The situation in Syria, policing in peacekeeping operations and addressing the new face of terrorism were among the Security Council’s top priorities in November, Gary Quinlan of Australia, Council President for the month, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Discussing the Council’s November work programme, Mr. Quinlan anticipated an ambitious month dictated by “the state of the world”, given the number of simultaneous crises. Intensified conflict in Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had placed the United Nations peacekeeping system under “unprecedented” strain, while terrorists who were younger, less inhibited and more motivated by social media than their predecessors were changing the landscape, he said.
Against that backdrop, he said, the upcoming reviews of peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding work would arrive at a pivotal juncture for the maintenance of peace and security.
The situation in Syria would remain a priority, he said, with a monthly review of what he called the “enormous” progress made in ridding the country of chemical weapons made since the adoption of resolution 2118 (2013). The Council would now “clarify anomalies” related to Syria’s initial declaration on its stocks and production facilities, as well as to the destruction of 12 remaining facilities and the issue of chlorine.
On 19 November, he said, the Council planned a high-level open debate on counter-terrorism, chaired by Australia’s Foreign Minister, which would feature an update by the Secretary-General and examine the follow-up to resolutions 2170 (2014), on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS), and 2178 (2014), on the flow of terrorist fighters to and from conflict zones. As Chair of the Al-Qaida Committee, he said he would brief on the nature of the ISIL threat, as well as on demographics, recruitment, travel, transport and measures that must be put in place. A presidential statement was being drafted that would likely include provisions on countering violent extremism.
The next day, 20 November, Australia’s Foreign Minister would chair a meeting on the use of police in peacekeeping operations. “Policing has never been looked at an integrated way as part of peacekeeping operations,” he said, noting that a resolution was being drafted. On 25 November, the Council would discuss reform of the sanctions system, likely capped by a technical resolution on implementation. “Short of interventions, they’re almost the only effective tool that the Council can employ” to influence peace and security, he said, calling it a “difficult” issue.
The month would also feature regular discussions on the situation in the Middle East, he said, as well as mandate renewals for the European Union-led multinational stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR ALTHEA), counter-piracy measures in Somalia, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau known as UNIOGBIS.
Briefings were expected on the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB), he said, which would close at the end of December; the United Nations Mission in Liberia known as UNMIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon or UNIFIL; the situation in Iraq, which would feature briefings by the Special Representative and the new High Commissioner for Human Rights; and the situation in Guinea‑Bissau.
Later today, the Council would hold consultations on the situations in Libya, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, he added.
Taking a question on Ukraine, Mr. Quinlan said the Council needed to set out its expectations for an independent investigation of the Malaysian Airlines tragedy and access to the crash site. An independent investigation, led by the Dutch Air Safety Board, had the participation of all affected countries and included two Russian experts. He anticipated its report early next year. Separate to that inquiry was the prosecutorial process, also led by the Netherlands, which involved hundreds of people from 13 countries. It aimed to establish the basis for accountability. “We will not let this go,” he remarked.
On a resolution setting a timetable and framework for moving forward the two-State solution in the Middle East, he said, “We’re in the hands of the sponsors.” There had been no request for further negotiations, and there was no indication of when the next stage of talks would take place.
To a series of questions on the anticipated sanctions resolution, he said it would be “long and technical” to ensure those regimes were updated to be most effective for the current situation. United Nations agencies had reviewed their implementation of the sanctions regimes, a process that had already improved coherence in the system. Better guidance from the Sanctions Committees was needed and should be put into practice. Then, technical assistance needs could be identified. “We would think we should have a new body within the Council to look after technical implementation issues.”
As for what would make the Libya sanctions regime more effective, he said the Council had recently strengthened that regime and was now looking at related issues, including what role sanctions were playing in the current situation. On measures targeted against Al-Qaida affiliates, he said there would likely be more listings proposed by States this month.
Regarding sanctions in Yemen, he said the Council was discussing possible designations, but it was “a work in progress.” He did not want to anticipate how they would be transacted. On the related issue of the Al-Qaida report, he said it would provide an important background statement to the debate on 19 November, notably on listings issues in the so-called 1267 Committee. “We have to follow precisely what is happening and designate immediately,” he said.
To other questions, he said he anticipated a discussion on Ebola in the Council, as well as another in the General Assembly, possibly as early as next week. More broadly, the Council needed to follow up on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Although the situation in Ukraine was not yet on the agenda, “We’ve made provisions,” he concluded.