United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
1. Middle East engulfed by ‘perfect storm’ – one that threatens international peace, warns UN envoy
20 April 2017 – Reporting on the dire situation across the Middle East region, marked by the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, fractured societies, proliferation of non-State actors and unbelievable human suffering, a United Nations envoy today reiterated the need for a surge in diplomacy for peace to ease the suffering of innocent civilians.
“Let us not forget that behind the images of savagery [there] are the millions [struggling] every day not only for their own survival but for the true humane essence of their cultures and societies,” Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council today.
“Today, a perfect storm has engulfed the Middle East, and continues to threaten international peace and security,” he added, noting that divisions within the region have opened the doors to foreign intervention and manipulation, breeding instability and sectarian strife.
In his briefing, Mr. Mladenov noted that developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict continued to resonate across the region and that the question of Palestine remained a “potent symbol” and “rallying cry,” one that is easily misappropriated and exploited by extremist groups.
“Ending the occupation and realizing a two-state solution will not solve all the region’s problems, but as long as the conflict persists, it will continue to feed them,” he said.
The UN envoy also informed the 15-member Security Council of sporadic violence that continued to claim lives and reported on Israel’s approval of the establishment of new settlements and declaration of “State land” in the occupied Palestinian territory. On the Palestinian side, he noted multiple worrying developments that are “further cementing” the Gaza-West Bank divide and dangerously increasing the risk of escalation.
Turning to the wider region, Mr. Mladenov briefed Council members on the ongoing crisis in Syria that continues to be a “massive burden” for other countries and called on the international community to do more to stand in solidarity with Syria’s neighbours. He also underlined the need for a political solution to the conflict, now into its seventh year.
Further in his briefing, the UN Special Coordinator spoke of the situation in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen as well as of social exclusion and marginalisation that tend to provide fertile ground for the rise of violent extremism.
“Unity across ethnic and religious lines, reconciliation and a fair sharing of resources help heal wounds and isolate extremists,” he underscored.
Recalling Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a “surge in diplomacy for peace”, Mr. Mladenov urged UN Member States, especially through a united Security Council, to assume the leading role in resolving the crisis.
“Multilateral approaches and cooperation are necessary to address interlinked conflicts, cross-border humanitarian impacts and violent extremism,” he said.
2. Political momentum must be renewed if Libya’s challenges are to be addressed – UN envoy
19 April 2017 – It is more important than ever to forge unity within Libya, the United Nations envoy for the country told the Security Council today, while he called on Libyan stakeholders to regain the optimism generated by the 2015 Political Agreement, which has faded and is being replaced by “frustration and disappointment.”
In his briefing to the Council, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, said that the majority of Libyans and the international community continued to strongly support the political agreement and its institutions and recognized the Presidency Council as the sole national executive authority.
“Both Libyans and the international community support the Agreement. Yes, it can be amended. But no, there is no alternative, there is no ‘plan B.’ And there is no need for one,” he said, underscoring: “If the parties do not uphold their responsibility in the Libyan Political Agreement, there is no reason to think that they will have any greater commitment to an alternative agreement.”
Turning to the many other signs of positive developments in the country, including recent developments in the fight against terrorism and the improvement of the security situation in Tripoli, Mr. Kobler said that on the economic front, Libyan wages are on the rise and oil production has increased.
Despite progress, uncertainty contributing to ‘dangerous political power vacuum’
But the optimism generated by the signing of the Agreement has diminished, reported Mr. Kobler, emphasizing that instead of the “sharp horizon” established by the Agreement he now sees instead “frustration, disappointment, sometimes anger, and often it is justified.” He cited rising criminality, which remains widespread throughout the country, the division of institutions and the lack of guarantee of public services for the population.
The country's gross domestic product (GDP), he added, has been steadily declining since 2012, not to mention the persistence of the parallel economy and illegal activities.
Mr. Kobler regretted that the current political vacuum is hampering efforts to create a united security force, to the point where some actors are considering a return to a military solution. “Competition for the control of national resources risks generating new violence,” he said, adding: The results of these divisions are setting Libya on a worrying path. Public services, including access to electricity, health, education, water, are failing many.”
Against this backdrop, he said the time has come to return to the negotiating table and “regain the spirit of Skhirat,” referring to the seaside Moroccan town where the deal was reached. For this, he said, the country needs a strong international support, not only from an institutional point of view. He thus defended the creation of partnerships with Libyan society.
Seven steps to peace
With all this in mind, Mr. Kobler called on all political actors to agree on a fair and inclusive process to amend the political agreement. Secondly, he called for an immediate end to violence, including in the south of the country, as well as establishing unified security and confidence-building measures. In this regard, he said, the Committee responsible for supervising the ceasefire in Tripoli is an excellent starting point.
He went on to call for improving cooperation between the Presidency Council and all the economic players. The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which he heads up, should help them to do so, he said.
Finally, the Special Representative called on the international community, including the UN, regional organizations and neighbouring States, not only to react after the fact but to anticipate the Libyan problems.
3. Peacekeepers in South Sudan working to strengthen protection of civilians – UN chief
19 April 2017 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has done “significant work” to more effectively protect civilians and respond in case of a crisis, Secretary-General António Guterres has said in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council.
The letter summarizes the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the independent special investigation into the violence in Juba in July 2016 and the actions of the UN Mission, known as UNMISS.
“Significant work has been undertaken over the last five months to enhance the ability of UNMISS to protect civilians, better plan and prepare its response to crisis situations and increase staff safety and security,” the Secretary-General wrote in the letter to Ambassador Nikki Haley, the Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, in her capacity as President of the Security Council for April.
In particular, Mr. Guterres noted the establishment of a weapons-free zone around the Protection of Civilians (POC) sites and UN House in Juba, which he said “has contributed to a significant drop in reported crime and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence.”
In addition, UNMISS peacekeepers are conducting dismounted patrols within the area throughout the day and night, as well as cordon-and-search operations within the POC sites to disrupt arms trafficking.
The observations in the letter are based on an independent follow-up mission last month led by Major General (retired) Patrick Cammaert. He was looking into how the UN handled its response to fighting that occurred between 8 and 12 July 2016 between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). Hundreds of people were killed and more than 200 raped during that time period.
Among other observations, the letter noted a “positive change” in the operations and posture of military and police components as a result of corrective actions taken by UNMISS as well as troop and police contributing countries.
The Departments of UN Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have also made “important changes” in more thoroughly training and monitoring performance of peacekeepers.
Mr. Guterres noted that “while much has been achieved, more needs to be done to raise and sustain the performance bar,” including through ongoing reviews and revise strategies.
O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"IN GOD WE TRUST"