Security Council Advanced Thematic, Disarmament, Civilian-Protection Work Even as Conflicts in Africa, Middle East Topped 2009 Agenda

8 January 2010
SC/9836

Security Council Advanced Thematic, Disarmament, Civilian-Protection Work Even as Conflicts in Africa, Middle East Topped 2009 Agenda

8 January 2010
Security Council
SC/9836
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

2009 Round-up

Security Council Advanced Thematic, Disarmament, Civilian-Protection Work

Even as Conflicts in Africa, Middle East Topped 2009 Agenda

With United States Presiding, Historic Meeting

Took First Significant Action on Nuclear Issues since Mid-1990s

While conflicts in Africa and the Middle East once again dominated the Security Council’s agenda in 2009, the United Nations body charged with maintaining international peace and security also advanced its work on increasingly critical thematic issues such as nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

In total, the Council convened 171 public meetings in 2009, down significantly from the 217 held in 2008.  Eighty of those meetings, or just under half, concerned Africa.  The 15-member body adopted 48 resolutions and issued 35 presidential statements.  Once again it strove for consensus to heighten the effectiveness of its decisions, with only five resolutions requiring a vote and just one occasioning a veto by a permanent Council member.

Possibly the most meaningful step forward occurred in the area of long-stalled efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation on 24 September, when, with 14 Heads of State or Government representing members, the Council took its first significant action on the topic since the mid-1990s at an historic meeting presided over by Barack Obama, the first sitting President of the United States ever to do so.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1887 (2009), members pledged broad progress in combating the proliferation of nuclear weapons, controlling fissile material and ensuring reductions in existing weapons stockpiles.  They affirmed the Council’s primary responsibility to address nuclear threats, stressing that all situations of non-compliance with nuclear treaties should be brought to its attention.  While the resolution did not target specific countries, the diplomatic stalemates over the respective nuclear programmes of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remained sources of concern throughout the year.

Another topic that received increased attention was the protection of populations vulnerable to armed conflict, which had been building in importance over the previous several years as killing, mutilation and sexual attacks against civilians reached epidemic proportions despite advances in human rights law.  The Council held eight related meetings under the agenda items “Children and armed conflict”, “Civilians and armed conflict”, and “Women, peace and security”.  It adopted four resolutions and issued two presidential statements aimed at improving the situation on the ground by focusing peacekeeping mandates on civilian protection, monitoring the situation more comprehensively, and engaging all parties to conflict in protecting civilians and prosecuting their attackers.

The most moving meeting in that context occurred on 29 April, when Grace Akallo, a young Ugandan woman abducted by the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), recounted her ordeal as a fighter and sex slave, receiving a warm ovation and helping inspire many of the day’s 60 speakers to vow to fight the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of such suffering.  Briefings on humanitarian and other thematic issues, particularly terrorism, also remained high on the Council’s agenda as it held public meetings and sessions of its subsidiary committees throughout 2009.

The year began on a bitter note, with the Council seized of Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip following the 26 December breakdown of a truce with Hamas and a subsequent barrage of rocket fire into southern Israel.  On 8 January, following a precipitous rise in the civilian death toll and days of intensive meetings, the Council adopted resolution 1860 (2009), despite the abstention of the United States, which called for an immediate and sustainable ceasefire leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces.

While Israel withdrew from Gaza on 21 January, its continued blockade of needed goods, the continued smuggling of weapons by armed groups and a report by a United Nations fact-finding mission alleging war crimes during the offensive cast a pall over Council efforts to restart Middle East peace negotiations, as did continuing Israeli settlement activity and the effects of the intra-Palestinian split between Hamas and Fatah, according to regular monthly briefings to the Council.  Despite relative calm and international initiatives ‑‑ including an 11 May presidential statement urging diplomatic action, stepped-up engagement by the United States and Egypt and a Quartet parley in September ‑‑ the impasse threatened the very possibility of a two-State solution, Council members heard during the last briefing of 2009 on the topic.

Also coming to the fore early in the year were border clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea, with the Council urging a peaceful resolution on 14 January.  Reacting to Eritrea’s non-compliance with demands that it withdraw its forces, the Council imposed sanctions on that country on 23 December, citing a report by a group of experts which contended that Eritrea provided support to armed groups undermining reconciliation efforts in Somalia.

That Horn of Africa country continued to attract a great deal of attention throughout the year, as the Transitional Federal Government, newly formed in March to comply with the 2009 Djibouti Agreement on national reconciliation, remained under attack.  The Council, strongly considering the creation of a United Nations mission to take over from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), decided that security conditions were not yet suitable.  Instead, it put in place a three-phased approach to aid AMISOM and the Government’s fledgling security sector, to be followed by a light United Nations presence, which would then evolve into a fully-fledged peacekeeping operation if conditions improved.  Unfortunately, they did not.  Meanwhile, the Council continued to act forcefully against piracy off the Somali coast while reaffirming that the instability on the mainland was its root cause.

Sudan also remained under the Council’s close watch as the implementation of its Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the South neared a critical stage, with a referendum on independence scheduled for 2011, while Darfur remained at a low level of violence with little political progress, punctuated by periods of more intense fighting.  The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) made slow progress towards full deployment, according to briefings.  In addition, the Council monitored a looming humanitarian crisis in the country following the issuance, by the International Criminal Court of a warrant for the arrest of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir on 4 March, immediately after which the Government expelled critical international aid agencies.

The Council paid constant attention to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after the peacekeeping mission there, known by its French-language acronym MONUC, was refocused more strongly on the protection of civilians in the vast country’s still-troubled eastern provinces, which remained subject to brutality and displacement due to continued militia activity and Government operations against them.  While progress was made in integrating some Congolese militia groups into the national Armed Forces and repatriating more ex-combatants back to Rwanda, the Council, in its most recent extension of MONUC’s mandate, requested strategies to bolster protection and ensure completion of the Mission’s remaining tasks before it would envisage a drawdown.

Among other situations, the Council was increasingly seized of deadly attacks by insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, some of which resulted in the killing of United Nations staff members.  It also continued to urge greater progress in implementing peace agreements such as those in Côte d’Ivoire and Nepal; and to oversee, in consultation with the Peacebuilding Commission, peace consolidation in Burundi, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau, a country that suffered new political violence.  The Council attempted to spur diplomatic progress in long-stalled situations such as Cyprus and Western Sahara, and to promote human rights in Myanmar and other locales.

No new peacekeeping missions were created in 2009, but the Council authorized a military component for the United Nations Mission in Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), which was deployed to protect humanitarian operations and displaced persons, when the mandate of the European force there expired.  In addition, the Council approved the transformation of the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) into the United Nations Integrated Political Office (BINUCA) effective on 1 January 2010.

The Russian Federation exercised the sole veto of the year, on 15 June, effectively ending the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), for which the Council had been considering a revised mandate in the wake of the August 2008 hostilities between the two countries.

Council members undertook a mission to Africa from 14 to 21 May, conducting in-depth talks with the African Union and visiting the Great Lakes region, and Liberia.  In addition, Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica) led some Council members on a fact-finding mission to Haiti from 11 to 14 March.

The General Assembly elected Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria to serve as non-permanent members of the Security Council for two-year terms starting on 1 January 2010.  They replaced Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Libya and Viet Nam, which concluded their terms on 31 December 2009.  Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda remain on the 15-member body through 2010.  China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members.

Following are summaries of major actions taken by the Council in the past year:

Non-Proliferation

Security Council Summit

Crowning the Council’s consideration of non-proliferation was its unanimous adoption on 24 September of resolution 1887 (2009) ‑‑ its first comprehensive action on nuclear issues since the mid-1990s ‑‑ which pledged the 15-member body’s support for broad progress on long-stalled efforts to staunch the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensure reductions in existing weapons stockpiles, as well as control of fissile material.  The Council emphasized that it had a primary responsibility to address nuclear threats and that all situations of non-compliance with nuclear treaties should be brought to its attention.  It reaffirmed its strong support for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), calling on States that were not yet signatories to accede to it. (See Press Release SC/9746.)

The resolution was adopted at an historic Summit featuring President Barack Obama of the United States in the chair.  Attending the event was United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as the Presidents of Costa Rica, Russian Federation, Mexico, Austria, Viet Nam, Uganda, China, France and Burkina Faso.  Also in attendance were the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, Japan and Turkey.  The Permanent Representative of Libya and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also addressed the Summit.

Iran

Briefing members on 10 December, 15 June and 10 March was the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006), by which the Council imposed sanctions on Iran in response to that country’s failure to meet its demand of 31 July 2006 that it suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.  (See Press Releases SC/9811, SC/9680 and SC/9610, respectively.)

In the last of three briefings, Chairman Yukio Takasu (Japan) said the Committee had received reports of further violations of the ban on arms exports to Iran, and had taken note with “grave concern” of an apparent pattern of sanctions violations involving prohibited arms transfers from Iran.  Council members took the floor after each briefing to debate the situation, but the Council took no formal action this year in terms of follow-up to its earlier resolutions on Iran.

In statements following the 10 December briefing, members expressed divergent views concerning Iran’s cooperation with its international obligations.  Among the permanent members, the representative of the United States said the IAEA’s latest report on Iran underscored that country’s refusal to comply with its international obligations and to cooperate fully with the Agency.  She asserted that Iran had conducted a multi-year effort to construct an illicit nuclear facility at Qum, and had failed to keep the IAEA informed.  Noting that three incidents of arms-related materiel being shipped from Iran to Syria had been reported over the past year, she declared:  “Iran has now been caught breaking the rules repeatedly.”

France’s representative said Iran had placed itself in a “dangerous stalemate” despite the diplomatic initiatives of the international community.  The representative of the United Kingdom said that the country’s refusal to accept fuelling arrangements for its nuclear reactor ‑‑ arrangements which indicated the international community’s willingness to accept a civilian nuclear programme ‑‑ showed that it took every opportunity to delay, with the intention of buying time and dividing the international community.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the situation was not simple and substantive negotiations with Iran had still not been possible.  Nevertheless, there was hope that the work of the “P-5 plus one” (the permanent Council members plus Germany) could yield results.  China’s representative said the situation should be resolved through diplomacy, noting that, although Iran had expressed different views on how nuclear fuel should be supplied, the way to settle the issue was not blocked.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

On 12 June, the Council unanimously condemned in the strongest terms the 25 May nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, expressing its grave concern at the challenge that the test posed to international efforts to strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as the danger it posed to peace and stability in the region and beyond.  It tightened sanctions against that country by blocking funding for nuclear, missile and proliferation activities through targeted sanctions on additional goods, persons and entities, widening the ban on arms imports and exports, and calling on Member States to inspect and destroy all banned cargo to and from the country ‑‑ on the high seas, at seaports and airports ‑‑ if they had reasonable grounds to suspect a violation.

