12 January 2012

Civilian Protection Remains atop Security Council Agenda in 2011 amid Violent Suppression of Mass Protests, Birth of New Member State

12 January 2012
Security Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

2011 Round-up

Civilian Protection Remains atop Security Council Agenda in 2011 amid Violent

Suppression of Mass Protests, Birth of New Member State


Members Adopt 66 Resolutions, Issue 22 Presidential

Statements as Number of Meetings Rises Sharply from Previous Year

In a year characterized by mass protests and other challenges to entrenched leadership that frequently provoked violent reactions, the Security Council continued in 2011 to grapple with the question of protecting civilians in a manner consistent with the United Nations Charter, as the 15-member body remained seized of a wide range of conflicts, the birth of South Sudan, the Palestinian application for membership in the Organization and other developments.

The Council adopted 66 resolutions — 40 of them concerning Africa — and issued 22 presidential statements.  Once again it strove for consensus, with only five texts requiring a vote, although two on the Middle East suffered vetoes — one by the United States and the other by China and the Russian Federation.

In total, the Council convened 213 public meetings in 2011, up sharply from the 182 held in 2010, with 115 of them concerning Africa, the setting of both Sudanese republics, as well as Libya, the one theatre of the “Arab Spring” that deteriorated into full-blown civil war.  Much attention was also devoted to events in Côte d’Ivoire, where after an election defeat the former president refused to step down for five bloody months; and Somalia, where change accelerated after insurgents withdrew from the capital, stakeholders agreed on plans to meet transition goals, attention to piracy focused on increasing regional capacity for the prosecution of suspects, and access to aid for those suffering from widespread famine became increasingly crucial.

Attacks on demonstrators and other civilians in North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere early in the year drove home the need for the Council to implement its five resolutions intended to protect non-combatants, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in May.  “The events of the last few months have provided a compelling reminder of the fundamental and enduring importance of the Council’s protection-of-civilians agenda,” she added.

Consensus on just how to protect civilians became more difficult, however, as opposition in a growing number of countries continued to suffer increasingly deadly crackdowns.  The first draft resolution on Libya — tabled in late February and demanding an end to the violence, referring the situation to the International Criminal Court and applying sanctions — was adopted unanimously.  The second, imposing a no-fly zone, and authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, was adopted with only 10 votes.  The extent of the resulting air campaign attracted the disapproval of Council members who had not voted in favour of the resolution, who said it exceeded the resolution’s provisions and veered towards supporting regime change.  Others objected that the campaign sidelined the African Union’s attempts to initiate dialogue.

Although cooperation reigned on the creation of a new peacekeeping mission for Libya, measures to unfreeze assets and stem the spread of weapons from the country, and consideration of the crisis in Yemen, divisions hardened on the appropriate Council response to continuing bloodshed in Syria.  On Côte d’Ivoire, the Council unanimously adopted a text reaffirming the mandate of the United Nations operation there to use all necessary means to protect civilians under attack.  However, some members warned after the adoption that peacekeepers must not take sides in any conflict.

Toward the end of the year, comments in the wake of a briefing by the Chair of the Council subsidiary body on Iran sanctions indicated that divisions were also stiffening over a response to troubling data on that countries nuclear activities, presented in the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

On the other hand, the Council achieved Consensus many times on other key situations, including in the 29 public meetings on Sudan which considered the referendum on South Sudan, the new State’s admission to the United Nations, violence in border areas, the urgent need to settle outstanding peace process issues, and the need to persuade all Darfur stakeholders to sign onto the new Doha Document for Peace and bring an immediate halt to fighting in that strife-torn western Sudanese region.  As a result, the Council created two new missions — the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for the disputed Abyei border area between Sudan and South Sudan.

No other new missions were created in 2011, but in January the special political mission in Nepal, known as UNMIN, was closed.  In addition, a further reconfiguration of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was postponed as militias continued to threaten populations in the east and national elections approached.  The Council also postponed consideration of a United Nations mission to succeed the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) pending an appropriate security atmosphere, although hopes grew in the wake of following positive security and political developments.  The police and military component of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was reduced towards pre-earthquake levels as it continued to deal with recovery, cholera and election tensions.

The International Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia reported headway on their completion strategies, despite difficulties in staffing.  The arrests of former Bosnian Serb military commander Radko Mladić and former Interahamwe militia leader Bernard Munyagishari put completion within clearer view.  However, prospects for reconciliation in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina remained problematic.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained stalled despite much effort by the diplomatic Quartet to restart negotiations, the Palestinian bid for United Nations membership, and the exchange of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.  In February, a text declaring the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — a major factor in the stalled negotiations, in the view of many — failed to win adoption due to a United States veto.

Issuing 14 press statements, the Council condemned major terrorist attacks in various countries around the world, while continuing to monitor compliance with counter-terrorism resolutions through its subsidiary bodies.  On 2 May, following the death of Osama bin Laden, the Council urged States to remain vigilant and intensify their efforts against terrorism.

Continuing its practice of undertaking missions to gather first-hand information on key situations, Council members visited sub-Saharan Africa in May, stopping in Northern and Southern Sudan just before the latter’s independence, and in Addis Ababa, where cooperation with the African Union was discussed, and in Nairobi, Kenya, where the focus was on developments in neighbouring Somalia.

The General Assembly elected Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo to serve two-year terms as non-permanent members of the Security Council, starting on 1 January 2012.  They replaced Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria, which concluded their terms on 31 December 2011.  Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa will complete their terms at the end of 2012.  China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States are permanent members.

Following are summaries of Council activities in 2011:



Central African Republic

Côte d’Ivoire

Democratic Republic of Congo




Sierra Leone


Sudan and South Sudan

Central African Region

West Africa

Western Sahara

Council Mission

Peace and Security in Africa








Bosnia and Herzegovina



Middle East





Question of Palestine

Thematic Debates

Annual Report

Children and Armed Conflict

International Court of Justice

International Criminal Tribunals

Maintenance of International Peace and Security


Peacekeeping Operations

Post-conflict Peacebuilding

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

Regional Cooperation

Threats to International Peace and Security, Including Terrorism

Women, Peace and Security

Working Methods


Council Mission

The Council undertook one major mission in 2011, to sub-Saharan Africa from 19 to 26 May.  Susan Rice ( United States) and Vitaly Churkin ( Russian Federation), who led the mission’s Sudan and South Sudan legs, respectively, briefed the Council on 6 June, just ahead of the latter country’s independence.  Martin Briens ( France) briefed on the Addis Ababa leg, while Mark Lyall Grant ( United Kingdom) and Baso Sangqu ( South Africa) described the Nairobi segment, during which the situation in Somalia was discussed.

The briefers said that in Sudan, the mission had stressed the critical importance for both North and South of reaching an accord on all outstanding issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, prior to South Sudan’s independence on 9 July.  They had also met with Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the High-level Implementation Panel on Sudan and former President of South Africa.  The mission had then moved on to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for its annual meeting with African Union officials.  Libya, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and Somalia had been among the issues discussed.

In Nairobi, the mission had met with representatives of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and others.  Kenyan officials, for their part, had described the situation in Somalia as a threat to regional peace and security, and reiterated their request for a strengthening of AMISOM troop levels to 20,000.  They had also asked for greater assistance in the fight against piracy originating in Somalia and pervading the East African coast, as well as for help with the influx of refugees from the strife-torn neighbouring country.  (See Press Release SC/10271.)

Peace and Security in Africa

Holding to its traditional practice regarding Africa, the Council addressed, in addition to issues relating to specific countries and subregions, matters considered vital to peace and stability throughout the continent.  In the first of its four relevant meetings, the Council heard a briefing by Zachary Muburi-Muita, Under-Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union.  Created by the General Assembly in 2010, the Office integrates all activities of the former United Nations Liaison Office, the former African Union Peacekeeping Support Team and the former United Nations Planning Team for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  (See Press Release SC/10288.)

Addressing the Council for the first time in his new capacity, Mr. Muburi-Muita discussed the efforts under way to broaden the strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on a range of shared issues, including peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding, and raising the world body’s profile as a vital partner for capacity-building with African regional entities.  He reported that the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU), with the active involvement of the Department of Field Support, was making solid transition towards a “new, lean, self-sufficient operation” based in Addis Ababa, and would have recruited 61 of its authorized 63 staff members by 31 July.

“Our experience on cooperation between the two organizations shows that we do better in addressing crises on the continent when we stand together and speak in one voice,” he said.  At the same time, no one knew better than Security Council members that conflict mediation was a “challenging business, particularly when we are faced with a multiplicity of actors, initiatives and organizations playing their respective roles”.  That was why one of UNOAU’s key objectives was to strengthen coordination with African Union institutions and enhance their capacity to deliver peace on the continent.

As Council members took the floor during that meeting, Nigeria’s representative stressed the importance of acknowledging that, while regional bodies like the African Union had the necessary political will, they were insufficiently resourced to undertake long-term peacekeeping operations.  All too frequently its members mustered sufficient numbers of peacekeepers but saw their efforts undermined by the lack of resources.  Today’s armed conflicts required nuanced, heightened responses, she continued, stressing that greater support did not create dependency.  Indeed, stronger partnership and cooperation in deploying expert civilian personnel was central to that partnership, she said, expressing hope that the opening of UNOAU would lead to a more systematic, less reactive approach to joint peacekeeping operations.

Meeting on 19 October to consider the increasing threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the Council welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision to deploy an assessment mission to examine the scope of the growing problem and make recommendations on anti-piracy efforts, including in the broader context of organized crime and drug trafficking.  That meeting also included briefings by the Gulf of Guinea Commission’s Deputy Executive Secretary for Political Affairs and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security.  (See Press Release SC/10415.)

In his address, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there was an increase in reported cases of piracy and armed robbery aboard vessels along the West African coast.  The threat was compounded by the limited capacity of Gulf of Guinea States to ensure safe maritime trade, freedom of navigation, the protection of marine resources and the safety and security of lives and property.  “We must approach the issue in a holistic manner, focusing simultaneously on security, the rule of law and development,” he said.  “Responses that fall short of these requirements will only exacerbate the problem.”

Less than two weeks later, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2018 (2011), by which it condemned all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea committed off the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.  It also called upon ECOWAS States, members of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and those of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, in conjunction with flag States and those of victims or perpetrators of acts of piracy or armed robbery at sea, to cooperate in the prosecution of alleged perpetrators, including facilitators and financiers of such acts.  It further welcomed the intention to convene a summit of Gulf of Guinea Heads of State to consider a comprehensive response.

On 5 December, the Council’s attention was drawn to the situation in the Horn of Africa.  Concerned about the potential use of Eritrea’s mining sector as a financial source in destabilizing the East African subregion, the Council reinforced the sanctions regime imposed on that country to prevent funds derived from mining from contributing to its continued violations of those measures.  (See Press Release SC/10471.)

Adopting resolution 2023 (2011) under Chapter VII of the Charter, by a vote of 13 in favour to none against, with 2 abstentions ( China, Russian Federation), the Council demanded that Eritrea cease all direct or indirect efforts to destabilize States.  It decided that States would “undertake appropriate measures to promote the exercise of vigilance” in business dealings with Eritrea’s mining sector.  To that end, it requested its Sanctions Committee concerning Somalia and Eritrea to draft, with the assistance of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group, due diligence guidelines for optional use by States.

The Council also decided to expand the mandate of the Monitoring Group to cover the provisions of the new text, as well as its demand that Eritrea make available information on the Djiboutian combatants missing in action since 10 to 12 June 2008.  It called on all States to report within 120 days on steps taken to implement the resolution, and on the Secretary-General to report within 180 days on Eritrea’s compliance under the sanctions regime.  The Council affirmed that it would keep Eritrea’s actions under continuous review, and its readiness to strengthen, modify or lift the sanctions on the basis of compliance.


As the Council continued to monitor Burundi’s path towards stability and socio-economic health, it became clear during two joint briefings that, despite extreme poverty, spiralling unemployment and isolated violent incidents, the East African country’s overall political and security landscapes were “calm”, with much anticipated for the Government’s long-term vision.  “The road out of past violence is a long and difficult one,” said Karin Landgren, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the year-old United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB), on 7 December.  For a country that had experienced many years of conflict, Burundi deserved to be commended for its efforts.  (See Press Release SC/10473.)

Of particular note, she continued, was the Government’s desire for dialogue with extra-parliamentary parties, the establishment of the National Independent Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman, as well as the passing of a bill to establish a truth and reconciliation commission.  She expressed concern, however, that the bill did not consider national recommendations to include non-Burundians and representatives of civil society, among others, as members of the commission.  Also of concern were restrictions on independence in the media, civil society and the judiciary, she said, noting also that politically motivated killings had marred efforts to consolidate peace.  BNUB had documented a further 11 cases of suspected extrajudicial killings, bringing the total number to 57 in the period between 1 January and 30 November 2011, she added, urging all actors to reject violence.

Adolphe Nahayo, Director of Regional and International Organizations in Burundi’s Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, told the same meeting that part of his country’s problem of violence was the ready availability of illicit arms, which was exacerbated by porous borders and previously existing arms caches.  Regarding justice and the rule of law, he reassured Burundi’s partners that cases pending before the courts would be concluded, despite funding constraints that had sometimes slowed the judicial process.

When the Council met earlier in the year, Paul Seger ( Switzerland), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Burundi configuration, said the most important recent development was completing the outcome document from the review of the Strategic Peacebuilding Framework, which should now be merged with the national poverty reduction strategic paper.  Yet, the Commission could not do everything, he cautioned, pointing out that consolidating a culture of dialogue and democracy while fostering good governance and the rule of law was the primary challenge.  “I think we’re on the right track, but work still needs to be done,” he added.  (See Press Release SC/10254.)

The Council closed out the year by adopting resolution 2027 (2011) by which it extended until 15 February 2013 the mandate of BNUB to continue its support for the Government in the areas of socio-economic development, reintegrating conflict-affected populations and deepening the country’s regional integration.  (See Press Release SC/10496.)

Central African Region

Cross-border threats to Central Africa such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), piracy, illicit small arms and drug trafficking, resource poaching and massive refugee returns were the focus of two briefings by Abou Moussa, head of the newly established United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).  On 18 August, Mr. Moussa called on the Council to provide consistent support for efforts by his Office and regional States to stem those threats.  (See Press Release SC/10363.)

Taking up UNOCA’S first report and a special report of the Secretary-General on LRA-affected areas on 14 November, the Council issued a presidential statement condemning and demanding an immediate end to attacks by the armed group notorious for its widespread abduction of children and the displacement of some 450,000 people across the region.  On the same day, Mr. Moussa said that military operations conducted by affected States should be coordinated to ensure the LRA’s containment rather than its dispersal.  The emerging regional architecture for peace and security should help in that and other regional efforts and deserved international support, he said.  (See Press Release SC/10446.)

Central African Republic

In the first of the Security Council’s three meetings on the Central African Republic, the senior United Nations official there sounded a warning that an implosion there in that country — at the intersection of critical conflict zones and impacted by insecurity in neighbouring Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — would have a “cataclysmic impact throughout the region, negating investments made in securing the neighbouring countries”.  Margaret Vogt, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Central African Republic (BINUCA), noted, however, that barring “the worst-case scenario”, much had been accomplished in the two years since the establishment of BINUCA in January 2010.  (See Press Release SC/10311.)

