Press Conference by President of Security Council on Work Programme for December

1 December 2016

Press Conference by President of Security Council on Work Programme for December

Debates on international judicial cooperation, the sanctions regime surrounding nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and human trafficking would be the major topics to be addressed this month by the Security Council, Román Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain), Council President for December, said at a Headquarters press conference today.

Noting that December would be Spain’s second and last Council presidency, he emphasized that the three issues chosen for closer scrutiny reflected his country’s priorities during the two years it had spent on the 15-member organ.  The first major debate, to be held on 12 December, would be on international judicial cooperation in the fight against terrorism.  It would be chaired by Spain’s Justice Minister and would review measures to slow the transit of terrorists across international borders.  Hopefully a resolution on that matter would be adopted by consensus.

During the second major debate, on 15 December, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs would chair a meeting on resolution 1540 (2004) on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he said.  As Chair of the related Sanctions Committee, Spain had followed the issue closely, and it was to be hoped that the meeting’s outcome would be a resolution reviewing resolution 1540 (2004) and converting it into a more effective system to prevent non-State actors from acquiring such weapons.  Resolution 1540 (2004) must be adapted to new times and new technologies, he said, adding that while a draft resolution was still under negotiation, he was confident that it would be adopted.

He said the third and last major event would be on 20 December, when the Prime Minister of Spain would chair an open debate on trafficking of persons in conflict situations.  Predicting that many States would want to express their views on how to improve mechanisms to slow or prevent human trafficking, he said members were negotiating a draft resolution aimed at having human trafficking victims considered victims of terrorism.

Among other issues on the Council’s agenda, delegates would discuss the political aspects of the situation in Syria on 8 December, he said.  On 13 December, a meeting on South Sudan would discuss the arms embargo.  The situation in Sudan would be discussed on 13 December during a briefing by the International Criminal Court, he said, recalling that the case of Sudan had been referred to the Court by resolution 1593 (2005).  A 14 December meeting would pay tribute to the outgoing Secretary-General.

He went on to say that 19 December would be busy because the Council would hold its regular quarterly debate on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), a topic for which Spain had been the pen-holder for two years.  On the same day, the Chairs of subsidiary Council bodies would brief the Council and the wider United Nations membership, and it was also probable that outgoing members would talk about their experiences.

The Council’s meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria, on 21 December would be important, because the Council must renew resolution 2258 (2015), which allowed for cross-border humanitarian access.  A 22 December meeting would consider resolution 2231 (2015) on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action involving Iran.  More broadly, a number of issues could be raised, such as the situation in Mosul or Yemen, he added.

Asked about participants in the 20 December open debate on trafficking of persons in conflict situations, Mr. Oyarzun said that a victim would give a “raw and tragic” account of what it was like to be trafficked.  The aim was to have trafficking victims considered as victims of terrorism, he added.

Replying to a question on the situation in the Middle East, he said the issue of settlements in the Occupied Palestine Territory was a controversial issue in the Council.  Several issues could be considered on 16 December, but it was uncertain whether a draft resolution on settlements would be tabled, even though some Council members thought December would be the right month in which to take a decision on the Middle East situation.

As for the draft resolution submitted by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain on the situation in Syria, he said that text was the subject of intense negotiations.  Hopefully a consensus could be reached in the “next couple of hours” so that the draft could be adopted.  He added that although the situation in Aleppo was a major part of the text, he could not go into details.

Regarding the appeal by civil society to have the question of Aleppo brought before the General Assembly, he said that if members of the Security Council could not discharge their obligations under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Assembly could carry the issue forward.  However, the process in the General Assembly was led by Canada and further questions should be addressed to that country’s delegation.  Because Syria was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the Council had not examined its referral to the International Criminal Court.

However, he did not rule out discussion of the situation in Burundi under “other matters”, he said in answer to a question, adding that the situation was not delicate enough to be included in the programme of work.

In response to another question, he said some Council members had requested that it consider the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), and that matter could be included in consideration of “other business”.

Responding to another question, he said that although Yemen was not included in the footnotes of the programme of work, the Council might be called upon to examine the situation there.

Addressing queries about the Council’s methods of work, he said private entities and non-governmental organizations could send a letter to the Council President and he would take it further.  Emphasizing the importance of civil society participating in the Council’s work, he said that a civil society representative would participate in tomorrow’s briefing on Liberia.

Asked about implementation of Article 32 of the Charter regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s participation in debates on that country, he said Article 32 was fully valid, but the Government was not interested in the discussion.

In response to questions about Central Africa, he said the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would be discussed on 5 December, noting that consultations on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) took place every six months.  The Council would consider the fight against terrorism, specifically Boko Haram, on 7 December, he added.

He concluded by saying that the ongoing military exercises involving the United States and the Republic of Korea were not on the December programme of work.

For the Council's full programme of work, please see https://www.un.org/en/sc/programme.

For information media. Not an official record.