Resolution 1874 (2009), adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, sharpened the Council’s weapons import-export ban enacted by resolution 1718 (2006) ‑‑ which included armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and spare parts ‑‑ by calling on States to inspect, seize and dispose of the items in addition to denying fuel and supplies to service the vessels carrying them.  The Council called on all States to cooperate with those inspections, and decided that, if the flag State did not consent to inspection on the high seas, that State should direct the vessel to proceed to an appropriate and convenient port for the required inspection by the local authorities.  (See Press Release SC/9679.)

On 13 April, the Council condemned the 5 April launch carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in contravention of resolution 1718 (2006), which was adopted shortly after the country’s nuclear-weapon test in October 2006 and which barred the East Asian country from conducting missile-related activities.  In a presidential statement, the Council demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conduct no further such launches, and reiterated the country’s obligation to comply fully with resolution 1718 (2006).

Members agreed to adjust the measures imposed by that resolution through the designation of “entities and goods” to face sanctions, directing the relevant Sanctions Committee to undertake tasks to that effect and to report on the matter by 24 April.  The Council also called for an early resumption of the six-party talks and urged the participants ‑‑ China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the United States ‑‑ to intensify efforts for the full implementation of their 19 September 2005 Joint Statement.  (See Press Release SC/9634.)

Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo

Over the course of six meetings, the Council closely followed intensified efforts to protect civilians ‑‑ mandated in December 2008 when it authorized the extension of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) ‑‑ following a spike in violence by armed groups in the country’s eastern provinces, which saw some 250,000 people uprooted.

To enhance MONUC’s ability to protect civilians and to plan for future adjustments, the Council extended its mandate only until 31 May 2010, following a 16 December briefing by Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUC, who cited the need for a more achievable mandate that would eventually channel into security-sector reform at the national level.  Up to the extension of MONUC’s mandate on 23 December 2009, the Council continued to express extreme concern about attacks on civilians in the east, including sexual violence and the recruitment of children, by armed groups that now included Uganda’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and cadres of the ethnic Hutu militia known as the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR).  (See Press Releases SC/9820 and SC/9832.)

On 9 April Mr. Doss announced that the situation in the east had undergone a “sea change”, when the Congrès national pour la défence du peuple (CNDP), followed by other Congolese militias, declared on 23 March their readiness to integrate into the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC).  In that briefing, and others on 10 and 18 October, Mr. Doss also described the challenges of protecting civilians despite the integration plans and the surge in the number of “blue helmets” in the east, citing a lack of air support, FDLR reprisal attacks against civilians, and violence by undisciplined elements of the FARDC, a problem that increased with the troop integration process.  At the same time, in the latter briefing, he outlined the progress made due to the joint operations of the FARDC with Rwanda and MONUC, stabilization programmes and the repatriation of a growing number of FDLR combatants and their dependents.  (See Press Releases SC/9631, SC/9701 and SC/9769.)

Describing the humanitarian situation on 17 February, John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, said there was a need to improve the delivery of emergency assistance in order to relieve the suffering in the east, where the rate of under-nutrition and massive displacement stood at 75 per cent or more.  In order to enable residents to rebuild their lives on a durable basis, national capacity must be rebuilt at every level, he stressed.  (See Press Release SC/9573.)

On 30 November, the Council, condemning the continuing illicit trafficking of weapons into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, extended until 30 November 2010 the arms embargo and sanctions regime against violators and others who threatened the peace.  It also extended for a similar period the mandate of the related Panel of Experts, expanding its remit to include guidelines on the buying and processing of minerals, again focusing on the eastern provinces.  (See Press Release SC/9798.)

Great Lakes

Two meetings on the East-Central Africa subregion also focused on reducing the violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  On 15 January, Olusegun Obasanjo, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, briefed members on the then faltering talks between the Government and the CNDP.  On 9 November, Mr. Obasanjo provided an update on the peace process with the CNDP and other armed groups, saying that a “slide to war” had been reversed by a 23 March agreement.  He emphasized, however, the importance of dealing with the underlying causes of the repeated crises, while calling for further cooperation between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, following their joint action against the FDLR.  (See Press Release SC/9573.)

Sudan:  Comprehensive Peace Agreement

“Without any exaggeration, 2009 could be a make-or-break year,” declared Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission there (UNMIS), in reference to the prospects for peace during a briefing to the Council on 5 February.  He added that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed in 2005 by the Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), was central and fragile.  “That is the challenge facing the Sudan and the international community and, with respect, the Security Council today.”

He said the Agreement had reached a critical juncture with little over two years of the interim period remaining and the environment for those final two years was likely to be difficult and complex.  Critical challenges to implementation included border demarcation, finalizing the redeployment of forces, census results, elections and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  Leading up to a referendum on the country’s future in 2011, border demarcation between the North and South, census results, elections and an agreement on wealth and oil-revenue sharing for the post-referendum period would be crucial.  (See Press Release SC/9590.)

On 30 April, the Council extended the mandate of UNMIS until 30 April 2010, requesting the Mission to prepare to assist the parties with the planned national referendum in 2011 and to support credible national elections in 2010, in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  The Council called on all parties to support implementation of the CPA, and to cooperate by providing full and unrestricted access to UNMIS in monitoring and verification of the Abyei region, urging the Mission to deploy sufficient personnel there so as to improve conflict-prevention efforts and ensure security for its civilian population.  (See Press Release SC/9649.)

Sudan:  Humanitarian

Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, in an 11 June briefing on the consequences of the Government’s March expulsion of humanitarian aid groups following the International Criminal Court’s issuance of a warrant for President Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s arrest, outlined the humanitarian situation in the country.  He acknowledged the Government’s efforts to work more closely with humanitarian workers in both the North and the South, but said the situation in the South was of major concern.  (See Press Release SC/9678.)

Sudan:  Darfur

During an earlier meeting, on 20 March, the Director of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expressed concern about the plight of civilians in strife-torn Darfur and urged the authorities to reverse the decision to expel humanitarian agencies.  However, the representative of the Sudan stressed that the decision was irreversible and that those expelled had transgressed “all red lines”.  Libya’s representative, speaking as Chair of the African Union, pointed out that the International Criminal Court had imposed a procedure, at the expense of peace, that would neither achieve justice nor end the conflict in Darfur.  (See Press Release SC/9622.)

Describing Darfur as a “conflict of all against all” in a 27 April briefing, Rodolphe Adada, Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), said that, even though the situation had changed to a low-intensity conflict, there was an ever-present danger of a serious deterioration.  The International Criminal Court issue had overwhelmed the political process and a comprehensive ceasefire was not in prospect.  He warned that with armed movements fighting among themselves, the army clashing with the militias and all sides killing civilians, two issues stood out:  the risk of military engagement between the Government and the Justice and Equality Movement; and the poor state of relations between the Sudan and neighbouring Chad.  (See Press Release SC/9644.)

In two briefings ‑‑ on 5 June and 4 December ‑‑ Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, reported on cases under the Court’s jurisdiction committed in the Sudan.  During the first meeting, he said the Sudan had a responsibility under the United Nations Charter to arrest President Bashir and other Sudanese citizens charged with crimes in Darfur, stressing that the Court’s warrant had been sent to the Sudanese authorities.  On 4 December he told the Council:  “President Bashir will face justice.  Any leader committing crimes will face justice.  Power does not provide immunity.”

While most Council members in the latter meeting said there was no contradiction between justice and peace, and that combating impunity was a condition for lasting peace, the representative of Burkina Faso pointed out that that the objective of justice could not, in and of itself, bring peace without a political solution, and demanded that the Court suspend the President’s prosecution.  (See Press Release SC/9672 and SC/9804.)

In a debate on 24 July, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, expressed his deep frustration that the Government, the rebel movements and the international community had failed to muster the political will to address the crisis “in all its heart-wrenching complexity”.  He called on the United Nations to adapt its actions in order to be effective.  (See Press Release SC/9716.)

Extending UNAMID’s mandate on 30 July, the Council demanded that all parties to the conflict in Darfur immediately put an end to the violence, including attacks against civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel.  Resolution 1881 (2009) also called for a cessation of hostilities and for all parties to commit to a sustained and permanent ceasefire, reiterating that there could be no military solution to the conflict.  (See Press Release SC/9721.)

On 13 October, the Council adopted resolution 1891 (2009), approving a one-year mandate extension for the Panel of Experts helping to monitor the arms embargo and sanctions against those impeding peace in the Sudan.  It stressed its continuing commitment to peace throughout the Sudan, including Darfur.  (See Press Release SC/9765.)

During a debate on 30 November, the Council discussed the Secretary-General’s report on UNAMID, including its proposals for benchmarks on progress towards achieving the Mission’s mandate, as well as prospects for the 2010 national elections, for which registration had started.  Edmund Mullet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said it was most important to achieve a comprehensive political solution to end Darfur’s marginalization and enable the region’s rightful representation in the national political process.  Djibril Bassolé, Joint African Union-United Nations Chief Mediator, pointed out that peace talks had been launched on 18 November in Doha, Qatar.  (See Press Release SC/9800.)

On 21 December, the Council considered the recommendations of the African Union High-level Panel established by the regional body’s Peace and Security Council and chaired by former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who briefed the Council on its findings.  Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, told Council members that the Panel articulated a comprehensive approach, based on the conviction that the aims of peace, reconciliation and justice in Darfur were closely linked.  (See Press Release SC/9829.)

Somalia

The Council met 11 times on Somalia, closely following the halting progress of the Djibouti peace process signed by the Transitional Federal Government and armed factions.  During the year, it also mandated support to the Transitional Government’s security sector and to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), assessing the conditions for a possible United Nations peacekeeping operation to take over from the regional force, while continuing to address piracy off the Somali coast.

On 16 January, the Council adopted resolution 1863 (2009), expressing an intention to establish such an operation, subject to a further decision by 1 June and conducive conditions.  It also requested the creation of a trust fund to help build up the Government security forces and support AMISOM, renewing the Mission’s mandate for six months and requesting that the African Union reinforce its deployment to the full authorized strength of 8,000, so it could carry out its mandate to protect key installations in the capital, Mogadishu.  (See Press Release SC/9505.)

The next two months saw significant progress under the Djibouti process, with Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative hailing, on 20 March, the installation of a unity Government and advocating a focused strategy that would link governance, security and development.  (See Press Release SC/9620.)

That sense of progress still applied on 13 May, when B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations briefed the Council, conveying the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a three-phased approach to United Nations involvement, first by maintaining support for AMISOM and then, following positive assessments, establishing a “light-footprint” international presence in Mogadishu.  Following further assessments, the Council could then decide to deploy a United Nations operation if conditions improved.  (See Press Release SC/9658.)

Two days later, however, the Council was moved to condemn a resurgence of fighting against the Transitional Federal Government led by Al-Shabaab militants and other “extremist groups” on 15 May.  In a presidential statement, the Council said the renewed fighting constituted an attempt to remove the legitimate Transitional Federal Government, and demanded that opposition groups immediately end their offensive, lay down their arms and join reconciliation efforts.  (See Press Release SC/9661.)

