Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for May

4 May 2015

Press Conference by Security Council President on Work Programme for May

The Security Council in May would consider the growing threats faced by journalists around the world in addition to focusing on foreign terrorist fighters, small arms and a raft of ongoing situations of concern, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania, President of the body for the month, said this afternoon.

“The last resolution on protection of journalists was adopted in 2006 and the situation has changed considerably since then,” Raimonda Murmokaitė told correspondents at Headquarters in the monthly briefing on the Council’s programme of work.  “We’re exploring the possibilities of how we can carry the issue forward.”

She said that a ministerial-level open debate on the issue was planned for 27 May, to be presided over by Lithuania’s Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevičius, and briefed by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson among others.

An open debate on small arms, planned for 13 May, would hear briefings by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.  Council members were working on possible texts to result from both debates.

For an open briefing on foreign terrorist fighters planned for 29 May, she said, the Council had invited national officials responsible for counter-terrorism to attend, including interior and justice ministers.  Mr. Linkevičius was expected to chair that meeting as well, and briefings were anticipated from Mr. Eliasson, Secretary-General Jürgen Stock of International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and chairs of counter-terrorism committees.

Ms. Murmokaitė said that the briefing would follow up on issues and actions discussed at September’s summit, focusing on practical issues in implementation of resolutions on the matter — “what needs to be done, what gaps exist”.

Also on the schedule, she said, were the periodic considerations of the situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, South Sudan, the Middle East, the Central African region, Iraq and other areas.

Issues that could also be considered, depending on developments, she said, included the Democratic Republic of Congo, for which Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous had requested time to discuss a number of issues, and Mali, which had seen continued fighting.

Meetings could also be called on Ukraine if the situation deteriorates, she said, noting the continued violations of the Minsk agreements.  In response to questions she said that the next human rights report on Ukraine was due on 29 May.  Speaking in her national capacity, she added that border insecurity and the annexation of Crimea — which she related to violations of the United Nations Charter — as well as the situation of the Tatar minority, were matters of concern to her country.

The situation in Yemen was also increasingly critical, she said, noting that it might demand more attention than the scheduled consultations that had been scheduled for 20 May with the new Special Envoy.  To questions on Yemen, she added that, as Chair of the Sanctions Committee, she desired as early as possible a meeting with the Envoy to coordinate all United Nations mechanisms.  She did not know how much he would want to change the strategy on the ground.  She doubted, though, that he would want to start again from scratch.

In addition, she said, the Council was closely following the situation in Burundi given the unrest related to the elections and the outflow of refugees.  Council members might not reach consensus on that country, as has happened in the past, but must remain seized of it as it faces the current challenges.

There was also the possibility of a briefing next week by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean.  “It’s not just a European issue,” she stressed, relating it to transnational organized crime and other issues on the Council’s agenda.  Sahelian States have to be involved, as many of the migrants originated there.

Asked about Council action to counter the use of weaponized chlorine and barrel bombs in Syria, Ms. Murmokaitė said that the issues would continue to be discussed and noted that attacks on civilians had been condemned in previous resolutions.  Now it was important to push for implementation of safe passage for civilians who wanted to leave conflict zones, as well as for the safety of those who chose to stay.

Asked if support for Iraq’s unity would be reconsidered by the Council and if she could envision support for Kurdish independence given the developments during the war with extremists, she stressed that Iraqis had to decide for themselves what kind of a country they wanted.

On allegations of sexual abuse by French forces in the Central African Republic, she reiterated the Council’s position of zero tolerance for such abuse.  She commented that, given the fact that action by the troop providers was most important in such cases, France’s strong response to the allegations was welcome.

For information media. Not an official record.