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SC/14734
13 December 2021
8928th Meeting (PM)

Briefing Security Council on Pandemic-Related Challenges, Outgoing Chairs of Subsidiary Bodies Stress In-Person Country Visits Still Key for Effective Sanctions’ Monitoring

Outgoing chairs of Security Council subsidiary bodies told the 15-member organ today that in-person visits to the countries concerned are critical for both gathering first-hand information about the effects of sanctions and correcting misunderstandings about the purpose of such measures, as they reported on the challenges that COVID-19 posed to their working methods over the last two years.

Over the course of the meeting, the chairs of 10 subsidiary bodies briefed the 15-member Council on the work of Committees and Working Groups concerning, inter alia, the situations in seven African and Middle Eastern countries.

Tarek Ladeb (Tunisia), Chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1373 (2001) and 2048 (2013) concerning, respectively, counter-terrorism and Guinea-Bissau, pointed out that the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) made 15 country-assessment visits over the past two years.  The 1373 Committee’s work, however, has been challenged by both COVID-19 and by the Organization’s austerity measures.  While good governance of United Nations resources must be a priority, this cannot come at the expense of the Council’s efficient, meaningful work.  Also reporting on the 2048 Committee’s working methods, he pointed out that the pandemic rendered visits to Guinea-Bissau impossible.  Such visits could have positively impacted the Committee’s work by allowing a direct assessment of the situation on the ground.

Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Questions and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014) concerning Yemen, detailed hybrid working methods over the past two years.  While a proposed visit to Yemen would have been an opportunity to raise awareness of the purpose and scope of relevant sanctions measures and to receive first-hand information on their implementation and impact, it did not occur due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Sven Jürgenson (Estonia), Chair of the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1518 (2003) and 1591 (2005) concerning, respectively, Iraq and Sudan, detailed cooperation between the 1518 Committee and the Permanent Mission of Iraq to reduce the number of listed entities by more than 80 per cent over the past two years.  On the 1591 Committee, he emphasized that building trust and cooperation between the body and Sudan was a matter of priority and suggested that his successor organize a Chair’s visit to that country.  Addressing misconceptions concerning United Nations sanctions, he stressed that sanctions target spoilers to peace and that such measures “serve to help the population”.

Abdou Abarry (Niger), Chair of the Committees established pursuant to resolutions 1533 (2004) and 2127 (2013) concerning, respectively, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, reported on his visits to both countries in October and November 2021.  Such visits are essential, as they provide Committees with first-hand information on sanctions; enable discussion with high-level Government representatives, civil society and the diplomatic community; and facilitate hearing local views on the impact of sanctions.  He stressed that targeted sanctions are important for stigmatizing those who threaten peace and security and noted that the consistent goal of his briefings with regional States has been to clarify that arms embargoes, freezing of assets and travel bans are intended to improve peace and security.

Hai Anh Pham (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan, pointed out that the Committee was the first subsidiary body to return to in-person meetings, and was able to conduct a visit to South Sudan in November 2021.  That visit took place during an important moment, as the Council prepares to review arms-embargo measures in May 2022.  Reporting on the Committee’s efforts to explore new ways to support South Sudan in achieving progress that enables the lifting of sanctions, he expressed hope that the Committee would make visits in the future, not only to that country but also to others in the region.

The meeting began at 2:58 p.m. and ended at 4:04 p.m.

Briefings

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), Chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, said that, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Working Group resumed its activities in 2020 given the importance of peacekeeping operations, which were hit hard by the pandemic.  On 21 December 2020, the Working Group held a virtual meeting on transitions and exit strategies for peacekeeping operations.  Discussions focused on ensuring that gains made during such operations were sustained and that a conducive environment for sustainable peace was created in conflict-affected countries through political settlement and civilian protection.

He further reported that, on 13 April 2021, the Committee met to consider the implementation of resolution 2518 (2020) on the safety and security of peacekeepers.  This issue is important given the risks sustained by peacekeepers in conflict zones, the rising number of casualties among such personnel and increasing terrorist attacks carried out against them.  All interventions at this meeting focused on the importance of complying with the highest safety and security standards, especially by providing the necessary training and equipment to ensure the safety and security of mission staff.

He went on to note that, on 2 October 2021, the Working Group met to discuss maximizing the positive impact of the United Nations Police.  Members were briefed on the Police’s achievements, including the facilitation of humanitarian aid, the deterrence of criminal activities and the prevention of human-rights violations.  Member States’ interventions focused on the importance of providing the United Nations Police with all necessary support in its daunting mission of preserving public order through patrols and community policing.

INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Chair of the Informal Working Group on Documentation and other Procedural Questions and Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2140 (2014), said that over the past two years, the Committee met eight times, remotely and in person, to receive briefings from the Panel of Experts following the submission of their respective midterm updates and final reports, and to consider their recommendations.  The Committee agreed on follow-up action on 11 of the recommendations emanating from the various reports by the Panel of Experts.