A number of governance institutions had been created and key legislation had been introduced, she said, adding that freedom of the press had been expanded, despite recent setbacks involving the arrest of two journalists, and adding that the overall security situation remained calm, though unstable, especially outside Bangui, the capital.  She emphasized that the country still faced serious challenges, including extreme poverty, weak national institutions, corruption, a high rate of violent crime perpetrated by armed movements and brigands, as well as human rights violations and impunity.  In the current context, she stressed, the two most immediate challenges were the political dispensation following the legislative and presidential elections, the implementation of peace agreements with rebel groups, and the sustainable disarmament and reintegration of former combatants as part of overall security-sector reform.

In mid-December, Ms. Vogt returned to the Council with another warning:  that while the positive dynamic initiated between the Government of the Central African Republic and politico-military groups offered “a real chance for peace”, a lack of funding to complete the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and launch phase two of security-sector reform could put the country back “on the brink of disaster”.  (See Press Release SC/10488.)

She warned further that failure to find the resources to conclude disarmament in the north and north-east, where all the politico-military parties were anxiously awaiting the disarmament of their forces, may lead to a major resurgence of violence and further undermine security in a region where movement was highly impacted by insecurity even under normal circumstances.  The Government needed some $3 million to complete national disarmament and about $19 million for reintegration, she said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s urgent appeal for the international community’s support, to be found in his latest report on the Central African Republic and BINUCA’s activities (document S/2011/739).

Jan Grauls (Belgium), addressing the same meeting in his capacity as Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s configuration on the Central African Republic, agreed, describing the uncertainty surrounding the financing of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts as a “major and pressing” challenge.  Discussing prospects for the future, based on his October visit to the country, he stressed that it was the promise of support for reintegration that had enabled the Government to disarm and demobilize the rebels in the west, and to sign an agreement with the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix (CPJP).

Implementation of that pledge was highly desirable, he said, adding that the Peacebuilding Fund and the World Bank would consider ways to contribute accordingly and other potential donors should also do so.  While the Government had already made considerable strides in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and had brought the CPJP to the negotiating table so that it could join the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the country’s security situation was linked to that of the wider subregion, which could potentially undo the fragile progress achieved so far, he cautioned.  Destabilizing threats included the LRA and new mercenaries from Libya, who often joined armed groups.  Heads of neighbouring States had an important opportunity to address the problem of subregional insecurity and its impact on the Central African Republic, he stressed.

The Council wrapped up its consideration of the Central African Republic for the year by adopting resolution 2031 (2011), expressing its concern at the security vacuum in many parts of the country and continued reports of human rights violations.  It also extended the mandate of BINUCA until 31 January 2013.  The resolution welcomed the finalization of the national strategy for the reintegration of former combatants, but noted with concern the absence of a “credible and viable national strategy for security-sector reform”.  It called on the Government to re-engage in meaningful dialogue with BINUCA on that issue, taking into consideration the road map it had drafted to help revive the process.  (See Press Release SC/10501.)

Côte d’Ivoire

The new year began with Côte d’Ivoire still in the midst of a dramatic political crisis sparked by contested presidential elections in late November 2010.  Long-time President Laurent Gbagbo had lost a run-off to former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, but even as the latter claimed victory, his rival, alleging fraud, had refused to hand over power and had had himself sworn in.  The Council reacted to the violence that had erupted in the wake of the stand-off by deploying an additional 2,000 troops for the United Nations Operation in the country (UNOCI), until 30 June 2011 (see Press Release SC/10156).

Unanimously adopting resolution 1967 (2011) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the Council also extended until 30 June the deployment of hundreds of military and police personnel, as well as the temporary redeployment to UNOCI, by four additional weeks, of three infantry companies and two military helicopters from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  It also decided to authorize the temporary transfer to UNOCI of three armed helicopters with crews from UNMIL for four weeks.  Barely a month later, the Council extended that temporary deployment for another three months, under resolution 1968 (2011).  (See Press Release SC/10176.)

By late March, forces loyal to the leaders of the deadlocked political camps were waging gun battles in the streets of Abidjan and in the town of Tiebissou, and thousands of people were fleeing the country.  Expressing its deep concern, the Council demanded an immediate end to the surge in violence against civilians and targeted Mr. Gbagbo and his close associates with stiff sanctions, while reaffirming UNOCI’s mandate to protect civilians, including by preventing the use of heavy weaponry against them.  (See Press Release SC/10215.)

By the terms of resolution 1975 (2011), the Council cited five persons, including Mr. Gbagbo, listed in an annex to the text, who met the criteria set out in resolution 1572 (2004) for persons who obstructed the peace process and national reconciliation, obstructed the work of UNOCI, and committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.  It also condemned Mr. Gbagbo’s decision not to accept the overall political solution proposed by the African Union High-level Panel, and urged him to “immediately step aside”.

Five days earlier, Atul Khare, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, had conveyed to the Council a request by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for more stringent measures against Mr. Gbagbo.  He noted that UNOCI had reported 462 killings between mid-December and 23 March, in addition to at least 502 arbitrary arrests and detentions, some involving torture, and at least 72 disappearances.  Mr. Khare said regional leaders had made it clear that the deteriorating security situation and “grave” human rights conditions were a “direct consequence of the refusal of outgoing President Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to cede power to Mr. Alassane Ouattara, the universally recognized winner of the 28 November 2010 election”.  (See Press Release SC/10212.)

The deadly four-month stand-off ended on 11 April with the capture and arrest of Mr. Gbagbo following a heavy siege of his Abidjan compound.  In the first of two Council meetings that month, Choi Young-Jin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNOCI, told the 15-member body that the crisis had been “utterly unnecessary”.  Côte d’Ivoire now faced critical challenges, including the restoration of order, the prevention of further human rights abuses, national reconciliation and the rebuilding and completion of the peace process.  “Eleven April 2011 must be remembered as the end of a demagogic and Orwellian perversion by a regime that tried to cling to power by military means,” he said.  (See Press Release SC/10223.)

Also present at that briefing were Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who told the Council that despite Mr. Gbagbo’s arrest, “the humanitarian situation remains deeply troubling”.  Having just returned from a visit also covering neighbouring Liberia, she said the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire had far-reaching effects in the region which would not subside without significant and sustained effort from the humanitarian community.

The Council quickly followed up by adopting resolution 1980 (2011), which renewed until 30 April 2012 its arms embargo and diamond-trade ban on the West African nation, as well as targeted sanctions restricting the travel and financial dealings of individuals threatening peace and national reconciliation there.  It also decided to review those measures no later than 31 October 2011, with a view to possibly modifying, lifting or maintaining all or some of them amid progress in the peace process, developments relating to human rights violations and parliamentary elections.  (See Press Release SC/10236.)

In its two subsequent meetings on Côte d’Ivoire, the Council focused on bolstering UNOCI’s mandate in the aftermath of the crisis.  On 13 May, by resolution 1981 (2011), the Council extended the Operation’s mandate until 31 July 2011, and authorized the Secretary-General to extend until 30 June 2011 the temporary redeployment of equipment from UNMIL to UNOCI.  It also authorized the temporary redeployment of three infantry companies, one aviation unit comprising two military utility helicopters and three armed helicopters with crews.  (See Press Release SC/10251.)

On 27 June, the Council again extended the temporary redeployment of infantry and aviation units from UNMIL to UNOCI, this time through 31 July.  Adopting resolution 1992 (2011), the Council welcomed the joint operations and planning implemented by those missions, in Côte d’Ivoire and along it’s border with Liberia, and extended the deployment of 2,000 more military personnel.  It also extended the deployment of additional military and police capabilities authorized under resolution 1942 (2010), while authorizing, as well, the extended deployment, until 30 September, of three armed helicopters with crews from UNMIL to UNOCI.

Prompting the Council’s action was the Secretary-General’s concern over the fragile security situation inside Côte d’Ivoire and along its western border with Liberia.  In a letter to the Council (document S/2011/351), he said that, while the military utility helicopters were to have been returned to UNMIL before 30 June, the Secretariat was exploring various options for deploying a replacement unit, at least for the duration of the legislative elections, given the extremely fragile security situation and the high risk of renewed conflict or violence that would require adequate transportation capacity for the rapid deployment of the UNOCI force reserve.

Special Representative Choi returned to the Council on 18 July, warning that while national reconciliation efforts, preparations for legislative elections and steps towards economic recovery were moving in the right direction, the rapid restoration of law and order was of “primordial” importance in ensuring that all those other tasks could be carried out.  “We feel confident, as President Ouattara and his team, who have shown remarkable patience and sang-froid during the crisis, are working day and night to successfully meet the post-crisis challenges for the benefit of the Ivorian people,” he said, adding that a clear vision for the establishment of a national security structure must be developed to allow the effective deployment of police and gendarmerie elements, as well as the military’s return to barracks.

At the same meeting, Youssoufou Bamba ( Côte d’Ivoire) said the events of 21 May that had seen President Ouattara’s installation had marked the official return of the rule of law and normal life.  A new Government comprising all political parties — except Mr. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), which had chosen not to participate — had met with the President on 5 and 6 July to develop 14 short-term strategies aimed at meeting immediate needs.

Emphasizing that President Ouattara had inherited a state of impunity in which everything must be reconstructed, he said that was why the new leader had created the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties, aimed at ensuring compliance with international security-sector standards while reinforcing judicial, administrative and police capacity.  The aim, however, was not to treat members of the former regime inhumanely, he stressed, reaffirming the President’s determination to ensure respect for all human rights.

Regarding the legislative elections, he asked that UNOCI’s certification role be maintained and that the mission continue to support the Independent Electoral Commission.  He also emphasized that youth employment would be indispensable, pointing out that UNOCI’s quick-impact projects would help economic revival.  The Operation’s mandate must be extended because Côte d’Ivoire was still reliant on United Nations assistance, he said.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Meeting eight times throughout the year to consider the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — including two private sessions with countries providing troops for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) — the Council focused chiefly on helping the country cope with the disruptions caused by armed groups, and on preparations for the 28 November presidential and parliamentary elections.

Roger Meece, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, told the Council on 8 February that, despite progress in consolidating stability, international support must be maintained to end violence against civilians and facilitate upcoming elections.  “With this support, and while cognizant of the ongoing challenges and difficulties, I remain optimistic that with sustained engagement, we are on a path towards achieving the kind of security and stable conditions which the people of [the Democratic Republic of] the Congo and region richly deserve,” he said.  (See Press Release SC/10166.)

The greatest difficulties were presented by foreign and domestic armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Mr. Meece, noting that they “continue to act as predatory forces, often incorporating the use of rape and other violence as a weapon against civilians”.  Meanwhile, there had also been “too many reported cases of abuses committed by members of the Congolese Armed Forces and the Congolese national police”.  MONUSCO had been working closely with the national authorities to address such abuses and the number of suspects arrested in that connection had increased significantly.

Following that briefing, Atoki Ileka ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) confirmed the “good relationship” between his Government and MONUSCO, saying that many things had been accomplished with the Mission’s help, although significant challenges nonetheless remained.  Violence against women and the impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security were key areas of Government concern, he said, expressing optimism over the outcome of the visit by Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The return of total peace was the only way to “put an end to [acts of violence against women], which we all deplore.”  That was why strenuous efforts to end all the activities of foreign armed groups must continue, he continued, noting on that point that positive events in the Central African Republic and Sudan would make it possible to enhance the coordination of initiatives against the LRA.  Efforts to counter the actions of largely Rwandese foreign groups in the east, “and my own countrymen who have become outlaws”, were also continuing, he added.

The Council next held an open debate in early May featuring addresses by Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon, Raymond Tshibanda, Minister for International and Regional Cooperation, as well as officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the European Union.  (See Press Release SC/10257.)

The Council concluded that meeting by issuing a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2011/11), which stressed the need for a strong partnership between the United Nations and the Congolese Government for the next phase of the country’s emergence from civil war.  Regarding the November presidential and legislative elections, to be followed by provincial and local elections in 2012, the Council urged the Government and other parties to ensure an environment conducive to free, fair, peaceful and credible polls.  It called on MONUSCO and other international actors to support the training and equipping of Congolese police for that purpose.

Returning to the Council on 9 June, Mr. Meece cautioned:  “We have no illusions regarding the magnitude of the challenges of organizing successful elections and there are no guarantees of success.”  He pointed out, however, that the same risk factors had been present during the 2006 election cycle, which had been held successfully.  In addition to the logistical challenges, he noted with concern several reports of harassment, intimidation and violence centred on electoral activities, particularly those involving opposition parties.  (See Press Release SC/10275.)

Preparations for the elections had been under way for some time, he noted, with more than half of the projected total of 31 million eligible voters already registered.  In addition, a timetable had been announced by the National Independent Electoral Commission.  MONUSCO had been actively supporting the process, transporting thousands of tons of materials, providing ongoing technical support in a variety of areas, and generally helping the national authorities meet the ambitious timetable.  For the next budgetary year, however, the Mission would need supplementary financial resources to continue its extensive electoral support without negatively impacting other activities.

Meeting again three weeks later, the Council, stressing the significant challenges posed by the ongoing presence of armed groups in the restive eastern provinces, adopted resolution 1991 (2011) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, extending MONUSCO’s mandate until 30 June 2012.  It demanded that all armed groups — the LRA and the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in particular — immediately cease all forms of violence and human rights abuses, including rape and other forms of sexual abuses against civilians, particularly women and children.  (See Press Release SC/10299.)

With election day rapidly approaching, the Council heard another briefing in early November, in which Mr. Meece warned that sporadic security threats by armed groups had triggered a need for additional funding for military helicopters and police training.  Stressing that there were no “short-term solutions” to the challenges confronting MONUSCO, he told the Council:  “We need consistent commitment from you, which is vital to the people of Congo and the region.  With continued support, we can make genuine progress towards attaining common objectives.”

Those common goals included a peaceful election, he said, pointing out that security still presented a great concern and citing recent reports of violence and incidents involving armed groups.  Countering such actions required non-lethal equipment for trained police units, which remained outside the Mission’s budget, he stressed, adding that a shortage of helicopters had imposed “severe limits on the nature and level of military operations”, leading to the emergence or strengthening of several armed groups.  Restoring strong military pressure on foreign armed groups was important in protecting civilians and eliminating threats, he said.

In its final meeting on the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2011, the Council renewed until 30 November 2012 the arms embargo and related sanctions imposed on the country, and requested the Secretary-General to extend the mandate of the Group of Experts monitoring those measures.  Unanimously adopting resolution 2021 (2011), the Council also requested the Secretary-General to appoint a sixth expert, on natural resources, and asked the Group of Experts — established under resolution 1533 (2004) — to report back by 18 May 2012, and again before 19 October 2012.  (See Press Release SC/10464.)

