The situations in Syria, Yemen and the broader Middle East would be among the Security Council’s priorities in April, Liu Jieyi (China), its President for the month, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Providing an overview of the 15-member Council’s forthcoming work, he said it would hold 30 meetings, considering Syria, Yemen, the Middle East, South Sudan, Mali, Western Sahara, Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic. The Council would also renew the mandates of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
On Syria, he said there were ongoing efforts to advance the intra-Syrian dialogue. The Council would look at the political process, the chemical weapons file and humanitarian access. Since progress had been made in United Nations-sponsored talks, the Council’s deliberations would aim to advance the political process. And while humanitarian access was generally improving, it remained uneven, he noted.
On Yemen, the President said there was momentum to find a negotiated solution, amid ongoing talks among the countries involved. Council discussions would aim to advance the talks, improve conditions for the agreed ceasefire to hold, and create conditions for a negotiated solution among the parties. On 19 April, he said, the Council would hear a briefing on Somalia, aimed at strengthening positive trends in that country and helping the Government stabilize the situation.
Turning to the open debate on the situation in the Middle East, he described various tracks, including one proposed by France, to hold an international ministerial conference, followed by a high-level conference. The League of Arab States was working to provide solutions to break the deadlock and reverse the volatile situation, he said, adding that other Council members had ideas for a draft resolution.
On 14 April, the Council would hold an open debate on counter-terrorism to enhance international cooperation and coordination in fighting the surge of terrorist activities around the world, he said. It would examine evolving trends, as well as the international efforts to cut off the financing of terrorism and combat terrorist activities in a more coordinated manner.
The Council would hold an open debate on 25 April — co-sponsored by China, Angola and Senegal — on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, a growing problem that was disrupting international trade. It would aim to focus international attention and generate support for regional countries in combating piracy, he said, adding that it was likely that a presidential statement would be issued. In organizing the meeting, China had consulted the President of the General Assembly, guided by a belief in greater coordination in the work of the two organs. Similarly, the Assembly would address counter-terrorism in June, when the Counter-terrorism Strategy came up for review, he said, adding that he had agreed with the Assembly President that discussions should dovetail to achieve maximum impact. He said he had also spoken with the Secretary-General to ensure greater coordination with his Office.
Taking questions, he said the Council had adopted a resolution on missile testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea last month and was now implementing it. That resolution represented the consensus within the Council and it was important now to ensure its implementation. China attached great importance to implementation of Council resolutions, he emphasized, and nothing should be done to exacerbate the situation. As for whether requests for a Council meeting could lead to a discussion, he said the Council followed its provisional rules of procedure.
To a question about Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles, he responded that the Council had discussed that issue informally. Different views had been expressed and the Council would meet if there was a need. Speaking in his national capacity, he said it was most important to ensure that the agreement was implemented. “We don’t want to see anything that complicates the implementation process,” he stressed.
Asked how the Council would handle a breakdown of the ceasefire in Yemen, for example, he said it would do its utmost to ensure the success of the negotiations. If they went well and there was consolidation of an intention to respect the ceasefire and discuss political future, the Council would support such a process, he said. Success would also depend upon regional States promoting a peaceful resolution of the relevant issues.
To a query on Syria, he responded that it was up to Syrians to decide their own future. The Council supported United Nations efforts to bring the parties closer and to pick the “low hanging fruit” first. The ceasefire had done “reasonably well” and now aid must reach those in need, he said. For any political solution to be upheld, it must come from Syrians themselves, a point made in relevant Council resolutions.
Asked about Western Sahara, he said the Council would take up the mandate renewal, an outcome that he expected to be handled smoothly.
Questioned as to whether the Council would invite terrorism victims to its open debate on that topic, he said the structure for the meeting was still being decided, he said, adding that the Secretary-General was likely to address the chamber. It was high time the international community made counter-terrorism efforts more effective, he emphasized, noting that the debate would probably focus on current trends and international responses. No outcome was envisioned, he added.
Asked why China had put a hold on a listing request for the Al-Qaida Sanctions List, he said any listing would have to meet the requirements, stressing that it was the responsibility of Council members to ensure that the criteria were followed.
Queried about the Council’s schedule for addressing the Middle East situation, he said the 12 April meeting would concentrate on the political situation in Syria, while the one on 13 April would focus on the humanitarian situation. The Council would consider the situation in Yemen on 15 April, the question of Palestine on 18 April, and the humanitarian situation in Syria on 28 April.
Asked about a draft resolution on Burundi, he said the Council planned to adopt it today.
Questioned about sexual exploitation and abuse within United Nations operations, he described it as a shame, stressing: “We must address this issue with all the authority that the Council has.” Members had examined the issue from various aspects, focusing on the need for better training, stricter enforcement of discipline and a more effective mechanism for examining such incidents. The Council was united in fighting sexual abuse relating to its peacekeeping operations, he said, underlining that it would follow up on the issue, despite its absence from the April programme.
Asked about the timing of the Gulf of Guinea piracy debate, he said the issue dated back to 2011 and 2012, when the Council had adopted resolutions on the matter, and noted that the situation had not improved. However, an African regional mechanism was in place to coordinate the efforts of coastal countries to fight piracy, but they required more help from the international community, he said.