The Council reiterated its condemnation on 26 May as it renewed AMISOM’s mandate, and again in a presidential statement on 9 July, in which it also pledged to consider action against Eritrea and other countries providing support to armed groups in Somalia.  In a briefing on 29 July, Mr. Ould-Abdallah called for immediate international action to stabilize the situation.  (See Press Release SC/9663, SC/9700 and SC/9719.)

Briefing Council members on 8 October, Mr. Pascoe suggested that targeted sanctions might be an effective way to deal with “spoilers”, while Craig Boyd, Director of the United Nations Support Operation to AMISOM, reported that the trust fund for the Mission stood at almost $25 million, with the General Assembly having approved another $139 million.  Security conditions were not deemed to have improved sufficiently to move to the next stages of the three-phased approach to a United Nations presence, given continuing violence, as tragically represented by a terrorist attack on a graduation ceremony for physicians, condemned by the Council as a “criminal attack” on 3 December.  (See Press Releases SC/9761 and SC/9802.)

Continuing to monitor the piracy threat to humanitarian aid and other maritime activities, the Council renewed for 12 months, on 30 November, its authorization for all States to fight the pirates by all necessary means in Somali territorial waters and elsewhere, inviting them also to facilitate their prosecution.  The renewal, via resolution 1897 (2009) followed a briefing on 18 November in which by Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted that the pirate attacks continued despite having tapered off, owing to international naval deployments and other measures.  Combating piracy could not be limited to an international naval force, but must be part of an overall plan to address its root causes, he stressed, pointing out that piracy off the Somali coast was not only a criminal activity, but also “a very successful business”.  (See Press Release SC/9799 and SC/9793)

Djibouti and Eritrea

Expressing its deep concern about the continuing border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea following clashes in June 2008 around Ras Doumeira and Doumeira Island, the Council adopted resolution 1862 (2009) on 14 January, urging the two countries to find a peaceful resolution, and demanding that Eritrea withdraw its forces within five weeks to the positions they held before the fighting broke out.  (See Press Release SC/9570.)

Reacting to Eritrea’s non-compliance to that demand, and concerned at a report by the Monitoring Group assisting the relevant sanctions committee that the country was providing support to armed groups undermining peace and reconciliation in Somalia, the Council adopted resolution 1907 (2009) on 23 December, imposing an embargo on arms to and from Eritrea, as well as restrictions on the travel and a freeze on the assets of its political and military leaders.  (See Press Release SC/9833.)

Côte d’Ivoire

The Council’s nine meetings on the West African country ‑‑ split by war seven years ago into a Government-held south and a northern area controlled by the Forces Nouvelles group of opposition factions ‑‑ were focused on the repeated postponement of presidential elections, a major obstacle to implementing the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, the 2007 blueprint for political reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire.

Most recently, in a presidential statement on 8 December, the Council expressed concern at the postponement of the first round of presidential elections set for 29 November.  The Council had previously welcomed the scheduling of that round in a previous presidential statement on 29 May.  In a subsequent statement, on 29 September, it expressed concern over the delay in the publication of the provisional voters’ list.  (See Press Releases SC/9809, SC/9669 and SC/9750.)

In briefings, Choi Young-jin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), characterized the situation as a “mixed picture of worrying signs amid solid progress”, with the election delays balanced by the completion of voter registration on 30 June and other steps towards reunification, as well as a “prevailing climate of peace and stability”.  (See Press Releases SC/9577, SC/9645 and SC/9715.)

Agreeing with the Secretary-General that the delicate electoral process and other remaining tasks of the Ouagadougou Agreement required that UNOCI retain its core capabilities, the Council extended its mandate, along with that of supporting French forces, by adopting resolution 1865 (2009) on 27 January, and again on 30 July via resolution 1880 (2009).  On 29 October, it adopted resolution 1893 (2009), renewing the arms embargo, the ban on the diamond trade and travel restrictions on individuals who threatened the peace process, pending further progress on elections and other requirements of the Ouagadougou Agreement.  (See Press Releases SC/9584, SC/9720 and SC/9779.)

Burundi

With Burundi entering a new phase in its efforts to emerge from a long civil conflict, support for socio-economic rebuilding and the 2010 elections should be the focus of international assistance efforts, Per Orneus (Sweden), whose country was then the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific meetings on Burundi told the Council on 9 June.  There had been impressive progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and all children formerly associated with the Forces nationales de libération (FNL) had been reunited with their families.  The former rebel group would participate in the upcoming elections as a political party.  (See Press Release SC/9675.)

Youssef Mahmoud, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), told the Council on 10 December that the country required continued international assistance on anti-poverty programmes, development and elections.  BINUB was looking urgently into practical ways to help potential voters in elections planned for 2010 who could not afford the administrative costs of acquiring a national identity card.

In the same meeting, Peter Maurer (Switzerland), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi configuration, said the elections would be a test of the sustainability of the peace process, and it was, therefore, crucial to create an environment conducive to free, fair and peaceful elections.  However, there was widespread fear of violence among the population, and many people had expressed concern about intimidation, limitations on civil rights, threats and even physical attacks, mainly by youth groups.  He said his priority would be the close monitoring of election safety.

However, Augustin Nsanze, Burundi’s Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation, took issue with BINUB’s reporting, saying that the Government was addressing issues such as security, the rule of law, the situation of women and children and human rights.  He warned that it would be unfortunate if the Government had to ask the United Nations to replace its representatives on the ground.  (See Press Release SC/9812.)

On 17 December, the Council extended BINUB’s mandate until 31 December 2010 by adopting resolution 1902 (2009), which emphasized the need for the international community to maintain its support for peace consolidation and long-term development in Burundi.  It also underscored the importance of security-sector reform and urged all international partners to support Government efforts to professionalize and enhance police capacity, particularly in the fields of human rights and gender-based violence.  (See Press Release SC/9823.)

Central African Republic

On 10 March, François Lonseny Fall, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and outgoing Head of the United Nations Peace-Building Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) briefed the Council on the outcome of the long-awaited inclusive political dialogue that had taken place in December 2008 and the subsequent establishment of a new inclusive Government in January 2009.  He noted, however, that tensions remained in the north of the country.

Subsequent briefings on further progress in security and socio-economic development took place on 22 June and 15 December, in which the Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Central African Republic configuration also took part.  (See Press Releases SC/9611, SC/9688 and SC/9816.)

In a presidential statement on 7 April, the Council approved the Secretary-General’s proposal to transform BONUCA into the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA), with the transition to take effect on 1 January 2010.  (See Press Release SC/9626.)

Welcoming the establishment of BINUCA, the Council requested, in a 21 December presidential statement, clear benchmarks to guide the new Office’s work, while demanding that the Government and other stakeholders hold credible, timely elections in 2010.  (See Press Release SC/9828.)

Chad

The Council condemned, in a presidential statement on 8 May, renewed military incursions in eastern Chad by Chadian armed groups entering the country from outside.  It called on Chad and the Sudan to fully implement their Doha Agreement of 3 May and their Dakar Agreement of 13 March 2008 and to normalize their relations.  A senior official of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations told the Council that skirmishes between Chadian security forces and rebels of the Union des forces de la résistance (UFR) seriously compromised the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  (See Press Release SC/9654.)

Central African Republic, Chad and Subregion

In order to deal with the humanitarian threat posed by armed groups in areas bordering the Sudan’s Darfur region, the Council had authorized a “multidimensional presence” in eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic, made up of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) and troops deployed by the European Union (EUFOR).

On 14 January, the Council adopted resolution 1861 (2009), extending MINURCAT’s mandate until 15 March 2010 and authorizing the Mission to take over from EUFOR the task of protecting civilians in danger, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid and protecting United Nations personnel and facilities.  (See Press Release SC/9569.)

The Council heard briefings on 24 April and 28 July on progress in the deployment of United Nations troops and associated challenges.  On 22 October, it heard that MINURCAT continued to build confidence through high-profile operations to deter criminality and provide a security umbrella for the protection of civilians.  Progress had also been made in efforts by Chad and the Sudan to normalize relations.  (See Press Releases SC/9641, SC/9718 and SC/9771.)

Guinea-Bissau

In a presidential statement on 3 March, the Council condemned the assassinations of President João Bernardo Vieira and Army Chief of Staff Tagme Na Waie on 1 and 2 March, respectively.  (See Press Release SC/9605.)

Briefing the Council on 8 April, Joseph Mutaboba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), urged the Council to “send a signal” to the Government and security forces that they were responsible for protecting and upholding the human rights of their citizens, especially ahead of upcoming legislative elections called in the wake of the assassinations.  (See Press Release SC/9630.)

On 9 April, the Council welcomed the swearing-in of Interim President Raimundo Pereira, as well as the scheduling of the presidential election for 28 June.  In a presidential statement, it stressed the importance of national reconciliation and the fight against impunity, while condemning recent cases of arbitrary detention, armed attacks and intimidation.  The Council further expressed serious concern at the growth in illegal drug trafficking in the country and the wider subregion.  (See Press Release SC/9632.)

Less than a week before the elections, on 23 June, Mr. Mutaboba appealed to the Council and the international community to provide much-needed support for the ballot, and for much-needed institutional and governance reforms.  Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil), Chair of the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, stressed that every effort must be made to ensure that the 28 June elections were free, fair and transparent so that they might pave the way for true dialogue among the main political forces, which was crucial for peacebuilding.  (See Press Release SC/9690.)

Adopting resolution 1876 (2009) on 26 June, the Council authorized a six-month mandate extension for UNOGBIS and requested the Secretary-General to establish a United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) to succeed it for an initial period of 12 months.  (See Press Release SC/9693.)

In a presidential statement on 5 November, the Council welcomed the peaceful presidential elections and the new Interim President’s commitment to combat impunity, foster national reconciliation and achieve socio-economic development.  It reiterated the importance of consolidating democracy, security, the rule of law, national reconciliation and the fight against impunity.  (See Press Release SC/9782.)

Guinea

The Council reacted to killings in the capital, Conakry, on 28 September after troops opened fire on civilians attending a rally by issuing a presidential statement on 28 October in which it strongly condemned the violence and reiterated the need for the national authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.  Expressing its deep concern that the situation in Guinea might still pose a risk to regional peace and security, the Council noted the decisions by the African Union Peace and Security Council regarding targeted sanctions and that of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to impose an arms embargo on Guinea.  (See Press Release SC/9777.)

Sierra Leone

Focused on the work of the new United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) ‑‑ created to help the West African country emerge from the civil war that ended in 2002 ‑‑ the Council heard on 8 February from Michael von der Schulenburg, Head of that Office, who warned that, despite great progress, stability would not be achieved overnight, adding that international support was needed to overcome such challenges as corruption, drug trafficking and youth unemployment.  (See Press Release SC/9592.)

