Seized with a succession of new crises in Europe, the Middle East and across Africa, the Security Council in 2014 tackled an expanding workload in a record number of meetings while seeking to defeat terrorism, prevent conflicts, protect civilians, and improve the effectiveness of sanctions and other tools to quell tensions and neutralize threats.
In total, the Council this year convened 241 public meetings, up sharply from the 172 held in 2013. There were eight high-level meetings, including notably a September summit of Heads of State and Government on terrorism, as the unparalleled brutal tactics of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) and other groups swept across Iraq and Syria and regions in Africa.
In country- or region-specific situations, about 55 per cent of the Council's meetings related to Africa, compared to 2013, when 75 per cent concerned that continent. Europe was addressed in 28 per cent of meetings as political turmoil in Ukraine turned into full-blown conflict in the country’s east.
Africa certainly remained a major concern with the situation in Sudan and South Sudan the subject of most of those meetings, after the political dispute in South Sudan devolved into factional violence that sent up to 100,000 people fleeing to United Nations bases. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa was deemed a new threat to international peace and security as it grew exponentially in three countries emerging from conflict; a resolution countering isolation of those countries and mobilizing aid had the most sponsors in the Council’s history.
In addition, with last year’s political crisis in the Central African Republic spiralling into inter-community violence, the Council approved the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission there, known as MINUSCA. Council members visited Mali as the peacekeeping operation there suffered numerous attacks in the restive north. The body also addressed a new round of deep instability in Libya.
In the Middle East, the Council ramped up its meetings on the Palestinian question as hope for negotiations faded and a war erupted between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, leaving thousands dead. With hundreds of thousands killed and little political progress in Syria, the humanitarian situation there was deemed a separate threat to international peace, resulting in actions on humanitarian access. The situation in Yemen was also newly deemed a threat with international import amid fresh assaults on the democratic transition, against which the Council targeted a new sanctions regime.
Elsewhere, the situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea became its own agenda item, apart from considerations of its item on non-proliferation, after a horrifying human rights report was sent to the Council by the General Assembly, which urged referral to the International Criminal Court. On Afghanistan, the Council shepherded the end of the transition to national control of the security sector, as insurgent attacks again took a significant toll.
Addressing these situations and dozens of others, the Council adopted 63 resolutions and issued 28 presidential statements. Once again it strove for consensus, with only three texts adopted through a vote, although a year-end draft requiring a lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict within three years failed to obtain the needed majority.
Two other texts — one that would have termed invalid a referendum in Crimea that preceded its joining the Russian Federation and one on referring gross human rights violations in Syria to the International Criminal Court — were vetoed by the Russian Federation, along with China in the latter case, again showing the divisions that constrained action on some of the most difficult situations.
In the interest of improving effectiveness and transparency in those and all other areas, October’s day-long debate on working methods drew 55 speakers with much attention given to the current use of sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court. The first focused assessment of sanctions since 2006 was also conducted.
More emphasis on conflict prevention was urged at all opportunities for Council self-evaluation; signs of potential crises were increasingly discussed under the item “Other issues”. Prevention was also a central focus of a visiting mission to Europe on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, after which Council members visited South Sudan, where the mandate of the peacekeeping mission was adjusted to better protect civilians seeking refuge at United Nations bases.
The Council’s ability to adapt to changing challenges was also a focus in open thematic meetings on improving the deployment of police in United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as on protecting and empowering women, children and other civilians in the context of massive displacement and the ever more brutal face of terrorism.
In addition to its meetings on terrorism, the Council issued 138 press statements, at least 90 of which condemned particular terrorist acts around the world. It continued to monitor compliance with counter-terrorism resolutions through its subsidiary bodies, calling special attention to efforts to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists on the tenth anniversary of resolution 1540 (2004).
Aside from MINUSCA, the Council authorized no new peacekeeping operations in 2014. It did, however, terminate the mandates in four Special Political Missions: the peacebuilding offices in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), Burundi (BNUB), and Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and the Joint Mission with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which completed its work of destroying declared materials in Syria.
Public monthly wrap-ups of the Council’s work were held, for the first time since 2005, under Rwanda’s presidency. With the aim of analysing the month’s activities, the presidencies of the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia and Chad followed suit.
In its October elections this year, the General Assembly choose Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela to serve two-year terms as non-permanent Council members, starting on 1 January 2015. They replaced Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Republic of Korea and Rwanda, which concluded their terms on 31 December 2014. Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria will complete their terms at the end of 2015. China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States are permanent Council members.
Following is a guide to the Council’s public meetings on all agenda items in 2014:
The Security Council renewed its commitment to addressing the complex challenges of the parched sub-Saharan region in a presidential statement on 27 August, expressing grave concern about resurgent terrorism and emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive and coordinated approach that encompassed governance, security, humanitarian, human rights and development efforts. That statement followed a 19 June briefing by the Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, who called for urgent implementation of the Integrated Strategy for the Sahel endorsed by the Council last year, and also warned of the growing terrorist threat along with the food insecurity affecting at least 20 million people. In her 11 December briefing, Ms. Sellassie said that links between terrorist and criminal networks in Libya, Mali and northern Nigeria were becoming clearer while humanitarian indicators across the Sahel remained disquieting, with food insecurity, malnutrition, and displacements on the rise.
1 meeting: 8 July
The Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Said Djinnit, briefing the Council on 8 July, said that there had been remarkable strides in the stabilization of Mali and Guinea-Bissau along with high economic growth in the region, but that new crises such as Ebola and the terrorism of Boko Haram and other groups made it more difficult to address development. Upcoming challenges also included elections planned for 2015 in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger and Nigeria, some of which had very polarized environments.
With most of its members calling the spread of Ebola in West Africa this year a threat to peace and security due to its scale and the destabilizing effect it posed to post-conflict countries, the Council met three times on the epidemic. On 18 September, it called on Member States through resolution 2177 (2014) to respond urgently to the crisis and to refrain from isolating the affected countries — Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — after being briefed on the exponential spread of the disease by the Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, David Nabarro, as well as the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who announced the establishment of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, or UNMEER, which aimed to contain the outbreak, treat the infected, and help preserve stability.
On 14 October, Mr. Nabarro and other officials of the United Nations and affected countries continued to sound the alarm on Ebola, expressing gratitude for international aid and pleading for enough to meet the magnitude of the threat. States described extensive assistance efforts, and on 21 November the Council, through a presidential statement, welcomed progress in slowing the spread, with Mr. Nabarro confirming that the response capacities available to the affected countries had “expanded substantially”. Nevertheless, he warned that much remained to be done to end the epidemic.
As the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) prepared for its final drawdown at the end of March, the Council welcomed what it called the West African country’s “remarkable achievements” in recovering from its brutal civil war, in a presidential statement on 26 March. Briefing during that meeting, Executive Representative and Head of UNIPSIL Anders Toyberg-Frandzen said that much progress had been made in security, justice and governance but challenges linked to the war’s root causes such as pervasive poverty and a constricted political space required sustained international support.
