Humanitarian issues and the Middle East are priority topics on the Security Council’s programme of work for July, with the 15-member organ intent on conducting all its meetings in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, its President for the month told a Headquarters press conference today.
Nicolas de Rivière (France) said the Council will discuss the protection of humanitarian space -— under its agenda item on protection of civilians in armed conflict — on 16 July. The meeting will be chaired by France’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, with the Secretary-General also participating.
“It is not 1945 anymore,” the Permanent Representative said, adding that, for his country, humanitarian issues are issues of international peace and security — an idea that was not mainstream when the Organization was founded 75 years ago. Up for debate will be good practices regarding humanitarian assistance, the protection of humanitarian and medical workers, and what can be done to help those in need, he said.
The Council is facing a 10 July deadline for the renewal of the cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid into Syria, as set out in resolution 2165 (2014). “We will be dealing with that very much on the margins,” he said, emphasizing that negotiations among Council members are likely to continue up to the last days, if not the last minute.
In addition to an open debate on the Middle East on 28 July, the Council will tackle the situation in Libya on 15 July at a meeting that will also be chaired by Mr. Le Drian. It is expected to take decisions on the implementation and monitoring of the ceasefire agreed in October 2020, the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, and elections to be held on 24 December 2021.
The Permanent Representative hailed the resumption of in-person meetings in the Council Chamber, which have made a gradual comeback since May when China and Estonia held the rotating presidency. “It is indispensable that we really put the Council back to work,” he said. “Not that we were not working during COVID, but we can function more effectively in person.” [Since mid-May 2020, the Council met almost exclusively via video conference.]
Addressing situations in other countries on its agenda, the Council will hear a briefing on Colombia on 13 July. Briefings will also be held on the following United Nations operations: United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS); and United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
The Council will discuss the drawdown of African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) during a briefing on 27 July. It is also scheduled to take action on draft resolutions on the Middle East on 8 July and on the United Nations Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) in Yemen on 14 July. In addition, it will consider draft resolutions on 29 July pertaining to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and to sanctions imposed on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Responding to questions from correspondents, the Permanent Representative said that he is confident that a public Council meeting on Tigray will be held on 2 July, though it has yet to be confirmed. Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States have pushed for such a meeting, supported by Estonia and France, he said, adding that Ethiopia’s representative should be present, as well. Any outcome will likely have the Council appeal for better humanitarian access and progress on human rights. Briefers would include representatives of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. On the situation in the Middle East, including the question of Palestine, he welcomed the fact that all 15 Council members are on the same page in supporting a two-State solution. Hopefully, the Council will push for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestine, he said, adding that he is pleased to see the new Administration in Washington, D.C., accepting a role for the Council, which was not obvious in the beginning.
On the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, the subject of a Council meeting on 30 June, he said that the question is not who — Iran or the United States — is responsible for what or who should make the first move to put the agreement back on track. Rather, a package of compliance and sanctions‑relief measures needs to be agreed, which would then be implemented simultaneously. Hopefully, differences can be resolved in the weeks to come because the longer it takes, the harder it will be to do just that.
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.