Letter dated 26 July 2004 from the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
I have the honour to transmit, enclosed herewith, the assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Bulgaria in December 2003 (see annex). This assessment has been prepared on my own authority and has been consulted with the other members of the Security Council.
I should be grateful if you would circulate it as a document of the Security Council.
(Signed) Stefan Tafrov
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Bulgaria
to the United Nations
Annex to the letter dated 26 July 2004 from the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
Assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of Bulgaria (December 2003)
Under the presidency of Bulgaria during the month of December 2003 the Security Council had a full and intensive programme of work and considered a wide range of issues on its agenda.
In total the Council met on 13 occasions in open meetings, and held 2 private meetings and 11 consultations of the whole. During the month of December the Security Council adopted three resolutions (on the situation in Somalia, the situation in Liberia and the situation in the Middle East) and six presidential statements, and the President was authorized on eight occasions to make statements to the press on behalf of Council members.
The Council held an open meeting presided over by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Solomon Passy, during which the Council considered the situation in Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro.
The Council also decided to extend for a period of one year the mandates of its Ad Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa, the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and the informal Working Group on general issues relating to sanctions.
On 12 December the Security Council held the regular monthly open briefing on the situation in the Middle East. In his briefing, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, Terje Roed-Larsen, pointed out that recent months had been characterized by relative quiet on the ground, offering a narrow window of opportunity to put the peace process back on track. As factors playing a positive role in this direction he mentioned the establishment of the new Palestinian Government led by Prime Minister Qurei, who had expressed strong willingness to resume talks with Israeli authorities, and the expressed desire on behalf of Prime Minister Sharon to meet with his counterpart; the efforts by Egypt to achieve a ceasefire; the adoption of resolution 1515 (2003) through which the Council de facto endorsed the road map; civil society initiatives such as the Geneva Accord and the People’s Voice Initiative. However the current situation remained fragile. In order to start the process each party had to recognize the core concerns of the other side, which could roughly be defined as territory and terror. Both parties and the international community should address them in parallel, not sequentially or with preconditions.
In informal consultations following the briefing the Council members expressed in principle agreement with the assessment of the situation and urged the parties to continue to seek solution to the situation on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
On 22 December, with the unanimous adoption of resolution 1520 (2003), the Security Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) for a further six months, until 30 June 2004.
In an accompanying presidential statement the President of the Council declared that the Council’s view had been reflected in the statement of the Secretary-General contained in his latest report on UNDOF (S/2003/1148) in which he stated that “… the situation in the Middle East is very tense and is likely to remain so unless and until a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Middle East problem can be reached”.
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
On 9 December the Security Council held an open debate on protection of civilians in armed conflict. Introducing the theme the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland, said that the recent deliberate attacks against humanitarian personnel dramatically reduced access to civilians in armed conflict and the humanitarian space required to render support. Access and protection were therefore a priority task for the international community. Security of humanitarian workers; the special protection needs of children in armed conflict; disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and resettlement; sexual violence in armed conflict; justice and reconciliation; and special protection and assistance needs of the displaced were identified as other challenges deserving a priority attention.
The Under-Secretary-General also presented an updated version of the aide-memoire on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the original of which had been adopted by the Council in March 2002, as well as the road map which Council members had called for as a tool to clarify responsibilities, enhance cooperation, facilitate implementation and further strengthen coordination within the United Nations system.
He also outlined 10 action points that built on the areas in the road map that enjoyed consensus support of the Council. The action plan included, apart from the above-mentioned challenges, the need to address the impact of small arms and light weapons on the protection of civilians, and to develop further measures to promote the responsibility of armed groups and non-State actors to protect civilians and to respect international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
The majority of the speakers who participated in the meeting echoed the views of the Under-Secretary-General and welcomed the updated aide-memoire.
In a presidential statement adopted by the Council on 15 December the members reaffirmed their concern at the suffering inflicted upon, and hardships borne by, civilians during armed conflict. They reaffirmed the need for parties to armed conflict to take all possible measures to ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of United Nations and associated personnel in accordance with applicable international law.
The Council also adopted, as an annex to the presidential statement, the updated aide-memoire and reiterated its importance as a practical tool that provided a basis for improved analysis and diagnosis of key protection issues during deliberations on peacekeeping mandates.