The Council’s focus on Liberia was dominated by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which had presented the West African country with its gravest threat since the ruinous civil war of the 1990s and forced the United Nations Mission there (UNMIL) to postpone planned drawdowns and reorient its activities. In a 9 September briefing, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative said the speed and scale of the loss of life — and the economic, social, political and security reverberations of the crisis — were having profound effects: extreme testing of still-weak State institutions, public anger and alarm, and setbacks in the political process.
One week later, on 15 September, the Council extended UNMIL’s mandate until 31 December 2014 with no changes to deployment, but expressed its intention to further extend the mandate to 30 September 2015 after considering the Secretary-General’s proposals for the Mission’s future. By 12 November, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said that, even with the scaled up international response to the Ebola crisis, Liberia’s very existence was at stake. The international community must provide whatever assistance it could, perhaps most critically for post-Ebola reconstruction.
On 9 December, the Council renewed sanctions on Liberia for a further nine months, while recognizing Ebola’s impact as a factor in any decisions to modify or lift them. There had been few signs early in the year that a health emergency of this size would bring about such change. On 20 March, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative had reported widespread public dissatisfaction with national authorities in different sectors, marked by protests and low trust in the criminal justice system.
The holding of national elections in April was critical to consolidating constitutional order and stability in Guinea-Bissau in the wake of its 2012 coup d’état, Special Representative Jose Ramos-Horta told the Council on 26 February. On 18 November, following successful polling and the formation of an inclusive Government, a new Special Representative, Miguel Trovoada, praised the country for its progress, but warned that political parties still remained divided, some institutions functioned poorly and suspicion remained between civilian and military sectors. He urged continued international support to maintain gains that had been achieved. The Council then decided, on 25 November, to extend the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) for three months, awaiting an assessment report on mandate adjustments, having previously extended the mandate on 29 May for six months.
Attacks by armed groups and a lack of national institutions in the north of Mali set back progress in recovery from the coup d’état and insurgency that had led to the 2013 deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country known as MINUSMA, the Council was told in an 8 October briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous. He reported that 31 peacekeepers from the Mission had been slain and 66 wounded since the Mission’s deployment; the drawdown of French forces and the “quasi-disappearance” of Malian Armed Forces had made MINUSMA the only hedge to the territorial advances of the armed groups, some with ties to terrorists. He called for agreements to be reached through ongoing negotiations to make possible a consensus-based return of national institutions in the north.
The importance of moving forward on peace agreements, leading to stable institutions and development, was underlined by the leader of the Council visiting mission to the country, French Ambassador Gérard Araud, in a 26 February briefing on the trip, which had taken place between 31 January and 3 February. The extreme fragility of the situation was emphasized by MINUSMA head Albert Koenders in briefings on 16 January, 23 April and 20 May, the latter after major attacks on the northern town of Kidal. In a presidential statement read out on 28 July, the Council underscored the importance of inclusive negotiations open to all communities in northern Mali, commending the parties on dialogue held in Algiers in July and urging implementation of all agreed confidence-building measures. On 25 June, the Council extended MINUSMA’s mandate for one year with an authorized troop ceiling of 11,200 military and 1,440 police personnel and with a focus on civilian protection, stabilization and assisting in re-establishment of State authority.
Central African Republic
In its major move to stem the violence in the Central African Republic that spiralled throughout 2013 — when mainly Muslim Séléka rebels swept briefly into power, followed by increasingly sectarian carnage with the rise of the mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias — the Council on 10 April established the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) for an initial one-year period, authorizing the deployment of up to 10,000 military and 1,800 police personnel. By resolution 2149 (2014), it also decided that the transfer of authority from the African Union-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) to MINUSCA would take place on 15 September 2014. On 9 December, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in a briefing said MINUSCA would achieve 80 per cent of its full troop deployment that month.
Those actions built on decisions taken at the start of the year to improve the “greatly deteriorated” situation in the country. On 28 January, through resolution 2134 (2014), the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) for one year, expanded sanctions on individuals to include a travel ban and an assets freeze and authorized the deployment of a European Union intervention force for a six-month period, beginning once full operational capacity was reached.
On 20 February, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented a six-point plan that urged rapid deployment of at least 3,000 more troops and police in the Central African Republic to reinforce existing African Union and French forces, also proposing that those be brought under a single command, with a view to the handover to a future United Nations peacekeeping operation there. Such a coordinated command would oversee all international forces in the country that are focused on containing the violence, protecting civilians, preventing further displacements, creating a secure environment for humanitarian aid delivery and laying the groundwork for the handover.
On 21 October, the Council authorized an extension of the European Union operation until 15 March 2015.
Throughout the year, the Council heard briefings on the situation by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict, the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013), all of whom spoke to the “spiral of vengeance” that was destroying the social fabric and undermining trust. The Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA underlined the radicalization of the anti-balaka and Séléka rebels.
Central African Region
The Council’s two meetings on the Central African region tackled the continued threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), expansion of Boko Haram terrorist acts, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the crisis in the Central African Republic, which threatened the subregion from within. A year-end presidential statement also expressed concern about the illegal wildlife trade and transnational organized crime. The United Nations Regional Office there (UNOCA), as well as the regional United Nations political and peacekeeping missions, was urged to do more to support implementation of the United Nations Regional Strategy to Address the Threat and Impact of the Activities of the LRA, whose leader, said the Special Envoy of the African Union for LRA issues, was still on the run. A second statement, issued in May, condemned the crimes against humanity carried out by the LRA. The outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNOCA cautioned that violence in Sudan had jeopardized African Union efforts to eliminate the LRA, with Uganda and South Sudan withdrawing troops from the African Union’s regional intervention forces.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Continuing to focus on protection of civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need for that purpose to neutralize armed groups there, the Council this year closely watched efforts to follow up on the dissolution in 2013 of the 23 March Movement (M23), as well as agreements for the disarmament of the Forces democratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) by 2 January 2015. With delays in both processes, on 5 November the Council called on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the Congolese Government to immediately prepare for military actions against members of the latter group who failed to disarm or continued to carry out rights abuses. It also condemned the massacre of some 100 people in Beni by another group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and called for action against it.
That statement followed briefings by the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, in meetings on 13 January, which also included a statement by Mary Robinson, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, 14 March, 7 August and 27 October, in which he called for robust tactics to protect civilians from all armed groups, guided by those utilized in the defeat of the M23 in conjunction with the innovative Force Intervention Brigade. “Presence without action, in the face of violence, undermines our credibility,” he said. The continuation of the Intervention Brigade was included in MONUSCO’s mandate when it was extended for one year on 28 March. With that extension, the Council kept the troop ceiling at nearly 20,000, but noted the need for a clear exit strategy in line with the evolving situation. On 30 January, the Council renewed the arms embargo and related measures imposed on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council had to reorient the mandate of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) this year, after political in-fighting that started in 2013 turned into widespread civil violence, causing nearly 100,000 civilians to take refuge at the Mission’s bases. On 18 March, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous told the Council that the Mission would suspend its current activities to re-focus on protecting civilians, facilitating assistance, monitoring human rights, preventing further intercommunal violence and supporting the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) peacemaking efforts. UNMISS was authorized to “use all necessary means” to accomplish those tasks and its deployment ceiling was increased to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police in two extension resolutions, the most recent of which kept the mandate in place until 30 May 2015.