Under her chairpersonship, the Committee considered three communications invoking the exemption provision, for humanitarian or other purposes, as set out in resolution 2511 (2020).  The Committee also updated its guidelines to reflect resolutions 2511 (2020) and 2564 (2021).  The Committee added four individuals to the sanctions list.  This year, following a request for support made by the Panel of Experts, she proposed the possibility of a Chair’s visit to the region.  The visit would have been an opportunity to raise awareness of the purpose and scope of the sanctions’ measures concerning Yemen and for the Committee to receive first-hand information on their implementation and impact.  Noting that the visit did not take place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she encouraged the incoming Chair to consider taking up this initiative.

Turning to the Informal Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions, she said that the joint retreat was held in her country in January 2020.  The Group held 13 formal meetings and maintained its focus on implementation.  In July 2021, it adopted four presidential notes.  The first aimed at strengthening incoming members’ familiarity with the working methods of the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, the second underscored the role of those who coordinate the monthly activities of respective missions on the Council in securing implementation, the third recognized the important role played by the Council President in securing implementation, and the fourth declared the Council’s commitment to always prioritizing multilingualism.  She presented several other draft notes, including on penholdership and on the need to ensure the Council’s ability to function continuously in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, noting that consensus on them is still lacking.  However, there is appetite to engage on some of these issues, she added.

Mr. LADEB (Tunisia), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism, noted that terrorism continues to pose a grave threat to international peace and security.  He cited significant challenges in a broad range of areas, such as the adaptation of terrorist groups to counter-terrorism measures of Member States, the use of information and communications technology for terrorist purposes, and new methods for terrorism financing.  Noting that earlier in the year, under Tunisia’s presidency, the Counter-Terrorism Committee marked its twentieth anniversary, he said it held a special meeting on 4 November and adopted an outcome document that laid out new threats, trends, and challenges; the measures that need to be taken; and the way forward.

Highlighting recent progress, he said the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) made 15 country assessment visits over the past two years; developed two enhanced assessments; updated policy papers; and held 13 briefings and events on regional and thematic topics to address the interests and concerns of States in counter-terrorism.  He called on States to continue to place counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism high on the international peace and security agenda, particularly as COVID-19 poses additional threats and challenges.  To address evolving global terrorist threats, States must continue to adapt approaches and strengthen cooperation.   The Committee’s role as a key subsidiary body of the Council must be brought into full play in order to ensure effective implementation of the relevant Council resolutions.

Pointing out that the Committee’s work has not only been challenged by COVID-19, but also by the Organization’s austerity measures, he noted that the Committee has not been able to hold its meetings due to the lack of resources on multiple occasions.  While the good governance of United Nations resources must be a priority, it cannot come at the expense of the efficient, meaningful work of the Security Council, he said.  He called on States to identify effective ways and means to achieve deliverables and concrete results by facilitating the delivery of targeted technical assistance, and to enhance transparency in the Committee’s working methods and outreach.  Pointing out the need for a better dialogue between the Committee and visited States, including late or non-submitting States, he also called for greater access for non-Committee members and other actors, including academia and civil society organizations, and encouraged Member States to share their progress, experiences, and new challenges and needs.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the 1518 (2003) Committee concerning Iraq, and Chair of the 1591 (2005) Committee concerning Sudan, said the former Committee and the Permanent Mission of Iraq have continued efforts towards reducing the number of listed entities by more than 80 per cent over the course of the past two years, leaving only 13 remaining entities on the sanctions list.  In addition, the issue of recovering Iraqi financial assets abroad remained as relevant as earlier, he said, urging all countries where the remaining assets are located to cooperate with Iraq in recovering them.

Turning to the 1591 (2005) Committee, he pointed out that that the Chair has limited autonomy and freedom of action, given that the Committee reaches all its decisions by consensus.  In an effort to improve transparency and make the Committee’s engagement with the Council more meaningful, he provided more substantive 90-day briefings to the Council and made use of the Panel of Expert’s reporting.  To further enhance transparency, the midterm updates should be made available to all.  He went on to emphasize that building trust and cooperation between Sudan and the Sanctions Committee was a matter of priority.  In that context, he encouraged his successor to build a strong relationship with Sudan and suggested organizing a Chair’s visit to the country.