On 15 July, the Council heard from top officers of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, who stressed the importance for peace and stability in West Africa of the trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor.  (See Press Release SC/9707.)

The Council heard briefings on 8 June in which Mr. von der Schulenburg and John McNee (Canada), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific meetings on Sierra Leone, urged support for the unified United Nations strategy in the country and praised its political leadership for agreeing on a joint communiqué in the wake of an outbreak in March.  Zainab Hawa Bangura, Minister for Foreign Affairs said that President Ernerst Bai Koroma had established new structures and initiatives in order meaningfully to harness national resources.  (See Press Release SC/9673.)

On 15 September, the Council adopted resolution 1886 (2009), authorizing the extension of UNIPSIL’s mandate by an additional 12 months.  (See Press Release SC/9742.)

Liberia

Reiterating the continuing need for security on the part of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Council adopted resolution 1885 (2009) on 15 September, extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) until 30 September 2010.  The third phase of the Mission’s drawdown, to be completed by May 2010, would leave its military strength at 8,202 personnel.  (See Press Release SC/9741.)

On 17 December, the Council adopted resolution 1903 (2009), renewing for 12 months its travel ban on persons deemed to be a threat to peace in Liberia.  It also readjusted, for the same time period, its arms embargo to allow the Government and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to receive certain military materiel.

The Council also demanded that the Government make all efforts necessary to enforce the asset freeze imposed on sanctioned persons and entities, which remained in force.  It also extended, until 20 December 2010, the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring implementation of those measures.

West Africa

In two briefings, on 21 January and 7 July, Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office in West Africa (UNOWA) said the root causes of conflict in the subregion had not yet been addressed, particularly youth unemployment, rapid urbanization, corruption, irregular migration and food insecurity.  On 7 July, Mr. Djinnit was accompanied by Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the two officials focused on cocaine trafficking.  (See Press Releases SC/9581 and SC/9699.)

Issuing a presidential statement on 10 July, the Council expressed “deep concern” about the fragile nature of recent strides in post-conflict recovery and governance in West Africa.  It stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle a raft of emerging threats in the subregion, including terrorist activity in the Sahel, maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, illicit drug trafficking, weapons proliferation and the resurgence of undemocratic seizures of power.  (See Press Release SC/9702.)

Following a ministerial-level meeting on drug trafficking, the Council issued a presidential statement on 8 December, in which it called on the international community to strengthen its anti-trafficking cooperation with the United Nations and regional organizations.  (See Press Release SC/9807.)

Western Sahara

On 30 April, the Council adopted resolution 1871 (2009), by which it extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) by one year.  The Mission had been in the area, a Non-Self-Governing Territory since 1991, to monitor the ceasefire between Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Frente Polisario).  The resolution welcomed the parties’ agreement with the suggestion by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to hold small, informal talks in preparation for a fifth round of negotiations in order to come to a political settlement.  (See Press Release SC/9650.)

African Union

The Council issued three presidential statements on pan-African issues relating to the African Union.  On 18 March, following a day-long debate on strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and the regional body in matters of peace and security, the Council called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report on practical ways to implement recommendations on building the African Union’s capacity in many areas.  Secretary-General Ban, Ramtane Lamamra, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, and Romano Prodi, Chair of a panel on African Union-United Nations cooperation, also addressed the meeting.  (See Press Release SC/9615.)

In response to a subsequent report, on 26 October, the Council recognized the African Union’s important role in maintaining international peace and security and called on the regional body to develop a long-term capacity-building road map in consultation with the United Nations.  It stressed the need for predictable, flexible and sustainable resources for African Union-led peacekeeping operations and pledged to consider all options to strengthen funding, while at the same time reiterating that regional organizations had a responsibility to secure their own resources through contributions by their members and support from donors.  (See Press Release SC/9776.)

On 5 May, seconding an African Union statement on the resurgence of unconstitutional changes of government in a few African countries, the Council expressed deep concern about their negative consequences for security and socio-economic welfare.  It stressed the importance of expeditiously restoring constitutional order through credible elections and other means.  (See Press Release SC/9651.)

Meetings with the African Union to review the situations in the Sudan and Somalia, as well as the financing of peacekeeping operations, among other topics, were highlighted in a 28 May briefing by Ruhakana Rugunda (Uganda) on a Security Council mission to Africa from 14 to 21 May.

John Sawers ( United Kingdom) and Jean-Maurice Ripert ( France) reported on the mission’s visit to the Great Lakes region, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, saying that the visit had afforded an opportunity for the Council to encourage both Governments to deepen their cooperation.  Susan Rice (United States) shared the mission’s impressions on Liberia, stressing the importance of addressing violence against women, maintaining sanctions on targeted individuals and the need to build up the Government’s security forces and justice sector so that the United Nations Mission there, known as UNMIL, could wrap up its activities.  (See Press Release SC/9666.)

Middle East

Question of Palestine

Setting the course for the Council’s engagement on the question of Palestine were the humanitarian and political repercussions from the conflict in Gaza.  The year was punctuated by frustrated efforts to rebuild the devastated enclave amid persistent crippling closures and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access; achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation; prevent arms smuggling; fulfil Road Map obligations, especially those concerning settlements; and relaunch talks, together with a genuine readiness to negotiate on all core issues, including Jerusalem, borders and refugees.

Seized of the deadly 13-day conflict between the Israel Defense Forces and armed Hamas militants in the first days of January, the Council heard on the sixth day from the Secretary-General and President of the Palestinian National Authority.  On that day three schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) had been hit by Israeli air strikes in which dozens of civilians, were killed and which the Secretary-General called “totally unacceptable”.

Equally unacceptable, were any actions by Hamas militants that endangered Palestinian civilians, he added.  The situation “must move from debate to action, and must do so immediately”, Mr. Ban urged, calling for an immediate ceasefire, durable and respected by both sides, condemning again the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas and the excessive use of force by Israel.

Urging the Council to “save my people”, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pressed for an immediate and full cessation of Israeli aggression.  The Council’s choice was clear:  it must show that the United Nations would not ignore the tragedy of the Palestinian people, nor would it leave the Middle East a “whirlpool of destruction during this new round of violence and hatred”.  Israel’s representative said that for eight years the citizens of her country had suffered the trauma of almost daily missile attacks from Gaza.  “No State would permit such attacks on its citizens.  Nor should it,” she said during a debate featuring 14 foreign ministers.  (See Press Release SC/9563.)

The wider United Nations membership was brought into the critical discussion on 7 January, with most delegates stressing that no military solution was possible.  They called for intensified diplomatic efforts, warning that the violence threatened hopes for future Israeli-Palestinian peace and exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation in the densely populated territory.  (See Press Release SC/9565.)

On 8 January, capping days of intense ministerial-level negotiations at United Nations Headquarters, the Council adopted resolution 1860 (2009), by a vote of 14 in favour with 1 abstention (United States), calling for an “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”.  (See Press Release SC/9567.)

On 21 January ‑‑ the day Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza ‑‑ B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s trip to the region.  In a statement, Mr. Ban said conditions were still fragile and much more remained to be done on both the humanitarian and diplomatic fronts.  (See Press Release SC/9578.)

Senior United Nations officials briefed the Council on 27 January, including John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who announced plans to launch an emergency appeal on 2 February.  During his recent visit to Gaza, he said he had been shocked by the extent of the destruction and suffering.  Karen AbuZayd, UNRWA Commissioner-General at the time, expressed deep sadness at what appeared to have been the systematic destruction of schools, homes, factories, shops and farms.  (See Press Release SC/9585.)

Despite daunting challenges, peace could and must prevail, Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, told the Council on 18 February, in the first such formal briefing since the intensive diplomatic activity of January.  He cited the severe repercussions of the Gaza crisis; continued division among the Palestinians; the new political situation in Israel; the inconclusive results of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2008; unmet Road Map obligations, especially those concerning settlements; and the freeze in indirect Israeli-Syrian talks.  In the year ahead, the international community needed to be united and determined as it intensified its efforts, he stressed, adding that the Secretary-General took heart from the Council’s active engagement and welcomed the clear statements of intent and early engagement by the new United States Administration.  (See Press Release SC/9597.)

Mr. Pascoe reported on 25 March that, two months since Israel’s withdrawal, and international pledges of billions of dollars in reconstruction aid for the devastated Palestinian territory, very little concrete progress had been made towards establishing a proper ceasefire, opening border crossings into the enclave, ensuring unimpeded humanitarian access, preventing arms smuggling, or achieving intra-Palestinian reconciliation.  Instead, there was worrying uncertainty arising from the intolerable situation at the Gaza crossings, resulting in a near-total ban on construction materials, the non-formation of a new Israeli Government and the lack of adequate steps to lift the occupation, as well as dozens of new demolition and eviction notices.  (See Press Release SC/9626.)

On 20 April, Under-Secretary-General Pascoe underlined the international community’s commitment to a two-State solution and highlighted the nexus of recent and upcoming diplomatic activity.  However, in a meeting on 11 May, in which seven Foreign Ministers participated, Secretary-General Ban noted that, following the inconclusive results of negotiations in 2008 and the bloodshed in Gaza, there had been almost no progress on two key recent Council resolutions ‑‑ 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009).  The presidential statement that capped the May meeting urged vigorous diplomatic action to attain the desired goals, building on previous agreements.  (See Press Release SC/9638 and SC/9655.)

Mr. Serry told the Council on 23 June that diplomatic efforts to reinvigorate the peace process had continued, and recent meetings ‑‑ including one of the Quartet on 19 June ‑‑ had been part of a concerted push to relaunch efforts for a two-State solution.  On 14 June, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had stated that the Israeli Government would accept a Palestinian State, but under stringent conditions related to territory, security, refugees, Jerusalem and the character of the State of Israel.  He recalled the Secretary-General’s earlier statement in May that “actions on the ground, together with a genuine readiness to negotiate on all core issues, including Jerusalem, borders and refugees, based on Israel’s existing commitments, will be the true test of Israel’s commitment to the two-State solution”.  (See Press Release SC/9691.)

A variety of “positive developments” were cited during a debate on the Middle East situation on 27 July, such as initiatives by Egypt and the League of Arab States to promote intra-Palestinian reconciliations and President Obama’s June address to the Muslim world in Cairo.  Speakers underscored the importance of the shared responsibility of Israel, the Palestinian people and the wider Arab community to live up to the terms already agreed under the Road Map for peace.  However, concern was expressed over the lack of progress since the adoption of Council resolution 1860 (2009) more than six months earlier, which had prompted some to call for more decisive Council action.  (See Press Release SC/9717.)