High United Nations officials visited the country as the violence spread and they reported to the Council. On 2 May, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, warned of a spiralling humanitarian crisis amid revenge killings and impending famine. Following his visit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he had urged both South Sudanese leaders, President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar Teny, to heal the wounds they had opened and implement the agreement brokered by IGAD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 9 May.
Following a 6 August briefing in which Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet warned that the rival parties must embark on reconciliation or risk a humanitarian catastrophe, the Council issued a presidential statement urging them to honour their agreements. Marking the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of conflict through another statement on 15 December, Council members placed full responsibility on the clashing leaders for what they called tragic events, which had killed tens of thousands. They demanded full implementation of all accords and reiterated intentions to consider measures against those impeding the peace process.
Sudan/South Sudan (Abyei)
In two meetings to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) — created in 2011 after Sudanese troops took over the disputed, oil-rich area weeks before South Sudan became independent — the Council made no changes in the mandate but continued to demand progress in resolving outstanding issues between the parties along with implementation of local governance, security and confidence-building mechanisms required by a 2011 agreement.
With security and humanitarian conditions in Sudan’s Darfur region repeatedly described by briefers as “deteriorating”, despite some progress in the Doha peace process meant to end the fighting between the Government, allied militias and rebel movements, the Council focused on improving the impact on the ground of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Following a review of the Operation, the rationale of which was described by Peacekeeping head Hervé Ladsous in his January briefing, the Council endorsed a resulting set of recommendations from the Secretary-General through resolution 2148 (2014) that set UNAMID’s priorities as civilian protection, facilitation and protection of humanitarian aid operations, and mediation between the Government and non-signatories to the peace process, along with mediation between communities, as inter-group conflict continued to beset the region. The realignment, which included streamlined deployment, was again affirmed through resolution 2173 (2014), which renewed the Operation’s mandate until 25 June 2015. On 24 November, the expert panel monitoring sanctions on Sudan was extended 13 months, until the end of 2015.
In the remainder of briefings during the year, the Council was told that UNAMID’s effort to carry out its mandate continued to be hindered by attacks against peacekeepers and surges in fighting, criminal acts, and movement restrictions by Government forces, armed forces and militia groups. In his December briefing, Mr. Ladsous also enumerated attacks against civilians by Arab militias, Government forces and unidentified armed elements during the reporting period, along with increased displacement and worsening criminality and intercommunal violence. Tensions between the Government and UNAMID had heightened over access issues, including to investigate allegations of a mass rape in North Darfur, as well as a demand for the departure of two human rights experts.
In her two semi-annual briefings to the Council, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said that systematic human rights crimes continued to be committed with total impunity in Darfur 10 years since the situation was referred to the Court. “It is an understatement to say that we have failed Darfur’s victims who continue to bear the brunt of these crimes,” she stated. She regretted, in particular, that the Council had not acted to bring to justice those indicted for alleged war crimes, including President Omer al-Bashir, for alleged crimes committed in Darfur. As a result, she announced in her December briefing that she was left with no choice but to put investigative activities in Darfur on hold.
The nine meetings convened on the situation in Somalia focused on fostering economic opportunity, preventing piracy and blunting revenue streams of Al-Shabaab, the Islamist militia which had seen “significant reverses” towards year-end following a joint military offensive between the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Calls for maintaining a focus on Somalia and seizing opportunities to brighten its future reverberated throughout the year during briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The Council adopted four resolutions in 2014 aimed at stabilizing security, with three of them under the Charter’s Chapter VII, which covers acts of aggression and threats to peace.
Perhaps its biggest action was the adoption of resolution 2182 (2014) on 24 October by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions (Jordan, Russian Federation), authorizing the African Union to maintain deployment of AMISOM until 30 November 2015 and amending several aspects of the sanctions regime against the country. Among the adjustments, it authorized action by Member States to stop the illegal trade in charcoal, which was providing a financial “lifeline” for Al-Shabaab. It renewed its partial lifting of the arms embargo for the security forces of the Federal Government until 30 October 2015, first decided on 5 March. In their abstentions, Jordan’s delegate argued that the new text could be abused by allowing vessels to be inspected under subjective criteria, while the Russian Federation’s delegate said such concerns should have received more attention.
To counter piracy, the Council renewed for another year authorizations first agreed in 2008 for international action to fight that crime. Specifically, it called on States and regional organizations to fight sea crimes by deploying, among other things, naval vessels, arms and military aircraft.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia — established on 2 May 2013 — passed its one-year anniversary with the Council’s 29 May renewal of its mandate for another year and expansion of its work to include support for peacebuilding and State-building.
Earlier, the Council, in a 22 May presidential statement, had expressed its continued concern about the diversion of arms and ammunition, including potentially to Al-Shabaab.
Noting progress in political reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire but remaining concerned over security in the context of the planned October 2015 national elections, the Council, on 25 June, extended the mandate of the United Nations Operation in the country, known as UNOCI, until 30 June 2015 while reducing its military component and expressing its intention for further reductions as well as the possible termination of the Operation after those polls. In the same context, the Council partially lifted the arms embargo and terminated the diamond trade ban on 29 April by resolution 2153 (2014), although in a subsequent briefing by the Chair of the 1572 Committee, on 29 October, concern was expressed over frictions between the parties that had fought in the 2010 electoral crisis, as well as continued exploitation of resources, uncertain border control, attacks from various armed groups and other problems. In briefings on 27 January and 16 June, UNOCI Head Aichatou Mindaoudou Souleymane detailed what she called significant progress in national dialogue and other areas as well as the causes of continued fragility, including organized crime and a need for intensified security-sector reform.
The Council intensified its focus on Libya this year as factional fighting involving militias armed during the 2011 overthrow of Muammar al-Qadhafi ramped up and spread throughout the country, causing a governance and humanitarian crisis and prompting the country’s representative to call for a stronger international presence. Warnings of impending chaos along with calls for national dialogue to avert it were heard in briefings on 10 March and 9 June from Special Representative Tarek Mitri, head of the United Nations Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL). Mr. Mitri subsequently reported a sharp escalation of fighting in Tripoli, Benghazi and their international airports, which forced the withdrawal of most UNSMIL staff just prior to his briefing on 17 July. On 15 September a new UNSMIL head, Bernardino Leon, pledged that despite the difficulties, the Mission would remain solidly anchored in unbiased engagement with all parties to try to get the transition to democracy back on track.