As cooperation and information-sharing between different subsidiary bodies and United Nations entities is crucial, he noted that he worked to enhance the contacts with other subsidiary bodies, as well as with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.  As for misconceptions about the United Nations sanctions, he observed that often a narrative is put forward that the sanctions are harming the host population, development and security.  In fact, the arms embargo helps to prevent the additional flow of arms into Darfur, he said.  Meanwhile, “targeted sanctions aim to sanction individuals, who are spoilers to peace.  The sanctions in place serve to help the population.”  He went on to urge Member States to respect the privileges and immunities of experts on mission.  In that regard, he called attention to the situation regarding the Ombudsperson for the 1267 (1999) Committee, stressing that the Council needs to strengthen the institution of that office.

Mr. LADEB (Tunisia), Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2048 (2012) concerning Guinea-Bissau, reported that presidential elections were held in that country on 24 November 2019 in a calm environment, confirmed by international observers.  During Tunisia’s chairmanship of the Committee, the Security Council held meetings concerning Guinea-Bissau on 14 February 2020 and 4 March 2020.  He pointed out, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Committee’s work, rendering visits to the country impossible.  Such visits could have positively impacted the Committee’s work by allowing a direct assessment of the situation on the ground.

On 12 October 2020, the Committee held an informal virtual meeting where members were briefed on progress achieved in ensuring stability and the return to constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau, he said.  Detailing Tunisia’s consistent position that the relevant sanctions regime should be adapted depending on the situation on the ground and on progress achieved in political reform and sustainable development, he expressed hope that the Council will take all measures necessary to lift such sanctions if appropriate based on these factors.

ABDOU ABARRY (Niger), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Chair of the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic, noted an intense work programme had been prepared for each body at the outset of his mandate.  Despite the challenges of the pandemic hindering implementation, the two Committees held fruitful exchanges with stakeholders.  The 1533 Committee was able to discuss armed groups and the arms embargo with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mine Action Service.  Work was also undertaken on the illicit exploitation of resources with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and other representatives.

The 2127 Committee held exchanges on the United Nations Panel of Experts and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on arms trafficking, he said.  The two Committees also held meetings — sometimes jointly — with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.  He encouraged both bodies to sanction individuals who violate human rights, including through sexual violence, in order to fight impunity.

In October and November 2021, he visited the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo, although logistical and public health challenges prevented planned visits to Rwanda and Uganda.  Expressing conviction that targeted sanctions are important in stigmatizing individuals and armed groups who threaten peace and security, he also said visits by the Chair are essential, providing Committees with first-hand information on sanctions, affording discussion with high-level Government representatives, civil society and the diplomatic community, and hearing national and local views on the impact of sanctions.  Noting a consistent lack of understanding of the nature and framework of sanctions in both cases, he said the goal of his briefings with regional States was to clarify misunderstandings, affirming that arms embargoes, freezing of assets and travel bans are intended to improve peace and security.  As more effort is needed to communicate goals clearly, he suggested United Nations Radio could be useful in dissemination.  Regional cooperation is also essential.

The work of United Nations Panels of Experts is essential in implementing sanctions, he said, as those actors are the eyes and ears of the Committees.  Welcoming approval by the 1533 Committee of proposed names for Panels of Experts after four months of deadlock, he expressed hope the 2127 Committee will reach similar agreement.  Addressing the arms embargo on the Central African Republic, he emphasized the Committee has always worked with those authorities to approve exemption requests, calling on them to redouble efforts to implement benchmarks.  After the international community voiced concern over backsliding on the peace agreement, on 10 December the Committee sanctioned the head of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, Ali Darassa, for his involvement in acts that threaten or hinder the stabilization and reconciliation process.  Noting the term “sanctions committee” is perhaps not appropriate, he suggested renaming them to move away from the current sense of constraint or punishment.

HAI ANH PHAM (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam and Chair of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan, said that despite the challenges related to the pandemic, the Committee held 11 meetings, passed 85 communications, granted 10 exemption requests and issued two press releases.  The 2206 Committee was the first subsidiary body of the Security Council to return to in-person meetings, doing so in June of this year.  In November, the Committee conducted a visit to South Sudan, its first visit in two years and since the Transitional Government was established in February 2020.  The visit took place during an important moment as the Council prepares for the review of the arms embargo measures in May 2022.

During his tenure, the Chair of the Committee has been committed to exploring new ways to support South Sudan in achieving progress to meet the conditions for the lifting of sanctions, while conducting the Committee’s work in a transparent, objective and responsible manner, he said.  Fostering cooperation between South Sudan, regional countries and the Committee, the Panel of Experts has been a high priority of the Chair.  Four of eleven meetings of the Committee involved the participation of South Sudan and regional States.

With support from all Committee members, all 10 exemption requests in the last two years were granted to support the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.  He expressed hope that the Committee will continue to support South Sudan and countries in the region in the implementation of relevant Council resolutions, provide assistance to South Sudanese authorities in their implementation and reporting of the key benchmarks, and help address any related challenges.  He also hoped the Committee would make visits in the future, not only to South Sudan but also to other countries in the region.

For information media. Not an official record.