Also by that text, the Council condemned the continuing illicit flow of weapons within and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It recommended that all States, particularly those in the region, regularly publish full import and export statistics for natural resources — including gold, cassiterite, coltan, wolframite, timber and charcoal — and enhance regional information-sharing, as well as joint action to investigate and combat regional criminal networks and armed groups involved in the illegal exploitation of natural resources.


Until the end of the year, with Secretary-General Ban calling on 27 December for respect for Guinea-Bissau’s lawful civilian authority following reports of arrests and clashes in the capital, the Council remained concerned about the consolidation of stability in the West African country, which has experienced much unrest since its independence in the 1970s, including the assassination of its President in 2009.  On 21 December, the Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) until February 2013 to support peace consolidation, urging the Government and other political actors to work together towards that goal.  (See Press Release SC/10500.)

On 3 November, Joseph Mutaboba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNIOGBIS, told the Council that, while there had been progress in police reform and other areas, it was critical to meet other challenges such as judicial reform and providing pensions for former ex-military personnel.  It was equally important to build upon recent gains ahead of legislative elections planned for 2012.  (See Press Release SC/10434.)

Mr. Mutaboba had struck a similar note in his first briefing of the year, on 25 February, when he pointed to progress on national dialogue and planning for security-sector reform, despite a “complex and tenuous” political and security situation (see Press Release SC/10183).  On 28 June, however, he said progress was being hampered by the “uncertain commitment” of the national authorities to address impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime (see Press Release SC/10300).

The Council also heard from officials of the Peacebuilding Commission, which has Guinea-Bissau on its agenda, and of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, who addressed members during briefings held this year.


The Council dedicated five meetings to Liberia, beginning the year by deciding to end the authorization for a special deployment of 150 United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) personnel, charged in 2005 with guarding the facilities of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.  Their deployment officially ended as the Council adopted resolution 1971 (2011) on 3 March.  (See Press Release SC/10190.)

Nevertheless, the Council heard just weeks later that, while Liberia was indeed “much stronger today” than it had been eight years ago, the situation was becoming increasingly complex as the election process geared up and refugees flooded in from neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire.  Briefing on 16 March, Ellen Margrethe Løj, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIL, stressed that the international community must not take for granted the years of unbroken peace since the end of Liberia’s protracted civil war in 2003.  Sustained international attention was still needed, she added.  (See Press Release SC/10197.)

Ms. Løj briefed the Council again on 13 September, emphasizing that free, fair and peaceful elections were critical for Liberia’s full emergence from its brutal civil war.  However, even if such a referendum was successfully achieved, joint Liberian and international rebuilding efforts were not yet finished, she noted.  “Liberians will still require considerable assistance and support in rebuilding their lives and their country,” she said, urging all partners to “stay the course”.  (See Press Release SC/10380.)

The Council heeded those warnings on 16 September when, in the face of remaining “significant challenges”, it unanimously adopted resolution 2008 (2011), by which it extended UNMIL’s mandate for one year, until 30 September 2012.  (See Press Release SC/10388.)

Meeting again on 14 December, the Council went a step further to renew a standing arms embargo imposed on the country, as well as restrictions on persons deemed to pose a threat to Liberia’s peace and security.  (See Press Release SC/10485.)


The National Transitional Council’s “Declaration of Liberation” in Benghazi on 23 October signalled the end of armed hostilities in the country, eight months after the Qadhafi regime had begun its attempts to suppress a peaceful movement sparked on 15 February, when families held a protest calling for the release of a lawyer representing their claims in respect of the 1996 Abu Salim massacre.  With the Human Rights Council having estimated that more than 15,000 people, including protesters, armed belligerents and civilians had been killed between February and June alone, the Security Council was a critical actor in the tempest of diplomatic activity to end the fighting and ultimately authorize the enforcement of a no-fly zone over the beleaguered North African country.

In 19 formal meetings spanning the conflict’s duration, the Council’s most significant actions included imposing sanctions on the Qadhafi regime, approving the no-fly zone and authorizing the use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.  Its formal engagement in the situation began with a briefing on 25 February, during which the Secretary-General issued a warning that “fundamental peace and security issues are at stake”, urging Council members to consider concrete action to stop the violence and end the killing.  (See Press Release SC/10185.)

In a swift, decisive action on 26 February, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1970 (2011) under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter’s Chapter VII, demanding an end to the violence and referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.  It imposed an arms embargo on Libya; a travel ban and a freeze on assets belonging to the Qadhafi family and certain Government officials; and authorized all Member States to seize and dispose of military-related materiel banned by the text.  It called on them to facilitate the return of humanitarian agencies to Libya and to make humanitarian and related assistance available in the country.  It also established a committee to monitor the sanctions.  (See Press Release SC/10187/Rev.1.)

Demanding an immediate ceasefire on 17 March, the Council adopted resolution 1973 (2011) by 10 votes in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions ( Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation).  Foreign Minister Alain Juppé of France introduced the text, describing the situation on the ground as “more alarming than ever, marked by the violent re-conquest of cities that have been released”.  The Council could not stand by and “let the warmongers flout international legality”, he said.  (See Press Release SC/10200.)

After the vote — which set in motion an air campaign by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to enforce the no-fly zone — representatives who had supported the text agreed on the necessity for strong action since the Qadhafi regime had not heeded the Council’s initial steps and was on the verge of even greater violence against civilians.  However, the representatives of China and the Russian Federation called for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, with the latter noting that the text left many questions unanswered, including how and by whom the measures would be enforced and what the limits of engagement would be.  His Chinese counterpart stressed that he had refrained from blocking the action with a negative vote in consideration of the wishes of the League of Arab States and the African Union.

“The international community has acted together to avert a potential large-scale crisis,” Secretary-General Ban said in a briefing to the Council on 24 March.  There was no evidence to support repeated claims by the Libyan authorities that they had instituted a ceasefire and otherwise taken steps to carry out their obligations under relevant resolutions, he said, emphasizing that in all his meetings since the adoption of the “action” resolution, he had taken “special care to stress that action taken under resolution 1973 (2011) is governed by an overriding objective — to save the lives of innocent civilians”.  (See Press Release SC/10210.)

Emphasizing the need for the international community to come together in support of the quest for a solution, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, told the Council during a briefing on 4 April following his second mission to Libya that it was still “very difficult” to know how long it would take to resolve the conflict.  He said he had reiterated the international community’s demand for the full implementation of resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) in meetings with Libyan officials on 31 March.  (Press Release SC/10217.)

Briefing the Council again on 3 May, he said both the Libyan authorities and the opposition forces had informed him that they were “ready and willing” to implement a ceasefire, but on different terms.  The Government was insisting that a ceasefire must be accompanied by a halt to aerial attacks by NATO, and the National Transitional Council was asserting that no ceasefire would end the conflict unless it was directly linked to Qadhafi’s departure.  (See Press Release SC/10240.)

On 4 May, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, told the Council of his intention to seek arrest warrants against three Libyans who appeared to bear “the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity” committed during the brutal, months-long crackdown against the uprising.  Laying out evidence in support of the charges, he also said there was credible information that an estimated 500 to 700 persons had been killed in February alone, when security forces had fired live ammunition at demonstrators gathered in Benghazi’s High Court Square.  (See Press Release SC/10241.)

Pressing for a temporary end to hostilities on 9 May, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said “humanitarian agencies must have access to all people, regardless of where they are and under whose control they happen to find themselves”.  Briefing the Council, she said more than 746,000 people had fled the country, some 5,000 were stranded at border crossings and some 58,000 internally displaced were living in makeshift settlements in eastern Libya.  The total number of casualties since the beginning of the crisis was still unknown, and the reported use of cluster bombs, sea and landmines, as well as aerial bombings showed a “callous disregard” for the physical and psychological well-being of civilians”, she said.  (See Press Release SC/10244.)

On 15 June, the representative of a high-level African Union panel told the Council that the regional body would never “hide from its responsibilities” to help resolve the conflict.  The time to articulate a solution that would protect civilians, ensure a democratic transformation and promote lasting peace was overdue, said Hamady Ould Hamady, Mauritania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the organization’s High-level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya.  “We cannot simply be spectators to calamities that befall us,” he added.  Reporting on the Extraordinary Summit held on 25 May, and on a road map prescribing the immediate cessation of hostilities, the facilitation of humanitarian aid, the protection of foreigners and political reform, he said those steps were intended to allow all Libyan parties to fulfil their political aspirations.  (See Press Release SC/10280.)

B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Council on 31 May, saying that United Nations priorities in Libya included protecting civilians, securing a commitment to indirect negotiations, and planning for post-conflict peacebuilding in Libya, where the human rights situation remained “deeply troubling”.  He cited the previous day’s condemnation of brutal Government measures by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as “shocking reports of sexual violence against women, including gang rapes by military forces”.

Three months since the crisis had begun, he continued, fighting between the Government and opposition forces continued, particularly in the western part of Libya, while the NATO operation had intensified amid repeated Government claims of civilian casualties.  Looking ahead, he said the political process, aimed at indirect negotiations based on proposals from both sides, were crucial in efforts to find a lasting solution, responsive to the “legitimate demands of the Libyan people”.  (See Press Release SC/10266.)

On 27 June, Mr. Pascoe reported that the International Criminal Court had issued warrants of arrest for Colonel Qadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity.  However, the authorities and opposition leaders remained far from agreement, although a nascent negotiation process had begun.  “It must be given space to grow and bear fruit,” he stressed.  “We have an obligation to protect the people of Libya and that is the goal of current international efforts.”  Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral ( Portugal), Chairman of the Committee established to monitor the sanctions imposed on Libya, also briefed the Council meeting.  (See Press Release SC/10297.)

The Under-Secretary-General returned to the Council on 28 July, to report that the five-month-old war in Libya had basically stalled behind the posturing of both sides.  A ceasefire tied to transitional arrangements was still the only sustainable political solution to the crisis, he said, spotlighting activities aimed at advancing the political process and outlining efforts by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, who had pressed ahead with a parallel approach to Government officials in Tripoli and National Transitional Council representatives in Benghazi.  He also provided details on the humanitarian situation, saying that more than 630,000 people, including some 100,000 Libyans, were believed to have fled the country since the start of conflict.  (See Press Release SC/10346.)

The following weeks saw heavy fighting, including in and around Tripoli, as rebel elements in the capital, supported by NATO, launched the so-called “Operation Mermaid Dawn” uprising on 20 August.  By 22 August, Tripoli was largely believed to have fallen as rebel forces from outside poured into the city, with little resistance from Qadhafi troops.  The so-called Battle for Tripoli reached a climax in mid-August, during which time the Qadhafi family was believed to have abandoned its fortified compound.

The Secretary-General reported in a 30 August briefing to the Council that fighting had begun to wind down and the National Transitional Council appeared to be largely in control of Tripoli and other cities, although fighting continued in Sirte, Sabha, Zuwara and points south.  Expressing hope for “a quick conclusion to the conflict”, he said the most important job for the United Nations was ensuring that multilateral, regional and international efforts complemented each other and were responsive to Libyan wishes.  “In our response to the post-conflict challenge, we must be proactive and effective,” Mr. Ban said.  “Yet, at the same time, we must be sensitive to the complex needs and desires of the Libyan people themselves”, acting “quickly and decisively to meet the considerable challenges ahead”.  (See Press Release SC/10374.)

Two weeks later, the Council established a support mission in Libya, unanimously adopting resolution 2009 (2011) on 16 September.  The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) would be authorized for an initial period of three months and would assist national efforts to restore public security, promote the rule of law, foster inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, and embark on constitution-making and electoral processes.

It would also support national efforts to extend State authority, strengthen institutions, restore public services, support transitional justice and protect human rights, and initiate economic recovery.  In support of those objectives, the Council partly lifted the arms embargo imposed on Libya and the assets freeze targeting entities connected to the regime, under resolution 1970 (2011).  It emphasized its intention to keep the no-fly zone agreed in resolution 1973 (2011) under review.  (See Press Release SC/10389.)

Following the adoption, Council members congratulated Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s representative, on assuming his seat on behalf of the National Transitional Council.  He responded by describing the occasion as a historic day for Libyans, an indication that dictatorship and terror had ended and that the blood of 30,000 martyrs had not been shed in vain.

Briefing the Security Council on 26 October, Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNSMIL, said the “new Libya” could move forward to build a modern nation-State, based on the principles embraced by the revolution — democracy, human rights, the rule of law, accountability, respect for minority rights, empowering women and promoting society.  He said he was confident that the past would be addressed through proper judicial and truth-seeking processes and that, despite violations committed in the heat of battle, the National Transitional Council’s leadership was committed to “avoiding revenge, achieving reconciliation and overcoming the manipulation of tribalism and regionalism — which the former dictator promoted to entrench his own power — thereby ensuring that the past would never be repeated”.  (See Press Release SC/10422.)

Following the briefing, Mr. Dabbashi affirmed that a new phase of building democracy had begun and Libya would maintain neighbourly relations with other nations.  Had it not been for the solidarity of the United Nations and all the States that had stood by the country and its people in the past months, they would not have achieved what they had done, and the number of victims would have been far, far higher, he added.

The Council voted on 27 October to end NATO’s civilian-protection mandate in Libya following the formal declaration of liberation on 23 October, unanimously adopting resolution 2016 (2011) to terminate the provisions of resolution 1973 (2011).  It also strongly urged the new Libyan authorities to refrain from reprisals, including arbitrary detentions, and underscored the leadership’s responsibility for the protection of the entire population, including African migrants and other foreign nationals.  The Council looked forward to the establishment of an inclusive, representative transitional Government, underpinned by democratic principles, according to the text.  (See Press Release SC/10424.)

On 31 October, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2017 (2011) calling for action by the interim authorities, neighbouring countries and other relevant Member States to stem the proliferation of portable surface-to-air missiles and other arms from Libya.  It also authorized the Libya sanctions committee to propose a strategy to ensure that such materiel was kept out of the hands of terrorists and others.  (See Press Release SC/10429.)

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo told the Council on 2 November that his Office was galvanizing efforts to ensure that former intelligence chief Senussi would face justice, in light of Colonel Qadhafi’s death on 20 October.  He also said that information had been received that a group of mercenaries might be endeavouring to facilitate the escape from Libya of Saif al-Islam Qadhafi.  He called on States to do all that they could to disrupt any such operation, saying:  “It is up to the United Nations Security Council and States to ensure that they [the sons] face justice for the crimes with which they are charged.”  (See Press Release SC/10433.)

There was broad agreement among Council members taking the floor during the meeting that the decision to refer the Libyan case to the Prosecutor’s Office reflected the importance that the international community attached to ensuring accountability for the systematic attacks against Libyan civilians.

Secretary-General Ban, in his report to the Council on 22 November (document S/2011/727), said the revolutionary fighters, many of them young people, had earned great respect, and commended the transitional authorities and all Libyans for their historic accomplishment.  “I believe that the leaders of the new Libya are truly committed to building a society based on respect for human rights,” he said, adding that the Libyan people had created for themselves an extraordinary opportunity and now faced extraordinary challenges.  “They look to the United Nations to be key partners as they address these challenges, and we must devote our best efforts to supporting them.”

