping and tribunal activities and the Capital Master Plan of the United Nations.

On the eve of the parliamentary elections in Iraq and amid a new wave of violence there, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari told the Council on 14 December that the following day’s vote would provide a measure of the confidence that the Iraqi people were ready to place in their own future at a time of continued formidable security, political and economic challenges.

Briefing the Council following his visit to Iraq in November with the Secretary-General, Mr. Gambari said that, after the election, a new political landscape would emerge in Iraq.  After “three years of dramatic change and decades of deprivation”, Iraqis were still looking to their leaders for the tangible improvements necessary to better their everyday lives and stabilize their country.

It was in the interest of the region, therefore, particularly Iraq’s neighbours, and the international community to continue to provide Iraq long-term support, he continued.  In that regard, he was pleased to report that an agreement had been signed on 8 December between the United Nations and the United States, as the overall commander of the Multinational Force, formalizing the security arrangements already in place for the United Nations in Iraq.

At the same meeting, Iraq’s representative, stressing that advances in the constitutional referendum and other areas would not have been achieved without great sacrifices by the Iraqi people and without the Multinational Force in support of political change, or without the United Nations, said those gains should not hide the fact that the United Nations presence in Iraq was still below what was required.

While he sought an increase in the number of United Nations staff, he said it was high time to “turn the page of disarmament” of the previous regime and close the file of UNMOVIC.

‘Oil-for-Food’ Programme

On 7 September, the Independent Inquiry Committee into the United Nations “oil-for-food” programme -- appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in April 2004 -- reported to the Council that it had found both maladministration of the programme and evidence of corruption within the Organization and by contractors.

Presenting the Committee’s report, Chairman Paul A. Volcker said, “In essence, the responsibility for the failures must be broadly shared, starting we believe with Member States and the Security Council itself.”  The programme left too much initiative with Iraq -- a “compact with the Devil”.  The administrative structure and practices of the Secretariat and some agencies clearly were not up to the extraordinary challenge presented by the programme.  There had also been a pervasive absence of effective auditing, characterized by “weak planning, sorely inadequate funding, and too few Professional staff”.

“Yet, clearly there is another side to the story -- one of positive success”, Mr. Volcker continued.  The programme had averted the clear and present danger of malnutrition and a further collapse of medical services.  Also, it had provided support for maintaining the basic sanctions against Iraq and preventing it from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, in response, that he accepted full responsibility for his own failures and regretted his lack of diligence in pursuing investigations of alleged misdeeds.  The Inquiry Committee, he said, had “ripped away the curtain and had shone a harsh light into the most unsightly corners of the Organization”.  It had shown that United Nations management had a problem and was in need of reform.

The members of the inquiry were:  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.

Middle East

Israel/Palestine

Hopes for Middle East peace, in particular between Israelis and Palestinians, were rekindled in 2005 with significant developments, such as the holding of democratic Palestinian presidential elections, Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, and the opening of a border crossing between Gaza and Egypt -- marking the first time in their history that the Palestinians had assumed control of part of their border.

“There is a palpable sense of expectation of real, substantial and sustainable change in the region”, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast told the Council on 13 January, citing the democratic election of the new President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.  The elections were followed by the resumption of direct talks between the new President and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The following month, Mr. Prendergast informed the Council that “hope flowed” from the summit meeting between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 8 February, hosted by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in the presence of Jordan’s King Abdullah.  At that meeting, President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon signalled their desire to break away from bloodshed and despair, and reaffirmed their commitment to the Quartet-backed “Road Map”.

[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.]

On 9 March, the Council welcomed the conclusions of the 1 March London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority, at which President Abbas presented a comprehensive plan for strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s institutions in the areas of security, good governance and development of the Palestinian economy.  The Council, through a presidential statement, also hoped the Meeting would be part of longer-term international support to the Palestinian people and Authority, and a contribution towards implementing the Road Map.

Stressing the concern of the United Nations over Israel’s failure to dismantle settlement outposts and freeze settlement expansion, Mr. Prendergast told the Council on 24 March that Israeli settlement policy could not be separated from the issue of the barrier under construction in the West Bank.  The approved route of the barrier still incorporated a significant percentage of Palestinian land and had a negative effect on the livelihoods of many Palestinians.  While Israel had stated that the barrier was a temporary structure to meet security needs, no one could observe its scope and route without being concerned over possible implications for the contiguity of the future Palestinian State.

In April, he reported that with Israel preparing to withdraw from settlements in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank -- a landmark in Israeli-Palestinian relations -- the challenge for the parties and the international community was to ensure that the disengagement happened, thus, contributing to the momentum for peace and offering a real opportunity to revitalize the process.  Coordination and cooperation would be needed even more in the challenging transition period once disengagement was complete.

Despite the doubts and difficult challenges ahead, he added, the hope and optimism of the past months remained, confirmed by the continued overall decline in casualties, violence and military operations.  However, indicators on the ground, especially the apparent failure to break the tendency towards “retributive violence”, suggested that the current situation was fragile.  That fragility was reflected in, among other things, the Palestinian economy, which, despite modest improvements, was still in a state of crisis, with an unemployment rate between 36 and 41 per cent in the Gaza Strip.

The Quartet met in Moscow on 9 May to review the situation in the Middle East, with a particular attention to Gaza engagement, and focus on how best to help the parties maintain the momentum at “this fragile moment of opportunity”.  Both parties were reminded of the need to avoid unilateral actions that might pre-judge final status issues, and urged to implement their Road Map obligations.

Despite the serious nature of various incidents, a prolonged breakdown of the calm prevailing in the Middle East over the several months had been averted, Mr. Prendergast told the Council in June, citing evidence of a serious effort on the Palestinian side to maintain the calm and, on the Israeli side, of determination not to overreact to isolated incidents.

In his first briefing since taking up his assignment as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Alvaro de Soto told the Council in July that Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank was “a moment pregnant with hope, but also fraught with peril”.  Albeit partial and on terms largely set by Israel, the planned withdrawal represented a positive, precedent-setting step that the international community could not but support.  His briefing was followed by a day-long debate, in which some 35 speakers weighed in on the issue.

Despite the dramatic scenes everybody had seen on television and in newspapers, of Israeli military and police personnel removing settlers from their houses in Gaza, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza and northern parts of the West Bank in August proceeded smoothly and with surprising speed, aided by the restraint generally observed by militant Palestinian factions, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari reported to the Council on the 24th of that month.

Among the issues that still had to be dealt with were border crossings and trade corridors, linking Gaza and the West Bank, movement within the West Bank, the Gaza airport and seaport, and the houses and greenhouses in Israeli settlements.  While substantial progress had been made in addressing those priorities in the framework of disengagement, much work would be required to bring about agreement on them.

Returning to the Council on 23 September, Mr. de Soto reported that Israel had withdrawn the last of its military personnel and installations from the Gaza Strip in the early hours of 12 September.  The Israeli Government, while facing vociferous opposition, had proved its ability to carry out democratic decisions in the general interest, while knowing that they would cause pain and disruption to a significant number of its citizens.  Palestinian groups, by and large, held back from violent action against the settlers.  A basis had been laid for a true partnership, which should encourage each party to understand and address the other’s legitimate needs and concerns, he stated.

The Council, in a statement issued following Mr. de Soto’s briefing, expressed support for the statement issued by the Quartet after its meeting in New York on 20 September to discuss the Gaza disengagement and the prospects for movement towards peace in the Middle East.  Welcoming the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal, the Quartet reiterated its belief that that brave and historic decision should open a new chapter on the path to peace in the region.

In order to translate the disengagement from Gaza into a sustained and negotiated peace, Mr. Gambari said on 20 October that energetic coordination, cooperation and engagement by Israelis, Palestinians and the international community were required.  He noted that “an upsurge in violence has undermined the positive political developments and dulled the sense of optimism that had resulted from last month’s Gaza disengagement”.

The postponement of proposed meetings between President Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon was particularly disappointing, and it was to be hoped that talks planned for November would continue even if further security crises occurred.  “The political track has to be resilient to the inevitable ups and downs of this unstable post-engagement period”, he added.  Of immediate social and political importance was reopening the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

Subsequently, the Council welcomed the 15 November Agreement on Movement and Access and the Agreed Principles for the Rafah Crossing between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the successful opening of the Crossing on 25 November as an important step forward.

During his final briefing for the year on 20 December, Mr. Gambari told the Council that with the Road Map’s target date for a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict just 10 days away, it was obvious that, despite some very important progress, the destination would not be reached on time.  “Let me be clear:  This does not in any way detract from the centrality of the Road Map.  It remains the agreed framework for achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East”, he stressed.

He said, however, that the imminent deadline was surely an occasion for all parties to reflect on what more they could do to ensure that the Road Map obligations were met.  In the present delicate period leading up to both Palestinian and Israeli elections, the forces of violence and despair must be met with concrete political and economic action.  An atmosphere of stability and restraint would help ensure that voices of peace and moderation were heard and heeded during the crucial election period.

Lebanon

A string of terrorist bombings resulting in the death of several prominent Lebanese politicians and journalists, among others, held the attention of, and prompted action by, the Council throughout 2005.

The 14 February terrorist bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and others triggered immediate condemnation by the Council.  In a presidential statement issued the day after the attack, the Council called on the Lebanese Government to bring the perpetrators to justice, and requested the Secretary-General to report urgently on the circumstances, causes and consequences of the attack.

A week later, on 22 February, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast informed the Council that the Secretary-General had selected a team, headed by Peter Fitzgerald, a senior law enforcement official of Ireland, to gather such information as necessary for the Secretary-General to report to the Council in a timely manner on the attack.

The report, which was transmitted to the Council in late March, raised some very serious and troubling allegations, and concluded that an independent international investigation was needed.  Therefore, the Secretary-General endorsed the team’s recommendation that such an investigation be established, the aim of which would be to reach conclusions as complete as possible about who was responsible for Mr. Hariri’s assassination.

Noting with concern the fact-finding mission’s conclusion that the Lebanese investigation process suffered from serious flaws and had neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion, the Council established the International Independent Investigation Commission, unanimously adopting resolution 1595 on 7 April.  German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis was appointed by the Secretary-General to head the investigation

Subsequent killings, which the Council condemned, included those of Samir Qassir, a Lebanese journalist; George Hawi, former leader of the Communist Party; and Gebran Tueni, Lebanese Member of Parliament, editor and journalist.

Presenting his first report to the Council on 25 October, Mr. Mehlis pointed to “converging evidence” of Syrian involvement in the killing of Mr. Hariri, and invited Syrian authorities to carry out their own investigation into the killing in an open and transparent manner, saying that such an investigation would allow the Commission to “fill in the gaps” in its report.

Countering the Commission’s findings, Syria’s representative said the report had been clearly influenced by the political climate prevailing in Lebanon after the assassination, and rejected the charges that his country had not sufficiently cooperated with the investigation.

Formally endorsing the Commission’s report, the Council, in a ministerial meeting on 31 October, called for Syria to cooperate fully and unconditionally with the Commission and insisted it not interfere in Lebanese affairs through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1636.

The Council also decided that all individuals suspected by the Commission or the Government of Lebanon of involvement in planning, sponsoring, organizing or perpetrating the murder be subject to travel restrictions and freezing of assets.  In addition, it endorsed the Commission’s conclusion that Syrian authorities must clarify a number of questions that remained unresolved and detain Syrian officials or individuals the Commission considered as suspects.

Defining the crime as a terrorist act, the Council said that the involvement of any State in it would constitute a serious violation of that country’s obligations to prevent and refrain from supporting terrorism.  It requested the Commission to report to the Council by 15 December on the investigation’s progress, including on Syria’s cooperation, so the Council could consider further action.

In a second briefing to the Council, on 13 December, Mr. Mehlis asserted, “it remains to be seen whether Syrian cooperation would be full and without conditions”.  On the Lebanese track, the Commission had been able to resolve most impediments, thanks to the cooperation and willingness of the Lebanese authorities to facilitate the Commission’s work in all possible ways.

Meanwhile, the Commission was trying hard to make headway on the Syrian track, but its relationship with the Syrian authorities had been “marked by conflicting signals”, causing confusion and delays.  At the present rate of Syrian cooperation, he noted, the investigation might take another year or two.

Two days later, adopting resolution 1644, the Council demanded that Syria respond “unambiguously and immediately” to the Commission, and extended the probe initially until 15 June 2006, leaving open the possibility of a further extension.

Acknowledging the Lebanese Government’s request that those eventually charged with involvement in the terrorist attack be tried by an international tribunal, the Council asked the Secretary-General to help that Government identify the nature and scope of the international assistance needed in that regard, and to report to the Council in a timely manner.

The Council also authorized the Commission, following Lebanon’s request, to extend its technical assistance to that Government with regard to their investigations on the terrorist attacks perpetrated in Lebanon since 1 October 2004.  It asked the Secretary-General, in consultations with the Commission and the Lebanese Government, to present recommendations to expand the Commission’s mandate to include investigations of those other attacks.

In other action, the Council, on 22 June, commended the Government of Lebanon for the successful conduct of parliamentary elections held between 29 May and 19 June and congratulated the newly elected Members of the Lebanese Parliament.  The new Government of Fuad Siniora was formally established by the 30 July parliamentary vote of confidence, as reported to the Council on 24 August by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari.

Lebanon/Syria

Significant progress was made in 2005 in the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004) with the news of Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon.

In resolution 1559, adopted on 2 September 2004, the Council called on all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon, as well as for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and supported the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory.

