|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for September
Setting out a Security Council work programme that covers a range of global crises, Ambassador Samantha Power of the United States, the body’s President for September, this afternoon stressed the urgency of forging consensus at an upcoming Council summit on stopping the international flow of terrorist fighters.
“With the expansion of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), there has been a surge in terrorist travel,” Ms. Power said, referring to the terrorist force that now calls itself the “Islamic State”. The summit, held in coordination with the high-level opening of the General Assembly, would address the issue on 25 September with President Barack Obama presiding, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expected to brief and a resolution as a possible outcome.
“It is clear that national Governments need to do more about what has become a global phenomenon,” she said, adding that discussions were just beginning on the outcome text, but the goal was to build cooperation in preventing international circulation of terrorists and countering the growth of violent extremism.
On the schedule for the month, Ms. Power also highlighted an 8 September open debate on children and armed conflict. Discussions would centre on the latest report, which lists eight countries and 51 non-State actors, including for the first time, the Nigerian militia Boko Haram, for abuse of children’s rights during conflict.
On Syria, she said that Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-UN Joint Mission, would speak to the Council in consultations on 4 September and that Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos would hold an open briefing on humanitarian access on 30 September.
She also flagged sessions on Libya, Liberia, the Middle East and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), noting that the Council had just held an urgent session on the latter following the capture of peacekeepers by Syrian armed groups.
Planned, as well, was an update of the political situation in Haiti, as well as on the Secretary-General’s proposal to draw down components of the United Nations Stabilization Mission there, known as MINUSTAH. A debate on Afghanistan would address the current transition, including in light of the recent election. The situation in Ukraine would, of course, be addressed as needed, and emerging threats to international peace and security would be regularly discussed in consultations under “other matters”, she said.
Replying to questions from correspondents about ISIL, Ms. Power said that last month’s adoption of resolution 2170 (2014) showed that there was wide international support to act against the group, which she called “a monstrous terrorist organization”. There was much interest in bolstering current counterterrorism practices to face the problem, including through use of the full range of prevention and prosecutorial options.
Regarding authorizations for military action against ISIL, she said that, so far, the actions of the United States have been requested by the Iraqi Government with great international support, so no authorization was required. The United States was now seeking to build a coalition to help the parties on the ground deal with what had become a regional phenomenon. “That is happening beyond anything we would do in the Council," she added.
“Any campaign against ISIL will have to be comprehensive and involve stakeholders around the world, she said, adding: “It will not suffice if it is just the United States and the few partners that have so far joined it.” The resulting coalition would have to deal with the question of attacking ISIL’s bases in Syria, among other issues, she said.
To questions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she reiterated her country’s position about the importance of direct negotiations towards the two-State solution and the avoidance of unilateral measures. The United States, she noted, had called on the Israeli Government to reverse its recent decision to annex West Bank land. On Gaza, she said that nothing underscored the need for negotiated peace than the devastation there, and her country had been discussing ways that the Council could play a positive role in engendering a durable ceasefire. It was most important that the Council avoid any action that could harm the existing ceasefire or the prospects of further Cairo talks, she added.
On UNDOF, she stressed that the mission had not, in its history, since 1974, encountered the current conditions, but the Council had not yet heard requests from the ground for a mandate revision, although there had been requests for improved weaponry and enhanced tactics. The Force was still very much needed for its original purpose of overseeing disengagement, and in the current situation, to prevent further spillover of the Syrian crisis.
Asked about Libya, she said that American personnel had been evacuated because of the deterioration of security there, but that had no way diminished engagement with the country in support of efforts by the Libyan people and their elected Government to end the crisis. Efforts to facilitate dialogue had not previously been successful, but now, the massive displacement and fear might add urgency to the need to forge some kind of national consensus.
Finally, asked about political rights abuses in Burundi, she said that she had raised the issue, including the plight of a public rights defender, many times with the national leadership and was also raising concerns about the “closing of political space”, and status of the Arusha accords. She stressed that the United States was deeply committed to ensure that the United Nations maintained a role in Burundi, particularly in anticipation of tension over upcoming elections. The Council had, in fact, increased its attention to the issue in recent months.
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