On 2 December, the Council stressed the importance of continued United Nations support for the transitional Government in addressing immediate priorities, as it extended UNSMIL’s mandate until 16 March 2012.  Unanimously adopting resolution 2022 (2011), it laid out the elements of that mandate, which included assisting national efforts to address the proliferation of arms, man-portable surface-to-air missiles, in particular.  (See Press Release SC/10469.)

During the Council’s last meeting on Libya, on 22 December, Mr. Martin said the United Nations now had partners to whom it was offering its support and who were responding to a changing public mood increasingly focused on issues that were central to the demands of the revolution.  (See Press Release SC/10503.)

Sierra Leone

The Council’s two briefings on Sierra Leone focused mainly on the West African nation’s fragile progress following its emergence from a decade-long civil war in 2002.  Describing its recovery in the past nine years as “truly remarkable”, Michael von Schulenburg, Executive Representative of the Secretary-General in Sierra Leone and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), told Council members on 24 March that the country — once the “symbol of a failed State” — was now becoming a model for overcoming divisions and developing into a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.  (See Press Release SC/10208.)

He said he was encouraged by the headway made in the exploitation of mineral resources over the last six months, pointing to the “vital endeavour” of making Sierra Leone into a major exporter of mineral and hydrocarbon resources.  However, that transformation could test the country’s fragile cohesion and provoke greater social changes than were currently envisaged, he cautioned, stressing the need for continuing strong international support.

On 12 September, Mr. Von Schulenburg focused on the preparations for presidential elections in 2012, warning the Council of the critical need to avert a resurgence of the tensions that had helped to ignite the devastating civil war.  Noting that clashes had occurred recently between groups loyal to the two main political parties, he expressed hope that an agreement could quickly be reached on the legal framework for the upcoming elections, and on a new code of conduct governing election campaigns.  (See Press Release SC/10379.)

Unanimously adopting resolution 2005 (2011) just two days later, on 14 September, the Council decided to extend UNIPSIL’S mandate for one year, until 15 September 2012.  It determined that the Office should support the Government in holding fair, credible and democratic elections, while continuing to assist its efforts in conflict prevention and mitigation, tackling youth unemployment, promoting good governance and other related endeavours.  It also called on the Government to fight corruption, improve accountability and promote private-sector development.  In particular, it called on the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources to help mitigate the risk of resource-based conflict.  (See Press Release SC/10379.)


Somalia — which this year entered its third decade without a functioning Central Government but which was seen to make considerable progress towards meeting the deadline of the transitional period mandated by the Djibouti Peace Agreement - continued to preoccupy the Security Council, which held 16 public meetings on the situation there, adopting six resolutions and issuing three presidential statements devoted to the Horn of Africa country and the piracy off its coast.

After the withdrawal of the insurgent group Al-Shabaab from the capital, Mogadishu, and the launch of a road map to complete transitional tasks agreed upon at a long-awaited, broad-based consultative meeting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was able to visit in December.  Reporting to the Council on his return, on 13 December, he said:  “We finally face a moment of fresh opportunities.  We must seize it.”  Beyond Mogadishu, he said, the insurgents were retreating under mounting pressure from Government forces and their militia allies, backed by Kenyan and Ethiopian forces, which represented a unique opportunity to help stabilize the country at large, but required full deployment of the authorized 12,000 African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, as well as all other resources needed.  (See Press Release SC/10479.)

The year started off on an optimistic note on 14 January, with Augustine Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), hailing the appointment of a “technocratic” and “professional” cabinet by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, as well as other gains in institution-building.  However, the constitution process, reconciliation and security remained major concerns as the August 2011 transition deadline drew near, he noted.  (See Press Release SC/10153.)

On 10 March, in a presidential statement issued after an open debate, the Council stressed the need for a comprehensive strategy to deal with those challenges, for the reliable financing of AMISOM, and for adequate funding of humanitarian relief as a severe drought began to overtake many areas of the country, some of which had only restricted access due to domination by the insurgents.  (See Press Release SC/10193.)

The Council subsequently demonstrated less confidence in the Transitional Federal Government, issuing another presidential statement, on 11 May, in which members expressed their regret over its failure to attend a consultative meeting held in Nairobi in April (see Press Release SC/10246).  Some tensions within the Transitional Federal Government were resolved by the Kampala Accord, an agreement between the President and the Speaker of Parliament, which effectively extended the transitional period for one year, until August 2012.  On 24 June, the Council welcomed the Accord in a presidential statement that also called on its signatories to ensure “cohesion, unity and focus” in completing the transition (see Press Release SC/10294).

In the Council’s next briefing, held on 10 August, following Al-Shabaab’s unexpected withdrawal from Mogadishu, Mr. Mahiga was able to brief members via videoconference from the Somali capital, which had previously been too dangerous to host a United Nations presence.  He said the withdrawal opened up new opportunities but stressed that Somalis simply could not wait any longer for international support.  Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Catherine Bragg briefed on the spreading famine.  (See Press Release SC/10358.)

On 14 September, following the long-awaited broad-based consultative meeting earlier that month, Mr. Mahiga reported to the Council that “seeds of hope and progress have begun to sprout”.  He called on the international community to help the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM consolidate gains.  Subsequently, the Transitional Prime Minister had reported that his Government was doing its best, within its limited resources, to fill the void left by Al-Shabaab with legitimate State authority, and to re-establish security.  (See Press Release SC/10384.)

In order to facilitate the provision of urgently needed humanitarian assistance, the Council decided on 17 March to ease its asset freeze on the country for 16 months (see Press Release SC/10198).  Authorizing a 12-month mandate extension for the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea on 29 July, the Council tightened measures on individuals and entities identified as users of child soldiers or involved in attacks against civilians (see Press Release SC/10348).  On 30 September, condemning attacks on both civilians and members of the Transitional Federal Government, the Council extended the authorization for AMISOM until 31 October 2012 (see Press Release SC/10399).

Much of the Council’s attention in the international fight against piracy off the Somali coast focused on building the regional capacity to prosecute the maritime criminals.  On 25 January, Jack Lang, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, said that, despite security efforts, pirates were expanding their activities and geographic reach, partly due to an inability to prosecute.  He proposed the establishment of specialized jurisdictions in the region, as well as the need to bolster forensic police work.  (See Press Release SC/10164.)  In a resolution adopted on 11 April, the Council decided urgently to consider the establishment of special Somali courts operating in the wider subregion (see Press Release SC/10221).  On 21 June, the United Nations Legal Counsel outlined considerations relating to such courts.  (See Press Release SC/10287.)

Following its 31 October consideration of a report of the Secretary-General citing evidence of the continued expansion of the reach of pirates, as well as their increasing violence and technical capabilities, the Council adopted a resolution renewing its call for further consideration of specialized courts.  (See Press Releases SC/10431 and SC/10419.)  On 22 November, it extended for another year the authorization for those cooperating with the Transitional Federal Government to use “all necessary means” to combat piracy.  (See Press Release SC/10454.)

Sudan and South Sudan

The Council paid considerable attention to Sudan, devoting 29 meetings, nine resolutions and four presidential statements to the sprawling country, from which South Sudan gained its independence through a historic referendum held from 9 to 15 January.  Although the conduct of that poll was deemed timely, peaceful and credible in a way that few had anticipated, the Council closely monitored throughout the year tensions relating to still-unresolved issues under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that had ended the North/South civil war, including armed conflict in the disputed area of Abyei, and in the border states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.  He urged the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations with a view to completely fulfilling their obligations under the Agreement, including a referendum on the status of Abyei, border demarcation, security arrangements, citizenship, debt, assets, currency, wealth-sharing and natural resource management.  Meanwhile, in the western region of Darfur, the Council saw appreciable political progress but also continued massive displacement as military action by the Government, rebels and other groups continued.

In the aftermath of the May advance by armed elements from both northern and southern Sudan into Abyei, and that town’s capture by the Sudanese Armed Forces, which the Council condemned alongside attacks on UNMIS through a press statement on 22 May and a presidential statement and 3 June (see Press Releases SC/10262 and SC/10268, respectively), the Council urgently authorized the deployment of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNIFSA) on 27 June (Press Release SC/10298).  That action followed a 20 June briefing on a North/South agreement to pull all troops out of Abyei, as well as on bloody clashes between pro-South groups and Government forces in Southern Kordofan that had forced thousands of people to flee (see Press Release SC/10286).

On 27 July, the Council heard a briefing on the sped-up deployment of Ethiopian troops for UNISFA (see Press Release SC/10344).  On 14 December, it expanded the Force’s mandate to include facilitation of border negotiations (Press Release SC/10484), and on 22 December, extended the mandate for five additional months (see Press Release SC/10505).

In response to South Sudan’s security, rule-of-law and other peacebuilding needs, the Council also established the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on 8 July (Press Release SC/10314), formally authorizing closure of the previously mandated United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on 11 July.  Its mandate had only been extended, on 27 April, until 9 July, the planned date of South Sudan’s independence, although some Council Members voiced regret at its withdrawal given the ongoing clashes in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States (see Press Releases SC/10317 and SC/10233).

On 11 July, the Council had referred South Sudan’s application for United Nations membership to its Committee on Admissions and formally recommended its acceptance as the 193rd Member State on 13 July.  In a subsequent meeting, the Secretary-General told the Council that, “like any other newborn, South Sudan needs help”, while Council Members pledged their support to the country, which they noted ranked at the bottom of nearly all human development indicators (see Press Releases SC/10322 and SC/10323).

Relief over the peaceful holding of the referendum, as well as warnings that unresolved Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues must be settled was first expressed in a formal Council meeting on 18 January by Benjamin Mkapa, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan, and Haile Menkerios, Special Representative of the Secretary-General.  (See Press Release SC/10155.)

On 26 January, Atul Khare, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the early vote count pointed to broad support for South Sudan’s secession, but in Abyei, where a required referendum had not yet taken place, tensions remained high between the agricultural Ngok Dinka and the pastoral Misseriya communities.  (See Press Release SC/10165.)

The Council issued a presidential statement on 9 February, welcoming the 7 February announcement of the final result of the South Sudan referendum, in which 98.83 per cent of voters had chosen independence, and called on the international community to lend its full support to a peaceful and prosperous future for all Sudanese people.  (See Press Release SC/10169.)

However, briefers continued to warn of increased violence unless outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues were addressed.  With rumours of impending attacks and actual military action in Abyei and in the two border states, senior peacekeeping officials told the Council on 31 May that agreement was needed to avoid “an acrimonious divorce” between Sudan and South Sudan.  Similarly, the leaders of the Council’s 19-26 May mission to Africa reported on 6 June that it was critical to reach accord on Comprehensive Peace Agreement issues before South Sudan’s independence.  (See Press Releases SC/10267 and SC/10271.)

Bloodshed had remained localized in the border regions when South Sudan’s independence had finally been declared, but in briefings throughout the remainder of the year, speakers warned that, without a resumption of talks on outstanding issues, and given the heightened rhetoric, the fragile border situation could lead to violence with a regional impact, as stated, for example, by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who, noting recent border incidents on 8 December, urged the two countries to establish the joint border monitoring mechanism they had agreed upon in July.  (See Press Release SC/10477.)

The Council called for a halt to fighting in Southern Kordofan State in a press statement following a closed-door briefing by Under-Secretary-General Amos on 15 July, amid reports of aerial bombing of civilians and mass graves following fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and cadres of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  On 8 June, decrying the appointment as Southern Kordofan’s Governor of Ahmad Harun, an indictee of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moren-Ocampo, its Chief Prosecutor, said the President Omer al-Bashir of Sudan had learned to defy the Council, stressing that genocide and crimes against humanity continued unabated in Darfur (see Press Release SC/10274).  Those crimes could be ended by the arrest of indictees, including President Bashir, he said on 15 December (see Press Release SC/10489).

While many of the briefings on the situation in Darfur pointed to a continuing humanitarian tragedy, meetings on the western Sudan region described progress in negotiations taking place in Doha, Qatar, and in “broad-based” talks that had started in Sudan, including the All Darfur Stakeholders Conference, held on 31 May.  (See Press Release SC/10229.)

On 22 July, Ibrahim Gambari, Joint African Union-United Nations Special Representative for Darfur, hailed the 14 July Doha Document signed by the Government and major opposition movements, stressing that it was vital for hold-out movements and the Government to end continuing hostilities in the north, south and west of Darfur.  (See Press Release SC/10336.)

Extending for one year the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), on 29 July, the Council called on the mission to make full use of its capabilities to protect civilians, but recognized that, given the continuing violence, the situation was not yet conducive to open dialogue, as called for by the Doha Document, and known as the “Darfur-based Political Process”.  (See Press Release SC/10349.)

On 25 October, the Council was told that a road map for peace, making the Doha process more inclusive and leading to the end of hostilities was being created in consultations with all stakeholders (see Press Release SC/10421).

The Council also issued several press statements throughout the year condemning attacks on UNAMID peacekeepers.  On 17 May, it extended for one year the mandate of the Panel of Experts monitoring sanctions on those impeding peace in Sudan, particularly in Darfur (see Press Release SC/10253.)

West Africa

The Security Council held several meetings on the regional situation in West Africa.  On 25 March, Atul Khare, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed on the political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire during a meeting in which the Council heard about reported grave human rights violations in that country.  They allegedly included the use of heavy weapons against civilians by forces loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, which had resulted in hundreds of killings and arbitrary arrests, as well as the displacement of up to 1 million people.  The deteriorating situation had taken a serious toll on the lives of the Ivorian people, Mr. Khare said, conveying a request by regional leaders for more stringent measures against Mr. Gbagbo.  Also calling for stronger Council action was the representative of Côte d’Ivoire, who stressed that the obligation and responsibility to protect civilians lay at the heart of current international concerns.  (See Press Release SC/10212.)

Meeting again on 8 July, the Council welcomed the resolution of the Ivorian and other political crises in the region.  Citing in particular the peaceful end to the protracted post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), said there had been positive developments throughout the region.  The invitation extended to the democratically elected leaders of Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Guinea was a signal that the international community firmly supported that progress, he added.  However, he stressed that the region would still require assistance in dealing with an array of challenges, including chronic food insecurity in Niger, new institutional reforms under way in Guinea and the flood of migrants returning to Mali and Niger from North African countries in a state of transition.  In addition, he warned that elections scheduled before the start of 2013 had the potential to ignite simmering tensions that could lead to renewed violence and instability, and that the region’s progress could be derailed unless drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism were effectively countered.  In that context, the Council must remain vigilant and work to prevent conflicts, he stressed.  (See Press Release SC/10315.)

In a press statement also issued on 8 July, the Council expressed concern that West Africa’s progress remained fragile.  Welcoming the adoption of the Praia Declaration on Elections and Stability in West Africa, which had been adopted at a recent regional conference, it also stressed the importance of strengthening trans-regional and international cooperation to support West Africa in combating recurrent threats to peace and security.  The statement further encouraged engagement by the international community to ensure that progress made in preventing conflict and consolidating democracy in the region was sustained.  (See Press Release SC/10316.)