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, was able to report several important developments on the ground, as well as continued international efforts to create the conditions for the “prompt resumption and early conclusion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations” in his 19 August briefing.  In the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority had continued to impose law and order, and there had been a notable decrease in the number of Palestinians injured by Israeli military activities since mid-June, although attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians had continued.  As a result of Israel’s easing of some movement restrictions, Nablus had seen a slow but significant revival of commercial activity.  However, continued settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank remained of “grave concern”.  (See Press Release SC/9732.)

The outlook was a bit brighter on 17 September, when Mr. Serry said he considered the upcoming meeting of the Quartet on 24 September (on the margins of the General Assembly’s general debate) as an important opportunity to lay the basis for progress.  It was time to relaunch negotiations and to see them through to a two-State solution.  “Today, we have a Palestinian Authority that is more than a partner for peace ‑‑ we have a player ready to meet its responsibilities, determined to insist on its rights and desperately in need of support and enablement ‑‑ from Israel, from the region, from the world,” he said.  The Palestinian Government was resolved to complete preparation for statehood in less than two years, and Mr. Serry was convinced they could do it, “if they haven’t already”.  The Palestinian Authority had announced its agenda on 25 August to complete the building of institutions of a State apparatus within the coming two years.  It had continued to ensure law and order in West Bank cities and towns, he reported.  (See Press Release SC/9743.)

A month later, on 14 October, the Report of the Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, featured prominently in Mr. Pascoe’s briefing.  (It was to be presented to the Human Rights Council the next day.)  The Under-Secretary-General noted that the Mission made several recommendations for ensuring accountability for perpetrators and redress for victims.  It called on the Government of Israel to conduct independent investigations into the many allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during the Gaza conflict.  The Report also called on Hamas ‑‑ “the relevant authority in Gaza” ‑‑ to initiate genuine and effective proceedings into the many allegations of such violations.

Following the flurry of diplomatic activity, however, frustration began to mount over gridlock on the ground, and Mr. Pascoe said he could report no significant progress in the previous month on political efforts to resolve the conflict.  “If we do not go forward decisively towards the two-State solution, we may go back to more violence, suffering and the loss of hope,” he warned.  “Once extinguished, that hope will be very difficult to rekindle.”  (See Press Release SC/9767.)

Describing the impasse by late November as “deep and worrying”, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios reported that international partners were seeking a way out, in the political quest for peace.  Recalling warnings that violence and extremism threatened to fill the vacuum left by the lack of political progress, he said:  “We now face a very real danger of such a vacuum, with no Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under way, no agreed terms of reference for such negotiations, and no framework in place to ensure implementation of Road Map obligations.”  The Secretary-General had deplored Israel’s settlement activity, which was illegal, and expressed dismay at the continuation of demolitions and evictions in Jerusalem.  (See Press Release SC/9796.)

“We are in a race against time to overcome the contradictions on the ground and the crisis of confidence between the parties, and move decisively towards a political end game,” Mr. Serry said on 17 December, during the Council’s last scheduled briefing of 2009 on the situation in the Middle East.  Both sides need to do more, he said, pointing, among other things, to the need for Israel to fulfil its commitments, including a settlement freeze, under the internationally endorsed plan for a two-State solution, and for the Palestinians to resume negotiations in earnest and advance their State-building.  “If we cannot move forward towards a final status agreement, we risk sliding backwards, with both the Palestinian Authority and the two-State solution itself imperilled, he asserted.”  (See Press Release SC/9826.)

Lebanon

The Council considered the situation in Lebanon mainly in the context of the situation in the wider region, hearing updates during the regular monthly briefings, as well as a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004) in May.  It extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) for one year by unanimously adopting 1884 (2009) on 27 August.  (See Press Release SC/9737.)

Special Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen told the Council on 7 May that it had been exactly one year since Lebanon had been taken “to the brink of civil war and back”, but thanks to an agreement between Lebanese political leaders brokered by the Emir of Qatar, the country’s domestic, political and security situation “has improved markedly”.  The violence that had erupted on 7 May 2008 had been one of the “greatest threats to the very foundations of the Lebanese State”.  Fortunately, the commitments made in the 21 May 2008 Doha Agreement had either been implemented or meaningfully acted upon.  The parliamentary elections scheduled for 7 June 2009 would be a milestone in Lebanon’s momentous transition.  In further strides, Syria and Lebanon had nearly completed the process leading to full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

But there had been no tangible progress towards disbanding and disarming Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, and there were alarming reports of a large number of arms in the country, he said.  Hizbullah’s leadership had continued to assert that it had acquired more sophisticated military technology.  The United Nations had no independent means to verify those reports, but remained concerned about Lebanon’s porous border with Syria and the continuing potential for breaches of the arms embargo.  The Government of Syria had denied any involvement in illegal weapons transfers across its border with Lebanon.  (See Press Release SC/9653.)

During the year, the Secretary-General forwarded his ninth and tenth semi-annual reports to the Council on implementation of resolution 1559 (documents S/2009/218 and S/2009/542, respectively).  In the first, dated 24 April, he expressed relief that the political and security situation in Lebanon had improved considerably over the year, but remained keenly conscious that the combination of mistrust among the parties, political competition in the context of the parliamentary elections, and the continued presence of militias could lead to tensions and possible further insecurity and instability in Lebanon and beyond.

In the second report, of 21 October, he cited the parliamentary election in June as yet another milestone in the transition since the adoption of resolution 1559 (2004) and an important step along the path towards revitalizing political institutions.  He was pleased that Lebanon and Syria had established full diplomatic relations, convinced that the resumption of efforts to delineate their common border was of mutual benefit to both States.  At the same time, he was mindful that Hizbullah’s weapons remained central to the political debate in Lebanon and the process of post-civil war reconciliation.

Israel and Syria

The Council twice unanimously renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), first on 23 June and then on 16 December.  The resolutions extending its mandate were accompanied by presidential statements in which the Council identified itself with the Secretary-General’s view that “…the situation is very tense and is likely to remain so, unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.  (See Press Release SC/9817.)

Iraq

The situation was characterized by a potent and seemingly dissonant mix of crippling violence and burgeoning democracy.  Ad Melkert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), summed up the situation in November, saying:  “Whilst still frequently the face of daily life shows the ugly sides of death and threat, the soul of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis vibrates in reaching towards the prospect of a safe and fair society.”  That must motivate the United Nations to mobilize all possible support for their progress, he said, outlining accomplishments made during the first term of Iraq’s Parliament and expectations for the next one, to be installed after elections in January 2010.

Following that briefing on 16 November, the last for the year, the Council strongly endorsed UNAMI’s assistance for the upcoming elections and welcomed the parliamentary agreement which would allow them to take place in January 2010.  At the same time, it condemned in the strongest terms the latest spate of terrorist attacks in Baghdad on 19 August and 25 October.  (See Press Release SC/9789.)

In his first briefing as Mission chief, Mr. Melkert told the Council on 4 August that, with the withdrawal of United States forces from Iraqi cities on 30 June had come an “unparalleled moment of opportunity”.  With a “new sense of optimism and energy spreading” among the Iraqis, as the overall level of violence in their country began to decrease and as “promising moves” towards political reconciliation got under way, the Mission should begin expending its focus to economic recovery, social development and political stabilization, he said.  At the same time, he acknowledged the “deliberate attempts to throw Iraq off course” with the often unpredictable and vicious attacks.  Indeed, the Iraqi Government had a formidable task to reassure the people that it could protect them, and that the return to normality they sought was still on track.  (See Press Release SC/9723.)

The Council held a debate on 18 June, in which outgoing Special Representative, Staffan de Mistura, said that, during two of Iraq’s most critical and formative years, the Mission had chosen time-sensitive entry points in areas where the United Nations could make a difference and act as an honest broker.  It had seen the Iraqis slowly shed sectarian divisions, bringing their differences into the legislative arena and turning out for elections to declare their preference for the country’s return to normality.  The Iraqi State was consistently building credible and independent institutions:  a functioning Cabinet, a reliable Parliament, an experienced Electoral Commission, and an increasingly capable security force.  The Iraqi people had shown remarkable resilience and were now more than ever able to determine the course of events in their country.

Indeed, Iraq’s representative confirmed that the Iraqi people, driven by their mission to build a democratic country, were basing their actions on “ballot boxes and not bullet boxes”.  The meeting culminated in a statement in which the Council commended the important efforts made by the Government, reaffirmed its commitment to Iraq’s independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and emphasized the importance of stability and security for the Iraqi people, the region, and the international community.  (See Press Release SC/9684.)

“We have grounds for optimism,” Mr. de Mistura had earlier told the Council on 26 February, fresh from the first fully Iraqi-led provincial elections, in which an unprecedented 7.5 million people had cast their ballots.  The 31 January elections, conducted in 14 of Iraq’s 18 governorates, had been marked by a “striking” lack of violence, a remarkable event in a country that had suffered so much conflict in recent years.  Recognized as credible and transparent, with an unparalleled show of support, the elections should increase Iraqis’ confidence in their local institutions, he said.

They were, however, only a further step in fostering national reconciliation, he cautioned.  That required confidence in institutions, respect for the rule of law, and a unifying Constitution, which implied greater willingness to bridge tensions among all communities, notably Arabs and Kurds, whose lingering differences had staunched progress on the development of the petroleum law, revenue sharing and constitutional review.  (See Press Release SC/9602.)

The Council unanimously agreed to extend UNAMI’s mandate for 12 months, on 7 August, adopting resolution 1883 (2009) and decided that the Special Representative should continue to pursue the expanded mandate, in accordance with the request by the Government of Iraq and as stipulated in resolutions 1770 (2007) and 1830 (2008).  By those texts, the Council expanded the Organization’s political role in Iraq, aiming to bring together the country’s rival factions, gain broader support from neighbouring countries and tackle the humanitarian crisis.  (See Press Release SC/9725.)

On 21 December, the Council held its last meeting on Iraq, extending until 31 December 2010 the arrangements for depositing revenues from oil and gas export sales into the Development Fund for Iraq.  It also extended the mandate of the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, an audit oversight body for the Development Fund.  (See Press Release SC/9827.)

Asia

Afghanistan

The Council was once more seized of the situation in Afghanistan, where pervasive insecurity resulting from politically driven insurgency threatened to overwhelm the capacity of State institutions.  According to the Secretary-General, who last reported on the situation in September, the insurgency was increasingly able to act in areas where it previously could not, particularly in the north-east and north-west.  Complex attacks now averaged one per month compared to one per quarter in 2008.  Efforts in recent years to increase the numbers of national and international security forces had failed to stem the insurgency.

That insecurity, in addition to the electoral process, held international attention throughout the year, with the latter focus gaining ground following the presidential and provincial elections of 20 August, particularly the delay in release of certifiable results until early November, when the Independent Electoral Commission declared the re-election of President Hamid Karzai.

