The protection of civilians in armed conflict would be the central theme of the Security Council’s work in the coming month, Elbio Rosselli (Uruguay), its President for May, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Describing the protection of civilians as an essential theme, he said the Council would hold an open debate on sexual violence in armed conflict on 15 May, with Uruguay’s Deputy Foreign Minister presiding. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, were also expected to brief the meeting, as were representatives of civil society. Sexual violence in conflict was “one of the cruellest, most heinous weapons”, he said, adding that the topic deserved thorough examination as a means to finding ways to eliminate such a horrendous crime.
Also under the umbrella of civilian protection, he continued, the Council would hold its second open debate on 25 May, focusing on the protection of health-care facilities and personnel in conflict situations. Despite the Council’s adoption of resolution 2286 (2016), condemning attacks against such targets, there was an unacceptable increase in the incidence of those crimes.
The Council would also conduct a visiting mission to Colombia during the first week of Uruguay’s presidency, he said, adding that the aim was to demonstrate commitment to that country’s peace process, and to show support for the work of the special political mission in Colombia. The Colombian people had taken ownership of the peace process over the last five years, and the United Nations had taken an active role in supporting their efforts, he said, adding that a follow-up briefing for the full membership would take place on 16 May.
Other highlights of the month would include a briefing on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union on 9 May, he said, adding that Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, would be the briefer. A joint meeting of the Council’s three terrorism-related subsidiary bodies would take place on 11 May, and on 23 May, Council members would participate in an interactive session with all 15 United Nations force commanders, as part of a briefing on the Organization’s peacekeeping operations.
The Council would also revisit well-known topics over the course of the month, including Syria, Yemen and the Middle East, he said. Regarding Syria, the Council would address the political situation in that country on 18 May, and take up the issue of chemical weapons on 26 May. Finally, the Council would hear a briefing on Syria’s humanitarian situation on 30 May.
Answering a question about the planned visit to Colombia, the President explained that although things were moving forward, differences and challenges must be expected, given the circumstances. The Council would carry a message to Colombia that the United Nations was committed to the special political mission established there, and would provide additional support, as requested.
Asked for specifics of the mission’s itinerary, he said it would meet with the President and Vice-President of Colombia, and with members of the Cabinet and Parliament, as well as the leadership of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including Iván Márquez. Additionally, the mission would travel to meet with a group of former combatants in order to speak to them directly about how the peace process was moving forward for them. However, the exact location of that meeting would depend on the weather.
In response to a question as to whether the issue of Western Sahara would figure on the Council’s agenda, he noted that his country had contributed troops for almost every peacekeeping mission, including the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). However, now that the expelled staff members had returned to duty, it was to be hoped that the Mission would be able to continue fulfilling its mandate, as prescribed by the Security Council.
When asked whether further Security Council action should be expected against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in view of continued missile testing in violation of numerous Council resolutions, he said there had been “conversations on some action”, but those discussions would require further “elaboration before they manifest themselves in a product”.
For the Council’s full programme of work, please see www.un.org/en/sc/programme.