Western Sahara

In a single meeting to consider Western Sahara on 27 April, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1979 (2011), by which it extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for one year, until 30 April 2012.  By that text, it called on Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) to adhere fully to military agreements reached with MINURSO.  It called on both parties to continue to show political will and to work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue.  (See Press Release SC/10234.)

By other terms of the resolution, the Council welcomed the parties’ commitment to continuing to hold small, informal talks in preparation for a fifth round of negotiations.  It further welcomed the establishment of a National Council on Human Rights in Morocco, including the proposed component regarding Western Sahara, as well as Morocco’s commitment to ensuring unqualified and unimpeded access to all special procedures of the Human Rights Council.  Additionally, the Council welcomed the implementation of the enhanced refugee protection programme developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in coordination with the Polisario Front.



The Council considered the situation in Haiti in four meetings, beginning with a briefing by Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who urged members on 20 January to help prevent the electoral process from distracting from earthquake-recovery efforts.  While the security situation remained calm, he said, there were pockets of violence related to political tensions amid widespread accusations of voting fraud.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had continued its work with the Haitian National Police to maintain public order and protect civilians, he added.  (See Press Release SC/10159.)

During the same meeting, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, reported that more than 1 million people had received shelter and adequate water supplies.  While the cholera fatality rate had dropped, intensive efforts must continue through 2011 to stave off the epidemic, as well as malnutrition and other severe problems, she warned.

On 6 April, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2011/7), recognizing the interconnected nature of long-term recovery and development challenges and expressing concern for the most vulnerable populations.  It also stressed the importance of completing the electoral process in such a way as to consolidate democracy, complete the constitutional reform process and create a strong basis for continued reconstruction.  The Council urged donors to disburse funds already pledged.  (See Press Release SC/10218.)

During the day-long debate, speakers applauded Haiti’s peaceful holding of presidential and legislative elections, while stressing the need to remove the million metres of rubble left by the earthquake so as to facilitate the development of school sanitation systems, power grids and communities.

However, during a meeting on 16 September, Mariano Fernandez, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MINUSTAH, told the Council that the transition had not been smooth.  The rejection of President Michel Joseph Martelly’s nominations for Prime Minister had prompted a political stalemate that was preventing the installation of an effective Government.  He stressed the need to extend the Mission’s mandate, albeit with reduced troop numbers, given the fragile security situation, noting also that high food and fuel prices, as well as the continuing cholera epidemic, were still wreaking havoc on an already devastated population.  (See Press Release SC/10387.)

With that in mind, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2012 (2011) on 14 October, authorizing a one-year mandate extension for MINUSTAH, until 15 October 2012.  Consistent with recommendations in the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Mission’s work (document S/2011/540), the resolution also called for reducing military and authorized police personnel.  (See Press Release SC/10411.)



The Council held six formal meetings on Afghanistan in its ongoing effort to keep pace with the evolving security and political situation and its concomitant endeavour to help the country’s integration into the wider region.

Midway through the year, Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said the country was at a crossroads, “between national sovereignty and responsibility, between continuing conflict and politically inclusive dialogue”.  By year’s end the latest report of the Secretary-General (document S/2011/772) stated:  “We have now moved into a new phase of long-term engagement, support and partnership between the international community and Afghanistan.  Clearly, as Afghanistan makes progress towards peace and improved governance, the role of the United Nations will continue to be assessed”.

As the Council met on 17 March to consider the situation in Afghanistan for the first time in 2011, Mr. De Mistura urged full international support for the planned transition to Afghan responsibility for security, governance and development in the troubled country.  The beginning of the transition meant an end to “business as usual”, he added.  (See Press Release SC/10199.)

During the same meeting, Zahir Tanin (Afghanistan) submitted his Government’s request for greater coherence in the work of the United Nations, as well as a comprehensive review and reshaping of UNAMA’s mandate, due to expire on 23 March, around the transition to full Afghan responsibility countrywide.  “ Afghanistan cannot stand on its own two feet if its State institutions remain weak and are undermined by various parallel structures, and if capacity is not strengthened,” he said.

In the ensuing debate, Council members, as well as representatives of other interested countries strongly supported a transition to full Afghan responsibility, as well as related aspects of the so-called “Kabul Process”.  Most of them prioritized building the capacity of Afghan institutions, particularly those related to security, the rule of law and other services.

On 17 June, in a move designed to stay in step with the evolving security situation and defeat terrorism, the Council split the regime governing the sanctions imposed on Al-Qaida and the Taliban, and extended by 18 months the term of the Ombudsperson to oversee the Al-Qaida List, by unanimously adopting resolutions 1988 (2011) and 1989 (2011) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  Several delegates welcomed those actions, saying that distinguishing between Al-Qaida and the Taliban was an acknowledgement that the terrorist threat had evolved, and the distinct regimes presented a means of separating extremists from those who might participate in the Afghan reconciliation process.  (See Press Release SC/10285/Rev.1.)

With Afghanistan set for the launch of its two-year transition process — covering security, governance and efforts to bring opposition groups into the political mainstream — Mr. De Mistura told the Council on 6 July that the “train is on track and moving forward”, but cautioned that, to be successful, it must be underpinned by the socio-economic development that the Afghan people so desperately needed and deserved.  (See Press Release SC/10309.)

Declaring that “peace is never smooth”, the Special Representative told the Council on 29 September that precious ground gained in taking the transition and national reconciliation processes forward would not be undermined by the assassination of chief peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani.  Afghanistan and its people were going through a “terrible, terrible time” following Mr. Rabbini’s killing by suicide bomb, he said, adding that, while his murder had been a major blow, the Afghan people had repeatedly shown their capacity to recover from tragedy and sad losses.  (See Press Release SC/10398.)

Unanimously adopting resolution 2011 (2011) under Chapter VII, the Council authorized on 12 October a one-year mandate extension for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), ending on 13 October 2012, and welcomed an agreement to transfer lead security responsibility for the entire territory to the Government by the end of 2014.  (See Press Release SC/10408.)

The international community’s commitment to enduring engagement with Afghanistan through its transition and transformation — voiced at the 5 December Bonn Conference — was the subject of a debate and presidential statement on 19 December.  The 15-member body welcomed the declaration in Bonn that the so-called Process of Transition, to be completed by the end of 2014, should be followed by a Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), in which Afghanistan would consolidate its sovereignty by strengthening a fully functioning, sustainable State in the service of its people.  (See Press Release SC/10494.)

Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on that occasion was Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who declared:  “The United Nations is committed to supporting the Afghan Government and its people for the long term.  We have been in Afghanistan for more than half a century assisting the Afghan people and we will be there far beyond 2014, as the Afghans need us.”


In two formal meetings, the Council examined the 15 January closure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), created by the Council in 2006 as a special political mission with a mandate covering the election of the Constituent Assembly and monitoring the management of arms and armed personnel of the Nepal Army and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

In her final briefing to the Council as Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIN, Karin Landgren said on 5 January that, while the peace process was incomplete, the Mission had performed its mandated tasks and contributed significantly to peace against a complex backdrop of dramatic political gains, and the growing risk of a people’s revolt following a stalemate occasioned by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s resignation in June 2010.  (See Press Release SC/10145.)

Expressing concern about who would take over UNMIN’s monitoring duties, she said the Mission would have benefitted from a review of its mandate after the 2008 elections, adding that stronger support for the peace process should have been considered more seriously.  Warning that stalled efforts to implement land reform and establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, among others, could hobble progress, she noted that Nepal’s peace process would remain on the Council’s agenda for a further three years.

Gyan Chandra Acharya ( Nepal) told the Council that the Mission had helped, and the country was now working hard on moving the peace process forward, including the reintegration of former combatants and shaping a new constitution.

On 14 January, the Council issued a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2011/1) calling on all political parties to “resolve expeditiously” the outstanding issues surrounding the peace process.  It pledged the Council’s continued support for the process and encouraged Nepal to complete its new constitution, calling on all parties to “redouble their efforts to continue to work together in the spirit of consensus to fulfil the commitments they made in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and other agreements”.  (See Press Release SC/10152.)


Welcoming recent progress in many sectors, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1969 (2011) on 24 February, extending the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) until 26 February 2012 at the current authorized troop levels.  (See Press Release SC/10181.)

The Council stressed the importance of holding peaceful and credible elections in 2012, and urged all political parties to continue to work together and engage in dialogue.  It requested the Mission to support the further institutional development of the national police force, and to help Government efforts in further building and reforming the justice sector, coordinating international assistance, reducing poverty and improving education, among other tasks.

Ameerah Haq, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIT, told the Council on 22 November that Timor-Leste was indeed a “very different place today”, noting that calm and stability were paving a smooth road ahead to the “democracy fest” anticipated for the landmark 2012 elections.  Envisioning a peaceful transition to a new Government, she expressed optimism that conditions would allow for UNMIT’s departure by 31 December 2012.  However, significant challenges remained, she cautioned, citing institutional capacity-building, strengthening the security sector, and socio-economic issues such as youth employment.  (See Press Release SC/10455.)

Also addressing the Council was Zacarias Albano da Costa, Timor-Leste’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who cited recent gains while noting the need to make a long-term effort for progress.

Council members hailed UNMIT’s planned departure in 2012 as a significant milestone after a decade of assistance.  Echoing a common view, the United Kingdom’s representative said 2012 would be a pivotal year, but the Mission’s scheduled withdrawal would not mean a lessening of the Council’s interest in Timor-Leste.


Bosnia and Herzegovina

Valentin Inzko, High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, twice briefed the Council in 2011.

On 9 May, he presented his fifth report, noting that, during the period from 16 October 2010 to 20 April 2011, an upsurge in nationalist rhetoric had challenged the Dayton Peace Agreement and there was still no prospect of forming a State-level Government seven months after general elections.  If the current crisis deepened, it would have negative consequences for the entire region, he warned.  (See Press Release SC/10243.)

As Council members expressed alarm at the worsening conditions and particular concern over challenges to the Dayton accords, Ivan Barbalić ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the High Representative still had an important role in supporting the strengthening of State institutional capacity and Euro-Atlantic integration.  He called for regional cooperation to ensure mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs.

Returning to brief the Council on 15 November, Mr. Inzko said political stagnation and instability had continued during the period 21 April to 15 October.  Challenges to the Dayton accords had continued.  One year after general elections, the State-level budget had not been passed and the Council of Ministers was yet to be formed.  He thus recommended that the Office of High Representative, as well as the European Union multinational stabilization force (EUFOR ALTHEA) remain operational.  (See Press Release SC/10449.)

Mr. Barbalić ( Bosnia and Herzegovina), describing the situation in his country as “complex, but not unresolvable”, said that, given a positive security situation, and with 2011 economic data showing improvements, there was a way to overcome the current situation.

Calling on political leaders in the country to form a new Council of Ministers, refrain from divisive rhetoric, and make further concrete and tangible progress towards European Union integration, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2019 (2011) on 16 November, authorizing a one-year extension of EUFOR ALTHEA until 15 November 2012.  Reiterating that all the Federation’s authorities bore primary responsibility for the further implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement, the Council reminded the parties that they had committed themselves to full cooperation with all entities involved in implementing the peace settlement.  (See Press Release SC/10451.)


The Council twice extended the mandate of the 47-year-old United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).  In meetings on 13 June and 14 December, members called on both sides in the disputed island nation to continue to engage on the demarcation of the buffer zone separating the two rival communities, as a matter of urgency, and to reach agreement on other outstanding issues.  (See Press Releases SC/10279 and SC/10486.)


In five meetings, Lamberto Zannier, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), briefed the Council on discussions with Serbia and escalating violence over boundary-related issues.  Tensions also continued over the 2010 International Court of Justice decision on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, an issue dividing Council members.

What had begun in February as a collective call by the Council for the launch of an internationally mandated dialogue between authorities in Kosovo and Serbia, amid expectations of increased political stability, had by November spiralled into sporadic violent incidents in northern Kosovo following disputes over custom stamps and boundary control.

Briefing the Council on 16 February before stepping down in June, Mr. Zannier emphasized the pressing need to launch a dialogue on reconciliation, noting that both parties had expressed readiness to do so.  Unresolved issues threatened the security situation, he said, adding that other challenges included fiscal difficulties, recent attacks on minority returnees in northern Mitrovica, and allegations of illegal human organ trafficking involving members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.  On the latter point, he noted that the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) was ready to undertake an investigation.  (See Press Release SC/10177.)

Reporting on developments on 12 May, Mr. Zannier said he was hopeful that Pristina and Belgrade would demonstrate the resolve needed to find solutions to outstanding problems.  However, he expressed concern that a stagnant economy was an obstacle to the return of refugees.  He also supported a call by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly for an independent investigation into organ-trafficking allegations.  (See Press Release SC/10250.)

Briefing the Council on 30 August, however, Farid Zarif, Acting Special Representative and Head of UNMIK, said the situation had soured following the postponement of talks due to disagreements over boundary-related issues.  Violence had erupted at boundary crossing points in northern Kosovo after Pristina had effectively placed Serbian goods under embargo and attempted unilaterally to deploy a special police unit, he said, adding that strengthened dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade was imperative to reducing chances for further destabilization.  He also reported on the selection of the EULEX task force to investigate organ trafficking allegations.  (See Press Release SC/10371.)

However, in a 15 September meeting urgently requested by Serbia and the Russian Federation, Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, appealed to the authorities in Kosovo and Serbia to maintain calm to avoid exacerbating tensions over a plan to hand over authority on boundary crossing points to the European Union mission in the presence of Kosovo customs officials.  (See Press Release SC/10386.)

During the year’s final briefing, on 29 November, Mr. Zarif, confirmed as the new Special Representative and Head of UNMIK, reported that incidents involving roadblocks mounted by northern Kosovo residents to keep boundary crossings into Serbia closed had deteriorated into violent confrontations with the multinational Kosovo force (KFOR).  The precarious situation warranted the Council’s attention and leadership.  Updates on the EULEX investigation included a meeting between the lead prosecutor and leaders from Kosovo, Albania and Serbia, he said, prompting much debate in the Council as some members called for witness-protection guarantees and others recommended that the Council play a more significant role.  (See Press Release 10462.)

Middle East

Question of Palestine

“I am acutely conscious of the unsustainable status quo, which is only thrown into sharper relief by the profound political changes now under way in the region,” said the Secretary-General in his mid-year report on the question of Palestine, declaring:  “Peace and Palestinian statehood are long overdue” (document S/2011/585).

Indeed, the profound political changes in the wider Middle East highlighted the stasis of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  In monthly briefings to the Council throughout the year, senior United Nations officials stressed the urgent need for the parties to return to negotiations, to take “bold and decisive steps”, and for the international community to remain constructively engaged.  Yet, by August, with no political breakthrough in sight and amid continuing Israeli settlement activity, the Palestinian leadership confirmed its intention to approach the United Nations with an application for recognition of a Palestinian State within the 1967 lines and full membership in the Organization.

