posted on THU 17 APR 2014 5:20 PM
Security Council Retreat

The annual Security Council retreat with the Secretary-General will be held early next week—21 and 22 April—in Greentree, New York. The Secretary-General and senior staff of the UN Secretariat will meet with the Permanent Representatives of the 15 Council members. The annual retreat affords Council members a rare opportunity to engage in collective brainstorming on specific issues alongside the Secretariat.

The sessions are expected to cover a range of themes relevant to the Council’s current work, including crisis management in failed or fragile nascent states, responding to popular protests against democratically-elected leaders, and mission transitions.

During the first session, Council members are expected to explore the challenges and opportunities of managing crisis in failed or fragile nascent states. A particular focus may be on the activities of peacekeeping and special political missions, which lay the groundwork for long-term state building, consolidating peace and promoting development. Drawing on their experiences working on countries on the Council’s agenda such as the Central African Republic (CAR), Somalia or South Sudan, Council members may choose to explore the challenges of operating in such situations, including managing multiple priorities, dealing with an uncertain security environment, and maintaining impartiality in politically divisive environments.

The second session will look at another timely issue for the Council—responding to popular protests against democratically-elected leaders. The UN faces a number of challenges in providing good offices in these situations, including engaging with the new authorities while respecting the rule of law and democratic processes. Of relevance to the Council will be the role it may need to play in such situations where uprisings lead to violence, serious human rights violations or humanitarian crises.

In the past few years, some such uprisings, as in Egypt and in Ukraine, have been considered by the Council in various informal formats such as briefings in consultations and horizon-scanning sessions. At the retreat, members will have an opportunity to discuss how best to engage on such issues, in light of the fact that the UN has no formal framework for addressing unconstitutional changes of government. Likewise, members may want to explore how the Council can strengthen its preventative role, as there are often warning signs of large scale uprisings, including poor governance, human rights violations, persecution of minorities and lack of opportunities for youth.

The retreat’s third session is expected to deal with the issue of mission transitions. Council members may be interested in discussing lessons learned from various forms of recent mission transitions, such as the handover from a peacekeeping operation to peacebuilding support office (e.g. Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau); the transition of some tasks from a UN peacekeeping mission to a UN country team (e.g. Democratic Republic of the Congo); and the transfer from, or integration of, non-UN actors into to a UN operation (e.g. CAR and Mali). Council members may also wish to raise issues related to resource constraints, alignment of mandates and budgets as a mission draws down. An area of interest may also be how the Secretariat can provide better information to the Council during mission transitions.

The retreat is often seen as a useful opportunity for senior Secretariat staff and Council members to take a step back from day-to-day Council activity and reflect at a strategic level on key peace and security issues. No formal outcome is produced. Despite the potential for useful policy discussion, in the past it seems that the annual retreat has rarely led to clear changes in the Council’s dynamics or approach to issues. However, it allows both the Council and the Secretariat to think creatively about how they can collaborate more effectively to address important challenges.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

posted on THU 17 APR 2014 4:35 PM
Briefing on Homs, Syria

Later today, Council members are set to be briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco in consultations on the situation in Homs. It seems that France requested the briefing, expected to be held at 5:30 pm, following the intensified bombing of Homs. The focus will be on Homs specifically, rather than the larger humanitarian situation which will be covered during a briefing by Amos on 30 April following the second monthly… Read more »

posted on WED 16 APR 2014 8:35 PM
Briefing on Myanmar

Tomorrow morning (17 April), the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, will brief Council members during informal consultations under “any other business”. It appears that the UK requested a briefing on the situation in Myanmar as it has been almost exactly a year since this issue was discussed. (Nambiar last briefed Council members on 16 April 2013). Nambiar came back from a visit to Myanmar last week and is expected to provide a general update on the situation.… Read more »

posted on WED 16 APR 2014 4:23 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting with the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

Tomorrow afternoon (17 April), Australia, France and the US have convened an Arria formula meeting with the members of the commission of inquiry on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) established by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 21 March: Michael Kirby (chair, Australia), Sonja Biserko (Serbia) and Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), who also serves as the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. Kirby will brief on the findings and recommendations of the commission’s… Read more »

posted on WED 16 APR 2014 1:20 PM
Meeting on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine

This afternoon, the Council will hold a public meeting on the situation in Ukraine at the request of Lithuania. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović will brief on the human rights situation. Council members are likely to be interested in getting a first-hand account of the human rights situation from Šimonović, as he has spent more time in Ukraine since the start of the conflict than any other senior UN official.… Read more »

posted on TUE 15 APR 2014 4:44 PM
Prevention and Fight Against Genocide Briefing

Tomorrow (16 April), the Council will hold a briefing on “threats to international peace and security: prevention and fight against genocide”, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. The briefers will be Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and former Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the UN, Colin Keating, who served as Council president in April 1994 when the genocide started. A resolution, which was been put in blue today, is expected to be adopted during the meeting.… Read more »

posted on MON 14 APR 2014 5:19 PM
“Arria-formula” meeting on Detention in Syria and the “Caesar” Report

Tomorrow morning (15 April), Council members will convene for an “Arria-formula” meeting organised by France with a focus on detention of Syrians by the Syrian regime, human right violations committed during detention in Syria and justice for crimes committed in Syria. This meeting follows circulation by France of the “Report into the Credibility of Certain Evidence with regard to Torture and Execution of Persons Incarcerated by the Current Syrian Regime” (codenamed the “Caesar” Report) as a document of the Security… Read more »

posted on WED 9 APR 2014 5:04 PM
Resolution Establishing UN Peacekeeping Mission in CAR

Tomorrow (10 April), the Council is set to adopt a resolution establishing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 30 April 2015, largely in accordance with the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/142). The text was put in blue today. Among the new mission’s key tasks will be protection of civilians (including by disarming armed groups), supporting the implementation of the transitional political process and the restoration of state authority, facilitating humanitarian assistance, promoting… Read more »

posted on WED 9 APR 2014 5:00 PM
Consultations on UN Mission in South Sudan and Sudan-South Sudan

The Council is scheduled to hold consultations on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and on Sudan/South Sudan issues tomorrow morning. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous will brief on UNMISS, while Haile Menkerios, Head of the UN Office to the AU and Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to brief on Sudan-South Sudan. At press time, it was unclear if there would be an outcome. (An attempt at a press statement following the 12 March… Read more »

posted on MON 7 APR 2014 4:15 PM
Briefing by the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Tomorrow morning (8 April), High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay will brief Security Council members on the situations in the Central African Republic (CAR), Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Syria. Pillay last briefed the Council during a 12 February open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict and her last briefing on a country-specific issue was on 18 January 2013 when she briefed on Syria. (Her office, however, has briefed on South Sudan and Ukraine in 2014.)… Read more »