The 26th of April -- the day of Syria’s formal notification to the United Nations that it had withdrawn all of its troops, military assets and intelligence apparatus from Lebanon -- was undoubtedly an historic day for the Syrian and Lebanese peoples, and for the Middle East, the Council was told on 29 April.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s first semi-annual report on the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004), Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen noted the withdrawal would require a wide-ranging redefinition of the long-standing close ties between the two countries, and the full implementation of all requirements of the resolution would help enable the people of Lebanon to begin setting aside the “enchaining and constraining vestiges of a captive past”.  It would also set an important precedent, illustrating the international community’s commitment to the full implementation of all Council resolutions.

On 4 May, the Council, while welcoming significant progress by Lebanese parties towards implementing some of the provisions of resolution 1559, expressed concern at the lack of progress on disarmament of militias and the extension of control by the Lebanese Government over its territory.

Israel/Lebanon

The Council, gravely concerned about persistent tension and violence along the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, twice extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), first on 28 January and then on 29 July.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1614 on 29 July, extending the Force until 31 January 2006, the Council called on the Government of Lebanon to fully extend its “sole and effective” authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of armed and security forces and to exert “control and monopoly over the use of force” on its entire territory.

Israel/Syria

The Council twice renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which has supervised the ceasefire between Israel and Syria since 1974.  On both occasions, first on 17 June and then on 21 December, the unanimously adopted resolutions extending the mandate for further six-month periods were accompanied by a presidential statement, in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “... the situation is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.  The most recent extension would take the Force through to 30 June 2006.

Counter-Terrorism

Counter-Terrorism Committee

Addressing the ever-present threat of terrorism to international peace and security, the Council condemned -- in the strongest terms -- all acts of terrorism irrespective of their motivation and the incitement of such acts, and repudiated attempts at their justification.  Adopting resolution 1624 on 14 September at a meeting of Heads of State and Government, the Council also endorsed the work of its Counter-Terrorism Committee, directing it to work with Member States to help build capacity, including through spreading best legal practice and promoting information exchange.

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.

Addressing the Summit-level meeting, the Secretary-General called for the Council’s full backing of the five elements of his proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy for the United Nations, including completion of a comprehensive anti-terrorism convention and denying terrorists the means to carry out their attacks through States’ accession to the Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.  Tabling the text on terrorism, British Prime Minister Tony Blair described terrorism as a movement with an ideology and a strategy, not just to kill, but to cause instability and confusion among the enemies of terrorism.

Briefing the Council on 26 October, Ellen Margrethe Løj ( Denmark), who assumed the Committee’s chairmanship from the Russian Federation on 1 April, said recent events had proven that the Committee remained a crucial instrument of the international community in the fight against terrorism based on dialogue with and assistance to States.  As part of its revitalization, the Counter-Terrorism Committee now had a fully staffed Executive Directorate (CTED), as established by resolution 1535 (2004), as well as more resources to give Member States guidance in their anti-terrorism efforts.  In a briefing on 20 July, she noted that during the first three months of her chairmanship, the Counter-Terrorism Committee had focused on dialogue with States, strengthening its methodology for identification of States’ needs for technical assistance and ensuring transparency.

In a presidential statement adopted on 20 July, the Council reaffirmed that any acts of terrorism were criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivations, and reiterated its condemnation of the Al-Qaida network and other terrorist groups for ongoing and multiple criminal terrorist acts.  It also called on all Member States to become parties to all 12 international conventions against terrorism.  With recent events stressing the urgency of redoubling efforts to combat terrorism, the Council urged all States to cooperate in bringing to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of acts of terrorism.

On 25 April, the Council stressed the different mandates of the three anti-terrorism Committees and reaffirmed its call for enhanced cooperation among them in monitoring Member States’ implementation of the respective Security Council resolutions relevant to them.  Through the adoption of a presidential statement, it also welcomed the General Assembly’s consensus adoption on 13 April 2005 of the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.

In a presidential statement adopted on 18 January, the Council, after learning of delays by 75 Member States in reporting on national efforts to defeat terrorism, issued an urgent call to States that had not reported to do so in order to maintain the universality of response which the threat of terrorism required.  Prior to issuing the statement, then Committee Chairman, Andrey Denisov (Russian Federation), said the Council’s counter-terrorism-related resolutions and decisions of 2004 had created a new and more comprehensive and multifaceted counter-terrorism agenda, and had also put additional challenges before the Committee, which required additional efforts to accelerate its revitalization.

Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999)

On 29 July, the Council, through resolution 1617, extended the sanctions against Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, the Taliban and their associates for a further 17 months.  Also by that text, the Council extended the mandate of the 1267 Committee’s New York-based Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team for a period of 17 months and gave guidelines for the inclusion of individuals and entities associated with Usama bin Laden and the Taliban as referred to in the Consolidated List created pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1333 (2000).

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 several times.  On 20 July, Cesar Mayoral ( Argentina) said the sanctions targeting Al-Qaida and Taliban members and their associates were an effective, although not perfect, tool in the fight against terrorism, and it was the Council’s responsibility to constantly sharpen and improve it.  Political will to maintain the sanctions had clearly been displaced at all levels, but the Committee and the Council needed to consider what could be done to further assist countries where the need for technical assistance was dire.

Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Council heard several briefings by the Chair of the “1540 Committee”, which was established for a two-year period in 2004 by resolution 1540 to address the possible acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors.  The Chair of that body, Mihnea Ioan Motoc (Romania), told the Council on 25 April that the Committee’s work had been concentrated mainly on shaping its methodology and “tool kit” for considering national reports by States.  Committee experts had developed a matrix to be used as an internal tool in the process of examining the national reports.  It was a “living document”, built on the provisions of resolution 1540.

Briefing on the Council on 20 July, he said the Committee had entered the substantive stage of its work and had begun examining national reports, with a view to monitoring States’ implementation of resolution 1540.  On 26 October, he told the Council that the Committee would continue to be a clearing house to connect States who had requested assistance with those who could provide it.

Other Action

Calling the terrorist attacks in London on 7 July “barbaric” and meeting just hours after the deadly bomb blasts, the Council adopted resolution 1611 in which it condemned without reservation the attacks and expressed its utmost determination to combat terrorism and in accordance with its Charter responsibilities.  One day later, on 8 July, the Council, through a presidential statement, condemned the assassination of Ihab El-Sherif, head of the Egyptian Mission to Iraq, and all terrorist attacks in that country, including the attempted assassinations of diplomats from Bahrain and Pakistan.

In a presidential statement on 27 July, the Council condemned in the strongest possible terms the assassination of Ali Belaroussi and Azzeddine Belkadi, the two diplomats accredited to the Algerian Embassy to Iraq.  In another statement adopted that day, the Council unequivocally condemned the deadly terror attacks that took place on 23 July in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

On 4 August, the Council adopted resolution 1618, submitted by the United Kingdom and the United States, by which it condemned “without reservation and in the strongest terms” the terrorist attacks that had taken place in Iraq.  In that text, the Council took particular note of the “shameless and horrific attacks” in recent days that had resulted in over 100 deaths, including 32 children, employees of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, and a member and an expert adviser of the commission charged with drafting a permanent constitution for a new, democratic Iraq.

In a president statement adopted on 4 October, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist bombing that took place in Bali, Indonesia, on 1 October, which killed 19 people and wounded more than 130 others.  In a presidential statement adopted on 31 October, the Council strongly condemned the series of deadly bomb attacks that wracked New Delhi, India, on 29 October, urging all States to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators, financers and sponsors of those “reprehensible” acts to justice.  Responding to the terrorist bomb attacks that tore through three hotels on 9 November in Amman, Jordan, killing dozens and wounding more than 100, the Council, in a presidential statement, condemned those bombings in the strongest terms.

Africa

Wrap-up Meeting on African Dimension in Security Council’s Work

In a monthly wrap-up meeting on 30 March, Brazil’s representative, whose delegation held the Council presidency for the month, said there had been a steady increase in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts in Africa since 1998, and that African issues currently comprised more than 60 per cent of the Council’s agenda.  He said that the mixed results of the Council’s engagement in Africa should lead to further reflection.  Side by side with the success stories were textbook cases of re-emerging conflict.  While the Council could benefit from past experience, it must accept that the international order was in a state of flux and that, as a principal organ of the United Nations, it must also be ready for a permanent process of evolution.  The Council could never cease to question and improve its working methods, political perceptions, cost-benefit analyses and structure, he said.

Sudan

In the final analysis, “peace in the Sudan is indivisible and cannot flourish in one part of the country if it is fledgling in another”, the Secretary-General writes in his last report for 2005 on the situation in the Sudan, dated 21 December (document S/2005/821).  He urges the parties to the Abuja peace talks to negotiate earnestly and in good faith, and says that the Eastern Front must similarly negotiate with the Government of National Unity a political solution to the conflict in its region “without further delay”.

Fighting first broke out in Darfur in February 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 demanded economic and political reforms, and were reportedly frustrated by what they deemed Khartoum’s marginalization of Darfur.  While the current conflict started with an armed rebellion against the Government, most of the targeted violence resulted from a scorched-earth policy adopted by the armed militias.  That resulted in the forced displacement of more than 1.3 million people within Darfur and across the border to Chad.  Further compounding the situation was the fact that the conflict that traumatized the region was playing out amid the longest-running civil war in Africa, between the north and the south of the Sudan.

The Council began its consideration this year of the situation on 11 January.  In a briefing, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the Sudan, Jan Pronk, said that the conclusion on 9 January of the north-south peace agreement by the warring parties, ending their 21-year civil war, would improve the capacity to solve the conflict in Darfur in the long term, but that did not exclude the possibility that the signing would be followed in the short term by an intensification of violence in and around Darfur.

On 4 February, Mr. Pronk told the Council in a briefing that the United Nations peace support operation in the Sudan, which had been involved since July 2004 in consultations with the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which resulted in a plan to deploy 10,000 troops to that country to monitor the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 9 January 2005.  Those troops would include a core of 750 military observers, a 5,000-strong enabling force, and a protection component of about 4,000.  The countries that had committed troops had made it possible to initiate the first phase of the deployment as soon as a mandate and status-of-forces agreement were obtained.

Meeting on the situation in the Sudan just four days later, the Council President for February, Joel Adechi (Benin) said that the 9 January signing of the Peace Agreement had been a historic moment of great opportunity for the country and one which all its people should seize in order to steer development in the path leading to a solid and long-lasting peace.  He said that Council members had started to draft a resolution addressing thoroughly all aspects of the situation.  The meeting also heard from Jan Pronk; John Garang de Mabior, Chairman of the SPLM/Army; and Ali Othman, First Vice-President of the Sudan.

Presenting the findings of the International Commission of Inquiry on Sudan the to the Council on 16 February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, called for “urgent and concrete” measures to bring the current violence in Darfur to an end and restore security and dignity to the people of that conflict-ridden region.  The Commission, while concluding that the Sudanese Government had not pursued a policy of genocide, had determined that large-scale war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by government officials and the Janjaweed militia, she said.

At the meeting, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that “the report demonstrates, beyond all doubt, that the last two years have been little short of hell on earth for our fellow human beings in Darfur”, and that, despite the Council’s attention to that crisis, that hell continued today, he said.

On 10 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1585 (2005), by which it extended the mandate of the United Nations Advance Mission in the Sudan (UNAMIS) until 17 March.  The Mission had been established by resolution 1547 (2004) of 11 June 2004 for an initial period of three months and under the authority of a Special Representative, in order to prepare for a future United Nations peace support operation, following the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement.

Then, reaffirming its readiness to support the peace process, the Council extended UNAMIS’ mandate on 17 March until 24 March, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1588 (2005).

On 24 March, it established the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1590 (2005) for an initial period of six months.  It would consist of up to 10,000 military personnel and an appropriate civilian component, including up to 715 civilian police personnel.  Its mandate was to support implementation of the Peace Agreement and facilitate the return of refugees and displaced persons.  It would also provide demining assistance, and contribute to international efforts to protect and promote human rights.  It was also authorized to take the necessary action to protect United Nations personnel and to ensure their security and freedom of movement, as well as, without prejudice to the Government’s responsibility, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.

In light of the failure of all parties to the conflict in Darfur to fulfil their commitments, the Council decided on 29 March to increase pressure on the parties by imposing a travel ban and assets freeze on those impeding the peace process, or committing human rights violations and violating measures set out in previous resolutions.  It took that action by adopting resolution 1591 by a vote of 12 in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions ( Algeria, China, Russian Federation).  Also by the text, it decided that the new measures would enter into force 30 days from the adoption date, unless the Council determined before then that the parties had complied with all commitments and demands set out in previous resolutions, the N’Djamena Ceasefire Agreement and the Abuja Protocols.

On the evening of 31 March, adopting resolution 1593 (2005) by a vote of 11 in favour, to none against, with 4 abstentions ( Algeria, Brazil, China, United States), the Council decided to refer the situation prevailing in Darfur since 1 July 2002 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  It also decided that the Sudanese Government and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur would cooperate fully with the Court and Prosecutor, and that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a contributing State outside the Sudan and not party to the Rome Statute would be subjected to the exclusive jurisdiction of that contributing State for alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Sudan authorized by the Council or the African Union, unless such exclusive jurisdiction had been expressly waived by that contributing State.

In a presidential statement issued on 12 May, the Council emphasized the importance of increased, coordinated international assistance for the African Union effort in Darfur, and the readiness of the United Nations to continue playing a key role.  It also voiced support for the decision of the Union’s regional Peace and Security Council to expand its mission to 7,731 personnel by the end of September 2005.