Leading up to that decision was another calendar year fraught with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to a resumption of negotiations.  The Council began its consideration of the situation as it had done in past years — hearing a senior United Nations official voice serious concern at the lack of progress.  “Peace and Palestinian statehood cannot be further delayed,” B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, emphasized in his briefing on 19 January.  Despite international efforts to restart the stalled peace talks, they were still deadlocked and the goal of reaching a framework agreement on final-status issues remained elusive, he said.  Helping to undermine trust and bolster prejudice was the sharp increase in settlement expansion on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, following Israel’s lifting of its 10-month partial freeze on building in September 2010, he added.  (See Press Release SC/10157.)

A month later, however, on 18 February, the Council failed — by a vote of 14 in favour to 1 against (United States) — to adopt a resolution that would have described Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 as “illegal”, while reiterating its demand for an immediate cessation of all settlement activity.  (See Press Release SC/10178.)

Where was the international community? Lebanon’s representative demanded before the vote.  Where was the respect for international law?  The Israeli occupation authorities had approved a plan to construct 1,400 new settlements just south of East Jerusalem, he noted, adding that there were also plans to erect settlements throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Indeed, since the suspension of the 10-month partial freeze, the rate of building had just about doubled, he said, pointing out that Israel continued to destroy buildings and other structures in East Jerusalem that were part of the Palestinian identity.

Palestine’s Permanent Observer said the situation must be remedied lest the prospects for a negotiated two-State solution be placed in permanent jeopardy.  The situation was intolerable and the status quo untenable, he stressed.

Israel’s representative said the text should never have been submitted as direct negotiations remained the only way to resolve the long-standing conflict.  The Council should have called on the parties to return immediately to the negotiating table, without pre-conditions, in order to reach a final settlement of all outstanding issues.

The representative of the United States, who had exercised the veto, said her country rejected the legitimacy of settlement activity in the strongest terms, but emphasized that every action must be measured against the standard of its capacity to bring the parties closer or take them further from negotiations and agreement.  The text had risked hardening positions on both sides, she said, adding that it could have encouraged the parties to stay away from the negotiations or to return to the Council whenever they reached an impasse.

Briefing the Council on 24 February, Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, pointed out that, in stark contrast to the dramatic political transformations in the Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations remained at a standstill, with each party sceptical of the other’s intentions and of the international community’s seriousness.  “I must in all frankness report low confidence and trust in each other and in international efforts to help them overcome their differences,” he said, calling for “credible and effective international intervention” to get the process back on track.  (See Press Release SC/10182.)

A sharp spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence informed the briefing on 22 March, when Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, described as “alarming” rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel and the subsequent Israeli air strikes that had left three Palestinians dead.  Important achievements, especially those relating to the Palestinian Authority’s State-building agenda, would be at risk if the political impasse continued, he warned, reiterating the urgent need to break the political deadlock and calling for decisive action by the diplomatic Quartet and the wider international community to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.

He reported that, during the previous month, the Quartet had continued its efforts to help the parties find a way back to direct negotiations.  As per the February agreement reached in Munich, Quartet envoys had met separately with Palestinian and Israeli negotiators and were giving serious consideration to their views on how to re-start talks on all core issues, including borders and security, he said, adding that the envoys planned to engage both sides further.  The Quartet Principals were scheduled to meet in April in the hope of setting the stage for renewed talks.  (See Press Release SC/10204.)

Opening a day-long Council debate on 21 April, Mr. Pascoe said both parties should be concerned that the political track was falling behind the significant progress of the Palestinian Authority’s State-building agenda.  In the six areas in which the international community was most engaged, governmental functions were now sufficient for a viable State, he said, citing a recent United Nations report.  In parallel, Israeli measures to facilitate movement had supported economic activity and access to basic services.  At the same time, he pointed out that the reporting period had seen the highest levels of violence in Gaza and Israel in two years.  (See Press Release SC/10230.)

Deadly clashes, as well as Palestinian reconciliation and State-building efforts, showed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not immune to the political changes sweeping across the Arab world, Mr. Serry told the Council in a 19 May briefing.  “One way or another, change will come to it, too,” he said, adding:  “This change must be shaped to positive ends.”  Unfortunately, the search for a two-State solution was “stuck” and there was a genuine lack of trust between the parties, he noted.  In the absence of negotiations and amid the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements, the Palestinians were preparing to approach the United Nations in September to seek recognition as a State, he reported.  (See Press Release SC/10261.)

On 23 June, Mr. Serry cited United States President Barack Obama’s speech of 19 May, saying it offered a framework for resuming negotiations and seeking agreement.  Stressing the urgent need to resume meaningful negotiations, he described the standstill in the Israeli-Palestinian political process as “dangerous”.  (See Press Release SC/10290.)

Mr. Serry further warned the Council on 26 July that without a credible path out of the profound, persistent deadlock, coupled with far-reaching steps on the ground, the viability of the two-State solution and the Palestinian State-building agenda were in jeopardy.  “I cannot but describe the situation where Palestinian State-building has matured in the West Bank, but the political track has failed to converge, as dramatic,” he said.  (See Press Release SC/10340.)

Briefing the Council on 25 August, Mr. Pascoe said that recent terror attacks and escalating violence in the Middle East showed the urgent need for progress, but the political deadlock persisted.  Profound differences remained over the terms in which to frame negotiations, he said, cautioning that “mistrust is deepening”.  Calm was necessary if meaningful negotiations were to have a chance, but without a political breakthrough, and with Israeli settlement activity continuing, the Palestinian leadership had confirmed its intention to approach the General Assembly and the Council for recognition in September, he reported.  (See Press Release SC/10367.)

With Prime Minister Najib Mikati of Lebanon presiding on 27 September, Mr. Pascoe told the Council that Palestinian and Israeli positions remained far apart after a week of “intensive diplomacy”, but the existence of some “building blocks” — a clear timetable, expectations that the parties must put forward proposals, and an active role by the Quartet — could make negotiations more effective.  “It will not be easy, but now is the time for everyone to give diplomacy a chance,” he said.

Prime Minister Mikata said the “winds of change” were blowing in the Middle East, heralding the “Palestinian Spring” that had resulted in the previous week’s application for full United Nations membership.  The Palestinians had reaffirmed their willingness to negotiate, but the negotiations were still clashing with Israeli intransigence and violations of international law, he added.  (See Press Release SC/10396.)

On 28 September, the Council referred the Palestinian application to its Committee on the Admission of New Members, for “examination and report”.  According to a statement by Council President Nawaf Salam ( Lebanon), the Palestinian President had submitted the application in a letter dated 23 September and addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/2011/592).  He proposed that the Committee meet on 30 September, to consider the application.  (See Press Release SC/10397.)

There were renewed appeals for Palestine’s United Nations membership throughout a day-long debate in the Council on 24 October, as the Permanent Observer described attempts to postpone consideration of the application as unacceptable and the status quo as “illogical and unjust”.  Israel’s delegate said his country had accepted the Quartet’s call to re-start negotiations immediately, without preconditions.  Describing the suggestion that settlements were the cause of the conflict as “interesting”, he pointed out that the conflict had been raging for nearly half a century before a single settlement had sprung up in the West Bank.  The primary obstacle to peace was the Arab world’s refusal to accept the Jewish State, he reiterated.  (See Press Release SC/10420.)

Mr. Serry, returning to the Council on 21 November, warned:  “The viability of the Palestinian Authority and its State-building agenda — and, I fear, of the two-State solution itself — cannot be taken for granted.”  Both parties had engaged separately with the Quartet in the framework of the 23 September statement, but direct negotiations, without preconditions, in which the parties would be expected to table territorial and security proposals within 90 days, were still not taking place.  Instead, gaps in trust, perception and substance remained, he noted, appealing to the parties to de-escalate, refrain from provocations, adhere to their obligations, enter direct talks and advance concrete and negotiable proposals.  (See Press Release SC/10453.)

Delivering the last scheduled briefing on 20 December was Mr. Fernandez-Taranco, who said that credible progress in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians was more urgent than ever, but remained elusive in a context of tensions on the ground, deep mistrust and volatile regional dynamics.  “Our worry is that as the year draws to a close, the situation on the ground is deteriorating and the path towards peace remains dangerously uncertain.”  Those negative dynamics must not be allowed to prevail, he added, emphasizing that too much was at stake.  (See Press Release SC/10497.)


The Council’s consideration of the situation in Iraq was largely informed by the planned withdrawal of United States military forces by the end of the year.  Briefing the Council formally on 6 December, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), described the withdrawal as an important milestone that would entail many challenges, even as it provided all Iraqis with the opportunity to prove to themselves that they could build a peaceful and better future.  He cautioned that the task ahead should not be underestimated, and would require further progress on the security front.  While Iraqi forces had assumed full control of the country’s security, they still faced armed opposition and terrorist groups, which also posed significant challenges to the delivery of aid, he noted.

Hamid Al-Bayati ( Iraq) declared: “My Government has worked hard in the last months to improve its defensive capabilities to stand in the face of terrorist attacks to protect international security and to save democracy.”  The country was poised to take on the great challenges and responsibilities that would follow the withdrawal of United States forces, he said.  Indeed, Iraq was witnessing a new era, in which “the foundations of democracy, personal and private freedom of the press, freedom of creating political parties, political diversity and peaceful transition of power are established,” he said.  (See Press Release SC/10472.)

The Council’s formal consideration of the situation in Iraq began on 8 April, when Ad Melkert, then Head of UNAMI, said citizens had protested across the country to demand the dividends promised by the New National Partnership, including employment opportunities for young people.  Iraq’s elected officials were taking those issues seriously, and had shown renewed determination to act decisively, he said, adding that the United Nations was also doing its part.

However, despite progress towards stability, security remained a concern, he said, pointing to the 25 security incidents reported the previous month and the 29 March terror attacks against a provincial government building that had killed 76 people and injured 100.  “As [ United States] forces prepare to Leave, Iraq should not be forgotten and the international community should stand ready to continue support,” he said.  (See Press Release SC/10220.)

Briefing on earlier developments on 19 July, Mr. Melkert said real progress had been achieved in replacing Iraq’s ruthless dictatorship with institutions mandated by constitutional principles, which laid the ground for “cautious optimism” about the future.  In some important aspects, he said, Iraq was at the heart of fundamental changes in the region, as its system of government had incorporated a power-sharing Constitution that guaranteed the participation of women and minorities while nurturing a culture of constitutional debate.  (See Press Release SC/10330.)

On 28 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2001 (2011), extending UNAMI’s mandate for another 12 months.  Recognizing that the security of United Nations personnel was essential for the Mission to carry out its work, the Council called on Iraq and other Member States to provide it with security, logistical support and sufficient resources.  (See Press Release SC/10345.)


In the wake of the 27 May and 26 July attacks against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Council, on 30 August, extended its mandate for one year, until 31 August 2012, condemning all terrorist attacks against it in the strongest terms.  Unanimously adopting resolution 2004 (2011), the Council called for the rapid finalization of Lebanon’s investigation into the attacks, and urged all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel.  It strongly called upon all parties concerned to respect the cessation of hostilities, prevent any violation of the “Blue Line” and cooperate fully with UNIFIL.  It urged Israel to expedite immediately the withdrawal of its Army from northern Ghajar, and called for cooperation between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces.  (See Press Release SC/10373.)

During the portion of the regular monthly briefing on the Middle East devoted to Lebanon, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said on 20 December that several incidents in UNIFIL’s area of operations had raised concerns.  He recalled in that vein that the Secretary-General had condemned all indiscriminate rocket attacks and urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

In a positive development he reported the 30 November announcement by Prime Minister Mikati that he had transferred his Government’s share of the 2011 budget for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  Inaugurated in March 2009, the court’s primary mandate was to try the people accused of carrying out the attack on 14 February 2005 in which 23 people, including former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, had been killed and many others and injured.  (See Press Release SC/10497.)

(Summaries of additional relevant meetings of the Council can be found in Press Releases SC/10453, SC/10420, SC/10396, SC/10367, SC/10340, SC/10290, SC/10261, SC/10230, SC/10204, SC/10182, SC/10178 and SC/10157).


The Council’s consideration of the situation in Syria was in response to the uprising that had begun with public demonstrations on 26 January.  While only sporadic initially, they had erupted into mass protests in the southern city of Dera’a on 17 March, sparking a full-scale nationwide revolt, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and the Government’s overthrow.  Motivated by the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrian demonstrators sought to end nearly five decades of Ba’athist rule, but as the protests continued, the Syrian Government began deploying tanks and snipers.

Prior to the Council’s involvement, Secretary-General Ban condemned, on 23 March, the violence against peaceful demonstrators in Dera’a, which had killed several people and injured many more.  He called on the Syrian authorities to refrain from violence and abide by their human rights commitments (see Press Release SG/SM/13472).  With the situation intensifying, he again condemned violence against peaceful demonstrators on 25 April, and reminded the Syrian authorities of their obligation to respect international human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom of the press.  He called once more for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13521.)

The Security Council considered the situation formally in four meetings, beginning on 27 April with a briefing by B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.  He said that, despite the promise of reform contained in a spate of announced legislative and legal changes, the crackdown against the anti-Government protesters had intensified dramatically.  “Repression is not the solution,” he said, adding that inclusive dialogue and genuine reforms were required to address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and restore confidence, social peace and order.  (See Press Release SC/10235.)

On 30 June, the Council met to consider the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2011/359) on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which recommended an extension of its mandate by a further six months.  The Force was established to supervise the disengagement agreement of 31 May 1974 between Syrian and Israeli forces.  The Secretary-General said that, although the situation in the Israel-Syria sector remained generally quiet, the serious events that had occurred in the UNDOF area of operation were of grave concern.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1994 (2011) that day, the Council also expressed grave concern, fearing that those serious events, occurring on 15 May and 5 June, could jeopardize the long-standing ceasefire between Israel and Syria.  (See Press Release SC/10305.)

Following the adoption, the United Kingdom’s representative stressed that the situation in Syria was unsustainable, and his delegation would continue to press for a stronger resolution on the matter.  However, the Russian Federation’s representative pointed out that Syria was not on the Council’s agenda.  China’s delegate said the matter was an internal one and should be left to the parties concerned.

Syria’s representative, while pledging his Government’s commitment to do its utmost to maintain the safety of mission officials, said he was puzzled by attempts to cite internal events in a technical draft resolution pertaining to the extension of UNDOF’s mandate.

Israel’s representative said the need to respect the disengagement line had never been clearer, given the prevailing regional instability.  Outlining the events of 15 May and 5 June, he said the Syrian regime’s fingerprints “were all over it”.

In a presidential statement on 3 August (document S/PRST/2011/16), the Council expressed “profound regret” over the many hundreds of deaths in Syria and condemned the authorities’ widespread violations of human rights against civilians.  Calling for an immediate end to violence, it urged all sides to act with utmost restraint.  (See Press Release SC/10352.)

But on 4 October, the Council failed to adopt a draft resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown on anti-Government protestors, owing to vetoes by the Russian Federation and China.  The text would have demanded that Syrian authorities immediately stop using force against civilians and allow the exercise of the freedom of expression.  It would also have warned of options for action to be considered against the Government, including measures under the section of the Charter on sanctions.  (See Press Release SC/10403.)