In response to the violence in Libya, the Council adopted resolution 2174 (2014) in August calling for an immediate ceasefire, inclusive political dialogue and prior notice of arms transfers. In order to keep sales of the country’s resources from further fuelling conflict, the Council adopted resolution 2146 (2014) in March, banning illicit crude exports. On 17 December, the Chair of the Libya sanctions committee described that body’s activities to counter the diversion of arms to militias. The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, in her semi-annual briefings on 13 May and 11 November, said that the deterioration of security had severely hampered her Office’s investigation into human rights crimes that occurred during the uprising against Mr. al-Qadhafi and its aftermath. The violence did not bode well for domestic justice for those in the former regime accused of crimes as well as for those in detention without due process. There were also indications that new serious crimes were being committed in the context of the current fighting, she said, proposing that formation of an international contact group on justice issues in Libya should be explored.
1 meeting: 29 April
1 resolution: 2152
Reiterating its call upon the parties in Western Sahara and the neighbouring States to cooperate to end the long impasse in reaching a political solution there, the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, until 30 April 2015, following briefings in consultations by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MINURSO, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber, as well as the Secretary General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross. Through the resolution, the Council also urged donors to provide funding for confidence-building measures and authorized additional United Nations military observers, under the existing budget, to continue monitoring the ceasefire in effect between the parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, since 1991 when the Mission was first deployed.
1 resolution: 2137
Council action on Burundi this year was dominated by the drawdown of the United Nations Office in the country, known as BNUB, which was decided on 13 February with the adoption of resolution 2137 (2014). The text also requested the Secretary-General to transfer responsibilities to the Organization’s country team by the end of 2014 when BNUB’s mandate would be completed. In other meetings on the situation, Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga underlined the importance of planned 2015 elections and the need to overcome tensions resulting from the boycott of previous polls by opposition parties and continued charges of bias and violence by youth cadres. He stressed the need for continued international support in that light and in the face of development challenges.
Question of Palestine
18 meetings: 20 January, 25 February, 18 March, 29 April, 20 May, 23 June, 10 July, 18 July, 22 July, 28 July, 31 July, 18 August, 16 September, 21 October, 29 October, 17 November, 15 December, 30 December
1 presidential statement: 28 July
It had been “a dramatic year”, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his last monthly briefing on 15 December, noting that hope for renewed negotiations had been eclipsed by increasingly deadly violence in the West Bank and a devastating war in Gaza. In earlier briefings, there were warnings — first by Secretary-General Ban in January, and then in successive briefings by Mr. Serry and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman — that without progress, new cycles of violence could erupt. “I do not underestimate the difficulties,” Mr. Ban told the Council ahead of the year’s first quarterly debate on the situation on 20 January. “But the risks of inaction or surrender are far greater,” he added, noting that peace talks begun last year remained stalled despite strenuous efforts by United States Secretary of State John Kerry to revive them.
With the parties unable to bridge gaps in their substantive positions, Israel suspended its participation in the talks following a 23 April agreement by rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government, Mr. Serry reported just prior to the Council’s open debate on 29 April. Israel’s delegate said his Government could not negotiate with a partner aligned with a terrorist organization and accused the Palestinians of delaying tactics and of broken commitments with their applications to join 15 international treaties and conventions. The Palestinian Permanent Observer said Israel had undermined the peace process by reneging on a prisoner release agreement and by continuing settlement activities and aggression in East Jerusalem.
On 23 June, Mr. Feltman reported that tensions were ratcheting up after the abduction of three Israeli students; protests and Israeli operations in the West Bank multiplied and increasing numbers of rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza by de facto authority Hamas and other groups, which drew Israeli strikes in response. The cycle of violence was “spiralling out of control”, the Secretary-General emphasized in an emergency meeting of the Council on 10 July, following a launch by Israel of a military operation, with the stated aim of stopping rocket fire from Gaza. The threat of an Israeli ground offensive loomed after hundreds of projectiles and responses and a mounting death toll. One week later, on 17 July, the operation was indeed expanded to a ground invasion, with the stated aim of destroying Gaza’s tunnel system.
The following day, on 18 July, Mr. Feltman called for an urgent ceasefire, attributing the crisis to a collective failure to achieve a political solution. On 31 July, the Head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl, and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos condemned the destruction and death in Gaza, including at UNRWA schools, while also condemning the placement of weapons found in the Agency’s facilities. Israeli ground forces withdrew on 5 August, following which, on 18 August, Mr. Serry told the Council that the death and destruction of this third major escalation in six years was “appalling”. He again affirmed the need for a lasting solution. On 26 August, an open-ended ceasefire was announced. In all, an estimated 2,200 people had died.
Mr. Ban, following a visit to Gaza, told the Council ahead of an open debate on 21 October that nothing could have prepared him for what he had seen — “mile after mile of wholesale destruction”. He called for the $5.4 billion recently pledged for the enclave’s reconstruction to materialize quickly, as more than 100,000 residents in Gaza were homeless and more than 50,000 were sheltering in UNRWA-run schools.
Despite initial breaches, the ceasefire held for the rest of the year, although tensions intensified in the West Bank, briefers reported, with the shooting of a Jewish activist and deaths from car attacks on a light rail station, an assault on a synagogue, violent clashes, housing demolitions and vandalism at places of worship, and new settlement planning. A special 29 October briefing by Mr. Feltman was held following Mr. Ban’s receipt of letters from the Palestinian Permanent Observer reacting to expanded Israeli settlement plans and restrictions on holy sites in Jerusalem. He and subsequent briefers reiterated calls for a settlement freeze and access to holy sites, along with an end to provocation and inflammatory rhetoric. They noted Israel’s assurance that no changes would be made to long-standing cooperative arrangements with Jordan on administering the sites.
The year ended with the 30 December defeat of a long-anticipated draft resolution tabled by Jordan, which would have had Israel withdraw from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 within three years and required a negotiated solution to the conflict within one year. The draft, failing to win approval by a vote of 8 in favour to 2 against, with 5 abstentions, was described by Israel and those who opposed it — Australia and the United States — as a unilateral move that was counterproductive to resuming peace negotiations. The Palestinian Permanent Observer said that Palestinian leadership would now have to consider next steps to end the occupation, adding that Israel must be held to account for its illegal practices.
13 meetings: 22 February, 22 May, 25 June, 26 June, 14 July, 28 August, 19 September, 30 September, 30 October, 25 November, 15 December, 17 December, 18 December
5 resolutions: 2139, 2163, 2165, 2191, 2192
1 presidential statement: 19 September
The Council focused on the plight of civilians in Syria this year as fighting continued unabated and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos reported in monthly briefings on what she termed worsening brutality, disregard for human life and ongoing difficulties in delivering humanitarian aid. Added to the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs and other weapons, the shelling of populated areas by parties in connection with the Syrian conflict, and siege tactics that deprived people of sustenance was the terror wrought by ISIL and other extremists that widened their hold on large portions of the country, Ms. Amos reported.
A 22 May attempt to hold accountable those committing crimes against civilians in Syria by referring the situation to the International Criminal Court was not adopted owing to vetoes by China and the Russian Federation. Moreover, despite talks between the parties in Geneva in January, the Council noted no progress on a negotiated settlement, although its resolutions affirmed support for new Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, who succeeded Lakhdar Brahimi, and who, towards the end of the year, was seeking a freeze on fighting in embattled urban zones.