On 29 June, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the Council, in his first briefing since the Darfur situation was referred to the Court, that there were cases that would be admissible in relation to that situation, and on 1 June, he had initiated an investigation into the crimes committed there.  The start of investigations marked an opportunity for all parties to take all possible steps to prevent the continuation of such offences, he said.  The Prosecutor’s Office would identify those bearing the greatest responsibility for the crimes and assess the admissibility of the selected cases.

Briefing the Council again on 22 July, Special Representative Pronk said that further confidence-building was necessary, but “there is light at the end of the tunnel”, and 2005 could become the year of decisive change.  There was room for improvement, he cautioned, adding that the situation was utterly fragile.  The wounds inflicted on millions of people during a lengthy period of neglect, exclusion, injustice and bad governance could not be healed overnight.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was not really comprehensive, as several parties had been excluded from the talks, but it was a beginning of a comprehensive peace to be won throughout the country, he said.

On 2 August, the Council, in a presidential statement, expressed its profound regret over the death of John Garang de Mabior, First Vice-President of the Sudan, in a helicopter crash on 30 July and offered its sympathy and condolences to his family, as well as to the Government and people of the Sudan.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1627 (2005), the Council extended UNMIS until 24 March 2006, with the intention to renew it for further periods.

In a statement issued on 13 October005/48), the Council President expressed grave concern at reports of an upsurge of violence in Darfur, and strongly condemned the 8 October attack, reportedly by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), on personnel of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) in Darfur, in which four Nigerian peacekeepers and two civilian contractors were killed.  The Council also condemned the 9 October attack, reportedly by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which resulted in the ambush and detention of approximately 35 AMIS personnel.

Briefing the Council for a second time, on 13 December, ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo said that, having made the first steps towards a cooperative relationship, his Office would seek, during the next phase, further assistance and cooperation of the Sudanese Government in the process of fact-finding and evidence-gathering.  The first phase of the investigation, launched on 1 June, had witnessed progress in gathering facts relating to the crimes alleged to have taken place in Darfur, as well as the groups and individuals responsible for them.

Meeting to consider the situation in Africa on 19 December, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland briefed the Council.  He said it must be acutely aware that, without peace, all that had been built up by the thousands of relief workers and hundreds of millions of dollars in donor contributions in Darfur could be destroyed, and “we could be on the brink of losing this huge humanitarian operation”.

No amount of humanitarian relief, however, could provide what those threatened by the conflict had wanted most from day one:  effective protection against violence of the most vicious kind, and the ability to return to their homes.  Only an effective ceasefire, a political solution, and a strong international security presence could accomplish those objectives, he stressed.

Then, on 21 December, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1651 (2005), by which it extended until 29 March 2006 the mandate of the four-member panel of experts appointed to assist in monitoring and implementation of the travel ban and assets freeze on those impeding the peace process in Darfur, committing human rights violations, and violating measures set out in previous texts.  The Council asked the panel to report and make recommendations to it, through the Committee established by resolution 1591 (2005), on the implementation of the measures imposed.

Following adoption of the resolution, the Council’s President read out a statement demanding that all parties refrain from violence and put an end to atrocities on the ground, especially those committed against civilians, including women and children, humanitarian workers, and international peacekeepers.

Central and West Africa

Meeting on 25 February, the Council issued a presidential statement noting with deep concern the tensions emerging and ongoing in some West African countries over the transfer of power, which might further obstruct efforts to stabilize the subregion.  In the statement read out by the Council President for the month, Benin’s Foreign Minister Rogatien Biaou underlined that ongoing or emerging crises in West Africa were a threat to subregional stability, and stressed the need to help those States to curb illicit cross-border activities and to address such problems as youth unemployment, the circulation of small arms and light weapons, and security sector reform.

Opening the meeting, the Secretary-General warned the 15-member body that the region continued to face grave security challenges, noting that border areas were especially volatile, with populations at risk from illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons, recruitment of child soldiers, banditry, rape and environmental damage.  Youth unemployment levels were shockingly high, and the accompanying desperation carried a real risk of political and social unrest in countries emerging from crisis, even in those that were currently stable, he said. 

The Secretary-General added that the United Nations Office in West Africa would continue to facilitate coherent and integrated approaches to peacebuilding among United Nations entities in that subregion.  It would also seek to strengthen partnerships with West African States and subregional organizations, especially the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and carry out preventive diplomacy and early warning missions.

With peace in Africa’s restive Great Lakes region close at hand, the Council was briefed on 15 November on its mission from 4 to 11 November to five Central African countries recovering from ethnic and territorial conflict -- Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania.  Leading the mission, France’s Ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sablière, told the Council that the need for six visits to Central Africa had been prompted by the need to promote peace in a region eager to see stability restored and a lasting peace instilled, without which it could not achieve development.

Focusing his remarks on the situation on Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. de La Sablière said that, in the latter country, the transition was “gathering speed”.  Everyone had spoken of the Congolese desire to vote, and according to the Independent Electoral Commission, some 20 million people had registered.  The next deadlines now were:  the constitutional referendum in December; the presidential elections; and the deadline for the transition’s completion in less than eight months.  Progress had been commendable, he said, but significant problems remained, including the tight electoral timetable, the integration of the army and police, and the presence of armed groups in the east.

On 6 December, Mr. de La Sablière formally presented the mission’s report, describing a new phase for the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the range of challenges facing Burundi as it completed its transition and furthered attempts to consolidate peace. 

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Council held 11 formal meetings on the still fragile situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as the transitional Government and the Congolese people struggled to complete the transition.  On 21 December, calling on all armed groups in Africa’s Great Lakes region to lay down their arms, the Council deplored the failure so far of foreign militia in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to do so, and demanded that they disarm by 15 January 2006, or face sanctions if the Secretary-General determined that the disarmament process was not “being completed”.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1649 (2005) and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided that the arms embargo, imposed on July 2003 and expanded in April 2005 to include a travel ban and assets freeze on violators, would extend until 31 July 2006 to individuals listed in the resolution.  Those included political and military leaders of foreign armed groups operating inside the country who impeded the disarmament and voluntary repatriation or resettlement of combatants belonging to those groups, as well as political and military leaders of Congolese militias receiving support from outside the country, particularly those operating in Ituri, impeding the participation of their fighters in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

The Council also decided that the sanctions now in effect until 31 July 2006 would not apply where the Monitoring Committee authorized in advance, on a case-by-case basis, the transit of individuals returning to the territory of their home State, or participating in efforts to bring to justice perpetrators of grave violations of human rights or international humanitarian law.  The Council also decided to review the sanctions no later than 31 July 2006, in light of progress accomplished in the Congolese peace and transition process, particularly the disarmament of foreign armed groups.  In a further provision, it demanded that the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi take necessary measures to prevent the use of their territories in support of arms embargo violations, or in support of the activities of armed groups in the region.

In that same meeting on 21 December, the Council issued a presidential statement in which it commended the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the successful holding of the referendum on the draft constitution.  It recalled that the election must take place before the end of the transitional period on 30 June 2006, and urged the Government of National Unity and Transition to live up to the expectations of the Congolese people and to do its utmost to ensure that the next polls were held in accordance with the agreed timetable.

The Council met for the first time in 2005 on the situation in that country on 2 March, following the 25 February attack against a patrol of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) by the Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes (FNI) in Ituri, resulting in the murder of nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers.  In a presidential statement, the Council considered that aggression near the town of Kafe, by its intentional and well planned nature, to be an “unacceptable outrage”.  It called on the Government of National Unity and Transition to take immediately all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators, sponsors and authors of the attack to justice.

On 30 March, the Council extended MONUC’s mandate until 1 October, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1592 (2005), demanding that the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo put a stop to the use of their respective territories in support of arms embargo violations, or of activities of armed groups operating in the region.

Condemning the continuing illicit flow of weapons within and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Council decided on 18 April in resolution 1596 (2005) that, from now on, the arms embargo would apply to any recipient within that country’s territory, and it imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on those violating the embargo.

On 29 June, underlining the importance of elections as the foundation for the longer-term restoration of peace and stability, national reconciliation, and the rule of law in that country, the Council took note in a presidential statement of the Parliament’s decision of 17 June to extend for six months, renewable once, the transitional period that was to expire on 30 June.  That would allow elections to take place in “satisfactory logistic and security conditions”.

Following the massacre of some 50 people, most of them women and children, on 9 July in Ntulu-Mamba, the Council President issued a statement on 13 July condemning the devastating event, and requesting the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for that country to establish the facts and report to the Council as quickly as possible.  The Council called on the Congolese authorities to prosecute and bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators and those responsible for the crimes, asking for MONUC’s support.

On 29 July, reiterating its serious concern regarding the presence of armed groups and militias in the eastern part of the country through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1616 (2005), the Council condemned the continued illicit arms flow within and into the country, and decided to maintain the sanctions regime for another year, given the parties’ failure to comply with its demands.

Underlining the importance of forthcoming elections as the foundation for long-term restoration of peace, national reconciliation and establishment of the rule of law in that country, the Council, on 6 September, authorized a temporary increase in the strength of the Mission for the period of the elections and their immediate aftermath, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1621 (2005).  Underlining the temporary character of the deployment, the Council asked the Secretary-General to start downsizing or repatriating the additional personnel from 1 July 2006 at the latest.

The Secretary-General’s special report on the situation (documents S/2005/320 and Add.1), based on the findings of a United Nations mission to that country in April to assess electoral preparations there, had noted a number of potential threats to the security of the electoral process with the continued existence, in a climate of general insecurity and lawlessness, of armed groups, particularly in Ituri, North and South Kivu, central and northern Katanga and Maniema.  Another security threat related to tensions between political parties in large population centres.  A related issue was how prevailing tensions between ethnic groups could affect the dynamics of local politics in some areas.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1628 (2005) on 30 September, the Council extended MONUC’s mandate for one month, until 31 October.  The Secretary-General, in his most recent report on the subject to the Council, had recommended a one-year extension of the mandate, until 1 October 2006, which would include the period through the elections and the immediate post-transitional period following the installation of a new Government.

On 4 October, the Council issued a presidential statement expressing its concern over the presence of foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the country, and deploring the failure of the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) to proceed with the disarmament and repatriation of their combatants, exhorting them to do so without further delay, in accordance with the declaration they signed in Rome on 31 March.

The Council extended MONUC’s mandate on 28 October until 30 September 2006, and authorized an increase of 300 personnel in its military strength.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1635 (2005), the Council -- having noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation for an additional brigade of 2,580 personnel -- authorized the increase to allow for the deployment of an infantry battalion in Katanga, with its own air mobility and appropriate medical support, to provide additional security within its area of operations during the election period.

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, MONUC was established in November 1999.

Rwanda

On 12 April, the Council issued a presidential statement welcoming the condemnation by the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in Rome, on 31 March, of the 1994 genocide and their commitment to renounce the use of force and cease all offensive operations against Rwanda.  The Council considered that encouraging statement as a significant opportunity to move towards the return of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, national reconciliation in Rwanda, and full normalization of relations between the two countries.

The Council also called on the FDLR to turn their positive words into action and to demonstrate their commitment to peace by immediately handing over all arms to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and by taking part in the programme put in place for their earliest voluntary and peaceful return to Rwanda or resettlement, as well as by assisting the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha to fulfil its mandate.

Burundi

Having been extended until 1 June 2005, the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), first authorized by the Council on 21 May 2004, was continuing its work 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 had been signed in 2000.

On 14 March, in a presidential statement welcoming the approval by the Burundians of the post-transitional Constitution, through a referendum of 28 February, the Council called on all Burundians to remain committed to the course of national reconciliation, for which further steps remained.  It invited the political leadership to work together towards the common goal of holding, expeditiously, free and fair local and national elections.

On 31 May, the Council, welcoming the recent positive achievements by the parties in Burundi, including since the deployment of the ONUB in June 2004, extended the Operation’s mandate until 1 December 2005, and looked forward to receiving the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the role of the Operation by 15 November.  Among the positive developments in the country, the Council welcomed, in particular, the approval of the post-transitional Constitution in February and the imminent holding of elections.  It took note with satisfaction the electoral timetable confirmed at the last meeting of Member States of the Regional Initiative for Peace in Burundi on 22 April in Entebbe.

Following a Secretariat mission to Burundi in June, led by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tuliameni Kalomoh, the Council was briefed on the 15th by the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Ralph Zacklin.  He said that, on the basis of extensive consultations with government authorities, political parties and civil society, the mission had recommended establishing a two-part mechanism to clarify the historical truth regarding the conflict in that country, investigate the crimes committed there and bring those responsible to justice.  The recommended mechanism would include a truth commission and a special chamber within Burundi’s court system, with the competence to prosecute those bearing the greatest responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In the wake of that open briefing, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1606 (2005) on 20 June, by which it asked the Secretary-General to initiate negotiations with the Burundian Government and consultations with all concerned Burundians on how to implement the above recommendations, and to report back by 30 September on details, including costs, structures and time frame.

By a presidential statement of 30 August, the Council acknowledged the 19 August election in Burundi of Pierre Nkurunziza as President, saying that that had marked the “welcome final step of the transitional process”.  The conclusion of that transitional process was an important milestone for the future of Burundi and the Great Lakes region of Africa, according to the text.

Welcoming the decision by world leaders at the 2005 World Summit in September to establish a “Forum of Partners” to support efforts to consolidate peace and promote development in Burundi, the Council issued a statement on 22 September encouraging the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to conclude discussions with all concerned parties, in order to establish the forum.  It called donors to support Burundi, and said the forum should work with the Government in consolidating peace and national reconciliation.