On 8 September 2009, the Electoral Complaints Commission had ordered the Independent Election Commission to conduct an audit and a recount at polling stations where there were indicators of serious electoral irregularities.  But in the intervening months, “the level of alleged electoral irregularities had generated significant political turbulence, leading to fears of a return to violence when election results are announced”, the Secretary-General stated in his 22 September report to the Council (document S/2009/475).  “The formation of a new Government will provide an opportunity to frame a new agenda and cooperation for Afghanistan and the international community, building on the mutual commitments agreed in London, Paris and The Hague,” he said.

On 6 November, a few days after Mr. Karzai was declared the victor, the Council acknowledged the conclusion of the electoral process, congratulating the people of Afghanistan on their determined, active engagement and participation in the elections.  Council members reiterated their commitment to support Afghanistan on its path towards peace and called on the new Government effectively to address the issues of security, good governance and the fight against corruption, as well as economic recovery, improving livelihoods and the cross-cutting issue of counter-narcotics.  (See Press Release SC/9784.)

On 29 October, however, the Council condemned the Taliban in the strongest terms after they claimed responsibility for the 28 October terrorist attack that took the lives of several United Nations staff members and other people in Kabul.  In a presidential statement, it commended the determination of the United Nations not to be deterred by the tragic incident and to carry on its mission.  The Council renewed its commitment to assist the country on its path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction.  (SC/9781)

On 8 October, the Council extended the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for 12 months, expressing its “strong concern” over the increase in violence and criminality in Afghanistan as it unanimously adopted resolution 1890 (2009).  (See Press Release SC/9762.)

In a briefing on 29 September, Kai Eide, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Council that the formation of an effective Afghan Government and the development of its strategies demanded decisions that would determine the prospects for ending the intensifying conflict in the country.  “Faced with such important decisions, I must emphasize that doing more of the same simply is not an option any more.”  In addition to the composition of the new Government and its future agenda, decisions should be made concerning the launch of a peace and reconciliation process, ISAF’s future size and composition, and the priorities and allocations of international development assistance.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister told the Council that, to meet future challenges, an accountable and functioning State was essential, but it was a “reductionist view” to reduce all problems to that one issue.  Terrorists were motivated by a set of factors, primarily their fanatical mindset and ideological ends.  Other issues included reintegration of illegal fighters into civilian life, and regional cooperation.  In addressing those questions, the United Nations must play a leading role, and UNAMA was well placed to enhance coordination between the Government and its international partners.  (See Press Release SC/9751.)

Earlier, on 23 March, the Council extended UNAMA’s mandate by one year, while strongly condemning all attacks on civilians and on Afghan and international forces, as well as the use by the Taliban and other extremist groups of civilians as human shields and of children as soldiers.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1868 (2009), it decided that UNAMA would continue to lead international civilian efforts, in accordance with resolution 1806 (2008).  (See Press Release SC/9624.)

Prior to that extension, Mr. Eide had said in a briefing on 19 March that, while the Government was more competent than ever, and despite improved cooperation among security ministries, the security situation remained dire, and intense fighting was expected in the coming weeks.  The Government was making it a top priority to address those issues, including through comprehensive police reform.  While urging the international community to do its part to help stamp out illegal poppy cultivation and trafficking, he cautioned that achieving those and other goals would take time.

In the ensuing discussion, Afghanistan’s representative said that Afghans were eager to work with the international community to root out terrorist groups.  The Taliban were a product of violence, cross-border madrassa and foreign indoctrination, which had disrupted stable Afghan society.  A mere 4 per cent of Afghans wished to see their return to power.  (See Press Release SC/9619.)

A presidential statement issued on 15 July welcomed Afghan-led preparations for the upcoming elections, and stressed that they must be free, fair, transparent, credible, secure and inclusive.  (See Press Release SC/9751.)

In Mr. Eide’s first formal briefing, on 30 June, he told the Council that, if the August elections were managed well, the situation in the country ‑‑ the most complex it had been for years ‑‑ could become a turning point in efforts to end the conflict there.  But there was a need not to present “a rosy picture”, since the conflict seriously undermined prospects for progress.  (See Press Release SC/9696.)

Nepal

The Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) twice, first on 23 January for sixth months under resolution 1879 (2009), and on 23 July for a further six months under resolution 1879 (2009).  (See Press Release SC/9582 and SC/9714.)

In his last briefing to the Council, on 16 January, Ian Martin, outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIN, said he hoped the international community, despite the demands made of it, would remain concerned for the 27 million of the poorest people of Asia.  Looking back, he described several important achievements in the peace process that had ended the armed conflict between Government and opposition Maoist forces, as well as the remaining challenges, which included fresh clashes between the Maoist Young Communist League and the Youth Force Nepal (UML).  However, the people’s demand for peace, change and inclusion was unmistakable.

On 5 May, the Council expressed its concern over the political crisis which had erupted the previous day when, in a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” had resigned in a power struggle over his 3 May dismissal of the Army Chief of Staff.  The resignation had brought to a head the deeply polarized standoff between the Nepal army and the leader of the governing coalition.

Briefing the Council for the first time, Karin Landgren, the new Special Representative, said the situation risked paralysis, protracted negotiations to form a new Government and a stalling in preparations to integrate Maoist combatants.  In the long term, it could have serious implications for the functioning of the Government and the nature of the State to be shaped by a new constitution.  The concerns were acute, she said, stressing the need for UNMIN to provide technical support to the Special Committee mandated by the November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution to oversee the integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants.  (See Press Release SC/9652.)

TheSecretary-General, reporting to the Council on 26 October, expressed serious concern that the core commitments in the peace process had yet to be implemented (document S/2009/553).  There was persistent mistrust among the parties and their absorption in day-to-day politics and internal party issues compromised their capacity for flexible negotiation.

Maoists, aggrieved mainly by the Prime Minister’s powers with regard to the army, had stepped up their protests, and on 1 November, initiated a nationwide protest, which had resulted in some low-level clashes in Nepal’s eastern districts.  Addressing the Council on 6 November, Ms. Landgren said that “until the parties establish a clearer framework for cooperation, and find ways of moving forward on major elements of the peace process, it is difficult to plot a structured exit for UNMIN”.  Following the events in May, trust between the parties had continued to erode, she said, stressing the need for the parties to make the most of the remaining weeks of UNMIN’s mandate and break the impasse.  Despite some renewed impetus, the peace process faced “protracted deadlock, with the added risk of confrontation”.  (See Press Release SC/9783.)

Timor-Leste

In three meetings on the youngest South-east Asian nation, which celebrated the tenth anniversary of its vote for independence this year, Council Members welcomed reports of “striking” improvements in security a year after assassination attempts against the President and Prime Minister.  However, they also agreed that a hasty departure by the United Nations could endanger the gains made so far.  “The dictum that there should be no strategy without an exit is well known,” said Atul Khare, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), in a briefing on 23 October.  “However, the reverse, that there should be no exit without a strategy, is equally true.”  Introducing the Secretary-General’s report, he said it warned that the root economic and political causes of the attempted assassinations and the wider 2006 violence remained in place.  (See Press Release SC/9774.)

He recommended a stable and steady international approach to securing long-term stability, which depended on the ability of Timorese institutions to operate in a democratic, responsible and effective manner.  During the October meeting, José Luis Guterres, Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, elaborated on some of the institutional progress already made, while on 19 February, President José Ramos-Horta affirmed that the country had indeed “turned the corner” from previous unrest.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed that optimism. (See Press Release SC/9598.)

The Council extended UNMIT’s mandate for a further 12 months on 26 February, at unchanged strength, to support local elections, security-sector reform and institution-building.  (See Press Release SC/9601.)

Myanmar

Briefing the Council on 13 July, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that during his 3‑4 July visit to Myanmar, the refusal by the country’s senior leadership to allow him to meet with opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had not only been a deep disappointment, but also a major lost opportunity for Myanmar.  He had made proposals to the senior leadership on three outstanding concerns:  the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; the resumption of a substantive dialogue between the Government and the opposition; and the creation of conditions conducive to credible and legitimate elections in 2010.  (See Press Release SC/9704.)

Americas

Haiti

Briefing the Council on 19 March, Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica) said the fact-finding mission he had led to Haiti from 11 to 14 March had found that the country was making headway in judiciary and security-sector reform, but continued to grapple with food insecurity and a fragile humanitarian situation.  (See Press Release SC/9618.)

In two open debates ‑‑ on 6 April and 9 September ‑‑ speakers welcomed the progress Haiti had made towards stabilization, but underlined the need for security to be accompanied by social and economic development as a way for the country ‑‑ imperilled by natural, as well as man-made disasters ‑‑ to achieve lasting stability and development.  In a presidential statement issued on 6 April, the Council urged Haitian institutions to intensify their efforts to meet the basic needs of the population, and work together to promote dialogue, the rule of law and good governance.  (See Press Release SC/9628.)

During the 9 September debate, United Nations Special Envoy William J. Clinton told the Council that, through strong international support and the efforts of its Government, Haiti now had an historic chance to consolidate political stability and escape from extreme poverty.  He emphasized, however, that success would depend on continued assistance.  (See Press Release SC/9739.)

On 13 October, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) through 15 October 2010 and adjusted its force configuration to better meet current requirements on the ground.  (See Press Release SC/9766.)

Honduras

On 25 September, the Foreign Minister of Brazil called on the Council to ensure the security of his country’s embassy in Honduras, where deposed Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya had taken shelter since 21 September.  Noting that the embassy had been under virtual siege since the President’s arrival, with electricity, water and phone connections cut off, he expressed concern that the “same people who have perpetrated the coup d’état” might threaten the embassy’s inviolability in order to arrest President Zelaya.  (See Press Release SC/9749.)

Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Despite remaining “a peaceful, viable State, irreversibly on course for European integration”, progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina for much of 2009 was at an impasse, High Representative Valentin Inzko told the Council on 23 November.  The leaders of the Republika Srpska entity had failed to grasp that State and entity authorities had separate and clearly defined mandates, and each must work without interference from the other.  A number of leaders of the Federation advocated an unduly large role for the State.

As a result, he said, the Council of Ministers had failed to make key appointments, tens of thousands of jobs had been lost due to a failure in proper fiscal coordination, and ground might actually have been lost on achieving the five objectives and two conditions that must be met before the Office of the High Representative could be closed to make way for a strengthened European Union Special Representative.  Mr. Inzko, whose appointment the Council welcomed on 25 March, warned in his 28 May briefing that divisive rhetoric was already threatening progress.  (See Press Releases SC/9795, SC/9625 and SC/9665.)

On 18 November, the Council authorized a mandate extension for another year for the European Union Stabilization Force (EUFOR), reiterating that the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina had primary responsibility for implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement, which had ended costly civil strife in 1995, and affirmed the importance of full cooperation with the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, which is charged with prosecuting major crimes committed during that and other conflicts in the Balkans.  (See Press Release SC/9792.)