The Council did adopt three resolutions to get aid to hard-to-reach areas. Through resolution 2139 (2014) on 22 February, the Council demanded that all parties allow delivery of assistance, cease depriving civilians of food and medicine and enable a voluntary rapid evacuation of civilians in besieged zones. Following a 26 June briefing in which Ms. Amos called the continued obstruction of aid “inhuman”, the Council adopted resolution 2165 (2014) on 14 July, authorizing for 180 days relief delivery across conflict lines and through additional border crossings. That authorization was extended by resolution 2191 (2014) until 10 January 2016. In briefings following the adoption of resolution 2165 (2014), Ms. Amos said that access to certain areas had improved but the fighting continued to thwart much-needed deliveries, greatly increasing the suffering.
In other action, the Council, on 19 September, condemned attacks against peacekeepers in the area of operations of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which monitors the truce between Syrian and Israeli forces in the Golan Heights, demanding that all groups, including the Al-Nusra Front, abandon all UNDOF positions and return the Force’s equipment, including vehicles and weapons. The mandate of UNDOF was renewed twice, by resolution 2163 (2014) in June and resolution 2192 (2014) in December, extending it until 30 June 2015, strongly condemning the recent heavy fighting in the area of separation.
Following up implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), in which the Council expressed outrage at the use of chemical weapons on 21 August 2013 in a Damascus suburb, Sigrid Kaag, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General and former Special Coordinator of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, briefed Council members throughout 2014 in consultations on implementation of that text, which prohibits Syria from using, developing, producing, otherwise acquiring, stockpiling or retaining chemical weapons and requires it to provide “immediate and unfettered” access by the OPCW to any and all chemical weapons sites.
As Islamic militants continued to seize strategic areas throughout Iraq, the Council’s attention in 2014 focused on ways to extinguish the threat posed by the ISIL — on which it passed several resolutions — and support the new Government formed amid its bloody ascendance.
In a September meeting chaired by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the Council, in a statement, expressed deep outrage that Iraqis and nationals of other States had been killed, kidnapped, raped and tortured by ISIL. It urged support for the new unity Government — approved by Parliament on 8 September — in its fight against ISIL and associated armed groups. Some 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced since January, Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, told the meeting.
The call for support echoed a presidential statement, issued in January, in which the Council condemned ISIL attempts to destabilize Iraq, deploring recent events in Ramadi and Fallujah, in Anbar Province. In quarterly briefings, the Special Representative called the Anbar crisis the most serious challenge to the very stability needed to rebuild a democratic Iraq, stressing in March that it was impacting other parts of the country. By July, he warned: “From a splinter group of Al-Qaida, ISIL today has grown to be a complex threat to peace and security in Iraq, the entire region and beyond,” prompting the Council a week later to renew until 31 July 2015 the mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which Mr. Mladenov also heads. By year-end, he urged continued support for the unity Government’s efforts, saying they were showing signs of success in countering the brutal onslaught by terrorist forces.
Under its agenda item on the situation in the Middle East, the Council this year continued to receive bimonthly briefings in consultations from Special Adviser Jamal Benomar on the progress and threats in the transition towards inclusive democracy in Yemen. In February, through resolution 2140 (2014), it welcomed the holding of the National Dialogue Conference for that purpose, but at the same time, expressed concern over human rights abuses in the country and condemned the growing number of attacks sponsored by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Through the resolution, in an effort to counter such threats to the transition, the Council imposed travel bans and other targeted measures on those who endangered the country’s stability. It also created a committee, now referred to as the 2140 Committee, to monitor implementation of the measures. The body’s Chair, Raimonda Murmokaitė of Lithuania, said in an open briefing on 11 December that the group had so far designated three individuals as subject to the targeted sanctions and urged all States to implement the sanctions regime. Responding to other threats in an August presidential statement, the Council called on the Houthi Shi’a faction, who ringed the capital of Sana’a with checkpoints and eventually captured it, to withdraw its forces.
1 resolution: 2172
1 presidential statement: 29 May
Calling on all Lebanese parties to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis as the country continued to host hundreds of thousands of refugees and sustain border attacks, the Council, in a May presidential statement, expressed concern that the election of a new President did not take place within the constitution time frame. It urged the parties to preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability. In this year’s renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Council welcomed strategic dialogue between the Mission and Lebanese Armed Forces and stressed the importance of ensuring the security of the Force, established to monitor the blue line between Israeli and Lebanese militaries. UNIFIL was extended until 31 August 2015, with no major changes in deployment.
The full assumption of Afghan security leadership in the central Asian country, still beset by near-daily Taliban attacks on troops, police and civilians, as well as the protracted deadlock over the results of the 5 April presidential election, dominated Council considerations on Afghanistan this year. In the country’s first attempt at a democratic transfer of power, two candidates claimed victory in the first round. By the first of two presidential statements issued on 25 June, the Council welcomed the holding of a second electoral round and called on political entities to work together to strengthen national unity. In the second, it expressed concern at the increase in poppy production.
“There is quite simply no better way forward other than a Government of national unity led by an elected President,” Jan Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Council on 18 September, just days before rival candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani signed a power-sharing deal. Two months later, in a 18 December briefing, Nicholas Haysom, who had replaced Mr. Kubiš on 25 September, said he had been “greatly encouraged” by the peaceful political transition. He urged leaders to appoint a merit-based Cabinet and launch their “ambitious” new governance reforms, while expressing serious concern at ongoing violence, with the number of civilian deaths and injuries this year superseding any other since 2008.
As the 31 December end of the authorization for the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) neared, the Council, through resolution 2189 (2014) adopted on 12 December, welcomed the agreement between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Afghan Government to establish a post-2014 non-combat mission in the country, known as the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), to train and assist national security forces. Earlier in the year, the Council had extended UNAMA’s mandate until 17 March 2015.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
1 meeting: 22 December
On 22 December, the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea became an agenda item under the country’s name itself after a letter was sent to the Council President by 10 members expressing concern about the “scale and gravity of human rights violations” described in the report of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council (document S/2014/276) and its impact on international peace and security. The report had been submitted to the Council by the General Assembly through a resolution adopted on 18 December, which encouraged the 15-member body to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. China and the Russian Federation voted against including the agenda item, stating that domestic human rights issues were not a reason for that move, but were overruled by a procedural vote (not subject to veto) of 11 in favour, with 2 abstentions (Chad, Nigeria).
In the resulting meeting, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović recounted the systematic use of murder, extermination, disappearances, enslavement and rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence cited in the Commission’s report as tools of political repression in the country, adding: “If we are to reduce tension in the region, there must be movement towards real respect for human rights in the DPRK. This is deserving of the Security Council’s fullest attention and action.” Some Council members called for referral to the International Criminal Court or other action, but consideration was not scheduled.
19 meetings: 1 March, 3 March, 13 March, 15 March, 19 March, 13 April, 16 April, 29 April, 2 May, 28 May, 24 June, 18 July, 21 July, 5 August, 8 August, 28 August, 19 September, 24 October, 12 November
1 resolution: 2166
In the lead-up to the Russian annexation of Crimea and the continuing violent standoff between separatists and national forces in the east, the crisis in Ukraine quickly emerged as a major new concern of the Council in March, following months of mass protests in Kyiv that culminated in February violence that left more than 100 dead and pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych ousted. With the Council sharply divided throughout the year, it was able to successfully act on only one resolution — calling for an investigation of the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine in July.