Noting that factors of instability remained in Burundi, threatening the region’s international peace and security, the Council extended ONUB’s mandate until 15 January 2006, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1641 (2005).

On 21 December, the Council, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1650 (2005), decided to further extend that mandate until 1 July 2006, and authorized, subject to conditions laid out in the text, the temporary redeployment of military and civilian police personnel among ONUB and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), and requested the Secretary-General to begin consultations with the countries contributing military and civilian police personnel to those missions.

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 of the Defence of Democracy (FDD).

Central African Republic

A statement by the Council President on 22 July welcomed the establishment of the new governmental institutions in the Central African Republic, noting that their stability was necessary for ensuring lasting peace in that country.  Deeply gratified by the successful holding of presidential and legislative elections in two rounds on 13 March and 8 May, the Council invited the Government and all political and social forces to consolidate national dialogue and ensure national reconciliation, with a view to achieving sustainable development.  It expressed appreciation for the vital role played in the process by the Multinational Force of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (FOMUC), France, the European Union, China and Germany.

C ôte d’Ivoire

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

During the year, the Council held 15 formal meetings on the situation in that country.  In the first, held on 1 February, it unanimously adopted resolution 1584 (2005), reinforcing its two-month-old weapons ban on the divided country and adopting a range of measures aimed at ensuring an effective embargo.  The Council also authorized the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and French forces to cooperate with regional Governments and the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone to keep arms flows in check, with announced inspections of all plane cargo holds and transportation vehicles at seaports, airports, airfields, military bases and border crossings of Côte d’Ivoire. 

The Council established UNOCI on 27 February 2004, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1528 (2004), for an initial period of one year, from 4 April 2004.  Its mandate, among other tasks, was to observe and monitor implementation of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement of 3 May 2003.

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

On 28 March, the Secretary-General’s Principal Deputy Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Alan Doss, in a briefing to the 15-member body, said that the peace process in that country had made no significant progress since the presentation of the Secretary-General’s third progress report and continued to suffer from the reverberations of the November 2004 attacks.

On 4 April, the Council extended for one month, until 4 May, UNOCI’s mandate and that of the French forces supporting it, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1594 (2005).  It also called on all Ivorian parties to immediately and actively pursue a lasting and just solution to the crisis in their country, particularly through the African Union mediation led by President Thabo Mbeki.

Briefing the Council on the latest developments on 26 April, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Aziz Pahad, said that the requests by the Ivorian leadership for greater United Nations assistance could only be achieved if the Organization acted decisively to adjust the mandate of its Operation there.  Mr. Pahad also told the Council that such an adjustment would enable the United Nations mission to, among other things:  cater to an election supervision mechanism; help with policing in the north; provide funding for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process; and increase the mission’s capacity to meet the additional tasks emanating from the Pretoria Agreement signed in the South African capital earlier that month.

Then, on 4 May, the Council extended the mandate of UNOCI and of the French forces supporting it for one month, until 4 June, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1600 (2005).  It welcomed the 6 April signature by the Ivorian parties, in Pretoria, of the peace agreement (the Pretoria Agreement, document S/2005/270) under the auspices of South African President Mbeki.  The Council commended President Mbeki for the essential role he had played, on the African Union’s behalf, to restore peace and stability in that country.  It took note with satisfaction of the announcement by President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire on 26 April that all candidates nominated by the political parties signatory to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement would be eligible for the presidency.

Again, on 3 June, the Council extended the mandate of UNOCI and of the French forces supporting it for one month, until 24 June, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1603 (2005), with a view to renewing it for seven months.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1609 (2005) on 24 June, it did so, until 24 January 2006.

Noting with interest the Declaration on the implementation of the Pretoria Agreement on the peace process, signed on 29 June, the Council, in a presidential statement issued on 6 July, demanded scrupulous compliance by all signatories and Ivorian parties concerned with the timetable agreed on 29 June.

Briefing the Council on the situation on 13 October, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Oluyemi Adeniji, whose country holds the African Union presidency, said that, notwithstanding the progress made, it was clear that the transition period in Côte d’Ivoire, expected to end on 30 October with the holding of the election, was not attainable.  The country was witnessing a cyclical period of anxiety, made potentially explosive by the impossibility of meeting the deadlines for the transition phases envisaged in the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

Taking note on 14 October of the African Union’s request for an increase in the strength of UNOCI, the Council expressed its intention, in a presidential statement, to rapidly take the necessary measures to support the Union’s call for free and fair elections to take place no later than 30 October.  It would also consider whether to provide additional resources to the United Nations mission, based on careful study of the conditions in the country and of meaningful progress towards implementation of long-standing commitments.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1632 (2005) on 18 October, the Council extended further, until 15 December, the mandate of the three-person team it had created to help control arms in that West African country.  It also requested the Experts Group to submit an update report on the effectiveness of the arms embargo imposed by resolution 1572 (2004) and requiring all countries to prevent the “direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” to Côte d’Ivoire of arms.

Following that briefing, the Council, expressing its serious concern at the persistence of the crisis and the deterioration of the situation, unanimously adopted resolution 1633 (2005) on 21 October, by which it demanded the immediate implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis, Accra III and Pretoria peace agreements by the signatories to those accords, as well as all the Ivorian parties concerned.  It also demanded that the Forces nouvelles proceed immediately with the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme so as to facilitate the restoration of State authority throughout the national territory, the country’s reunification and the organization of elections as soon as possible.

On 30 November, the Council affirmed in a presidential statement that the rapid appointment of a Prime Minister was crucial to relaunching the peace process, leading to the holding of elections no later than 31 October 2006, and considered that the Prime Minister must be designated without any further delay.  Then, in a presidential statement issued on 9 December, the Council welcomed the appointment of Charles Konan Banny as Prime Minister, and expressed its full support for him.

Seriously concerned about the persistent crisis and obstacles to peace from all sides, the Council, on 15 December, renewed for another year the arms embargo and the travel and financial restrictions imposed on the country on 15 November 2004 and also banned imports of rough diamonds from the country.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1643 (2005), it indicated its readiness to apply those measures to anyone deemed by it to have threatened the peace, violated the weapons ban, or been responsible for inciting violence or serious human rights violations.  It also asked the Secretary-General to re-establish, within 30 days and for six months, a five-member expert group to perform several tasks related to the sanctions, including reporting to the Council within 90 days on the implementation of measures imposed by paragraph 7 of resolution 1572 (2004) and by paragraph 6 of the present text outlining the bans.

Ethiopia/Eritrea

On 14 March, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) until 15 September. Meeting again on 13 September, it extended the Mission’s mandate until 15 March 2006.

Then, effective 5 October, the Eritrean Government restricted all types of UNMEE helicopter flights within Eritrean airspace or coming to the country.  In response to that decision, the Council issued a presidential statement on 4 October, in which its expressed grave concern at the Government’s decision, saying that would have serious implications for the Mission’s ability to carry out its mandate and for the safety of its staff and called on the Eritrean Government to reverse its decision, effective 5 October, and to provide the Mission with the access, assistance, support and protection needed to perform its duties.

Following Eritrea’s continued imposition of restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMEE, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1640 (2005) on 23 November, in which it expressed alarm by the implications and potential impact of the decision to ban UNMEE helicopter flights with regard to the maintenance of peace and security between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and the principles governing United Nations peacekeeping operations.  As such, the Council deeply deplored Eritrea’s continued imposition of restrictions on the freedom of movement of the Mission, and demanded that the Government reverse, without further delay or preconditions, its decision to ban UNMEE helicopter flights, as well as additional restrictions imposed on UNMEE’s operations, and provide the Mission with the access, support and protection it required for the performance of its duties.

On 7 December, the Council issued a presidential statement in which it condemned the Eritrean Government’s decision to request some members of UNMEE to leave the country within 10 days, effective 6 December, and unequivocally demanded that Eritrea immediately reverse that decision without preconditions.  That decision, the statement said, was inconsistent with the obligations of the Eritrean Government to respect the exclusively international nature of the peacekeeping operation.  The Council indicated that it would be consulting on how to respond to that “completely unacceptable” action by Eritrea.

One week later, on 14 December, the Council issued a presidential statement expressing its decision to temporarily relocate military and civilian staff of UNMEE from Eritrea to Ethiopia, solely in the interest of the safety and security of the staff.  The lack of cooperation with UNMEE by the Eritrean authorities had produced conditions on the ground which prevented the Mission from implementing its mandate satisfactorily, according to the statement.  The Council expressed its intention to maintain an UNMEE military presence in Eritrea while reviewing future plans for the Mission.

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 of Cessation of Hostilities and Structures and Principles of the Somalia Reconciliation Process was signed in Eldoret, Kenya. 

The Secretary-General recommended in his report to the Council of 18 February 2005 an enhanced role for the United Nations in that country.  While the power-sharing arrangement for a transitional period for the next five years produced by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) process had been the most inclusive peace process ever, involving all clans and most major faction leaders, it could not be said that either peace or reconciliation had been achieved, or that fighting inside Somalia had ceased, he reported.

Following on that recommendation, on 7 March, the Council President read out a statement concurring with the Secretary-General that a further enhanced role for the United Nations in Somalia must be incremental and should be based on the outcome of discussions with the Transitional Federal Government.  It, meanwhile, welcomed the efforts of the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) and its leading role in coordinating support for the Transitional Government to implement the agreements reached at the Somali National Reconciliation Conference and to establish peace and stability in Somalia.

Acting under Chapter VI of the Charter on 15 March, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1587 (2005), by which it re-established for six months the Monitoring Group on the ongoing arms embargo violations in Somalia, including transfers of ammunition, single use weapons and small arms.  It asked the Group to continue the tasks entrusted to it, including the investigation of the implementation of the arms embargo by member and any violations of it, as well as actions taken by the Somali authorities in that regard.

On 14 July, the Council President issued a statement expressing concern at the recent disagreements threatening the viability of the country’s Transitional Federal Institutions and urged the immediate conclusion of a national security and stabilization plan, to include a comprehensive and verifiable ceasefire agreement leading to final disarmament.  The Council called on Somali leaders to exercise maximum restraint and to take immediate effective steps to reduce tension.

In addition, the Council condemned in the strongest terms the brutal 11 July murder of Somali peace activist Abdulkadir Yaha Ali in Mogadishu, calling for an immediate investigation.  It also deplored the recent hijacking of a vessel chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP) to carry food aid for tsunami victims.

Reporting to the Council on 5 October, the Group monitoring the arms embargo described a sustained and dramatic increase in arms embargo violations over the past six months.  That increased arms flow, it said, was a manifestation of the highly aggravated political tensions between the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition.  That, in turn, had given rise to increasing militarization and severely elevated threat of widespread violence in central and southern Somalia.  In response, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1630 (2005) on 14 October condemning the significant increase of the flow of weapons and ammunition to Somalia, and requesting the Secretary-General to re-establish the Group monitoring the arms embargo against that country. 

On 9 November, the Council, in a presidential statement, condemned in the strongest terms the assassination attempt of 6 November against Somalia’s Prime Minster, Ali Mohammed Gedi, in Mogadishu, and the killing on 3 October of a United Nations national security officer in Kismayo.

Liberia

Emphasizing the need for the international community to help the National Transitional Government in Liberia increase its capacity to establish its authority throughout the country, particularly its control over the diamond- and timber-producing areas and Liberia’s borders, the Council extended the Liberian diamond embargo on 21 June, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1607 (2005).  It also re-established the Panel of Experts to, among other tasks, assess the impact and effectiveness of the sanctions measures, first imposed by the Council through resolution 1521 (2003). 

(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.)

Earlier, on 31 March, the Council had extended the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until 31 March 2006 through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1626 (2005).  It had also authorized a temporary increase in the Mission’s personnel ceiling to a total of 15,250 military personnel, from 15 November to 31 March 2006 to ensure that the support provided a continuing international security presence for the Special Court in Sierra Leone, after the departure of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) on 31 December.

Then, on 11 November, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1638 (2005), by which it decided to include in UNMIL’s mandate the former President Charles Taylor’s apprehension, detention and transfer to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, in the event of his return to Liberia.  The Council asked the Governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone to keep it fully informed about the transfer of the former Liberian President.

Sierra Leone

“With Sierra Leone now stable and at peace, the Security Council sees a great opportunity for the development of a mature and vibrant political culture”, the 15-member body said in a presidential statement on 20 December.

Perhaps more than any other situation on the Council’s agenda, the conclusion on 31 December of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which had contributed to restoring peace and stability for six years in that West African country after a long civil war, was the year’s crowning success.

Commending the United Nations Mission for its “invaluable contribution” to the country’s recovery, the Council noted in the text that the new United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL) would provide continued support to the Government as it tackled the many challenges ahead, including the establishment of good governance, sustainable economic development, job creation and delivery of public services.  The Government would need the sustained help of donors and development partners, particularly in addressing such essential issues as security sector reform, corruption, judicial reform, and equal rights for women and girls.

On 24 May, the Council had been briefed in an open meeting by the President of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola.  He said that the Court had received approximately $54.9 million in voluntary contributions against a four-year budget of $104 million and there was currently no assurance of funds beyond the end of 2005.  As a result of the shortfall, the Secretary-General had reverted to the Council, seeking a subvention under the United Nations programme budget for special political missions to supplement the voluntary contributions.