Following the vote of 9 in favour to 2 against ( China, Russian Federation), with 4 abstentions ( Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa), opponents of the text stressed their concern over the violence, but said the threat of sanctions was counter-productive, maintaining that the Council should instead prioritize dialogue between the parties.  They also stressed the importance of the principle of non-intervention in domestic affairs.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed alarm that compliance with Council resolutions on the situation in Libya had been considered a model for future actions that could involve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  “We’re not advocates of the Assad regime,” he said.  Stressing that the violence was unacceptable, he noted, however, that a portion of the Syrian opposition movement had not hidden its extremist bent and hoped for foreign sponsors.  The opposition was acting outside the law and killing people who complied with law enforcement, he added.

However, supporters of the draft resolution countered by saying that the proposed text had included a call for national dialogue; it did not threaten Syria’s sovereignty but aimed to stop the brutality against civilians exercising their rights.  They cited condemnations by the League of Arab States and others in the region as evidence of international support for Council action.  The representative of the United States expressed outrage over the Council’s failure to take minimum steps to protect civilians in Syria, after long, hard negotiations.


In its consideration of the Middle East, the Council devoted one meeting to the situation in Yemen, unanimously adopting resolution 2014 (2011) on 21 October.  In that text, it expressed profound regret at the hundreds of deaths in the country, mainly of civilians, including women and children, following months of political strife.  The Council demanded that the Yemeni authorities immediately allow the exercise of the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and expression, and that they end the attacks.  It also called for a commitment to a peaceful transition of power, based on proposals advanced by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.  The Council also expressed its concern over the presence of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as its intention to address that threat.  (See Press Release SC/10418.)

Thematic Debates

Children and Armed Conflict

“Places of learning and places of healing should never be places of war,” Secretary-General Ban said on 12 July as the Council adopted resolution 1998 (2011), by which the Council declared schools and hospitals off-limits to armed groups and military activities.  Hailing the text as a significant advance on the Council’s previous efforts, he said that it sent a consistent and clear message:  protecting children in armed conflict was a peace and security issue, and the international community would not tolerate grave violations of that principle.  (See Press Release SC/10319.)

Calling for all parties attacking such facilities to be held accountable and placed on the Secretary-General’s annual list of those committing grave violations against children, the resolution built on more than a decade of contributions towards a comprehensive framework for protecting children affected by conflict.  By its terms, the Council urged all parties to refrain from any actions that impeded children’s access to education and health services, and expressed its readiness to adopt “targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators”.

The action followed a day-long debate, during which Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that the decision to add attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria had been taken as such actions were became more frequent and appalling.  The Council had begun a journey of great promise in 1999, she said, noting that Governments and non-State actors had begun to respond to its calls for action.  Hopefully, the text “will help usher in an era where children can study, play and learn in an atmosphere of safety and dignity”, she added.

International Criminal Tribunals

Continuing its support for the battle against impunity and the broader global effort to bolster the development and codification of international law, the Council convened twice to consider the work of the United Nations war crimes tribunals trying cases stemming, respectively, from the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

The Council also met five times to consider matters pertaining to the functioning of the Tribunals, holding two meetings to reappoint Prosecutors and three more to adopt resolutions extending the terms of 17 judges; allowing, as a one-time exception, a Rwanda Tribunal judge to take outside judicial work; and authorizing ad litem judges to be candidates or voters in elections for President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

On 6 June, during its first meeting of 2011 to consider the Tribunals, the Council commended the arrests of high-profile fugitives, including former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladić, a suspect in the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bernard Munyagishari, former leader of Rwanda’s Interahamwe militia.  (See Press Release SC/10269.)

Despite that and other progress in the fight to end impunity, however, the Presidents of each Tribunal said their future work would be hampered unless the Council addressed urgent, unprecedented challenges.  Judge Patrick Robinson of Former Yugoslavia Tribunal said the most pressing issues were staff retention, as well as support for a victims’ trust fund and for the enforcement of sentences.  “The staffing problem is so bad that it can now be described as chronic, systemic and endemic; we are in a staffing crisis:  c-r-i-s-i-s,” he emphasized.  Judge Khalida Rachid Khan of the Rwanda Tribunal called on the Council to find sustainable solutions to critical challenges, including staffing issues, the resettlement of acquitted persons and the relocation of those convicted.

Briefing the Council again on 7 December, the two Tribunal Presidents said those challenges had worsened, threatening the timely completion of their mandates.  Limited resources, lack of State cooperation in critical areas and ongoing staff crises were the main obstacles.  (See Press Release SC/10476.)

As Council members expressed frustration over delays in winding up the Tribunals’ work, the Russian Federation’s representative said their cause was unclear.  Noting that the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal’s latest report showed that the trials of Mr. Mladić and arrested fugitive Goran Hadžić had been scheduled to start in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and that appeal proceedings for some individuals would last until 2016, he said there was no significant reason for that lengthy time frame.  Many members supported the Tribunals’ work, with some expressing concern about staff retention and other issues.

Meeting on 29 June to deal with operational matters, the Council extended the terms of 17 judges with the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, adopting resolution 1993 (2011).  (See Press Release SC/10304.)

Unanimously adopting resolutions 2006 (2011) and 2007 (2011) in two meetings on 14 September, the Council reappointed Hassan Bubacar Jallow as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Serge Brammertz as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  (See Press Releases SC/10382 and SC/10383.)

The Council also unanimously adopted resolution 1995 (2011) on 6 July, allowing ad litem judges to be candidates or voters in elections for President of the Rwanda Tribunal.  The President would have responsibility for ensuring that the arrangement was compatible with judicial independences and impartiality, did not give rise to conflicts of interest, and did not delay the delivery of judgements.  (See Press Release SC/10308.)

In a unanimous action on 14 October, the Council adopted resolution 2013 (2011), making a one-time exception to allow Rwanda Tribunal Judge Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov to undertake outside judicial work.  (See Press Release SC/10412.)

International Court of Justice

In separate meetings on 10 November, the Council and the General Assembly filled four out of five vacancies on the International Court of Justice, electing Giorgio Gaja ( Italy), Hisashi Owada ( Japan), Peter Tomka ( Slovakia) and Xue Hanqin ( China).  Under the Court’s Statute, a candidate obtaining an absolute majority of votes in both the Council and the Assembly is considered elected. 

No decision was made on one candidate after three rounds of balloting on 22 November as the Council repeatedly elected incumbent Abdul Koroma of Sierra Leone, while the majority of the Assembly elected Julia Sebutinde of Uganda.  Both organs achieved an absolute majority on 13 December, after nine rounds of balloting in the Council.  (See Press Releases SC/10444, SC/10456 and SC/10482.)

Regional Cooperation

The Council commended the European Union’s efforts to help realize United Nations peace and security goals in a wide range of situations around the world, following a briefing on 8 February by Catherine Ashton, the bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.  (See Press Release SC/10168.)

Emphasizing that security, development and democracy, good governance and respect for human rights were all interlinked, she called for more investment in the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts while addressing their underlying causes.  People in North Africa were demanding greater freedom, democracy and accountability, she said, adding that a recent meeting of European Union Heads of State and Government had offered assistance to governmental transitions in that context.

Following a 15 February briefing on by Audronius Ažubalis, Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, the Council praised that body’s work in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.  (See Press Release SC/10175.)

Detailing priority areas for 2011, he said the OSCE would seek tangible progress in addressing protracted conflicts, including those in the Republic of Moldova and the South Caucasus.  Recent crises demonstrated an urgent need to strengthen capabilities across the entire conflict cycle, he said, adding that early warning must be followed by early action, as demonstrated by the OSCE’s quick response to events in Albania.

Working Methods

During the Council’s 30 November open debate on its working methods — the fourth such meeting in the body’s nearly 66 years of existence, the wider United Nations membership discussed the crucial necessity of making its activities more open and transparent, while maintaining effectiveness and efficiency.  Many of the 34 speakers taking the floor said Council deliberations on everything, from the content of its resolutions to sanctions and peacekeeping mandates, should be open to genuine input from all Member States.  (See Press Release SC/10466.)

The need to bring the Council into the twenty-first century was a common thread during the day-long debate, with many speakers agreeing with the proposals by the so-called group of five “small countries” (Costa Rica, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Singapore and Switzerland) formed to support improvement of the Council’s working methods.  Switzerland’s representative, speaking on their behalf, recalled that the Council’s current working methods dated back to the provisional rules of procedure adopted at its first meeting in 1946.

Among the many calling for greater transparency was India’s representative, who said the Council’s composition and working methods were “divorced from the contemporary reality of international relations”.  Several Council members, while expressing support for many suggestions, maintained that closed meetings without records would remain necessary.  France’s representative said that, since most Council meetings were held in public or semi-public formats, and the number of open debates had increased, the public format for meetings should be enhanced.

The United Kingdom’s representative said the Council must also be flexible regarding new technologies, noting that social media networks had played a critical role in the “Arab Spring”.  If the Council wished to stay abreast of developments, it should consider using available new technologies, by which rapid assessments on the ground could enable it to act more quickly, he said.

Most non-Council members, as well as some elected members, proposed a range of suggestions, with South Africa’s representative noting that, while progress had been made in enhancing and strengthening the Council’s partnership with the African Union, conflict-prevention, management and resolution efforts should be further addressed.  Many speakers agreed with Germany’s representative, who said that focusing only on working methods was a “Band-Aid approach” when the Council really needed to represent the United Nations membership more fairly.

Finland’s representative called for pursuing enhanced relations with troop-contributing countries, who should be closely engaged at all stages of decision-making relating to peacekeeping operations.  Many speakers also called for a closer relationship with the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission; regular consultations with regional and subregional organizations such as the African Union; and more “Arria formula” meetings, with the opportunity to hear the views of non-member stakeholders and civil society groups.

Annual Report

On 27 October, the Council unanimously adopted its annual report to the General Assembly for the period 1 August 2010 to 31 July 2011(document A/66/2).  Peter Wittig ( Germany) said it contained a comprehensive account of all meetings and activities of the Council, as well as its discussions covering a range of thematic issues.  (See Press Release SC/10425.)

Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Under this broad agenda item — encompassing transnational crime, pandemics, economic fragility and extreme weather in an “unholy brew” with the potential to create dangerous security vacuums — the Council met six times, beginning on 11 February with a day-long debate that culminated with a presidential statement.  (See Press Release SC/10172.)

Opening that debate, Secretary-General Ban said recent world events were “a sharp reminder of the need for political stability to be anchored in peace, opportunity, decent standards of living and the consent of the governed”.  Members stressed the need to take into account the economic and social dimensions of conflict, in addition to the political factors of maintaining international peace and security.  It stressed the need, in helping a country emerge sustainably from conflict, for a comprehensive and integrated approach aimed at strengthening coherence between political, security, development, human rights and rule-of-law activities, while also addressing the underlying causes of each conflict.

Among the 60 other speakers was Eugene-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda), Chair of Peacebuilding Commission, who emphasized the critical importance for the Council to mandate multidimensional peacekeeping missions.  There was broad agreement that there could be “no security without development and no development without security”, he said, cautioning at the same time that the Council should not be directly involved in development activities, which were beyond its competence.

On 7 June, by its unanimous adoption of resolution 1983 (2011), the Council reaffirmed its previous commitment to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic as a threat to international peace and security, and encouraged the incorporation of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support into the implementation of peacekeeping mandates.  Welcoming the adoption, the Secretary-General recalled that, before the adoption of resolution 1308 (2000), uniformed personnel had been viewed in terms of the risk they might pose to civilians.  “Now we understand that United Nations troops and police are part of prevention, treatment and care.”  (See Press Release SC/10272.)

In a presidential statement on 20 July, the Council expressed concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could aggravate certain threats to international peace and security, and that the loss of territory to rising seas, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.  (See Press Release SC/10332.)

Following a day-long debate on the impact of climate change on global peace and security, the statement noted the importance of “conflict analysis and contextual information” on the “possible security implications of climate change”, among other things, when climate issues drove conflict, challenged the implementation of Council mandates or endangered peace processes.

Reporting to a 22 September Council meeting at the level of Heads of State and Government on the topic “Preventive Diplomacy:  Delivering Results”, the Secretary-General called for adequate, predictable and timely financial support for rapid preventive responses to emerging crises, as well as further investment in “preventive diplomats” on the ground, and for an expanded pool of highly skilled envoys and mediators who could be deployed rapidly to situations of concern.  “Preventive diplomacy may not be effective in all situations, yet I firmly believe that better preventive diplomacy is not an option; it is a necessity,” he said, introducing his first-ever report on the subject.  (See Press Release SC/10392.)

The Council issued a presidential statement in which it expressed its determination to enhance United Nations effectiveness in preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts, their escalation or spread when they occurred, and their resurgence once they ended.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers agreed that preventive diplomacy should be the priority in the maintenance of international peace and security.  Some expressed regret that little attention had been paid to prevention and the root causes of conflict, and at the over-emphasis on the military dimensions of peacekeeping.

Taking up the issue of security-sector reform on 12 October, particularly in the context of prospects and challenges in Africa, the Council emphasized that establishing an effective, professional and accountable security sector was the cornerstone of peace and sustainable development.  (See Press Release SC/10409.)

Before the Council President read out that statement to cap a day-long debate, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said on behalf of the Secretary-General that “an ineffective and poorly governed security sector is one of the major obstacles to stability, poverty reduction, achievement of sustainable development and peacebuilding”.  He noted that several African countries were assisting in security-sector reform efforts on the continent and contributing to the international security architecture.  The African Union was at the forefront in developing a security-sector reform framework, he added.

On 23 November, Secretary-General Ban said that the Council — so central to the international community’s ability to keep the peace — must keep pace as the nature of threats such as transnational crime, pandemics, and climate change evolved.  As the Council considered new challenges to peace and security and conflict prevention, he said that, although none of those threats were new, they were increasingly transnational, increasingly acute, and with even greater implications for human, State, regional and international security.  No country or region, no matter how powerful, could “go it alone”, he stressed.  (See Press Release SC/10457.)


The Council, playing its pivotal role in staunching nuclear proliferation and international terrorism, reaffirmed its strong commitment to that goal on 20 April, extending until 25 April 2021, the mandate of its 1540 Committee, which monitors efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1977 (2011), the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a group of up to eight experts to assist the Committee, known formally as the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004).  By that text — heralded by some as a “global effort to lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials” — the Council imposed binding obligations on all States to establish controls preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as the means of their delivery.  (See Press Release SC/10228.)

Meeting earlier, on 22 March, the Council heard a report by Néstor Osorio (Colombia), Chair of the Committee established in 2006 to monitor sanctions imposed on Iran in relation to its nuclear programme — the 1737 Committee — who said outlined two new cases of alleged violations as he delivered the seventeenth report since the Committee’s creation.  The alleged violations were related to the ban on exporting items that could contribute to Iran’s uranium-enrichment, reprocessing or heavy-water activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems, he explained, adding that the Committee and its Panel of Experts were examining the cases.  The increased number of reported violations was a matter of serious concern, he said, adding, that the readiness of Member States to report them should be encouraged.  (See Press Release SC/10206.)

