The Security Council would hold two thematic debates, including — for the first time — one on the role of human rights in the maintenance of international peace and security, said Nikki Haley (United States), its President for April, at a Headquarters press conference today.
“If you look at the conflicts we have in the world, they always go back to the human rights situation on the ground,” she said, stressing the importance of that debate, which she said would take place on 18 April despite not yet being on the Council’s official agenda. Recalling that the conflict in Tunisia had begun with a fruit vendor who had set himself on fire in protest, she said many current conflicts could be traced to human rights violations.
Indeed, she said, in Syria and elsewhere, there was cause to ask: “Could we have stopped it sooner?” The planned debate was not meant to call out or “blast” particular countries, but rather to identify issues that could lead to conflict in the future.
Expressing her intention to hold as many open meetings as possible in April for the sake of transparency, she said the second thematic debate would focus on United Nations peacekeeping reform. “There is strong consensus on the Security Council that we need to move forward” with such reforms, she said, underscoring the importance of making peacekeeping more efficient while ensuring that it was really helping people on the ground. Also critical would be to make the revisions needed “to make sure we are changing with the times”, she said.
Turning to other priorities for the month, she said the Council would hold a ministerial-level meeting on non-proliferation, to be chaired by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on 28 April. The meeting would focus, in particular, on the nuclear activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
In addition, she said, the Council would hold an open debate on the Middle East on 20 April. That meeting would focus not on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but rather on other issues that had often been ignored, including Iran’s support for terrorism, as well as Hizbullah and Hamas, she said.
At the meeting’s outset, Ms. Haley expressed her condolences to the people of the Russian Federation for the bomb explosion in Saint Petersburg this morning, noting that the attack reinforced why the Security Council and the United Nations itself was so important.
Asked by a reporter what more the Council could do about actions taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said much would depend on what happened this month and with any decisions China would take, which, in turn, would spell out where the United States would go. She expressed hope that several foreign ministers would attend the 28 April meeting. “There is will on the Council that this is a problem,” she said. It was important that China fully impose the sanctions and that more activity from non-Council Member States was seen, “so we can talk with one voice”.
For the Council’s full programme of work, please see www.un.org/en/sc/programme.