Ukraine’s representative appealed to the Council to do everything possible to prevent Russian military intervention in a 1 March emergency meeting called after the Russian Parliament approved the use of force on Ukrainian territory. In a meeting two days later, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco described United Nations diplomatic efforts to head off the crisis, as Ukraine’s representative said tens of thousands of Russian troops had crossed the border. The Russian representative denied that, although he said what he called Ukraine’s takeover by radical extremists was breeding serious risks and his country was concerned about the rights of minorities.
On 13 March, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said a peaceful solution was still possible, while some Council members warned that a referendum in Crimea on joining the Russian Federation, planned for 16 March, was a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. On 15 March, the Russian Federation vetoed a draft text that would have denied the validity of that referendum; China abstained. On 19 March, following the holding of the poll and the takeover of Ukrainian military bases, Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović and Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson voiced grave concern over chronic rights violations and noted the deployment by the United Nations of a human rights monitoring mission, which would coordinate with the OSCE.
On 13 April, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said separatist groups and unidentified armed individuals had begun to seize Government buildings and confiscate weapons in the eastern Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk region. “At this moment, Ukraine teeters on the very brink,” he said, as the Ukraine representative continued to assert that Russian troops were backing the separatists and the Russian representative countered that the Kyiv authorities were taking “terrible actions” in the area. On 16 April, Mr. Šimonović said that protest-related rights violations must be urgently investigated and security forces must maintain public order in accordance with human rights standards.
An “emerging spirit of compromise” in a 17 April joint Geneva statement by the parties quickly evaporated as the violence in the east escalated, Mr. Feltman said in a 29 April briefing, as he described militia groups taking control of more facilities and territory, the detention of monitors from the OSCE and reports of torture and kidnappings. Three days later, Mr. Feltman, in another update, reported on further clashes and the shooting down of two Ukrainian helicopters, while calling for a diplomatic solution. The violence continued despite hope for a “new chapter” in Ukraine after May presidential elections garnered wide participation, Mr. Feltman said on 28 May. He called for international support of a united, stable Ukraine in that meeting and on 24 June, after a unilateral ceasefire was put in place by national authorities.
That initiative began to dissolve and the Council was soon seized by the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 on 17 July over a separatist-held area. The next day, speakers in the Council expressed outrage, as well as condolences, for the nearly 300 lives lost, and called for an immediate investigation. Three days later, resolution 2166 (2014) demanded accountability, full access to the site and a halt to military activities in the area, with speakers, in statements after the vote, expressing disgust over reported mistreatment of bodies and evidence tampering by separatist groups. The Russian representative warned about jumping to conclusions about the culpability of those groups, while he posed questions to Ukrainian air traffic authorities. Early results of the investigation showed that the jet was hit by “high-energy objects”, Mr. Feltman said in a follow-up on 19 September, which also heard about continuing investigations from Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans of the Netherlands, whose country lost the largest number of citizens in the incident.
The humanitarian toll of the crisis was the focus of briefings on 5 August by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ John Ging and on 8 August by Mr. Šimonović, who said that hostilities had escalated since the end of a formal ceasefire amid rapid professionalization of armed groups, with their leadership including Russian citizens and their ranks equipped with heavy weapons. Both briefers reported many civilian casualties, with fighting in population centres and human rights violations in the east. Mr. Feltman, briefing on 28 August, described a dangerous new wave of escalation, with armed groups seizing more area and “deeply alarming reports of Russian military involvement”.
Hope for an end to the crisis was seen with the 5 September signing of the Minsk Protocol for a ceasefire and Government reforms, with a follow-up 19 September memorandum clarifying ceasefire issues. In a 24 October briefing, however, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco reported that, while steps had been taken by the Ukrainian Government towards decentralization, daily violations of the ceasefire occurred. He called for its full implementation along with support to the related OSCE monitoring mission, while Mr. Šimonović reported that the death toll had risen to at least 3,724 from the crisis and that armed groups continued to terrorize the population in areas under their control, with enforced disappearance in Crimea a worrying new trend.
In the final briefing of the year, on 12 November, Mr. Toyberg-Frandzen reported that fighting had again escalated and an OSCE official said that monitors had observed large convoys of heavy weapons and troops flowing into rebel-held areas. Briefers and most Council members called for implementation of the Minsk agreements, amid sharp exchanges between the Russian representative and others on Russian support for the separatists.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 resolution: 2183
In the first Council meeting on Bosnia and Herzegovina this year, the High Representative for Implementation of the Peace Agreement again described obstacles to progress in the country, including divisive rhetoric from leaders of the Republika Srpska, which promoted a separatist agenda by exploiting events in Ukraine. However, after successful elections on 12 October, the High Representative said that the new leadership had a fresh opportunity to set the nation on a better track. Though catastrophic floods had affected nearly 1 million people, the country had come together, he said, adding that urgent steps, however, were still needed to overhaul the business environment, enforce law and order, and implement the Constitutional Court’s verdicts. Earlier that day, the Council renewed authorization of the European Union-led multinational stabilization force, EUFOR ALTHEA, for another 12 months, with the Russian Federation abstaining from the vote due to language in the text on European integration.
The Council’s attention on Kosovo this year was again focused on normalization of relations in the region, dialogue between parties and pragmatic steps to ease tensions. In his briefings, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Farid Zarif, stressed that the success of the first general elections held under a unified framework, on 8 June, should lead to the formation of a new government. Mr. Zarif, who is also the Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), urged political leaders in Kosovo to treat that task as “the most pressing imperative”. As the First Agreement on Principles Governing the Normalization of Relations of 19 April 2013 entered its second year, both sides had to embrace forward-looking approaches to sensitive issues, among them, the establishment of an association/community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo, Mr. Zarif said.
Towards year end, on 4 December, Mr. Zarif called for the resumption of high-level meetings between Pristina and Belgrade to advance the normalization process. He said that the political deadlock in establishing a new Assembly of Kosovo could thwart opportunities presented by “stabilization and association” talks with the European Union. Hashim Thaci of Kosovo said it was time for the Security Council to consider transforming UNMIK into a political office aimed at helping Kosovo join the community of free nations. Maintaining the opposite view on that topic, Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, stressed the importance of progress in establishing a community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo and Metohija, while acknowledging that important agreements on energy and telecommunications had been reached.
In this year’s resolutions to extend the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which has been deployed since 1964 when inter-communal fighting divided the island, the Council again called for more steps towards reaching a settlement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides, including greater progress in United Nations-backed talks, military confidence-building measures and the opening of more crossing points on the Green Line. In the latest renewal, UNFICYP’s mandate was extended until 31 July 2015.
