The Security Council’s visiting mission to East Africa and its efforts to build stronger relations with the African Union were among the highlights of its work in May, members said today, as the 15-member organ held its monthly “wrap-up” meeting.
Speakers noted that the immediate, positive and tangible impact of the Council’s visit to Somalia had allowed for face-to-face engagement with that country’s President, regional leaders and other stakeholders, just as arrangements for elections were being finalized. The visit had been especially timely because it had helped to emphasize the importance of elections taking place under the agreed model and in adherence with established deadlines. One speaker described such Council missions as a valuable tool for advancing peace and security objectives, while also pointing out the time and expense involved.
Another speaker described the Council’s visit to Kenya as a critical opportunity to review the future of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and to assess the situation of Somali refugees in that country. The two issues justified renewed Council attention with a view to preserving the gains achieved so far and avoiding “undesirable consequences” if a suitable solution to the refugee situation was not identified.
In reviewing the Council’s work during May, several delegations welcomed the consultative meetings held between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council as a means to share ideas about the prospects for wider cooperation between the two, including the possibility of joint field missions in the future. Speakers members highlighted the important role of regional and subregional cooperation in preventing conflict and identifying peaceful solutions to peace and security challenges.
One speaker noted that, despite resource limitations, the African Union’s participation in peacekeeping efforts had been instrumental in supporting the Security Council. In that context, he added, further analysis should be undertaken to determine how to formalize similar regional partnerships, including with the League of Arab States.
Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt) said, in his final briefing as Council President, that the 11 May open debate on countering the narratives and ideologies of terrorism, had provided an important opportunity to share ideas on one of the most formidable challenges currently facing the international community. The participation of religious and private sector representatives in that debate had provided a unique opportunity to solicit the views of other stakeholders. The Council’s request that the Counter-Terrorism Committee Directorate propose a comprehensive international framework on combating extremist messaging was further affirmation of the Council’s seriousness on that issue.
Turning to the Middle East, one Council member noted the loss of ground in efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria and the suspension of peace talks in Geneva. The lack of progress on ensuring humanitarian access to besieged areas of the country was particularly concerning. Speakers also highlighted the deteriorating situation in Aleppo, with one declaring: “Even as Aleppo burned, this Council took too long to hold a simple meeting.” Another expressed concern that the cessation of hostilities in Syria had actually given way to greater violence, undermining the country’s stability, which was a prerequisite for political negotiations.
The Council’s work on health care in armed conflict had provided an important opportunity to further examine the human consequences of attacks in Syria and elsewhere, one speaker emphasized, saying attacks on medical facilities were so frequent, that living close to a hospital was now perceived as a threat to safety. She recalled the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), which demanded protection for medical and humanitarian personnel, as well as hospitals and associated facilities.
Speakers stressed that it would be incumbent upon the Council in the coming month to make progress in the process of selecting the next Secretary-General. One speaker said there were huge expectations both inside and outside the United Nations, and that the informal discussions already under way were a step forward in determining how the Council would conduct that vital process. However, other speakers expressed concern over the slow progress of the Council’s deliberations thus far, urging more focused efforts to ensure that members would not face avoidable time constraints.
The meeting began at 10:35 a.m. and ended at 12:25 p.m.