2 May 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for May


The Security Council would focus on African issues in May, including a debate on the fight against terrorism in the continent, Kodjo Menan, Permanent Representative of Togo to the United Nations, said today, as he assumed the Council presidency for this month.

“More and more, the African continent seems to be becoming an epicentre of terrorism,” he said.  “Fighting terrorism in Africa is fighting terrorism worldwide.”  In that context, he stressed the need for appropriate responses and drew attention to the 13 May debate, entitled “Peace and Security in Africa:  the challenges of the fight against terrorism in Africa in the context of maintaining international peace and security”.

He recalled that during Togo’s first Council presidency in February last year, the 15-nation body had discussed the impact of organized transboundary crime on peace and security in Africa, with an emphasis on the Sahel region.  Togo’s Head of State had come to New York at that time to show the great importance he assigned to the question of peace and security in West Africa, the Sahel, and throughout the world.

Similarly, the upcoming debate would be chaired by Togo’s President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, he said.

Today, the Council had adopted a resolution authorizing a new assistance mission in Somalia.  On 6 May, there would be a briefing on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mary Robinson, who sought to help the peace process in that country and the Great Lakes region.  Council members were looking forward to interacting with Ms. Robinson and discussing the ways and means she would like to use to help countries implement the peace process.

The Council would also hold a briefing on the situation in Libya and the proceedings of the International Criminal Court on 8 May.  On the following day, the Council would be briefed on Sudan and South Sudan and the situation in Guinea-Bissau.

The briefing on Guinea-Bissau would be conducted by José Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste, who had been appointed as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).

On 10 May, there would be a briefing by three Council subsidiary bodies dealing with terrorism.  The meeting was timely, because it would precede the debate on 13 May.

A briefing on the Central African Republic, slated for 15 May, could be attended by that country’s Prime Minister, as the nation’s security and humanitarian situations were deteriorating after a coup.

Among non-African issues to be discussed were the situation on Bosnia and Herzegovina, the work of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the question of the Middle East.

On the Middle East, the Council, under Togo’s presidency, was seeking to “go beyond the routine work” in seeking to find a solution by building on recent positive developments, such as the momentum created by the visits by United States President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Syria, he recalled that three days ago Jordan’s Ambassador had come to the Council, in a private meeting, to describe for members just how heavy the burden of refugees from that neighbouring country had been for his Government.  The Council had discussed possible visits to Jordan and other countries that had accepted Syrian refugees, such as Turkey and Lebanon.  But, there had not been a consensus on that matter.

Mr. Menan said Togo would hold a wrap-up session on 30 May.  The practice, initiated by Pakistan, had not been observed during the Russian Federation’s presidency, but his delegation felt it useful, as it provided an opportunity for self-reflection by Council members.

In response to a question about ways to break through on the Syrian crisis, he stressed the need for the five permanent members to transcend their differences.  “As long as they cannot achieve unity, the Council will remain paralysed,” he said.

On speculation that Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, would soon step down, he acknowledged that Mr. Brahimi had been in a difficult situation, but he believed that the special envoy would continue with his mandate.

Asked why Mali was not on this month’s agenda, Mr. Menan said that his delegation had sought to schedule a briefing, but had been told that the Secretary-General’s report on the integrated strategy for the Sahel would not be out by then.  He said the Secretariat had suggested to postpone the meeting to 15 June.  “Many Council members were disappointed at the long wait,” he said.  Meanwhile, the 13 May debate would cover Mali.

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For information media • not an official record