Kosovo

Briefing the Council on 15 October, Lamberto Zannier, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said it continued to play a vital facilitation role despite the political realities in the Serbian province that unilaterally declared independence early in 2008.  In the last of his three briefings this year, he described the overall situation as generally stable in 2009, adding that the Mission had concentrated on addressing the concerns of minority communities in order to foster confidence and promote dialogue.  It was working with other United Nations units to play a more active role in encouraging the return of displaced persons, which remained far below the level hoped for.  It was also facilitating Kosovo’s participation in international forums.  (See Press Release SC/9768.)

In previous briefings, on 23 March and 17 June, Mr. Zannier reported on UNMIK’s re-focusing on priorities set out in Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the deployment of police of the European Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX).  In discussions following all three briefings, Serbia’s representative maintained that resolution 1244 (1999) remained in force and UNMIK’s role under it remained central.  However, Skender Hyseni of Kosovo requested the conclusion of the Mission’s mandate.

Most Council members welcomed a reconfiguration of UNMIK’s, while calling for improved conditions conducive to the return of more displaced persons and for the participation of more Kosovo Serbs in upcoming elections.  The representative of the Russian Federation, however, objected to the reduction of UNMIK’s role and the attendance of Pristina authorities in United Nations forums, saying his country supported a proper legal process to determine the future of Kosovo, including the ongoing proceedings of the International Court of Justice on the matter.  (See Press Release SC/9623 and SC/9683.)

The Council also discussed Kosovo during its meeting on United Nations cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), citing it as one of the key arenas of common work by OSCE Chair Dora Bakoyannis of Greece.  (See Press Release SC/9604.)

Cyprus

Warmly welcoming the progress made so far in fully fledged negotiations, the Council issued a presidential statement on 30 April, the Council urged the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders to increase the momentum in those negotiations in order to reach a comprehensive settlement based on a “bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality”.  (See Press Release SC/9648.)

The Council twice extended the mandate of the 45-year-old United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), both times by votes of 14 in favour to 1 against (Turkey), with the negative vote being cast because resolution 186 (1964), which had originally established the Mission, and which referred to “the Government of Cyprus”, had never been accepted by the Turkish Cypriot side or by Turkey.  According to Turkey’s representative, that Government had been representing only Greek Cypriots.  (See Press Releases SC/9668 and SC/9815.)

Georgia

Although the Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), on 13 February, with a view to outlining the elements of a United Nations presence in the region in the wake of the 7 August 2008 hostilities between Georgia and the Russian Federation, the Council rejected a draft resolution to that end on 15 June, by a vote of 10 in favour to 1 against (Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions (China, Libya, Uganda, Viet Nam).  UNOMIG’s mandate subsequently expired.  According to the representative of the Russian Federation, there was no sense in extending the mandate, since the parameters for a temporary regime, as proposed by the Secretary-General, could be taken as a mandate for a new stabilization mission.  (See Press Release SC/9594 and SC/9681.)

Thematic Debates

Terrorism

A spate of deadly terrorist attacks around the world once again captured the Council’s attention as it endeavoured to send a unified, clear, principled and immutable message that terrorism is unacceptable no matter the perpetrator or justification.  Through its consistent and systematic condemnation, the Council sought to undercut whatever appeal terrorism might have as a tactic for any group, and to demonstrate its ineffectiveness as a tool for addressing real or perceived grievances.

In meetings on 3 December, 16 November, 29 October and 17 July, the Council specifically responded to such attacks through presidential statements condemning in the strongest terms terrorist actions in, respectively:  Mogadishu, Somalia (Press Release SC/9802); Baghdad, Iraq (Press Release SC/9789); Kabul, Afghanistan (Press Release SC/9781); and Jakarta, Indonesia (Press Release SC/9709).

On 8 May, the Council condemned the renewed military incursions in eastern Chad by Chadian armed groups from outside.  On 9 July, it condemned the attacks on the Transitional Federal Government and the civilian population by armed groups and foreign fighters who undermined peace and stability in Somalia.  (See Press Releases SC/9654 and SC/9700.)

In its final formal 2009 meeting on counter-terrorism, the Council adopted, on 17 December, new measures to refine its decade-old sanctions regime against Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban, including through the establishment of an ombudsperson to mediate requests by individuals, organizations and companies to be removed from the sanctions list, and by renewing for a further 18 months, as well as sharpening the mandate of, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Implementation Monitoring Team of the 1267 (Al-Qaida and Taliban) Committee, appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 20 of resolution 1617 (2005).

Unanimously adopting the an eight-part resolution 1904 (2009), under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council sought to clarify questions arising since its adoption of resolution 1267 (1999) and subsequent resolutions imposing assets freezes, travel bans and arms embargoes with respect to Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and the Taliban, as well as other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with them, who had been placed on a “Consolidated List” compiled by the Security Council Committee established by that resolution.  (See Press Release SC/9825.)

The Chairs of Security Council sanctions committees, counter-terrorism committees and working groups briefed the 15-member organ three times in 2009, on 14 December, 13 November, and 26 May.  (See Press Release SC/9814, SC/9788 and SC/9664.)

Briefing on 14 December regarding the work of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) concerning Sierra Leone, Le Luong Minh (Viet Nam) said the country was at a critical juncture of post-conflict peacebuilding and the targeted sanctions imposed on it should be preserved fully in order to avoid adverse impacts on civilian livelihoods.  Since all sanctions regimes should be reviewed and ultimately lifted once the underlying reasons for their imposition were no longer valid, he suggested that the Council initiate such a process after the trial of Charles Taylor, former president of neighbouring Liberia.

Ranko Vilović (Croatia), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism and of the Working Group established pursuant to resolution 1566 (2004), said that taking stock of the state of implementation was a complex and lengthy exercise that was testing the subsidiary body’s resources, as well as those of its Executive Directorate.  The cooperation of Member States was the crucial ingredient, and they should remain committed.

Michel Kafando (Burkina Faso), reporting in his capacity as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1518 (2003), established in turn to follow up on the Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1990) concerning Iraq and Kuwait, said the Committee was mandated to identify individuals and entities whose funds were to be frozen and transferred to the Iraq Development Fund; entities and individuals associated with the former Iraqi regime; and funds of the prior Iraqi Government outside the country.  The Committee’s mandate would be kept under review with respect to the arms embargo against Iraq, he said.

He also briefed the Council as Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1636 (2005) concerning Lebanon, which monitors travel bans and asset freezes imposed on individuals designated by the International Independent Investigation Commission or the Government of Lebanon as suspects in the 14 February 2005 bombing murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other individuals.  He said the administration of justice in the Hariri case was important to the consolidation of peace, emphasizing that the transfer of confidential information between the Committee, the Commission and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon would play a more important role in the future, particularly, when judicial proceedings regarding the terrorist attack entered a decisive phase.

Jorge Urbina (Costa Rica), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004), said the Council must devote more energy and resources to implementing that resolution if it really wished to prevent the acquisition by non-State actors of weapons of mass destruction.  While better results could certainly have been achieved in the past five years, he said, the Committee need not build a much larger structure, nor should it become a direct provider of assistance.  Rather, it should give itself the means to become the centre of a network that shared the general purposes of the resolution, he stressed.

Earlier, on 13 November, Mr. Vilović, on behalf of the 1267, Counter-Terrorism and 1540 Committees, stressed that cooperation, including among the three subsidiary Council bodies and their expert groups, was a crucial element in efforts to address terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-State actors.

In the ensuing debate, speakers stressed that coordination and cooperation among the committees should be expanded, as a prerequisite to enhancing the Council’s effectiveness in countering the terrorism threat.  Several speakers referred to the three open meetings held between 30 September and 2 October on the implementation review of resolution 1540 (2004).  (See Press Releases SC/9754, SC/9757 and SC/9758.)

Thomas Mayr-Harting (Austria), speaking on behalf of the subsidiary counter-terrorism bodies on 26 May, told the Council:  “Terrorism and proliferation continue to be a daily reality and a threat to international peace and security, faced equally by States and individuals alike.”  He stressed that regular stocktaking of the subsidiary bodies’ working methods and strong backing from Member States were key to ensuring effective and efficient implementation of their respective mandates.

International Criminal Tribunals

In the quest to call those bearing the greatest responsibility for recent atrocities to account, and to fortify the foundations of the accepted norms of conflict resolution and post-conflict development across the globe, the Council convened five times in 2009 to consider the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, meeting three times to extend the terms of their respective judges.

Discussing the Tribunals’ work on 3 December and 4 June, following semi-annual briefings by top court officials, no one disputed the importance of completion strategies, but there was general agreement that combating impunity superseded those deadlines and that mechanisms might well be needed to tackle residual judicial tasks in light of the call for the rapid completion of cases.

The Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, in their six-month updates to the Council on 3 December, called, respectively, for sustained assistance from Serbia in apprehending two high-level fugitives accused of atrocities in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and pressed Kenya to cooperate in the case of an at-large suspect in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.  Without their arrest and trial, they said, neither Tribunal’s completion strategy would be met.  They also stressed the need to retain staff, extend the terms of ad litem judges and create a claims commission to compensate victims.  (See Press Release SC/9801.)

Speakers in the Council on 4 June had called on the Tribunals to expedite the completion of all cases, while stressing the need for optimal mechanisms to handle all residual tasks as their completion deadlines approached.  Thomas Mayr-Harting (Austria), Chair of the Council’s Informal Working Group on the International Tribunals, said there was agreement that the most senior accused must be tried before they completed their work.

Patrick Robinson, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, estimated that all but three trials before it would conclude in 2010, but warned that one serious hurdle remained:  the continued flight from justice of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić.  “If these two men are not brought to justice, it will leave a stain on the Security Council’s historic contribution to peacebuilding in the former Yugoslavia.”  Other obstacles to completion included translation problems, staff losses, and intimidation of witnesses, he added.

Dennis Byron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, requested the Council to approve mandate extensions for all but two currently-serving trial judges until 31 December 2010, saying that the delayed start of some trials required contingency planning for a possible spillover into the first months of 2010.  Important tasks remained, he added, noting that, 15 years after the genocide, 13 fugitives remained at large, four of whom were earmarked for trial as high-level accused persons.  Letting them escape trial was not acceptable.  (See Press Release SC/9670.)

On 16 December, the Council urged the Rwanda Tribunal to complete its work, but allowed one of its judges to serve beyond the expiry of his term in order to complete his cases.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1901 (2009) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council decided that Judge Erik Møse of Norway could complete the Setako case, scheduled to wrap up by the end of February 2010.  It also decided that the total number of ad litem judges might temporarily exceed the maximum of 9 provided for, reaching a maximum of 12 at any one time and returning to 9 by 31 December 2010.  (See Press Release SC/9819.)

The Council had, on 7 July, extended the terms of six permanent judges of the Rwanda Tribunal until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of their cases.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1878 (2009) under Chapter VII, it also extended the terms of 11 ad litem judges until the same date.  (See Press Release SC/9698.)

