Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for July

3 July 2012

Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for July

3 July 2012
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for July


With the crises in Syria and Mali, a broad reassessment of peacebuilding schedules and many peacekeeping mandates coming to term, July looks very busy for the Security Council, the Permanent Representative of Colombia, which will hold the 15‑member body’s rotating presidency for that month, said today.

“There are plenty of issues to be tackled,” said Néstor Osorio during the regular press briefing at the beginning of the month, noting that 25 sessions were already planned, in addition to the briefings that had already taken place, by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, on the Middle East (including Syria), Libya and South Sudan.

He said Syria was still at the top of the agenda, as it had been for the past 16 months, recalling that when he had last assumed the presidency in April 2011, the Council had already been closely watching the violence emerging in response to demonstrations.  At the moment, the Council was still digesting the results of the recent international meeting on the crisis, he said, adding that the element of transition was at the core of the possibility of moving ahead.  Meanwhile, a briefing by Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy of the League of Arab States and the United Nations, was already scheduled for 11 July, though an earlier date was under discussion.

Regarding emerging draft resolutions on Syria, he said ideas were still circulating, but “nothing is on the table yet”.  A decision was needed on the extension, modification or termination of the United Nations Support Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), and that would be considered on 18 July, he said, noting that many members were seeking the Mission’s suspension due to the inordinate risks that observers faced due to the continuing violence in Syria.

It was a dilemma, he acknowledged in response to questions, because the United Nations presence was wanted to support a ceasefire and inclusive political dialogue, while there was also a responsibility to protect the personnel involved.

In response to other questions, he pointed out that the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court based on Ms. Pillay’s allegations of torture centres, for example, was a matter for the Security Council.  Discussions about the effect of such a referral were ongoing, as some delegations felt that it could further polarize the situation.

On peacebuilding, Mr. Osorio said the fifth annual report of the Peacebuilding Commission presented an opportunity to assess how that body was working, particularly in its role as “the anchor of coherence” in the work of all stakeholders, countries emerging from conflict in particular.  The Commission needed more visibility, he added, noting that an open debate on the topic, planned for 12 July, would be chaired by Colombia’s Foreign Minister, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar.

Emphasizing that his country had much to contribute to the peacebuilding discussion, he said that although Colombia’s situation was unique in many ways, its experience with armed groups, victim-reparation laws, restitution of land and other areas would nevertheless be valuable to share.  Development actors as well as representatives of the World Bank and the African Development Bank had been invited, as had the Chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configurations.

Turning to Sudan and South Sudan, he said the Council must consider the mandates of the three missions in that region, adding that several consultations were scheduled.  The situation between the two countries had calmed somewhat, but the issue of oil was still unresolved, as were related border questions, he noted, adding that the Council would continue to support the African Union road map in seeking to resolve them.

Regarding West Africa, he said the question of Mali was “very worrisome” and some action might be necessary.  Dates for a meeting were being discussed — it could take place this week or next — and France was working on a text.  Noting that the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) would expire this month, he said it was important to encourage some sort of dialogue process in that country because the polarized relations between the Government and the opposition did not present a favourable picture.  Turning to Guinea-Bissau, on which a briefing was scheduled for 26 July, he said the coup d’état must be dealt with in the strongest terms in order to restore democratic governance as soon as possible.

Mr. Osorio said an open debate on the Middle East was scheduled for 25 July, following the monthly briefing by the Secretariat.  Hopefully, frustration with the lack of progress towards resuming negotiations would encourage a robust response from speakers.  In response to questions, he cited Quartet activities and a visit by Colombia’s Foreign Minister for that purpose.  Elsewhere in the region, he noted that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was up for renewal on 25 July, noting that the situation in that country had been “very hot” recently and had sparked renewed concern.

He also highlighted upcoming briefings on Cyprus and Yemen, on 10 July and 17 July, respectively.  Matters that had not yet been scheduled included a proposal by Portugal to spread out the expiry of peacekeeping mandates so that multiple extensions did not have to be considered at the same time, he said, pointing out that there was quite a concentration this month.  The nature of Council briefings from the Department of Political Affairs would also be discussed, he added.

Responding to additional questions, he acknowledged that there were “inner discussions” within the Council, involving only the five permanent members, as well as exclusive discussions involving the other 10.  Sometimes such caucusing helped move things along, he said, explaining that agreement among the so-called P-5, for example, made it easier to act.  When they did not, however, the elected members took on various important roles in the effort to reach consensus.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.