The situation in the Middle East, protection of children in armed conflict and crises in Africa dominated the Council’s schedule, the Permanent Representative of France, President of the body for March, said in a monthly wrap-up meeting this afternoon.
Giving an overview of the month, François Delattre said the Council held 28 meetings, in which nine resolutions, three presidential statements and eight press statements were issued. The number of meetings was comparable to March 2014, when a record had been set for the 15-member body’s workload.
The high-level debate on victims of attacks and abuses on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East, chaired by France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, was a key moment in mobilizing the international community, he said. Mr. Fabius and the Secretary-General had charted a path of action to be subsequently elaborated by a group of elders. France would monitor those efforts to ensure that the political dynamic translated into concrete actions.
On Libya, the Council had passed three resolutions on the political and security aspects of the crisis, Mr. Delattre said. A 22 March emergency session on Yemen had seen a presidential statement renewing the Council’s support for the country’s legitimate president. The Council also adopted a resolution on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, he said, outlining that any further use of such arms would trigger a Chapter VII response. On the Middle East peace process, the Council held a meeting with the Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator. The two-State solution remained the only path forward and he had seen support for renewing discussions to establish parameters for resumed negotiations.
On the protection of children in armed conflict, he said, France had worked with Malaysia to commemorate the tenth anniversary of resolution 1612 (2005), organizing an open debate on the topic, which featured remarks by the Secretary-General, the Special Representative and a former child soldier. Rather than adopt a pre-negotiated text, France had decided to first listen to proposals from participants. It would soon summarize and disseminate those proposals.
Turning to Africa, he recalled the Council’s mission to the Central African Republic and Burundi, as well as discussions with the African Union. Negotiations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo were among the most important of the month, he said, citing last week’s dialogue with that Government on the future of the United Nations mission there. With appropriately scaled forces, the mission now would focus on a reduced number of tasks, especially civilian protection.
In other work, he said, the Council placed sanctions on South Sudan. It also held the first public meeting on Boko Haram, with a view to passing a resolution in support of measures by hybrid multinational forces working against that group. The Council held a dialogue with regional organizations and, for the first time, hosted the High Representative of the European Union. Other important meetings were held on Ukraine, Haiti, Darfur, Afghanistan and on humanitarian work in Syria.
When the floor was opened for debate, speakers welcomed the range of issues covered by the Council, especially the high-level open debate on the situation of minorities in the Middle East, in which delegates decried a “new brand” of terrorists, who were intent on wiping out ethnic, cultural or racial differences. Delegates had offered proposals for countering their “malignant” influence that some said stemmed from political vacuums in several countries.
Yet, the Council’s inability to agree on the elements of a political solution in Syria was worsening an already catastrophic humanitarian situation, some said. Yemen stood perilously close to civil war, as the Houthis’ military advance had led to foreign intervention that had unforeseen outcomes. Council decisions had not made a meaningful impact on the ground, said Lithuania’s delegate, stressing that the Council had not been able to influence the situation “largely because we were not doing enough”. For instance, it had been slow to identify and freeze assets controlled through family members of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Several welcomed the adoption of two “important” texts on Libya: resolution 2213 (2015), extending and modifying the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and resolution 2214 (2015), expressing grave concern about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh). Some lamented the Council’s lack of progress in normalizing political life in Libya, stressing that the adoption of a resolution might encourage stakeholders to advance that process. Counter-terrorism efforts should be made in parallel with the political track, some speakers said.
Africa was a major focus, with many expressing appreciation for the Council’s trip to the Central African Republic, Burundi and Ethiopia, where delegates had met with partners at the African Union Peace and Security Council, fulfilling an important political function to show its engagement in those countries. In discussions with the African Union, the representatives of Chad and the United Kingdom had supported New Zealand’s proposal to limit the joint meeting’s agenda to two or three points, so as to allow for targeted progress.
In the Central African Republic, delegates said, the mission had conveyed to transitional authorities the importance of advancing the transitional process, notably in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and the rebuilding of State institutions. In Burundi, the mission encouraged the holding of a free, fair and transparent electoral process, in line with the Arusha Accords and road map signed by political parties. Parties should avoid “aggressive rhetoric”, said Angola’s representative, who also stressed that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was at a “crossroads” with crucial aspects of the peace consolidation process that had to advance.
Several speakers welcomed resolution 2211 (2015), extending the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and its intervention brigade for another year, as well as resolution 2212 (2015), authorizing increases in military, police and corrections personnel in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which exemplified the Council’s commitment to stabilizing the situations in those countries.
Some welcomed the holding of wrap-up sessions, which increased transparency to meet the needs of the United Nations’ broader membership and allowed for reflection on cross-cutting themes. In that context, New Zealand’s delegate welcomed the growing number of texts being generated by elected Council members. Others, however, said recent work programmes had barely left a window for the sanctions committees and working groups to carry out their work. With more informal meetings, complex negotiations and demands on Secretariat bodies, there was a need to review working methods.
Also speaking today were representatives of Nigeria, Jordan, Chile, Malaysia, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Spain, China, United States, Chad and United Kingdom.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:58 p.m.