The Council focused on adjusting the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as it continued to assist with capacity-building in security and to step back from other tasks it had taken on after the 2010 earthquake. It authorized a one-year extension of the Mission’s mandate on 14 October, deciding on a drawdown of troop levels to 2,370 by June 2015, with police personnel at the level of 2,601. The resolution, however, called on the Mission to maintain appropriate capacity to “act at any time”, and addressed prevailing political tensions by urging Haiti’s political actors to hold the postponed national elections without delay. Those issues were also the subject of discussions in the previous two meetings on Haiti during 2014.
In quarterly briefings throughout the year with the Chair of the sanctions committee established by resolution 1737 (2006) under the agenda item Non-proliferation, speakers expressed hope that assurances of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would result from ongoing talks between the country and the P5+1 group (China, France, Russian Federation, United States, and the United Kingdom plus Germany). At the same time, most stressed that until an agreement was reached, it was critical for all Member States to comply with the measures in place. In that context, the Chair continued to report on cooperation and violations, including possible procurement of prohibited carbon fibre and the exportation of arms by a ship intercepted in the Red Sea in April carrying rockets and other conventional weapons. By the December briefing, Iran had not responded to the Committee letter concerning the two incidents. On 9 June, through resolution 2159 (2014), the Council extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1737 Committee until 9 July 2015.
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
1 meeting: 5 March
1 resolution: 2141
For most of the year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was considered by the Council under the agenda item of Non-Proliferation, because of its decades-long programme to develop nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. In that context, amid the country’s continuing test launches of short- and medium-range missiles early in the year, which were discussed in consultations, the Council renewed for 13 months until 5 April 2015 the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1718 Committee on sanctions imposed on the country.
1 presidential statement: 7 May
Marking a decade since its landmark adoption of resolution 1540 (2004) on non-proliferation, the Council on 7 May issued a statement reaffirming the need to prevent non-State actors from gaining access to nuclear, chemical and biological materials or financing needed to acquire them. The related 1540 Committee was urged to coordinate its activities with other international, regional and subregional organizations. In a briefing on 24 November, the Chair of the 1540 Committee said high priority over the past six months had been given to encouraging reporting on national efforts to implement the resolution.
Threats to International Peace and Security
The Council intensified its action on terrorism this year, with five of seven public meetings focused on disrupting the brutal campaign to establish a caliphate across the Middle East by ISIL. In a 19 November high-level debate, which heard from more than 60 speakers, the Council expressed its serious concern that more than 15,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 80 countries had travelled to join ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and other groups in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, as well as Maghreb and Sahel countries. The Chair of the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, briefing the meeting, said most of ISIL’s funds came from its control of oil fields and oil smuggling, with the Secretary-General adding that programmes had been stepped up for reporting, monitoring and assisting States in countering violent propaganda.
The debate built on earlier momentum, notably the 24 September adoption of resolution 2178 (2014), by which the Council decided that States should prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping” of those who travelled outside their State of residence or nationality to perpetrate, plan or participate in terrorist acts, with a focus on ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qaida splinter groups. A 28 July statement reminded States to ensure that no one on their territory engaged in commercial or financial activities that benefitted those extremists, and that such engagement could lead to sanctions listings. Resolution 2170 (2014), adopted on 15 August, condemned gross, systematic and widespread human rights abuse by the groups and named individuals subject to travel restrictions, asset freezes and other measures, while resolution 2133 (2014), adopted on 27 January, called on States to prevent terrorists from benefiting from ransom payments or political concessions.
The Council capped its consideration of terrorism with the 19 December adoption of resolution 2195 (2014) during a day-long debate on terrorism and cross-border crime, which heard from 50 speakers. By the text, the Council noted that terrorists profited from the trafficking of arms, persons, drugs, and artefacts, and from the illicit trade in natural resources, including gold and other precious metals, minerals, wildlife, charcoal and oil, as well as from kidnapping, extortion and bank robbery.
On the sanctions front, the Council on 25 November heard from the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs that the 15 United Nations sanctions regimes, while valuable, had to be improved through missions to assess their impact and expanded designation criteria to address specific human rights violations. On 17 June, the Council passed resolutions 2160 (2014) and 2161 (2014), respectively urging States to freeze the funds and financial assets of individuals and entities affiliated with the Taliban and extending the mandate of the Office of the Ombudsperson established by resolution 1904 (2009) to monitor the Al-Qaida Consolidated List for 30 months from the current June 2015 expiration date.
In numerous press statements condemning individual terrorist acts, the Council reiterated that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations was criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed, and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group.
On 28 May, the Council heard briefings by the Chairs of the Committees forming a crucial part of the United Nations counter-terrorism machinery: the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001), also known as the Counter-Terrorism Committee; the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida; and the 1540 Committee concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Delivering a joint statement, Lithuania’s representative said the committees and their expert groups would continue to explore ways to strengthen their coordination and boost national implementation of the regimes.
The meeting dovetailed with another on 9 December, which featured briefings by the five outgoing Council members on the work of the subsidiary bodies they had chaired during their two-year tenure: the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee and the “1540 Committee” (Republic of Korea); the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, the Iran Sanctions Committee and the 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee (Australia); the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee and the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions (Argentina); the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sanctions Committee and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (Luxembourg); and the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee and the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations (Rwanda).
International Criminal Tribunals
As in previous years, the Council was updated twice on progress by the presidents and prosecutors of the International Tribunals for serious human rights crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. All Tribunal officials stressed the need for continued support as they strove to complete their casework and to hand over unfinished business and records to the Residual Mechanism.
It was warned that not all cases and appeals would be finished by the end of 2014, and on 18 December the Security Council adopted resolution 2194 (2014), extending the terms of judges of both courts, with four judges on the Rwanda court and 16 permanent judges of the court for the former Yugoslavia extended to 31 December 2015 or until the completion of the cases to which they were assigned, whichever was sooner. The terms of two judges on the Rwanda court were extended to 31 July 2015 under the same conditions. As in years past, the Russian Federation abstained from the vote on resolution 2193 (2014) on the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, objecting to further extensions, citing inefficiency and lack of planning on the part of the court.
International Court of Justice
Over the course of 9 separate meetings, the Council — meeting independently from but concurrently with the General Assembly — elected five judges to the International Court of Justice for nine-year terms, beginning on 6 February 2015, filling vacancies that would arise from the expiration of terms of members. Under the Court’s Statute, a candidate must obtain an absolute majority in both bodies to be elected.
On 6 November, after four rounds of voting, the Council re-elected Mohamed Bennouna (Morocco) and Joan E. Donoghue (United States) to their seats and elected James Richard Crawford (Australia) and Kirill Gevorgian (Russian Federation). Patrick Lipton Robinson (Jamaica) was elected in one round on 17 November, following a marathon run-off on 7 November with Susana Ruiz Cerutti (Argentina), which had seen seven rounds of voting.
Rule of Law
The Security Council capped the second of two meetings on the topic with a 21 February presidential statement describing the promotion of justice and the rule of law as “indispensable” for peaceful coexistence and the prevention of armed conflict. Support provided by peacekeeping and special political missions to the host country was important for the strengthening of rule-of-law institutions, the Council stated, outlining activities that could form part of such work.
