Against the backdrop of increasingly complex and evolving threats to global peace and security, divisions within the Security Council – including between its five permanent and 10 elected members – continue to hamstring the work of the committees and working groups tasked with tackling them, said the Chairs of the 15-member organ’s subsidiary bodies in their annual briefing.
Among those briefing the Council was Karel Jan Gustaaf Van Oosterom (Netherlands), Chair of two subsidiary bodies related, respectively, to the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme – endorsed by the Council in its resolution 2231 (2015) – and resolution 1718 (2006) on sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Outlining the work of those bodies throughout the year, he said the latter continued to ensure the implementation of the sanctions regime imposed against Pyongyang while the former faced considerable challenges following the withdrawal by the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Emphasizing that the number of subsidiary organs reporting to the Council increased from 10 to 30 since 2000, he warned that the practice of allocating chairmanships only to the Council’s non-permanent members risks putting a strain on their effectiveness. The Council must agree to a new system that ensures a fair distribution of chairmanships among permanent and elected members, he stressed.
Olof Skoog (Sweden), Chair of two subsidiary committees charged with monitoring sanctions on Mali and Libya, respectively – as well as the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict – described the Libya sanctions committee as labour intensive and operating in a politically complex environment. At times, he said, divisions within the Council have made it difficult to agree on even minor issues. Noting that in 2018 the Committee listed individuals for involvement in human trafficking, migrant smuggling and attempts to illicitly export oil, he said Mali saw positive dynamics following elections held over the summer and the signing of a new Pact for Peace. Striking a more sombre note, he said the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict is still seeing an “utter disregard” for international law, leading to an increase in violations and abuses against children.
Also briefing the Council, other subsidiary body heads – including Taye Atske Selassie Amde (Ethiopia), Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa – underlined the importance of enhancing cooperation between those organs and regional organizations. During a June meeting titled, “Cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council: The way forward”, he said representatives proposed various structured forms of cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Echoing those sentiments, the representative of Bolivia - speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) regarding non-proliferation – said that body is charged, in particular, with assisting States in preventing the disastrous use of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors. “This is a platform of cooperation,” she said, underlining the global nature of the threat. In that light, she said, cooperation between the Committee and regional and subregional organizations is progressing in a positive manner.
Among those Committee Chairs underlining the importance of transparency in the work of the Council’s subsidiary organs was Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), Chair of three Committees concerning sanctions imposed on Somalia; sanctions related to the Taliban; and sanctions related to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida. Recalling that 2018 began with a Council debate on working methods, he said several Member States took that opportunity to voice criticism of the closed nature of many sanctions committees. As a result, more open, regular briefings have since been held for all interested Member States, he said, urging the committees’ future Chairs to follow the same procedure.
The meeting began at 5:20 p.m. and ended at 6:15 p.m.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), Chair of the Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1988 (2011) on Taliban sanctions, and the Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, briefed the Council first. Noting that Kazakhstan’s tenure as an elected member ends on 31 December, he recounted recent developments in the work of the 1267 Committee and the 1988 Committee which took place against the evolving global terrorist threat. In that light, the two committees’ Guidelines were updated, which will hopefully enhance their efficient functioning. During a Council meeting early in 2018 on the organ’s working methods, several Member States voiced criticism of the closed nature of many sanctions committees. As a result, more open, regular briefings have since been held for all interested Member States. He urged the Chairs to succeed him to follow the same procedure.
According to the present rules, he said, States whose interests are affected when listing individuals or organizations – including those who find themselves listed because their territories have been used by terrorists – are not able to present their evidence to the Committees before it makes decisions or to challenge information provided by another State, simply because the listing State is not on speaking terms with that country. Noting that Members of the Committees are bound by privacy policies, he said concerned States should be aware of listing and delisting processes and contribute their information for maximum objectivity and fairness. Recalling his visits over the last two years to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Afghanistan as Chair of the 1267 Committee – and to Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Djibouti as Chair of the 1988 Committee – he said he also led an important delegation to Afghanistan in October 2017 to discuss matters related to ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida sanctions with that country’s Government.
“The most memorable point of my chairmanship of the Committee on Somalia and Eritrea was my visit to the region of the Horn of Africa in May of this year,” he said, noting that the Committee adopted important recommendations there. Stressing that the sanctions regime is not a punishment against Somalia – but instead a tool to prevent weapons flows and help a ravaged country recover – he said the most important recent development was the historic normalization of relations between countries in the Horn of Africa, initiated and promoted by Ethiopia. “We have witnessed how dialogue, political will and commitment to the greater interests of the people can dramatically change the situation between countries that have been in confrontation for many years,” he said. The dialogue in that region ultimately led to the lifting of sanctions on Eritrea, he said, urging the United Nations to strengthen its cooperation with the African Union in order to maintain those gains.
TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia), Chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, outlined the Working Group’s work from 1 January to 31 December 2018, noting that it first met in February to consider proposals related to its work for the year. One such proposal was to hold meetings on country-specific items, he said, adding that members also suggested enhanced interaction between the Working Group and the Peacebuilding Commission as a way to approach conflict prevention. Members also urged the Group to remain flexible enough to take up items not necessarily included on the provisional work programme. As a result of those consultations, the Working Group took up three conflict-specific situations over the course of the year: A meeting on 11 January on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; a 2 April meeting on the situation in Guinea-Bissau; and a meeting on the Central African Republic on 31 May.