On 9 June, the Council extended for one year the mandate of the Committee’s Panel of Experts, created in 2010 to help monitor implementation of the sanctions.  Adopting resolution 1984 (2011) by a vote of 14 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Lebanon), the Council also set up a schedule for the work of the Panel authorized by resolution 1929 (2010), which tightened the sanctions on Iran by including a ban on arms sales and all items that could contribute to the enrichment of uranium, and imposed an asset freeze on targeted entities.  (See Press Release SC/10276.)

The representatives of the United States, France, Germany and the United Kingdom said the Panel’s work was far from complete because Iran continued to evade full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as confirmed by the Agency in its latest report.  Germany’s representative emphasized that the dual-track strategy, entailing pressure on as well as dialogue with Iran, could only be effective if the existing sanctions regime was carried out effectively.

Explaining his abstention, Lebanon’s representative acknowledged the technical nature of the resolution, but said he had voted in accordance with his position on resolution 1929 (2010).  He reaffirmed the importance of the balance in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) between non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful acquisition of nuclear energy by developing countries, particularly those in the Middle East, and said he looked forward to the day when that region would be free of nuclear weapons.

On 10 June, the Council extended until 12 June 2012 the mandate of the Panel of Experts helping to monitor sanctions imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Unanimously adopting resolution 1985 (2011), it maintained the current mandate of the group it had established in June 2009.  At that time, the Council condemned a nuclear weapons test explosion conducted by the East Asian country and tightened the sanctions regime, calling for stricter inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to the country’s nuclear and ballistic-missile activities (See Press Release SC/10277.)

Briefing the Council on the Iran sanctions committee on 23 June, Mr. Osorio ( Colombia) reported three new alleged violations as several concerned Council members urged Tehran to scale back the activities in dispute and seek a diplomatic solution.  Following the briefing, several Council members expressed alarm over Iran’s announcement that it would significantly boost its enrichment activities and that it had successfully launched a second satellite into orbit.  (See Press Release SC/10292.)

In his next briefing, on 7 September, Mr. Osorio ( Colombia) reported that investigations into previously reported sanctions violations were ongoing, and that there were new complaints about Iran’s launching of ballistic missiles.  Council members welcomed the Committee’s work, but some criticized the delay in publishing the latest report of the Panel of Experts, calling for its immediate issuance.  Several speakers expressed heightened concern following the release of the IAEA’s most recent report, saying that it showed Iran’s continued flouting of its obligations under the NPT and related Council resolutions.  (See Press Release SC/10376.)

Presenting his twentieth 90-day report on 21 December, Mr. Osorio ( Colombia) informed the Council that the Committee was considering holding an open briefing to discuss its mandate and activities, against a backdrop of growing concern about the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, and amid questions of transparency surrounding the non-publication of the report by the Panel of Experts.  The representative of the United States called the report’s non-publication an “appalling failure of transparency”, and described the IAEA’s recent conclusion that Iran remained in non-compliance of its obligations as “damning”.  Similarly, the United Kingdom’s representative pointed out that United Nations Member States had paid for the Panel’s report and had a right to see it.  As far as Iran was concerned, “unambiguous evidence” had been provided, and the military dimension of its nuclear programme was “compelling”, she said.  (See Press Release SC/10502.)

Peacekeeping Operations

Despite “serious shortcomings and abundant imperfections, it is evident that peacekeeping and peacekeepers have delivered results”, according to a concept note — titled “Peacekeeping:  taking stock and preparing for the future” — for the Council’s meeting on 26 August.  Prepared by the Permanent Representative of India, it said that a major question was the extent to which peacekeeping missions could be used as instruments of innovation in the application of international law and norms.  Such innovations, it stated, must be clarified in light of the critical peacekeeping principles of consent of the parties (with its implications for State sovereignty), limits on the use of force, and impartiality.  As peacekeepers were often asked to make life-or-death decisions and tough moral choices, they must operate in an environment of legal certitude, the note said.  (See Press Release SC/10368.)

In a presidential statement issued after a day-long debate on the issue, the Council reaffirmed that respect for fundamental peacekeeping principles — including consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence, or in defence of a Council mandate — was essential to the success of operations.  The Council also committed itself to strengthening its partnership with countries contributing military and police contingents to peacekeeping operations, and recognized the need to provide adequate resources for the fulfilment of mandates.

On 27 July, the Council held a discussion with the military commanders of key operations in Africa and the Middle East, who highlighted their strategies for overcoming the challenges they faced in unpredictable settings and under the impact of everything from sporadic armed conflict and unfriendly local populations, to lingering political tensions, long-term humanitarian needs and inclement weather.  (See Press Release SC/10343.)

Post-conflict Peacebuilding

The Council held four meetings on the topic, beginning on 21 January, when it issued a presidential statement stressing the need to continue to support countries emerging from conflict in order to sustain peace by creating national bodies that would promote democratic processes and socio-economic development.  (See Press Release SC/10160.)

Opening the debate on that day, Secretary-General Ban noted a mixed track record of international support for post-conflict institution-building.  “We can do better,” he said, pointing out that international efforts often failed to recognize that building effective institutions was a long-term effort, even in relatively stable conditions.  While some progress could be made in three to five years after the end of a conflict, expectations, including those of the Council, must be realistic, he stressed.  It was also necessary to ensure, right from the start, strong engagement with other international actors, including international financial institutions and regional organizations so that there would be a smooth transition of power when Council-mandated missions ended.

Presenting the Peacebuilding Commission’s 2010 report on 23 March, Peter Wittig (Germany), its outgoing Chairperson, said the challenge facing that organ in realizing its full potential as an advisory body that increased the collective capacity to aid fragile, post-conflict countries was ensuring that its work was backed by a higher level of political commitment from Member States and the senior United Nations leadership.  Council members praised the Commission’s efforts, but also acknowledged the five-year-old body’s growing pains as it endeavoured to meet the extremely high expectations placed on it.  (See Press Release SC/10207.)

For its debate on 12 May, the Council had before it the independent review on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict prepared by the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group.  It recommended several ways to strengthen national ownership of peace processes, broaden the international civilian pool and make United Nations support more appropriate, timely and effective.  In one of three briefings to the Council, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Chair of the Advisory Group, said the international community too often missed the immediate post-conflict window of opportunity to provide basic security, deliver peace dividends, build confidence in political processes and strengthen core national capacities in the lead-up to peacebuilding efforts.  (See Press Release SC/10249.)

Later in the year, Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, told the Council on 31 October that the United Nations agenda for action on peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict — when threats to peace were often greatest — was beginning to yield promising results on the ground.  The Organization’s peacebuilding agenda, she recalled, had been developed with the understanding that a coordinated, system-wide approach to the issue was required, given the multitude of actors whose involvement was needed.  (See Press Release SC/10428.)

Welcoming the Commission’s progress, Council members stressed that national ownership was key to peacebuilding, and that the international community should assist countries while maintaining full respect for their priorities.  Peacekeeping and peacebuilding should be seen as two parts of an integrated effort, they said, emphasizing that the relevant activities should begin as soon as the situation permitted.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

The unprecedented crises in the Middle East and parts of North and sub-Saharan Africa in early 2011 drove home the need for the Council to implement its five resolutions intended to protect civilians trapped in the crossfire of armed conflict.  “The events of the last few months have provided a compelling reminder of the fundamental and enduring importance of the Council’s protection-of-civilians agenda,” Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told the Council on 10 May.  (See Press Release SC/10245.)

Noting, however, that the Council’s responses to the crises in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire had raised questions, she said it was not clear, for example, whether the imposition of measures on Côte d’Ivoire similar to those later imposed on Libya would have prevented the former situation from deteriorating further.  Similarly, while the Council’s authorization of the use of force in Libya had prevented civilian deaths and injuries, there were concerns that such a move could undermine the civilian-protection agenda in future crises.  Council decisions must not go beyond promoting and ensuring civilian protection, she emphasized.

At the outset of a debate on 9 November, Secretary-General Ban noted that women, girls, boys and men in conflicts around the world were still subjected to blatant and frequent violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, not because they were “collateral damage”, but because they were deliberately targeted.  Protection was essential, but it was important not to lose sight of the need also to address the causes of conflict and not just the symptoms, he said.  (See Press Release SC/10442.)

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the same meeting that a “people’s spring” was thawing the global landscape, with the election of a new Government in Côte d’Ivoire, the birth of South Sudan as a new nation and the dawn of a new era in Libya.  Where basic human rights were trampled and peaceful demands for change were met with brutal force, people were eventually compelled to exercise recourse, she said.  And where national authorities failed to investigate credible allegations, it was incumbent upon the international community rigorously to establish the facts.

She said the adoption of resolution 1973 (2011), authorizing the use of force and other protection measures in Libya had prevented civilian deaths and injuries, but it had also raised concerns about potentially undermining the civilian-protection agenda.  In addition to scrupulous compliance with international humanitarian law, the implementation of Council decision must be limited exclusively to promoting and ensuring civilian protection, she stressed.

Also addressing members that day was President Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva of Portugal, whose country held the Council’s November presidency.  He said that when civilians were targets and national authorities or conflicting parties failed to protect them, the United Nations — and especially the Security Council — “has the duty to speak up and the obligation to act”.

While many speakers in the ensuing debate agreed, some did not.  They argued that using the concept of civilian protection in order to remove Governments in developing countries was “immoral”, as was foreign intervention in a country’s internal affairs under a similar guise.  The notion of “responsibility to protect”, they said, had provided the pretext for aggression, in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.  The case of Libya emblematic in that regard, they said.

Threats to International Peace and Security, Including Terrorism

The Council heard a briefing on 24 June by Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), who warned that illicit drugs and organized criminal networks were wreaking havoc in many countries — even holding the stability and development of entire regions hostage.  Piracy in Somalia or the ongoing struggle against a subversive and still-thriving opiate trade in Afghanistan were stark examples of how the vast sums of money generated by transnational organized crime destabilized transitions, disrupted political processes and obstructed development, he said.  (See Press Release SC/10295.)

In a presidential statement on 28 February, the Council welcomed the first report of the Ombudsperson — installed by resolution 1904 (2009) to ensure fair and clear procedures for those designated, or “listed” by the Committee established pursuant to Council resolution 1267 (1999) as subject to a global sanctions regime entailing such measures as asset freezes and travel bans.  Kimberly Prost, a former Judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, was appointed the first Ombudsperson (See Press Release SC/10189.)

Meeting next on 2 May, in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, the Council recalled the “heinous” terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, as well as the numerous attacks perpetrated by the Al-Qaida network around the world, and welcomed news of the terror group leader’s demise.  In a presidential statement, it urged States to remain vigilant and intensify their efforts.  It stressed that no cause or grievance could justify the murder of innocent people, and that terrorism would not be defeated exclusively by military force, law-enforcement or intelligence measures.  Trouncing the threat required a sustained, comprehensive approach involving all States, relevant international and regional organizations, the statement said.  (See Press Release SC/10239.)

In the first of two briefings by the Chairpersons of its counter-terrorism subsidiary bodies, the Council heard on 16 May that, despite Bin Laden’s death, the three committees must strengthen their efforts through enhanced effectiveness and cooperation.  Peter Wittig ( Germany), Chair of the so-called “1267 Committee”, noted that Bin Laden’s death was a turning point but neither the end of Al-Qaida nor of terrorism.  He said the Committee had discussed the possible implications of political dialogue in Afghanistan, and its sanctions regime must not become a stumbling block to peace and security in the region.  (See Press Release SC/10252.)

Indeed, in a move designed to keep pace with the evolving security situation and defeat terrorism, the Council unanimously adopted resolutions 1988 (2011) and 1989 (2011) on 17 June, under Chapter VII of the Charter, splitting the Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions regimes and extending the Ombudsperson’s term for 18 months to oversee the Al-Qaida List.  (See Press Release SC/10285/Rev.1.)

On 14 November, following updates on the three committees’ work, Council members said that the United Nations, led by the Council, must adapt in order to find the most appropriate tools with which to fight the continuing terrorist threat, since terrorists adapted to new situations, using new technologies such as the Internet for recruitment and incitement.  Terrorist networks had proved adaptable and resilient, shifting tactics and identifying new financing sources and methods, they said, emphasizing that effective global cooperation was, therefore, more important than ever.  (See Press Release SC/10447.)

The Council also issued numerous press statements concerning terrorist attacks in Nigeria on 27 December (Press Release SC/10507), 8 November (Press Release SC/10437) and 26 August (Press Release SC/10370); Syria on 23 December (Press Release SC/10506); Afghanistan on 7 December (Press Release SC/10474), 31 October (Press Release SC/10432) and 21 September (Press Release SC/10391); Somalia on 4 October (Press Release SC/10402); India on 7 September (Press Release SC/10377) and 13 July (Press Release SC/10325); Iraq on 18 August (Press Release SC/10362); Norway on 25 July (Press Release SC/10337); Morocco on 29 April (Press Release SC/10238); and the Russian Federation on 24 January (Press Release SC/10162).

Press statements were also issued concerning attacks against the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) on 9 December (Press Release SC/10478), 26 July (Press Release SC/10341), and 27 May (Press Release SC/10264); and against peacekeepers in Darfur on 8 November (Press Release SC/10439), 11 October (Press Release SC/10407), and 8 August (Press Release SC/10355).

The Council also issued press statements on attacks against diplomatic premises in Syria on 15 November (Press Release SC/10448) and 12 July (Press Release SC/10321) and against the United Kingdom’s diplomatic premises in Iran on 29 November (Press Release SC/10463).  On 9 September, it issued a press statement on the tenth anniversary of 11 September 2001 (Press Release SC/10378).

Women, Peace and Security

On 14 April, Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told the Council that civilian-protection initiatives such as those taken in Libya would not be comprehensive unless they systematically included efforts to end sexual violence before it began.  “Even in the tyranny of emergency, before hard evidence emerges, and though it may not be obvious what gender has to do with arms embargoes or no-fly zones, we must remember women.”  (See Press Release SC/10226.)

She said that “from the way sexual violence spans the history of war, it should be automatically and systematically included in protection measures”.  Unfortunately, resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) on the protection of civilians in Libya made no mention of the risk of sexual violence, despite the emergence of reports that it was occurring.  She also described the activities of her Office, including visits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and India to discuss the contributions of peacekeepers in efforts to end sexual violence in conflict.

She expressed optimism, however, that resolution 1960 (2010), which calls for such protection measures and reporting mechanisms on conflict-related sexual violence in situations on the Council’s agenda, would shift the terms of the debate from reaction to prevention.  She urged the Council to use its influence to ensure that any ceasefire agreement reached in relation to Libya or Côte d’Ivoire would also stipulate the cessation of sexual violence as a tactic of war.

On 28 October, the Council reviewed progress on implementation of its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, issuing a presidential statement which stressed the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of women and girls, and of increasing women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution, and peacebuilding.  At the same time, the Council voiced concern over “persistent gaps and challenges that seriously hinder the implementation of [the resolution]”, including continued low numbers of women in formal conflict-prevention institutions, especially in preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts.  It not only stressed the need to bolster the role of women in that regard, but also to incorporate the gender perspective into United Nations field missions.  (See Press Release SC/10426.)

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