The Council, on 30 June, extended UNAMSIL for a final six months, noting with approval the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the drawdown should begin in mid-August and be completed by 31 December.  Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1610 (2005), the Council asked the Secretary-General to finalize plans for an integrated United Nations system presence in the country after UNAMSIL’s withdrawal, with the capacity to coordinate the activities of the agencies, funds and programmes, to cooperate with the donor community, and to continue to support the Government’s efforts at peace consolidation and long-term development.  It also recalled that the Sierra Leone security forces should assume full responsibility for security nationwide after the Mission’s withdrawal.

At the Council’s request, UNIOSIL was established on 31 August for an initial 12 months, beginning on 1 January 2006, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1620 (2005).  The Office would be mandated to, among other things:  build the capacity of State institutions to develop and implement a strategy for addressing the root causes of the conflict and accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  It was also tasked with developing a national plan of action for human rights and establishing a national human rights commission.

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

Guinea-Bissau

The Council met twice in 2005 to consider the situation in Guinea-Bissau.  In the first, on 31 March, it issued a presidential statement urging all political actors there to show unequivocal commitment to a peaceful electoral process, leading to peaceful, transparent, free and fair elections, and it strongly condemned any attempts to incite violence and impede ongoing efforts towards peace, stability and social and economic development.  The Council also expressed its growing concern at recent political developments in the country, particularly the decision by the “Partido da Renavadao Social” to select former President Koumba Yala as its presidential candidate.  Such decisions, it said, challenged the Transitional Charter and had the potential to jeopardize the successful conclusion of the transitional process and forthcoming presidential elections.

In the second meeting, held on 19 August, the Council issued a statement commending the people of Guinea-Bissau for their encouraging participation in the electoral process, and acknowledged with satisfaction the successful holding of presidential elections in that country and the announcement by the National Electoral Commission of the final results of the ballot.  That had marked an important step towards the restoration of constitutional order.  It took note of the appeal filed with the Supreme Court of Justice by one of the contenders and strongly encouraged all parties to honour their commitments and accept the Court’s final ruling.  It urged the parties to refrain from any actions that could jeopardize the efforts towards peace and stability in the country.

Western Sahara

Twice in 2005, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties in Western Sahara to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution. 

The first extension was on 28 April through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1598 (2005), in which the Council affirmed the need for the full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire.  (A series of military agreements exists between the Royal Moroccan Army and MINURSO, on the one hand, and the POLISARIO Front military forces and MINURSO, on the other.)

Then, reiterating its call upon the parties to work towards ending the current impasse and to make progress towards a political solution, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1634 (2005) on 28 October, which extended the Mission’s mandate for another six months, until 30 April 2006 and called on Member States to consider making contributions to fund confidence-building measures that allowed for increased contact between family members separated by the dispute.

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 has been stalled for years.

Europe

Kosovo

With the international focus regarding Kosovo turning increasingly towards final status, the Security Council held three meetings on that disputed province of Serbia and Montenegro, during the course of which it heard several briefings and adopted one presidential statement.

On 24 February, the Council heard a briefing by Søren Jessen-Peterson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), who said the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government had made tangible progress in implementing the required eight standards before final status could be discussed.  However, more was required to ensure that the positive processes were translated into action on the ground.

A comprehensive review of the standards was planned for mid-2005, he said.  Should it conclude that sufficient progress had been made, the international community should be prepared to embark on the process leading to status talks.  The partition of Kosovo was simply not a realistic option.  There was now broad agreement on a clear way forward and a clear timetable that could lead to negotiations on final status.

He noted, however, that while the security situation continued to improve, many members of the minority communities continued to feel insecure.  Perceptions of insecurity also prevented many Serbs from returning to their homes.

Reinforcing that point, the representative of Serbia and Montenegro said that the lives of Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo were intolerably poor.  In addition, Parliament and the Government of Kosovo were not truly multi-ethnic; there was no strategy to resolve the huge unemployment gap or to embark on real economic recovery; the constant attacks on Serbs and other non-Albanians were not “isolated incidents”; no efforts were under way to reconstruct the Serb cultural heritage; and there were no efforts to encourage the return of expelled and displaced persons.

Albania’s representative said that the tangible accomplishment of UNMIK and the new Government formed a solid and optimistic base for further progress on the implementation of the standards.  The process of implementation, however, was complex and required time.  The issue of minorities demanded the engagement of all levels of governmental institutions and civil society, but also required the engagement of the Serb community.  That minority was part of Kosova society with equal rights and obligations.  Discussion of the province’s status must take into consideration respect for the people’s free will, guarantees for the protection of minority rights, and the exclusion of the possibility of partition.

Council members hailed the progress made in the implementation of standards, but noted that, as none of the eight standards had been fully implemented, more had to be done, particularly in the areas of minority-rights protection, freedom of movement, establishment of the rule of law, return of refugees, and combating organized crime.  The dire economic situation should also be addressed, and direct dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade was essential.

Members stressed that only if the Kosovo Serbs participated in all activities could the goal of a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo be attained.  The representative of the Russian Federation said the Serbs’ level of trust remained low and their fears were fuelled by incidents that often did not elicit an appropriate reaction from local authorities.

As for negotiations on final status, the representative of Denmark stated that the start of such talks was not automatic.  Any outcome would be based primarily on the authorities’ ability to secure a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo.  Crucial to that process would be dealing efficiently with Kosovo’s dire economic situation.  It was important for efforts to secure economic growth and employment in Kosovo that UNMIK have access to international lending institutions.

Briefing the Council again on 27 May, Mr. Jessen-Petersen, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo, said that the pace of further progress towards implementation of standards depended on the willingness of the majority community to continue efforts towards the creation of a multi-ethnic and democratic Kosovo -- a willingness that did exist, despite the recent, painful conflict.  The degree of participation by the minority Kosovo Serbs in the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government would influence the extent to which their interests were reflected in standards implementation.

Regarding Kosovo’s final status, he said the resolution of that question and the ensuing certainty would mean faster and more meaningful progress on a range of issues, and have real benefits for regional dialogue and trade, among other things.  There were clear limits to the results achieved on regional integration, which could be attained without some certainty on status.  Leaving the question pending would delay regional integration and adversely affect the interests of all concerned.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on UNMIK, he noted that for the first time in its recent history, Kosovo had a strong opposition that was critical of the Government’s work while agreeing with it on the overall goals for the province.  However, there was still no clear signal from Belgrade urging the Kosovo Serbs to participate in the Provisional Institutions.  And dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade could not substitute for the direct involvement of the Kosovo Serbs in shaping their own future.  While progress would continue, even without the meaningful participation of the Kosovo Serbs, the establishment of a fully multi-ethnic Kosovo and the integration of all communities would remain limited as long as one ethnic group was pressured to stay outside the political, economic and social processes.

Nebojsa Covic, President of the Coordination Centre of Serbia and Montenegro and the Republic of Serbia for Kosovo and Metohija, said that the Secretary-General’s report regrettably linked the most important problems to the Kosovo Serbs and to the Government of Serbia.  It should not have omitted to mention the 230,000 internally displaced Serbs and other non-Albanians who could not return to their homes because UNMIK and the Kosovo multinational security force (KFOR) could not guarantee their safety and freedom of movement.  The Belgrade authorities were trying to facilitate the achievement of a truly democratic and multi-ethnic society.  The cornerstone of Belgrade’s policy was that state borders could not be changed, and its sovereignty and territorial integrity could not be questioned.  Direct dialogue was the only road to follow if solutions to the problems of Kosovo were to be found.

He said it would be counterproductive to open future status discussions before the standards had been substantively implemented, but should the decision be to begin the talks in spite of everything, the negotiators would be burdened with the extremism of the Albanian leaders, who would get the wrong idea that the international community was yielding to their policy of ethnic cleansing.  The future status issue must be solved by reaching agreements, above all, with full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and Montenegro.

Albania’s representative, stressing that the time had come for important and substantial progress in determining Kosovo’s political status, said the status quo was neither desirable nor useful.  The standards implementation process would help the province’s rapid progress, economy and prosperity, as well as generate security and stability, promoting the advancement of the whole region.  Standards implementation would remain the central focus of Kosovo’s people on living in dignity and moving forward towards Euro-Atlantic integration.

With its current political status, foreign direct investment in Kosovo remained distant, he noted.  The province lacked eligibility for International Monetary Fund and World Bank assistance programmes, which would otherwise have a direct impact on the development of a stable and efficient economy.  Respect for the free will of the people of Kosovo regarding their future, as well as guaranteed respect and protection of minority rights, including guarantees for the protection of their inherited cultural and religious values, remained crucial to a just and stable solution.

Council President Per Stig Møller, speaking in his capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, expressed optimism that the review would result in a decision to start negotiations on Kosovo’s final status.  But while there should be no automatic determinant for the start of talks, the outcome of the review would be decisive in that regard.  But the time had come to move on; Kosovo’s unresolved status created political insecurity, discouraged returns, fed extremist designs, scared off foreign investment and was not sustainable.  The outcome of the status talks should not be prejudged, but there would not be a return to the pre-March 1999 situation.  Just as a reintegration of Kosovo into Serbia, or a territorial division of Kosovo, could be excluded, so could a union of the province with another country or a solution dictated unilaterally by one of the parties.

Luxembourg’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that Kosovo’s political leaders should be aware that the outcome of the proposed comprehensive review process and the initiation of any further steps thereafter were not a foregone conclusion.  Implementing the standards was a long-term endeavour and was expected to continue throughout the evaluation process and beyond.  Despite the many justified caveats, the Secretary-General’s recommendation to initiate a review this summer was a momentous event for the people of Kosovo and should be interpreted as both a recognition by the international community of progress already achieved and a powerful incentive to maintain and increase the momentum of ongoing reforms.

On 24 October, the Council adopted a presidential statement by which it declared that despite prodigious remaining challenges, the time had come to start the political process for determining Kosovo’s future status.  The adoption of the statement followed the Council’s consideration of the comprehensive review of progress in Kosovo and its hearing of a statement by the Prime Minister of Serbia and Montenegro.

Read out by Council President Mihnea Ioan Motoc of Romania, the statement stressed that for the process to move forward, however, the implementation of standards in Kosovo must continue with undiminished energy and a stronger sense of commitment.  Among those standards -- targets meant to foster democracy and trust between ethnic Serbs and Albanians -- particular attention should be given to protecting minorities, advancing the process of decentralization, creating the necessary conditions for sustainable returns, preserving cultural and religious heritage sites, and promoting reconciliation.

In a separate meeting just prior to the statement’s adoption, Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s former Special Envoy for the comprehensive review of the situation in Kosovo, introduced the results of his work, saying he had emphasized that there would never be a good moment for addressing Kosovo’s future status as both parties remained diametrically opposed, prospects for reconciliation remained modest, and the outlook for inter-ethnic relations was grim.

Expressing support for beginning the status process immediately, he said it was important to keep the political process from stagnating.  Furthermore, the start of the process would give enhanced leverage for the further implementation of standards, of which the international community should make full use.  Insufficient standards implementation entailed the risk of turning a future status into a failed status.

The status process itself would be different from other such processes in the former Yugoslavia, he said, because Kosovo was still part of a sovereign State, among other factors.  Every effort should be made to bring all the parties together and the process should be concluded within a reasonable time frame without haste.  In addition, a significant international presence on the ground would be required for some time to come.

Vojislav Kostunica, Prime Minister of Serbia, emphasized that his country was committed, in accordance with the fundamental principles of international law and the democratic values of the contemporary world, to a compromise solution and was willing to ensure substantial autonomy for Kosovo and Metohija as part of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.  The future of that country, and to a certain extent Europe itself, would depend on a just and viable solution.

The general situation in Serbia and Montenegro, as well as in Kosovo and Metohija, differed greatly from that prevailing in June 1999, he said, noting that his country was affirming itself as a bulwark of basic democratic values, both within its territory and in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dominating the Security Council’s consideration of the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina were the issues of indicted fugitives wanted for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the country’s increasing stability and progress towards joining Euro-Atlantic structures like the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In a briefing to the Council on 23 March, Paddy Ashdown, High Representative for the Implementation of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia and Herzegovina, reported that the Republika Srpska had transferred five major war crimes indictees to the Tribunal in the previous two months, compared to the almost 10 previous years in which not a single one had been transferred.

Recalling his warning 16 months previously about the failure of the Republika Srpska to honour its obligations to the Tribunal, he said the situation now seemed rather more hopeful, but it was early yet, and seasoned observers, including Council members, should remain sceptical until the transfer process had been properly opened up.  The Republika Srpska authorities must change their attitude and accept that the way towards the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina lay through The Hague.

He said that earlier that morning General Vinko Pandurevic, arguably the third most senior indictee after Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, had arrived in The Hague, and other generals had also turned themselves over to the Tribunal.  However, General Mladic, their commander, who was still at large, should reflect upon the fact that his subordinates had taken it upon themselves to turn themselves in, while he scurried from one safe house to another.  Ten years after Srbrenica, calls for justice had not faded away, and the process would not end until Karadzic, Mladic and other remaining indictees were in the Tribunal’s custody.

Describing the failure to cooperate with the Tribunal as the biggest stumbling block to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s future within the European Union and NATO, he said the country’s application to join the NATO Partnership for Peace had recently been blocked for that reason, but was being kept under close review.  The Partnership for Peace and the beginning of the long road to European Union membership constituted a watershed for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Luxembourg’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the European Union Stabilization Force (EUFOR), which had replaced the NATO-led multinational stabilization force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reinforced the Union’s comprehensive approach towards the country and supported its progress towards integration by its own efforts, within the Stabilization and Association Process.