On 8 June, he continued, the Working Group held a meeting titled, “Cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council: The way forward”. The summit was the first of its kind, and representatives stressed the importance of continuing to improve such cooperation. They also underlined the need to address the root causes of conflict, suggested enhanced information sharing and proposed the institutionalization of exchanges between the Chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the President of the United Nations Security Council as well as a harmonization of work of the two Councils. Another important suggestion concerned joint consultative meetings between the two Councils, he said.
In July, he said, the Working Group held a joint meeting with the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations on the topic “Institutional reform of the African Union and its contribution to enhancing Africa’s capacity in the area of peace and security”. Members recommended reform efforts and identified areas that should be further highlighted, including the distribution of tasks, and underlined the difficulties being faced as a result of the lack of sustained funding for African Union peace support operations. At that meeting, he said, speakers provided updates on the African Union’s efforts in such areas as its Peace Fund, financial rules, pre-deployment training and compliance frameworks related to human rights and sexual exploitation and abuse, among other critical matters.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) regarding non-proliferation, said her delegation carried out its leadership in line with the various Committee reforms undertaken five years ago. Among other things, those reforms underscored the importance of providing States with assistance to meet their needs for fully implementing resolution 1540 (2004) – namely, to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to such non-State actors as terrorist groups. “This is a platform of cooperation,” she said, underlining the global nature of the threat. Calling on the 17 Member States that have not yet presented their reports on the resolution’s implementation to the Committee to do so without delay, she said a total of 181 Member States have already submitted their reports.
Turning to the issue of cooperation with regional and subregional organizations - which she said is progressing in a positive manner - she went on to describe the Committees’ work with national focal points, particularly in the development of national action plans and efforts to strengthen best practices. Along with the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, the Committee stands ready to help States contribute to the common goal of preventing the disastrous use of weapons of mass destruction by non-State actors. The work of the Committee’s Group of Experts is currently taking place against the backdrop of the upcoming comprehensive review, slated for 2021. Regarding the designation of experts for the Panel of Experts supporting the Committee, she said six new experts were appointed during the reporting period. Meanwhile, the Committee’s website – critical for States that need remote access to information – was also consistently updated, and representatives of the Committee conducted important outreach activities. Among other things, she proposed that going forward experts be designated well in advance of the end of their terms.
KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), Chair of the Committee on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) concerning Iran and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that the 1718 Committee continued to ensure the implementation of the sanctions regime through measures, such as holding an open briefing for the wider United Nations membership as well as outreach meetings with all five regional groups. The 1718 Committee facilitated diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula by granting exemptions to the sanctions to allow Democratic People’s Republic of Korea officials to participate in diplomatic talks in Singapore, Panmumjeon and Pyeongchang. The Committee also connected with various humanitarian actors, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Pyongyang, to further mitigate any adverse humanitarian consequences of the sanctions.
As for the 2231 Committee format, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has considerable challenges following the withdrawal by the United States and the re-imposition of United States sanctions against Iran, he said. However, the unanimously adopted framework of resolution 2231 remains in place. On a personal note, he said that the workload of the 1718 Committee far exceeds that of other Committees. In 2018, the 1718 Committee received no less than 337 notification and requests for guidance or exemptions, and 649 formal notes were circulated to members of the Committee. The number of subsidiary organs significantly increased since 2000, from 10 to 30. If the Council continues the practice of allocating chairmanships to its non-permanent members, it risks putting a strain on the effectiveness of the 10 elected members of the Council, especially those with smaller teams. The Council must agree to a new system that ensures a fair distribution of chairmanships among permanent and elected members, he stressed.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), Chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), the Mali Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 2374 (2017), and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, said that the 1970 Committee was labour intensive and operated in a politically complex environment. At times, divisions within the Council have made it difficult to agree on even minor issues. This year, the Committee listed several individuals for the first time since 2011 for involvement in human trafficking, migrant smuggling and attempts to illicitly export oil, among other allegations. Progress has been made on the adoption of two Implementation Assistance Notices in relation to the asset freeze. As Chair, his delegation carefully listened to Libya’s concerns regarding the management of the frozen funds. “I believe working with the World Bank is the best way forward on this issue,” he said, adding that the Libyans need to be satisfied that their funds are managed in the best way possible. Sweden also led the first Committee visit to Libya. Exploitation of Libya’s resources for personal gains can never be accepted, he said, stressing that those seeking to undermine the political process and interfere in the management of Libya’s wealth must be held accountable.
Turning to the 2374 Committee on Mali, he said that the sanctions regime was set up at the request of the Government of Mali, with the aim to advance peace, security and stability in that country, including through the implementation of the peace agreement. Positive dynamics were noted among the parties since the elections this past summer and the signing of the Pact for Peace in October. But this momentum seems not to have been matched by concrete results and peace dividends on the ground. The Committee remains ready to further consider listing individuals in accordance with the designation criteria. Regarding the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, an utter disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights has led to an increase in violations and abuses against children in many conflicts around the world. This reality demands a strengthening of engagement both in the field and in dialogue with States. Sweden set out to make the Working Group more efficient and more field-oriented and it is now efficiently adopting country conclusions within a one to two-month timeframe and making one field visit per year. “We hope that we have left a solid base for the next Chair and other Security Council members to build on,” he said.
In relation to both Libya and Mali, he stressed the importance of targeting the actors that benefit from and feed conflict. The Council’s sanctions instrument must become more responsive in this regard. Chairs should enjoy greater trust and cooperation from all Council members and should be entrusted with a higher degree of independence, without being hamstrung or micromanaged in the discharge of their mandates. Sweden, together with other Member States, have developed a Best Practices Guide for chairs and delegations of subsidiary organs to assist incoming delegations, which will be published by the end of the year.