An open briefing on Myanmar and a thematic debate on mediation as a tool for the maintenance of international peace and security will be among the highlights of the Security Council’s work in the month ahead, Karen Pierce (United Kingdom), the organ’s President for August, said at a Headquarters press briefing today.
Presenting the Council’s programme of work for August, she said the 28 August meeting on Myanmar will focus on implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding regarding the return of Rohingya refugees. That document was signed on 6 June by the Government of Myanmar, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The 28 August meeting will take place one year after the start of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugee crisis, and the United Kingdom’s Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to participate in the 29 August open debate on “Maintenance of international peace and security: Mediation and Settlement of Disputes”.
Ms. Pierce said the United Kingdom wishes to use its turn as Council President to commemorate what the Secretary-General has called the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine State, in addition to encouraging significant progress on the Memorandum of Understanding, including unconditional access for United Nations agencies. “It’s a huge issue, but the Council is very much seized with it,” she said, recalling the Council’s visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh from 28 April to 1 May. She expressed hope that the Secretary-General will participate in the briefing, alongside a United Kingdom Cabinet Minister and the UNHCR representative.
She said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is expected to join the 29 August debate on the role of mediation in conflict prevention in his capacity as a member of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. While the United Nations has stepped up its mediation efforts, much more can be done, she said, adding that many Member States — both on and off the Council — had experiences worth sharing.
Among other issues, the Council is scheduled to consider Yemen on 2 August, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 8 August, Burundi on 9 August, the situation in the Middle East — including the question of Palestine — on 23 August, the humanitarian situation in Syria on 28 August and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) on 30 August.
Council action on draft resolutions relating to UNIFIL and the sanctions on Mali is scheduled for 30 August, while a meeting on 22 August — a day after the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism — will review threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, including a biennial update on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL-Da’esh).
Asked about the situation in Zimbabwe, the Council President described post‑election violence in that country as extremely concerning, adding that it is not clear what will happen next. “We are watching it closely,” she said, emphasizing that the Government is expected to do all in its power to restrain violence and restore the situation to the democratic track.
Answering a question about the absence of Cameroon from the August work programme, she said that, as Council president, she could not rule out a Member State asking for a briefing, and her delegation would do its best to respond.
Questioned about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she said there is no apparent need to add the situation relating to that country’s nuclear programme to this month’s agenda. She added that the situation is a good example of what the Council can achieve when it is unified.
To a query about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said the Council is watching developments there very closely, and may discuss it in the coming month.
Responding to a question about Eritrea, she said the time is not yet right to lift the sanctions imposed on that country, but it is a topic to which the Council will return.
She replied to a question about the deaths of Russian journalists in the Central African Republic by stating that those killings, as well as the deaths of United Nations peacekeepers, said something about the fragility of the situation there. While the issue is not before the Council in August, she noted, the United Kingdom presidency will be happy to respond to requests for a discussion if things get worse.
Asked about Kosovo, she emphasized that the Council must focus on the most pressing issues. Kosovo remains important, but it no longer has the intensity of 18 years ago when it generated “a regular drumbeat” of Council meetings. What is most critical is that Kosovo and Serbia make progress on normalizing relations and set their hearts on the bigger goal of European integration, she stressed.
Questioned about Libya, she disagreed with a journalist’s suggestion that the Security Council had created a “mess” in that country, explaining that it was people on the ground who created the mess, attacking each other and not working with the United Nations and the international community to improve the situation. The primary responsibility for taking the necessary steps to get a credible political process under way, and to improve the economy, lay with Libyan leaders on the ground, she said, reiterating that it is too easy to blame the United Nations when people in that country are not making maximum efforts.
Replying to a question about the Gaza Strip, she said there were no plans for a meeting to address that specific situation. However, any Council member can request an emergency session at any time, she pointed out.
For the full programme of work, please see www.un.org/en/sc/programme/.