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1 October 2020

Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for October

The Security Council will hold several signature debates in October — including one to mark the twentieth anniversary of its landmark resolution 1325 (2000), and another to exchange views on the situation in the Persian Gulf — its President for the month said during a Headquarters press briefing today.

Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation) briefed correspondents — gathered both in person and virtually — on the 15-member Council’s programme of work, saying that, among other topics, members will take up developments in Haiti, Colombia, Yemen and Lebanon.  The Council will also consider the work of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); the situation in Africa’s Great Lakes region; and the issue of chemical weapons in Syria.  A resolution is also being drafted for adoption, on 2 October, to extend the maritime inspection regime off the coast of Libya, he added.

Given r0ecent political developments unfolding in Mali, a meeting planned for 8 October on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) promises to be informative, he said.  On 27 October, members will hear briefings on Syria’s humanitarian and political tracks in a joint format, unless events on the ground necessitate their separation into distinct meetings.

Meanwhile, an open debate is planned on 29 October to mark the twentieth anniversary of resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, he said.  Briefers will include Secretary-General António Guterres, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), a female peacekeeper and a representative of civil society, he added, noting that a “short, non-controversial” draft resolution is envisaged to mark the occasion.

He went on to note that members plan to return to in-person meetings in the Security Council Chamber for the first time in nearly seventh months, as delegates and United Nations staff began working remotely amid the outbreak of COVID-19.  Stressing that all necessary safety precautions will be upheld in the meeting venue, he said the Council will continue to hold larger, high-level debates virtually in order to keep participants safe.

Responding to questions, including several related to the recent outbreak of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, he recalled that the Council drafted a set of press elements on the issue earlier this week.  They included a strong statement of concern and calls for an immediate ceasefire, he said, noting with regret that it seems “we are not there yet”.  He cautioned against internationalizing the conflict.

Reminded about the General Assembly’s various resolutions calling for Armenia to completely and unconditionally withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, the Council President replied that “there are no easy solutions” in the midst of a conflict with heavy loss of life and escalating rhetoric on both sides.  What is needed first and foremost is a ceasefire, he stressed.

Asked about the purpose of the planned debate on the Persian Gulf, he said the idea is to facilitate a frank and open discussion “without pointing fingers or exposing anyone”, in order to help alleviate tensions.  For example, he added, many people often forget that Iran — often described as a malign actor — has its own security concerns, as does every State in the region.

Questioned about divergence among Council members on Syria’s chemical weapons, he agreed that opinions differ regarding the value of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the authenticity of its reports.  Discussions have long been held behind closed doors, he said.

Asked about a Harvard University doctor who has expressed interest in briefing the Council on the humanitarian consequences of sanctions for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he recalled that he has long called upon the Chair of the sanctions committee to convene such a meeting, but it is unclear whether the doctor will be able to brief Council members.

When asked why the Council is not planning to hold a formal meeting on Libya in October, despite fast-moving developments on the ground, he said international efforts are under way to move the parties towards negotiations.

To a similar question about rapidly changing developments in Iraq — including the possible withdrawal of United States forces — he said that decision is for the Government of Iraq as “masters of their own country”.

For the full programme of work, please see www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.

For information media. Not an official record.