He said that the European Unionrecognized the progress already made on the 16 reform priorities identified in the European Commission Feasibility Study, especially with regard to the legislative requirements.  Implementation and enforcement of the adopted legislation was an important next step.  However, despite those encouraging developments, the European Commission had not been ready to declare “significant progress” across the 16 priority areas, including cooperation with the International Tribunal.

Barisa Colak, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister for Security, said the country was ready to fulfil its international obligations towards the Tribunal, noting that national judicial structures were ready to take on the processing of war crimes, now that the War Crimes Chamber had been established in the State Court.  It had also set up an inter-agency working group responsible for cooperation with the Tribunal, which was a huge step forward.  The country’s institutions were now taking over responsibility for coordination and control over all the agencies in charge of arresting war criminals still at large.  Building trust in an independent judiciary as the most important pillar in a democracy was another step towards the rule of law, reconciliation and stabilization.

As part of the process of Euro-Atlantic integration and the embracing of European Union standards, Bosnia and Herzegovina wished to build a State in which all its citizens could trust, he said.  To that end, it was necessary to reform the military, police and judiciary.  The country had made progress in reforming the financial, customs and tax systems; defence and security structures; the rule of law; and border control. The return of refugees and displaced persons was being solved through direct negotiations with neighbouring countries, and 1 million out of 2,200,000 had already returned to their pre-war homes, while another quarter of a million wished to do so.  A sustainable return process must imply that people had full access to all their rights.

In his final briefing on 15 November, Mr. Ashdown told the Council that Bosnia and Herzegovina was ready to enter a “post-Dayton” era just 10 years after the brutal war that had left its people traumatized and its infrastructure collapsed.  It had acquired the framework, although not the substance, of a modern European State.  Standing at the gates of Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina had done what many had said was impossible even a year ago on its path to European integration.

Indeed, measured against other peace stabilization missions, progress had been real -- even miraculous -- and utterly dependent on the fortitude of the country’s peoples, the true heroes of the transformation, he said.  Thanks to a combination of enlightened local leadership and international pressure, the major obstacles to Euro-Atlantic integration had been overcome.  The previous week, European Union ministers had welcomed the European Commission’s recommendation to start drawing up a negotiating mandate for the country’s Stabilization and Association Agreement.  If all went as planned, the negotiations would be approved in Brussels precisely 10 years after the signing of the Dayton Agreement -- a fitting anniversary present.

He said that the European Union, backed by the international community and especially the United States, had made it very clear that the remaining conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin stabilization talks were non-negotiable.  While the aspiration of European Union membership had been a powerful draw, it had taken consistent international pressure over the last 10 years to bring the country to the gates of the European Union and NATO.  Nowhere was that clearer than in the area of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  While the transfer of 12 indictees to The Hague in 2005 was a huge step forward, another anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre had passed without the transfer of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

The opening of the Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiations would mark a decisive break with the past, he said.  While the last year had demonstrated the existence of the political will to meet the requirements of Euro-Atlantic integration, in many cases, implementation -- the hard part of the reform process -- was only now beginning.  Moving decisively from the peace implementation phase to the marathon task of achieving European standards, it was up to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to strengthen the state framework.  In its present form, the Dayton construct had reached the end of its utility as a framework for the next phase of the reform process, and Bosnia and Herzegovina needed a new template to move forward.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of the United Kingdom emphasized that one of the fundamental conditions for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European Union membership was its unconditional cooperation with the Tribunal, including the apprehension and transfer of all indictees, specifically Karadzic and Mladic.  Much still remained to be done in implementing reforms and meeting European Union integration benchmarks.

The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said his country had succeeded in fulfilling all the conditions required by the European Commission’s feasibility study and expected to start negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement early the following month.  The country’s institutions would have to start taking full responsibility for its future, while the role of the Office of the High Representative would gradually change.

Highlighting recent achievements, he said defence reforms were virtually complete and agreement had also been reached on one of the most sensitive issues  -- police reform.  The Republika Srpska’s cooperation with the International Tribunal had become concrete, although more remained to be done.  Economic progress was also evident, with the country enjoying one of the highest rates of gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the region.   Bosnia and Herzegovina was ready to support the development of good relations with its neighbours on the grounds of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference.

On 21 November, the Council extended EUFOR’s mandate for a period of 12 months by unanimously adopting resolution 1639 (2005) under Chapter VII of the United NationsCharter.  It also authorized Member States acting through or in cooperation with the European Union to take all necessary measures to effect the implementation of, and to ensure compliance with, annexes 1-A and 2 of the Peace Agreement, signed in Dayton, United States, on 21 November 1995.

The Council first authorized EUFOR as a successor mission to the NATO-led SFOR by adopting resolution 1575 of 22 November 2004 (see Press Release SC/8250 of that date).

In further provisions, the Council authorized Member States to take all measures in defence of the EUFOR or NATO presences and to assist both in carrying out their missions.  It recognized the right of both EUFOR and NATO to take all necessary measures to defend themselves against attack or threat of attack.

The Council reiterated that the primary responsibility for the further successful implementation of the Peace Agreement lay with the Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities and that the continued willingness of the international community and major donors to assume the political, military and economic burden of assisting them in that task and in reconstruction efforts would be determined by their compliance with and active participation in the Peace Agreement, particularly their full participation with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, including the surrender for trial of all persons indicted by that Tribunal.

Georgia

The Council’s consideration of the conflict in Abkhazia, Georgia, was marked by concern over the lack of movement towards resolving the situation there.  On 28 January, deeming unacceptable the continued lack of progress on a comprehensive settlement, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) until 31 July, subject to review in the event of changes in the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS peacekeeping force).

Unanimously adopting resolution 1582 (2005), the Council, deplored the fact that the perpetrators of the shooting down of an UNOMIG helicopter on 8 October 2001, which resulted in the death of nine people on board, still had not been identified.  It called on the parties to identify the perpetrators, bring them to justice, and inform the Secretary-General’s Special Representative of the steps taken in the criminal investigation.

The Council strongly condemned the repeated abductions of UNOMIG and CIS peacekeeping personnel, as well as other international personnel.  It deeply deplored the fact that none of the perpetrators had ever been identified or brought to justice, and reiterated that it was the responsibility of the parties to end that impunity.

Reiterating, meanwhile, its strong support for the document on “Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi”, the Council expressed its deep regret at the continued refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of that document.  It strongly urged the Abkhaz side to receive the document and its transmittal letter.  It urged both parties to give the documents full and open consideration, and to engage in constructive talks on their substance.

The Council also expressed regret at the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations and recalled that the purpose of the documents was to facilitate meaningful negotiations between the parties, under United Nations leadership, on the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, and not to impose or dictate any specific solution to the parties.  It called on both sides to participate in constructive negotiations towards a political settlement and to spare no efforts to overcome their ongoing mistrust.  It underlined that the negotiation process leading to a lasting political settlement acceptable to both sides would require concessions from both sides.

In a related provision, the Council stressed the urgent need for progress on the question of refugees and internally displaced persons, and reaffirmed the unacceptability of the demographic changes resulting from the conflict.  It also reaffirmed the inalienable right of all persons affected by the conflict to return to their homes in secure and dignified conditions.

A meeting on 29 July saw the Council extend UNOMIG’s mandate, which was to have expired on 31 July, for a further six months, until 31 January 2006.

By its unanimous adoption of resolution 1615 (2005), the Council, while reaffirming Georgia’s independence and territorial integrity and the necessity to define the status of Abkhazia within the State of Georgia, expressed deep regret over the continued refusal of the Abkhaz side to agree to a discussion on the substance of the “Basic Principles for the Distribution of Competences between Tbilisi and Sukhumi”.  It also regretted the lack of progress on the initiation of political status negotiations.

The Council called on the parties to publicly dissociate themselves from all militant rhetoric and demonstrations of support for military options, and to take concrete steps to revitalize the peace process in all its major aspects.  It further called for the rapid finalization and signature of the letter of intent on returns [of refugees and internally displaced persons] proposed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, recalling the Abkhaz side’s particular responsibility to protect returnees.

Reiterating its concern that, despite the start of the deployment of a civilian police component as part of UNOMIG, the deployment of the remaining officers in the Gali sector was still outstanding, the Council called on the Abkhaz side to allow for a swift deployment in the region.  The Council called on the Georgian side to provide comprehensive security guarantees to allow for independent and regular monitoring of the situation in the upper Kodori valley by joint patrols of UNOMIG and the CIS peacekeeping force.

Cyprus

Following the Greek Cypriot rejection of the United Nations plan in 2004, the Security Council held two formal meetings in 2005 during which it extended the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and heard a briefing in which the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs said that the Secretary-General was mindful of his own responsibilities and remained committed to assisting the parties to achieve a settlement on the divided Mediterranean island.

In a meeting on 15 June, the Council extended UNFICYP’s mandate until 15 December 2005 by unanimously adopting resolution 1604 (2005), which called on the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to restore in Strovilia the military status quo that had existed there prior to 30 June 2000.  The violation of the military status quo in Strovilia persisted even after the Turkish Cypriot side lifted the restrictions imposed on UNFICYP in July 2000 by the Turkish forces/Turkish Cypriot security forces, allowing UNFICYP to restore its operational capabilities in and around the buffer zone.

In his 22 June briefing, Under-Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast said all parties in Cyprus wished to see a resumption of active United Nations good offices and accepted that the United Nations plan should serve as the document on which negotiations would resume.

Giving an assessment of the situation following a visit to Cyprus, Greece and Turkey in May, he said that political figures on both sides of the dispute were maintaining cordial contacts with each other in an effort to promote mutual understanding, and there were useful contacts at other levels, as well.  An independent bicommunal survey among grass-roots opinion on both sides had found that it might be possible to make certain changes that would secure majority support for the United Nations plan in both communities.

But despite those important positives, the gap between the stated positions of the parties on substance appeared to be wide, while confidence between them did not seem high, he said.  Those two factors, especially in combination, made efforts to establish common ground extremely difficult, and the Secretary-General believed that the starting point must fully respect the decision of the voters on each side of the 24 April 2004 referendum, which position should guide the Organization’s approach.

He noted that more than three quarters of Greek Cypriot voters had rejected the finalized United Nations plan.  While the United Nations could not countenance a solution other than the kind envisaged in Council resolutions, the concerns of highest priority that had led Greek Cypriots to vote in that way would most certainly have to be addressed in any future process based on the United Nations plan -- and the Greek Cypriot electorate must have confidence that their concerns would be borne in mind in a renewed process.  In that context, a prioritized and exhaustive list of concrete proposals for negotiation would be an important advance, because it was very hard to address a long list of concerns in an ordered way if they were expressed without modulation or indication of their relative importance.

At the same time, he stressed, it would not help the search for a solution if Greek Cypriot concerns were met in a way that lost majority support for the United Nations plan on the Turkish Cypriot side, which must have confidence that they too would be borne in mind in any renewed process.  Meanwhile, confidence on the Turkish Cypriot side and in Turkey, whose role would be critical, was diminished by the fact that, although a clear majority among Turkish Cypriot voters supported a compromise United Nations plan finalized by an agreed procedure, they had seen little acknowledgement of their efforts to achieve a solution and little or no improvement in their situation since the referendum.

He said that, while it was natural for each party to seek to protect its own interests, it was important to encourage both sides to focus on their overriding common interest:  the need to agree on revisions so that the United Nations plan could command majority support, not only in their own community, but also in the other.  Outsiders could help, but it was the parties who must summon the vision, courage and political will needed to make a settlement, which would require compromise.  Leaders had to lead, not just follow, their supporters, and a settlement would only be possible if the parties acted in a way that conveyed respect, understanding for one another’s concerns, and a desire for an early settlement.

Responsibilities also fell on Greece and Turkey, which must keep in mind that the Cyprus problem should be settled on its own merits and in the interests, first and foremost, of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, he stated.  The two countries’ strong support for the Secretary-General’s mission of good offices must be matched by a readiness to think afresh on certain aspects of the problem, so that a solution could be achieved on the basis of a revised United Nations plan.

Moreover, he said, the persistence of the status quo on the island was unacceptable, as the Council had made clear on several occasions.  At the same time, the premature launch of an intensive new process would be inadvisable.  Nothing positive would be served by a new effort that ended, as had the previous two, in high-profile failure or frustrating stalemate.

As things stood, he said, the Secretary-General believed it would be prudent to proceed very carefully and intended to reflect on the future of his mission of good offices in the period ahead.  He would be closely observing developments on the ground, and depending on the evolution of events and attitudes on the island, it might become appropriate to consider appointing a Special Adviser who would engage the parties and explore whether the necessary common ground existed, or could be built, to enable the resumption of full-scale negotiations.

On 14 December, the Council expressed its full support for UNFICYP and extended its mandate until 15 June 2006.

Asia

Timor-Leste

The highlight of the Security Council’s consideration of the situation in Timor-Leste was the winding up of the peacekeeping operation known as the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) -- which had helped maintain stability in the new nation since its bloody but successful 1999 popular consultation on separation from Indonesia -- and the subsequent establishment of the United Nations Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL) as a one-year follow-on special political mission that would remain in the country until 20 May 2006.

On 28 February, Sukehiro Hasegawa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNMISET, told the Council that despite tangible progress in the building of democratic institutions since 1999, a number of major challenges remained, the most demanding of which included land-border demarcation negotiations with Indonesia.

