The most important elements of the Security Council’s work in February were still to come, speakers said during the 15-member organ’s monthly “wrap-up” meeting today.
Pointing to possible action on expected draft resolutions concerning the cessation of hostilities in Syria, and proposed sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as critical upcoming activities, they said both texts were expected to be finalized in a matter of days, or even hours.
In an overview briefing at the outset of the meeting, Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela), Council President for February, said the crisis in Syria had preoccupied the body’s work for much of the month. On seven occasions, it had taken up various topics pertaining to Syria, including the issue of chemical weapons and the conflict’s humanitarian aspect, he noted, adding that the Council had also paid close attention to the ongoing Syrian peace talks and welcomed the cessation of hostilities agreement.
Several representatives echoed the President, saying the Council had worked hard to “keep its finger on the pulse” of events in Syria. One speaker said he was relieved by the progress made with regard to increasing humanitarian access, particularly in besieged places. Another urged the Council to keep the crisis high on its agenda, emphasizing that concrete actions must be taken to improve the every-day lives of Syrians and to demonstrate that claims of ending the violence were not merely an “abstract piece of theatre”.
Council members also used the wrap-up meeting as an opportunity to reiterate their condemnation of January’s nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as its subsequent ballistic missile test. Speakers said that those actions were a clear and flagrant violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and a challenge to regional and international peace and security.
One delegate noted that the Council was often divided on many key issues, but had shown remarkable unanimity on the issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Representatives went on to state their intent to put in place significant additional sanctions against that country in the form of a resolution. One representative said the measures would represent the strongest such measures imposed by the Council in a generation, stressing, however, that the sanctions were not punitive, but practical.
In reviewing its other activities in February, speakers noted that the Council had met several times to consider the situation in Yemen, during which they had placed particular emphasis on the humanitarian situation in that country. Members had expressed concern about the deteriorating situation there since the outbreak of conflict a little more than a year ago.
The Council had also sought to play a proactive role in addressing the ongoing tension and violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and West Bank, but had not been able to reach agreement on many key issues, delegates said. One speaker said it was unfortunate that it had failed to take definitive steps to end the humanitarian suffering and violations of human rights law and international law taking place in the region.
Council President Ramírez (Venezuela) highlighted other activities in February, including the debate on the work of the Council’s sanctions committees. In a rare procedural step, countries under sanctions had been invited to speak at that meeting, he recalled. Through a presidential statement issued as the outcome of those proceedings, Council members agreed to promote the transparency of subsidiary organs, including, by requiring them to provide informative briefings to non-members of the Council.
The purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter was the focus of an open debate, during which more than 70 speakers had shared their thoughts on the Charter’s role in ensuring international peace and security. Many delegates had underlined the need to respect the sovereignty of States, non-interference in internal affairs and non-use of force or the threat of force. The importance of the Charter’s Article 33, by which Member States abstained from applying unilateral coercive action, had also been stressed during the debate, as had the important role of regional and subregional organizations.
During its final debate in February, the Council took up the issue of peacebuilding, during which speakers emphasized the need for sustained financial support for peacebuilding activities and increased cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations.
The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 12:24 p.m.