Speaking in an open debate on 19 February, which explored the link between strong public institutions and conflict prevention, the Secretary-General said the crafting of peacekeeping and peacebuilding mandates offered a “strategic opportunity” to support national rule-of-law priorities. “People must be able to trust that their institutions can resolve disputes promptly and fairly,” he said.
Cooperation with Regional Organizations
Through a 16 December presidential statement, which preceded an open debate that heard from some 40 speakers, Council members highlighted the need for stronger and more cohesive cooperation between the body and the African Union in matters of peace and security on the continent, as well as in areas of conflict prevention and resolution, rapid response to emerging crises and protection of civilians, particularly women and children. The statement welcomed the operationalization of both the African Standby Force and the Rapid Deployment Force. “The time has come for us to take our partnership to a new level of clarity, practicality and predictability,” the Secretary-General said at the start of the meeting.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
1 meeting: 24 February
This year’s briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) focused on the group’s efforts to address the crisis in Ukraine, including the dispatching of a needs assessment team to that country, the appointment of a personal envoy and a proposed international contact group. The OSCE’s other work, the Chairperson said, included support for 57 States, for elections from Afghanistan to northern Kosovo, and for other security partnerships, an increasing number of which were in Asia and the Mediterranean.
The Council this year issued its first ever presidential statement on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union, commending the bloc’s involvement in international negotiation and mediation processes, and its commitment to peacekeeping, peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance and financial and logistical support. It called attention, in particular, to the Union’s aid to Syria and its provision of in-kind support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Making statements before the Council were the Secretary-General, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, and other representatives.
The Security Council addressed its traditional peacekeeping agenda item four times this year, perhaps most notably on 20 November with the adoption of its first-ever stand-alone resolution on policing mandates, which it resolved to make an integral part of peacekeeping and special political missions, where appropriate. Policing mandates must be clear, credible and achievable, the Council stressed, and matched by appropriate resources. It called on police contributors and the Secretary-General to ensure professionalism through proper training, equipping, standards, leadership, gender expertise and a range of other means. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and three United Nations Police Commissioners briefed the Council prior to the adoption of resolution 2185 (2014).
Earlier in the year, the Council adopted resolution 2167 (2014) on 28 July, encouraging the United Nations and regional organizations to develop more effective partnerships, which the Secretary-General, who briefed the meeting, said should be based on each group’s comparative strengths. More broadly, on 11 June, delegates wrestled with the potentially injurious implications of “robust” peacekeeping mandates during a day-long debate in which they weighed the merits of unmanned aerial vehicles and other technologies. Force Commanders briefing on 9 October agreed that swift adaptation to ever more perilous environments was critical to protecting peacekeepers and civilians under their mandate.
In two meetings on post-conflict peacebuilding, the Council heard calls to strengthen – and fully use - the Peacebuilding Commission, one of the United Nations’ most effective tools for helping countries recover from conflict. The Deputy Secretary-General, opening a 19 March debate, urged taking advantage of next year’s review of the advisory body to make it more “relevant, catalytic and effective”. Reliable, early funding by the Peacebuilding Fund of cantonment — a key confidence-building step in the peace process — was vital.
Echoing those remarks, the Commission Chair, presenting the body’s report on 15 July, said recent crises in the Central African Republic and South Sudan were painful reminders that efforts to prevent relapse into conflict remained insufficient. National ownership was a key political principle, as was regional engagement. Other crucial components were programmatic interventions centred on institution-building and improved interaction with the Security Council.
Women, Peace and Security
Ending the second of two meetings on women, peace and security with a presidential statement, the Council, on 28 October, urged States to bolster protection for and empowerment of displaced women and girls, particularly in light of increasing threats to them posed by terrorist groups. Refugee and internally displaced women and girls were at heightened risk of abuse, it said, urging that their access to justice, humanitarian assistance and basic services — including for sexual and reproductive health — be strengthened.
In a day-long open debate on 25 April, the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict described “heart breaking” meetings with wartime sexual violence survivors, calling the horrors they had suffered a “great moral issue of our time”. The Secretary-General recalled that combating conflict-related sexual abuse was a Council priority, as it was as destructive as any bomb or bullet.
Children and Armed Conflict
The Council held two open debates on children and armed conflict, the first of which — on 7 March — culminated in the unanimous adoption of resolution 2143 (2014), condemning all international legal violations applicable to the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict. States were called on to facilitate the development and implementation of action plans to eradicate such behaviour. “All children deserve and are entitled to protection,” the Secretary-General said, opening the meeting. Other presentations were made by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a former child soldier from Sierra Leone.
In an open debate on 8 September, more than 60 speakers urged accelerated action to prevent — and ensure accountability for — the killing, recruitment and other abuse of children in situations of armed conflict. Delegates cited the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue (S/2014/339), which listed 8 countries and 51 non-State actors — including, for the first time, the Nigerian militia Boko Haram — that recruited, killed, maimed or sexually abused children, or engaged in attacks on schools and hospitals. “Acknowledgement is not enough,” said a survivor of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “You must take action for the nightmares to stop.”
Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
In the first of three meetings, the Security Council stressed the importance of engagement by senior mission leadership in ensuring all levels of the chain of command were involved in the civilian protection mandate, according to a presidential statement issued during a 12 February open debate, which counted United Nations human rights and peacekeeping experts among its 62 speakers. The Council had taken crucial decisions, delegates recalled, to equip peacekeeping missions with “robust” protection mandates, with positive results seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.
Later, on 29 August, the Council adopted resolution 2175 (2014), strongly condemning the violence and intimidation to which humanitarian workers in conflict situations were increasingly exposed and laying out several steps it intended to take to ensure their protection. Among them, the Council requested the Secretary-General to include relevant parts of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel in existing agreements with host countries. In remarks on 19 August – World Humanitarian Day – the Deputy Secretary-General pressed the 15-member body to further encourage parties to comply with international legal obligations and impose targeted measures on grave violators.
On 30 July, under Rwanda’s presidency, the Security Council held its first “wrap-up session” in a public briefing format since 2005, offering a glimpse into the ongoing internal debate on working methods. In other public wrap-up sessions that followed, Member States exchanged views on situations addressed each month, covering Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Ukraine and a range of events in Africa, as well as the body’s approach to emerging – or worsening — peacekeeping challenges. Interventions also focused on the themes of sanctions, policing, terrorism and Ebola. Four other wrap-up sessions were held in a closed format.
The Council’s annual discussion of working methods, on 23 October, heard briefings by the Ombudsperson and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, both of whom laid out ways the 15-member body could enhance its interaction with their institutions.
1 meeting: 22 October
During the Council’s meeting to adopt its annual report to the General Assembly for the period 1 August 2013 to 31 July 2014, the representative of Rwanda, central to formulating the text’s introduction, said the way in which the section had been drafted was a model of consensus for the Council. The text provided a thematic context for the 238 formal meetings of the body in 2014, of which 218 had been public, resulting in 55 resolutions as presented in the report. Following those remarks, the Council unanimously adopted the report.