     Outlining political, security and other developments, he said that a provisional line comprising more than 95 per cent of the border had been agreed upon at the technical level, but it had neither been possible to resolve the remaining border issues nor to establish a transportation corridor linking Oecussi with the rest of Timor-Leste.  A newly emerging challenge was the fight against corruption, which required not only the formulation and implementation of legislation, but also the establishment of ethical standards and guidelines.

On the positive side, he said, the National Parliament was set to appoint a long-awaited Provedor of Human Rights and Justice.  In addition, it had approved the organic law of the Superior Council for Defence and Security on 14 February, and the President had promulgated it on 17 February.  That law, together with the organic law of the Council of State, represented another step in the strengthening of the principle organs of sovereignty.  On 9 February, the Council of Ministers had approved laws on foreign and domestic investments and the adoption of a draft law on freedom of assembly and demonstration was expected at any time.  Another noteworthy accomplishment was the drafting of the law on the petroleum fund, which would ensure accountability in petroleum revenue management.

Regarding security and stability, he said Timor-Leste had remained relatively calm and stable, but the operational environment remained fragile.  Armed elements with possible links to ex-militia groups had made incursions in January and February, the border remained porous and difficult to control.  Illegal trading, smuggling and illegal crossings continued, necessitating the enhancement of border-management capability.

     Turning to the serious crimes process, he said the prosecutor had ended all investigations by November 2004 and trials would be completed by March 2005, while approximately 340 indicted people remained outside the country.  The serious crimes process would not respond fully to the desire for justice of all victims of the 1999 violence and, in that regard, the Secretary-General had established the Commission of Experts to assess the outcome of the two judicial processes in Jakarta and Dili.  The Commission would also consider ways in which its analysis could be of assistance to the Truth and Friendship Commission established by Timor-Leste and Indonesia, which had continued to make progress in strengthening their relations.

Jose Ramos-Horta, Minster for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste, appealed for a final six-month or one-year extension of UNMISET’s mandate, noting that he was aware he had made the same request the previous year.  While the United Nations had made an invaluable contribution to one of the most successful stories in the world, the reality was that peace in Timor-Leste was fragile, as were the institutions that had made it possible.

     Indonesia’s representative said that the 14 December 2004 meeting in Bali between President Yudhoyono and President Xanana Gusmao was an historic moment for bilateral relations, where the two leaders had reiterated their determination to further enhance a stable, friendly and mutually beneficial relationship.  They had also noted the steady and positive growth in relations over the past three years, as reflected by the significant progress in addressing such issues as land border delineation, refugees, traditional border crossings and regulated market arrangements.  The agreement establishing the Truth and Friendship Commission clearly reflected the maturity and spirit to seek an acceptable solution to heal the wounds and unload the burdens of the past in order to foster bilateral relations and friendship among both peoples.

On 28 April the Security Council established UNOTIL by unanimously adopting resolution 1599 (2005).  It decided that UNOTIL would: support the development of critical State institutions by providing up to 45 civilian advisers; support further development of the police through the provision of up to 40 police advisers, and support the development of the Border Patrol Unit (BPU), by providing up to 35 additional advisers, 10 of whom may be military advisers; provide training in observance of democratic governance and human rights by providing up to 10 human rights officers; and review progress in all those tasks.

     Acknowledging the Secretary-General’s decision to send a Commission of Experts to Timor-Leste and Indonesia to review the serious crimes accountability processes, the Council reaffirmed the need for credible accountability for the serious human rights violations committed in East Timor in 1999.

Expressing its continuing commitment to the promotion of long-lasting stability in Timor-Leste, the Council requested that UNOTIL, when implementing its mandate, emphasize proper transfer of skills and knowledge in order to build the capacity of Timorese public institutions to deliver their services in accordance with the rule of law, justice, human rights, democratic governance, transparency, accountability and professionalism.  It also encouraged the Government of Timor-Leste, UNOTIL, the United Nations Secretariat, United Nations development and humanitarian agencies, and multilateral financial institutions to start immediate planning for a smooth and rapid transition from a special political mission to a sustainable development assistance framework.

     Delegations welcomed recent positive developments in Timor-Leste, including the peaceful holding of local elections, the National Parliament’s endorsement of the first Provedor (Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice, and improving relations with neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia.  In that regard, speakers hailed the recent visit by Indonesia’s President Yudhoyono to Timor-Leste, during which the two nations had signed a provisional land border agreement.

     Council President Ellen Margrethe Løj ( Denmark), speaking in her national capacity, said recent events had shown that democracy in Timor-Leste was still fragile, but also vibrant and functioning.  At the same time, the lack of progress in the fight against impunity was a cause for concern.  The issue of serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste in 1999 was also a concern, not only for the two countries, but also for the international community at large.  The perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to justice.

Indonesia’s representative said the Commission on Truth and Friendship, the bilateral body created by his country and Timor-Leste, remained the best mechanism to foster bilateral relations and friendship among the two peoples.   Indonesia had invited the Commission of Experts for a visit from 18 to 20 May and looked forward to its positive contributions to the work of the Commission on Truth and Friendship.

The representative of Timor-Leste thanked all members of UNMISET for their contribution to peace, stability, justice and capacity-building in his country, and welcomed resolution 1599 (2005) allowing the mandate of the follow-on mission for one year.  The Timorese Government was committed to peace and stability in the country.

While noting that progress had been achieved in various areas, he pointed out also that Timor-Leste remained one of the poorest nations in the world.  The Government was determined, however, to create a better life for the people and, to that end, the international community’s support was necessary.

     On 29 August, Mr. Hasegawa, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOTIL, said in a briefing to the Council that the overall situation in Timor-Leste had remained calm and stable since the peaceful resolution of the dispute between the Church and the Government in May.  No major border or security incidents had taken place, but there had been some isolated clashes involving martial arts and political interest groups.  Clashes among martial arts groups had prompted President Gusmao to bring together 14 of them to sign a declaration committing them to eradicate violence.  In addition, the activities of political interest groups had led the police to seize weapons and hold some of their members for questioning, largely in the Baucau district.

     Concerning the political process, he said that local elections during the reporting period had been conducted in a peaceful and orderly fashion.  Presidential and national parliamentary elections were to be held in 18 months and both President Gusmao and Prime Minister Alkatiri had requested the United Nations to provide assistance in drafting electoral laws.  The Superior Council for Defence and Security and the Council of State had both been established in May, and the restructuring of the Government had been announced on 28 June.  The new Cabinet members had been sworn in on 29 July.

He said that on the diplomatic front, Timor-Leste’s relationship with Australia and Indonesia had continued to grow.  An agreement with Australia over the sharing of Timor Sea oil and gas resources was close to finalization.  The July Joint Ministerial Commission Meeting between Indonesia and Timor-Leste had agreed that the two countries would reach an agreement on the remaining 4 per cent of their common border.

In the economic sphere, new opportunities and challenges had emerged, he said.  Revenues from Timor Sea oil and gas resources had started to flow, and the Government had drawn up legislation to realize the effective management of petroleum resources.  The UNOTIL civilian advisers had played a major role in the formulation of legislation and establishment of the Petroleum Fund.  The laws on Domestic and External Investment had been promulgated on 27 May and were expected to encourage business investment in the country.

Turning to the status of implementation of the UNOTIL mandate outlined by resolution 1599 (2005), he said the first component of that mandate was the support to critical state institutions through the provision of 45 civilian advisers.  As a result of their tireless efforts, their Timorese counterparts had increased their ownership of their functional responsibilities.  The effectiveness of the civilian advisers in transferring skills and knowledge continued to be hindered, however, by the lack of national capacity in highly technical and specialized areas such as the justice and finance sectors, as well as the difficulty faced by state institutions in establishing and implementing a sound career development system.  Those challenges required concerted and well-coordinated support by the international community.

He said the second component of the mandate consisted of support for the development of the national police and the further development of the Border Patrol Unit through the provision of 60 police training advisers and 15 military advisers.  The UNOTIL police and military training advisers had conducted joint assessments of each unit with their Timorese counterparts.  The second Consultative Group meeting of all stakeholders had been held on 26 July to examine the four pillars of the joint strategy for police development:  professional ethics; leadership and strategic development; integration with bilaterally supported activities; and effective border management.  The 15 military training advisers were now conducting a training programme for the Border Patrol Unit, focusing on a broad range of border management skills that would provide it with the necessary capacity and confidence to interact with its Indonesian military counterparts.

Recently, the Provedor for Human Rights and justice had been sworn in by the National Parliament, he said, describing that event as a significant step towards the enhancement of transparency and accountability in public administration, not only in the human rights area, but also in the fight against corruption.  The UNOTIL would extend maximum support to strengthening the technical and functional capacity of the Office of the Provedor, as well as the Offices of the Inspector General and the Prosecutor-General.

He said that after four years of work, the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation was nearing completion of its final report, expected by the end of October.  As for the serious crimes process, UNOTIL had produced a copy of all records compiled by the Serious Crimes Unit.  The national judicial system had demonstrated its capacity to act upon the return of a former militia member who had been indicted under the serious crimes process.

In conclusion, he said that in the absence of a United Nations security force, the security and safety of United Nations personnel remained a major concern and challenge to UNOTIL.  Necessary security measures had been developed within existing resources to ensure that all United Nations personnel remained safe and secure.

Bougainville

The Council held two formal meetings this year on the situation in Bougainville.  In the first, on 15 June, it issued a presidential statement welcoming the first general elections for the President and Members of the House of Representatives of Bougainville, held from 20 May through 9 June.  The Council also welcomed the inauguration on 15 June of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in its full capacity.  Congratulating the Autonomous Government and the people of Bougainville on that achievement, the Council noted that the elections, which reflected the expressed will of the people of Bougainville, had marked a significant and historical landmark in the peace process.

Updating the Council on 6 July on recent developments, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Türk, said that the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Papua New Guinea had been implemented fully and the parties had taken the most significant step in the Bougainville peace agreement.  Following the establishment of the Autonomous Government -- inaugurated on 15 June -- that entity and the Government of Papua New Guinea would deal with matters relating to implementation of the peace agreement and the national constitution through already established procedures.  Mechanisms were also in place to deal with any disagreements that might emerge.  While it was up to Bougainville’s Autonomous Government to plan its priorities, the two Governments intended to work together in addressing future challenges, he said.

Following a decade of armed conflict over the issue of the independence of the Pacific Ocean island of Bougainville, the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Bougainville leaders signed, on 23 January 1998, the Lincoln Agreement on Peace, Security and Development of Bougainville.  The Agreement established a framework for a peace process, providing for a permanent ceasefire.  The main parties involved in the Bougainville peace process are the National Papua New Guinea Government, the Bougainville provincial administration headed by the Governor, the Bougainville People’s Congress, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and the Bougainville Resistance Force.

On 30 April 1998, the parties to the conflict signed the Arawa Agreement Covering Implementation of the Ceasefire.  The regional Truce Monitoring Team composed of monitors from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu was transformed into a Peace Monitoring Group.  On 30 August 2001, the parties signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement and requested the United Nations and the Peace Monitoring Group to provide assistance in its implementation.  The United Nations Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB) became operational on 1 August 1998.  On 23 December 2003, the Council resolved to establish the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB), as a follow-up mission to UNPOB.  The Mission was to complete UNPOB’s remaining tasks and facilitate a smooth transition in the lead up to the election of an autonomous government in Bougainville in the near future.

Americas

Haiti

The Council’s consideration of the situation in Haiti last year began with the 15-nation body pledging to support a United Nations presence in the strife-torn country for “as long as necessary”, agreeing that national reconciliation, security and economic development were the key to stability there.

In a presidential statement issued on 12 January, the Council also expressed concern about the disarmament and security situations in Haiti, as well as its intention to organize a mission to the island nation before 1 June, possibly in conjunction with a mission of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti. 

The Security Council’s fact-finding mission to Haiti, which took place from 13 to 16 April, was the first one undertaken by Council members to any Latin American or Caribbean country.  Briefing the Council on 20 April on the visit he led there, Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg of Brazil said the security situation in Haiti had gradually improved since late 2004, but international assistance, as well as national dialogue, would continue to be vital in promoting social and political progress in the country.

The delegation, which had met with Interim Prime Minister Gérard Latortue, representatives of the main political parties and civil society, and the Commissioner of Civil Police, had encouraged the country’s Transitional Government in its firm commitment to hold free, fair and transparent elections in February 2006, and urged the Haitian people to mobilize and participate fully in the elections.  It had recognized dramatic poverty as the prime cause of instability in Haiti, and underscored the need for a long-term strategy to combat it.

In order to ensure a secure and stable environment within which the constitutional and political process in Haiti could take place, and to assist the Transitional Government in reforming the Haitian National Police, among other tasks, the Council on 31 May extended the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until 24 June.

Subsequently, on 22 June, the Council extended the Mission until 15 February 2006, and supported Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposals for restructuring MINUSTAH to help facilitate the country’s political transition.  With local elections scheduled for 9 October, and the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections for 13 November, the Council authorized a temporary increase in troop and police strength for the election period.

Following a briefing by the country’s Prime Minister, Gérard Latortue, the Council issued a presidential statement on 18 October urging the Transitional Government to take the steps it had agreed on to ensure that elections would take place in 2005.  It stressed the primary importance of holding the first round of free and fair elections in Haiti in 2005, so that the elected authorities could take office on 7 February 2006.

[According to media reports in late November, the presidential election in Haiti had been postponed for the fourth time, amid continuing violence, among other reasons.  Elections were now scheduled for 8 January 2006.]