Also on 7 July, the Council extended the terms of 11 permanent judges until 31 December 2010, or until completion of their cases as it unanimously adopted resolution 1877 (2009), also under Chapter VII.  It also extended the terms of 19 ad litem judges until the same date.  (See Press Release SC/9697.)

Civilians and Armed Conflict

With 2009 marking the tenth anniversary of the Council’s systematic work on civilians and armed conflict, it met three times during the year to consider the topic directly in thematic debate, although consideration of protection issues had resulted in its inclusion in an increasing number of country-specific resolutions and in the mandates of peacekeeping missions.

On 11 November, Secretary-General Ban opened a day-long discussion, welcoming the prominent place that the item had assumed on the Council’s agenda, but lamenting: “In old and new [conflicts] alike we see appalling levels of human suffering and a fundamental failure of the parties involved to respect their obligations to protect civilians.”

In the debate that followed, speakers welcomed the progress made in legal and policy frameworks in the 10 years since the Council’s adoption of the first thematic resolution on civilian protection, but voiced regret at the lack of accountability under those norms, which had exacted a high toll on civilians.  Several called for the strengthening of civilian protection mandates in United Nations peacekeeping operations, with resources and clear guidelines to match.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1894 (2009) on 11 November, the Council expressed deep regret that civilians still accounted for the vast majority of casualties in armed conflicts, and demanded that parties to conflict comply strictly with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, as well as to Council resolutions.  It also called for unimpeded access to humanitarian aid, reaffirming its readiness to respond to the targeting of civilians and the blocking of humanitarian aid.  (See Press Release SC/9786.)

In a briefing on 26 June, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said that, while the subject had assumed a prominent place on the Council’s agenda, the reality on the ground had not kept pace.  “Lip service to the principles of international law is no substitute for real action,” he added, stressing the need for much greater efforts to enhance compliance and accountability.

Speakers in the ensuing debate noted that civilians were still deliberately targeted and stressed the need for all parties, including non-State armed groups, to respect international humanitarian law, distinguish between civilian and military groups, provide safe and unhindered access for humanitarian aid, and refrain from the use of excessive force or prohibited weapons.  (See Press Release SC/9692.)

Most notably, perhaps, the Council adopted, on 14 January, a revised landmark 2002 aide-memoire, annexed to its presidential statement (document S/PRST/2009/1) expressing its deepest concern that civilians were still the most common victims of violent acts committed by parties to armed conflicts.  The aide-memoire, which set out core objectives for providing protection and assistance to conflict-affected civilians and other vulnerable populations in its original form as an annex to the presidential statement of 15 March 2002 (document S/PRST/2002/6), was first updated on 15 December 2003 (document S/PRST/2003/27).

The objectives outlined in the aide-memoire cover, among other things:  access to vulnerable populations; voluntary and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons; small arms and mine action; respect for the safety and security of humanitarian workers; accountability for persons suspected of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious violations of human rights law; and media and information.  (See Press Release SC/9571.)

Women and Armed Conflict

Parties to armed conflict used sexual violence with efficient brutality, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council on 7 August, introducing his first report on armed conflicts in which sexual violence had been widely or systematically employed against civilians (document S/2009/362).  “Like a grenade or a gun, sexual violence is part of their arsenal to pursue military, political, social and economic aims,” he added, noting that the perpetrators generally operated with impunity.

Many speakers addressed that culture of impunity in the ensuing debate, stressing that affected Governments needed assistance to strengthen their capacities to combat it.  Several called for targeted measures against parties systematically using sexual violence as a weapon of war, while welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposed appointment of a senior system-wide official to address sexual violence, and the inclusion by the Council of measures to address the issue in new and renewed mandates.  (See Press Release SC/9726.)

With Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, presiding on 30 September, the Council specifically mandated peacekeeping missions to protect women and children against rampant sexual violence during armed conflict, and requested the Secretary-General to appoint a special representative to coordinate a range of mechanisms to fight the crime.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1888 (2009), which Council members hailed as a substantial step forward on many fronts, the Council also asked the Secretary-General to deploy a team of experts to situations of particular concern in terms of sexual violence, to work with United Nations personnel on the ground and with national Governments on strengthening the rule of law.  Among other steps, it decided to identify women’s protection advisers from among gender advisers and human rights protection units assigned to peacekeeping missions.  (See Press Release SC/9753.)

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro asked the Council to take the lead in creating effective monitoring of the situation of women in conflict and post-conflict countries when it convened on 5 October for a well-attended debate on women and armed conflict.

Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, pointed out that women and girls remained victims of gender-based violence in situations where open hostilities had subsided and thus were outside the international community’s radar.  It was critical that the Council continue to play a strong advocacy role to root out sexual violence and insist relentlessly on women as peacekeepers, peacebuilders and decision-makers.

Adopting resolution 1889 (2009), the Council called for a series of measures to strengthen women’s participation at all stages of peace processes, urging Member States, United Nations bodies, donors and civil society to ensure that protection and empowerment were taken into account during post-conflict needs assessment and planning, and factored into subsequent funding and programming.  The Council reaffirmed its landmark resolution 1325 (2000), which blazed the trail for future consideration of “women and peace and security”.  (See Press Release SC/9759.)

Children and Armed Conflict

In a dramatic and far-reaching action on 4 August, the Council decided that parties to armed conflict engaging in patterns of “killing and maiming of children and/or rape and other sexual violence against children” would be listed in the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict.  Before the day’s unanimous adoption of resolution 1882 (2009), State and non-State parties who had only recruited child soldiers or used children in armed conflict were explicitly named in annexes ‑‑ the so-called “list of shame” ‑‑ to reports on implementation of resolution 1612 (2005), which established a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and set up a Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Further to the groundbreaking resolution submitted by 43 Member States, the Council called upon parties engaged in the killing and maiming of, and sexual violence against, children to prepare concrete, time-bound action plans to halt such violations and abuses.  It called on listed parties to prepare and implement without delay action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children, and to undertake specific commitments and measures to address all other violations and abuses against children.  (See Press Release SC/9722.)

That action followed a day-long debate on 29 April, in which the Secretary-General urged the 15-nation body to “strike a blow against […] impunity”, by, at a minimum, expanding its criteria to include on the list of shame parties committing rape and other serious sexual violence against children in armed conflict.  The Council had earlier that day issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2009/9) reiterating its strong condemnation of all such acts and violations of international law regarding the protection of children.  (See Press Release SC/9646.)

High Commissioner for Refugees

Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, briefed the Council on 8 January, reporting that the number of refugees worldwide had increased to more than 11 million over the last two years, and that the number of internally displaced persons as a result of conflict, had risen to some 22 million.  The increase in the number of refugees ‑‑ not including the 4.6 million Palestine refugees under the mandate of UNRWA ‑‑ had increased primarily due to the situations in Iraq and Somalia, while other source countries included Afghanistan, Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Among other causes of displacement were climate change-induced natural disasters, drought, rising sea levels and the current global economic recession, he said.

As the Council debated the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), members called for more frequent and regular briefings by the High Commissioner, including country-specific briefings.  They noted that, while the phenomenon of displacement was becoming too complex to be addressed by any single measure, conflict prevention was one of the most effective and cheapest ways to reduce it.  (See Press Release SC/9566.)

Peaceful Settlement of Disputes

“A United Nations more effective in the practice of mediation will be much more adept both at heading off conflicts before they become full-blown crises and at bringing such crises to a peaceful and lasting end before it is necessary to resort to peacekeeping,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told a Chamber of more than 40-strong on 21 April as the Council held a day-long debate on the importance of mediation.  That point was underlined in a presidential statement in which the Council expressed its readiness to explore further ways to reinforce the promotion of mediation as an important tool for the peaceful settlement of disputes “wherever possible before they evolve into violence”.  It also pledged to “remain engaged in all stages of the conflict cycle, including in support of mediation, which should be launched at the earliest possible phases of conflicts and address their root causes.  (See Press Release SC/9640.)

Peacekeeping

In a day-long discussion, convened by France and the United Kingdom on 23 January as a first step towards making crucial improvements to peacekeeping operations, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said:  “We need to look at our own house and find new and innovative ways to tackle the challenges of modern peacekeeping.”  To ensure that United Nations peacekeeping remained a viable and indeed a stronger instrument for the future, it was necessary first to survive the current workload and looming challenges in the months ahead, he said.  Also necessary was finding new potential personnel contributors.  To deploy rapidly into remote territories, innovative ways should be found to draw on support.  There was also a need for on-hand capacities to reinforce missions if a crisis erupted.  (See Press Release SC/9583.)

As top peacekeeping officials briefed the Council on 29 June regarding the need to strengthen links between the Organization and military and police contributors, Mr. Le Roy stressed:  “When all the partners are strongly united behind a peacekeeping operation, it sends an unequivocal signal of international commitment which reinforces the authority of the Security Council and the credibility and effectiveness of any individual operation.”.  (See Press Release SC/9694.)

A day-long discussion on 5 August, intended as a continuation of the debate on improving United Nations peacekeeping, culminated in the issuance of a presidential statement which identified areas requiring further reflection.  Among them was the importance of credible and achievable mandates, matched with appropriate resources; better information-sharing and management; and greater awareness on the Council’s part of the resource and field-support implications of its decisions, and of the strategic challenges across peacekeeping operations.  (See Press Release SC/9724.)

Peacebuilding

“Peace is much more than ending war,” said Secretary-General Ban on 22 July as the Council held an open debate on peacebuilding.  “It is about putting in place the institutions and trust that will carry people forward into a peaceful future.”  There was often only a limited window of opportunity to do that, he noted.

Opening the meeting, Sam Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, whose delegation had convened the meeting, stressed that post-conflict peacebuilding was premised on the simple fact that sustained peace was impossible without development, and that without development, no peace could be durable.  The discussion ‑‑ the only one of its kind held formally in the Chamber in 2009 ‑‑ culminated in a wide-ranging presidential statement calling for more rapid and pointed efforts to build peace in the immediate post-conflict period.

Council members underscored the vital role of the United Nations in supporting the development of early strategies, in concert with national authorities, for re-establishing government institutions and the rule of law, as well as revitalizing economic activity.  The statement also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to “broaden and deepen” the pool of international civilian experts available to assist in those areas, and to strengthen the organization’s leadership of peacebuilding activities on the ground.  It further stressed the importance of greater coordination with the World Bank, as well as the Peacebuilding Commission’s critical role in ensuring a coherent approach among all actors.  (See Press Release SC/9712.)

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

On 27 February, the Council heard a briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which focused on the priorities and issues common to the agendas of that body, as well as the United Nations.  Central to the opening remarks by OSCE Chair Dora Bakoyannis, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece, were the situations in Georgia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, which prompted discussion among Council members, with several expressing strong appreciation for the OSCE’s work and stressing that its strength lay in its multidimensional approach to security.  They also discussed ways to deepen the Council’s links with the organization.  (See Press Release SC/9604.)

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