International Tribunals and Courts

International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

The Council’s consideration of the two United Nations war crimes Tribunals included briefings by high officials of the two courts, as well as a series of actions concerning judges sitting on the former Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague.

Adopting resolution 1597 on 20 April under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Council decided to amend article 13 ter of the Tribunal’s Statute to allow for re-election of existing ad litem judges.  Noting that the number of candidates for ad litem judges continued to fall short of the minimum number required by the Tribunal’s Statute, the Council also extended the deadline for nominations of ad litem judges under the amended provision of the Statue for a further 30 days.  On 7 June, the Council agreed to another 30-day extension.  [In an effort to speed up the Tribunal’s work, the Council created, in June 2001, a pool of ad hoc, or ad litem judges, to serve four-year terms.]

Adopting resolution 1613 on 26 July, the Council forwarded to the Assembly a list of 34 candidates for ad litem judges, following several extensions of the period allowed for nominations by the Tribunal’s Statute to meet the minimum required number of 54, including an extension on 14 March.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1629 on 30 September, the Council decided that Judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert could participate in a case before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, even though her elected term as permanent judge of the Tribunal had not begun.  Judge Van Den Wyngaert was one of seven ad litem judges whose term of office was extended by its resolution 1581 of 18 January to allow them to finish adjudicating cases on which they had been working.

Describing progress made by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in a briefing to the Council in June, the Tribunal’s President, Theodor Meron, said there were now more than 50 per cent more people awaiting trial at the Tribunal than the last time the Council had discussed it, a dramatic increase with significant implications for the Tribunal’s Completion Strategy.  The Council’s decision to establish ad hoc tribunals in 1993 and 1994 were seminal moments, and its referral of the situation in the Darfur to the International Criminal Court was a critical next step in the historic evolution of the anti-impunity principle.  Carla del Ponte, the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, also briefed the Council.

Emphasizing the importance of making necessary resources available so that the Tribunal could complete its tasks, Erik Mose, the President of the Rwanda Tribunal, noted that while it was premature to go into details about the Completion Strategy of the Appeals Chamber, the Presidents of the two Tribunals were in contact on the issue.  Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Rwanda Tribunal Prosecutor, added that the conclusion of investigations would lead to a progressive downsizing of the Prosecutor’s Investigations Division in Kigali.  The referral of cases to national jurisdictions endorsed by Council resolution 1503 (2003) had begun implementation in February 2005 with the handing over of 15 files to the Prosecutor-General of Rwanda.

On 15 December, Fausto Pocar, addressing the Council for the first time in his capacity of President of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, said the growing number of new cases made it likely that the trials could run into 2009.  At the same meeting, Carla Del Ponte, the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, stressed that the failure to bring Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic into the Tribunal’s custody was the “major impediment” to the success of its work.

Also briefing the Council, Rwanda Tribunal Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow elaborated on a number of significant developments that had occurred in the implementation of the court’s Completion Strategy, saying it had been able to commence new trials, conclude the prosecution of some cases, apprehend some indictees, and register standby progress in the ongoing trials of what was now the largest number of accused ever to be put on trial simultaneously at the Rwanda Tribunal.  Eric Møse, President of the Rwanda Tribunal, stressed the need for State cooperation in relation to the transfer of cases and arrest of fugitives, saying that impunity for perpetrators of mass atrocities was not a viable option.

International Court of Justice

On 15 February, the Council, meeting independently but concurrently with the General Assembly, elected Ronny Abraham (France) to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge and former President Gilbert Guillaume, as of 11 February.  The Council elected Mr. Abraham, the sole candidate nominated by the national groups, by a vote of 15 in favour.  (According to article 14 of the ICJ’s Statute, the Council fixes the election date to fill vacancies.)

On 7 November, the Council, again meeting independently but concurrently with the Assembly, elected five judges to serve nine-year terms on the Court, beginning on 6 February 2006.  Mohamed Bennouna ( Morocco), Thomas Buergenthal ( United States), Kenneth Keith ( New Zealand), Bernardo Sepulveda Amor ( Mexico) and Leonid Skotnikov ( Russian Federation) were elected following six rounds of secret balloting.  Under the terms of the Court’s Statute, the candidate who obtains an absolute majority of votes in both the Assembly and in the Council is considered elected.  In the Council, eight votes constitute an absolute majority and no distinction is made between permanent and non-permanent members.

Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, Thematic Issues

Peacebuilding

Following a day-long debate on peacebuilding on 26 May, the Council adopted a presidential statement in which it acknowledged that serious attention to the longer-term process of peacebuilding was critically important and that adequate support for peacebuilding activities could help prevent countries from relapsing into conflict.  The Council also recognized that intra-State conflicts and States emerging from conflict were among the most complex challenges facing the international community.  Responding to those challenges in most instances required a coherent and integrated mix of peacebuilding and peacekeeping activities, including political, military, civilian, humanitarian and development activities.

Addressing the meeting via video link, World Bank President James Wolfensohn said too much time and too many resources were spent on the military side and too little on development assistance.  Noting that roughly half of all wars that come to an end relapsed into violence, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said peacebuilding was one of the most direct and vital contributions that the United Nations made to freeing people from fear and want, and enabling them to live lives in larger freedom.  In the debate that followed, speakers expressed wide support for the Secretary-General’s proposed Peacebuilding Commission as a way of filling a “gaping hole” in the United Nations institutional machinery.

At the end of the year, the Council, acting concurrently with the General Assembly, established the Peacebuilding Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body to advise the Council at its request on post-conflict situations.  Adopting resolution 1645 on 20 December, the Council decided that the main purposes of the Commission would be, among other things, to advise on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery, to focus attention on the reconstruction and institution-building efforts necessary for recovery, and to support the development of integrated strategies for sustainable development.

Outlining its composition, the Council decided that the Commission should have a 31-member Organizational Committee comprising seven Council members, seven members of the Economic and Social Council, five top providers of assessed contributions to United Nations budgets and of voluntary contributions to United Nations funds, and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions.  It also recommended that the Commission terminate its consideration of a country-specific situation when foundations for sustainable peace and development were established or upon the request of the national authorities.

Peacekeeping Personnel

In a statement issued on 31 May, following its first-ever public meeting devoted exclusively to sexual exploitation and abuse -- the Council condemned, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by peacekeepers and reiterated the importance of ensuring that they were properly investigated and appropriately punished.  The Council confirmed that the conduct and discipline of troops were primarily the responsibility of troop-contributing countries, but recognized the shared responsibility of the Secretary-General and all Member States to take every measure within their purview to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse by all categories of peacekeeping personnel, and to enforce United Nations standards of conduct in that regard.  In addition, the Council said it would consider including relevant provisions for preventing, monitoring, investigating and reporting misconduct cases in its resolutions establishing new mandates or renewing existing mandates.

Civil Society

Recognizing the complex nature of threats to international peace and security, the Council, in a statement issued on 20 September, underlined the need for a broad prevention strategy for conflict prevention and pacific settlement of disputes and the potential contributions of a vibrant and diverse civil society in that process.  Recognizing the important supporting role of civil society, the Council stressed that the essential responsibility for conflict prevention rested with national governments, and that the United Nations and the international community could play an important role in support of national efforts for conflict prevention.  Those could also assist in building national capacity in the field.

Civilians in Armed Conflict

Briefing the Council on progress made in the six years since its adoption of the first thematic text on the protection of civilians, resolution 1296 (2000), Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland noted that the Council’s more systematic and sustained engagement on civilian protection issues had had an impact, leading to a real difference on the ground.  The basis for the Council’s thematic debate, held on 9 December, was the Secretary-General’s latest report on the matter, which noted that in the new warfare that had emerged, the impact of armed conflict on civilians went far beyond the notion of collateral damage.  Targeted attacks, forced displacement, sexual violence, forced conscription, indiscriminate killings, mutilation, hunger, disease and loss of livelihoods collectively painted an “extremely grim picture of the human costs of armed conflict”.

In an earlier briefing in June, Mr. Egeland said that not enough progress, in today’s fast-changing environment, had been made to keep pace with the challenges that civilians faced in conflict situations.  Adopting a presidential statement on the same day, the Council strongly condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians in armed conflict, and called on all parties to put an end to such practices.  Stressing the urgent need for providing better physical protection for displaced populations and other vulnerable groups, the Council considered that contributing to the establishment of a secure environment for all vulnerable populations should be a key objective of peacekeeping operations.

Children and Armed Conflict

Taking up the issue of children and armed conflict on 23 February, the Council focused a day-long debate on the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2005/72), which contains his proposed action plan for the systematic monitoring and reporting of child abuse in situations of armed conflict, or in “situations of concern”, with a view to triggering a strong international crackdown on offenders, and outlining measures to be taken to protect children.

Opening the meeting, Olara Ottunu, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, explained that the Secretary-General’s report was about instituting a formal compliance and enforcement regime, marking a turning point in the collective campaign for the “era of application”.  In a presidential statement adopted at the end of the meeting, the Council, indicating that it had begun consideration of the monitoring proposal, reiterated the crucial need for a systematic monitoring and reporting mechanism, and its determination to ensure compliance and to end impunity.  It further reiterated its intention to complete expeditiously the process of establishing the mechanism.

Adopting resolution 1612 on 26 July, the Council requested the Secretary-General to implement without delay a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the issue.  The Council also established a Council working group to which the mechanism will report.

Food Crisis

Meeting on 30 June on Africa’s food crisis as a threat to peace and security, the Council heard a briefing by the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in the subregion, James T. Morrow.  He said there were few phenomena in modern life as political as humanitarian aid.  Sadly, the use of food as a weapon had persisted in Africa.  Over the last decade, starvation had been used as a weapon in Darfur, southern Sudan, Somalia, Angola, northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and West Africa.  The most egregious example of that tactic today was in Darfur, where the situation continued to deteriorate.  The greatest humanitarian crisis today, however, was not in Darfur, Afghanistan or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but in southern Africa, where a lethal mix of AIDS, recurring drought, and failing governance was eroding social and political stability, he said.

Small Arms

Focusing on ways to improve the international small arms regime, the Council recognized that the dissemination of small arms and light weapons fuelled disputes and prolonged conflicts, and encouraged arms-exporting countries to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in the transaction of such weapons.  Through a presidential statement readout following a day-long debate, the Council also encouraged international and regional cooperation in identifying the origin and transfer of small arms and light weapons to prevent their diversion, in particular to Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, and called on States to enforce the Council’s resolutions on sanctions, including those imposing arms embargoes.

Basing its discussion on a report of the Secretary-General, which was introduced by the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Nobuyasu Abe, the Council reviewed initiatives to implement 12 core recommendations on ways in which the Council could contribute to dealing with the question of small arms and light weapons in situations under its consideration.  In the debate, speakers stressed that the question of small arms was not just one of disarmament, but also of development, democracy, human rights and security.  They also emphasized the need to implement clear and strict criteria for arms exports, with several speakers insisting on the need to make existing documents, including the United Nations Programme of Action on small arms, of a binding nature.

Women, Peace and Security

Marking the fifth anniversary of the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), the Council held a day-long debate on women, peace and security on 27 October.  In a presidential statement, the Council, deeply concerned about persistent obstacles and challenges resulting from such situations as violence, shattered economies and poverty, stressed the urgency for accelerating the resolution’s full and effective implementation.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s United Nations system-wide action plan to implement resolution 1325, which was presented by his Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Rachel Mayanja, the Council urged the Secretary-General to proceed with the appointment of a gender adviser within the Department of Political Affairs and to continue to identify women candidates for senior-level positions with the United Nations, including as special representatives.

Condemning sexual and other forms of violence against women, the Council called upon all parties to armed conflict to ensure full and effective protection of women, emphasizing also the need to end impunity of those responsible for gender-based violence.  Condemning, in the strongest terms, all acts of sexual misconduct by United Nations personnel in peacekeeping missions, the Council urged troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action and to support United Nations efforts to fully implement codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures to prevent further such acts.

Opening the discussion, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, called on Governments to redouble their efforts, while also underscoring the need for the United Nations to be more proactive, especially in preventing further instances of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers and personnel.  Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), also addressed the Council.

HIV/AIDS

Following briefings by top United Nations officials on addressing HIV/AIDS among peacekeepers and their host populations, the Council, in a presidential statement issued on 18 July, recognized the significant progress being made, but said many challenges remained.  It reaffirmed its commitment to implementation of resolution 1308 of 17 July 2000 on the issue and recognized that men and women in the uniformed services were vital elements in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  The Council welcomed efforts by Member States, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to counter the spread of the disease.

Collaboration with Regional Organizations

At a meeting chaired by Romania’s Foreign Minister on 17 October, the Council invited regional organizations to participate in United Nations standby peacekeeping arrangements, urging States and international organizations to help them build their capacities for that purpose and for the varied peacebuilding functions they have begun to assume.

The invitation was issued through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1631 (2005), which followed extensive discussion on strengthening the involvement of regional organizations in the maintenance of peace and security.  Through the text, the Council urged that regional organizations, particularly those in Africa, be strengthened in the areas of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict resolution.  In that regard, it welcomed the European Union’s establishment of the Peace Facility for Africa.  It also welcomed counter-terrorism efforts taken in cooperation with regional organizations, stressing their potential role in addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Addressing the Council, the Secretary-General said the Assembly’s World Summit had given new backing to the efforts to strengthen the collaboration with regional organizations.  A collective approach to security should be reinforced, in which the United Nations retained its responsibilities.  In that regard, the task was to ensure that cooperation mechanisms worked as well as possible.

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