posted on FRI 17 OCT 2014 3:37 PM
Golan Heights Consultations: Options for UNDOF’s Mandate

On Monday (20 October), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet will brief Council members in consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). Monday’s briefing is a follow-up to a 19 September presidential statement that requested the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to update the Council on the steps necessary to maintain UNDOF’s ability to carry out its mandate while adjusting the mission’s posture to minimise risk to personnel (S/PRST/2014/19).

UNDOF was established in 1974 to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and has been uneventful for most of its operational life. However, since March 2012 the Syrian civil war has spilled over into the mission’s area of operation and clashes between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups have continually escalated. Developments reached a crisis point on 27 August when the Al-Nusra Front overran Syrian government forces at the Quneitra crossing, detained Fijian peacekeepers and besieged Filipino peacekeepers. While all of these peacekeepers are now safe, the crossing remains outside of Syrian government control and the extremely unstable operating environment led to UNDOF’s relocating 800 peacekeepers from the Bravo (Syrian) side to the Alpha (Israeli) side of the ceasefire line in mid-September. The Philippines subsequently withdrew its 331 peacekeepers.

Force Commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha (India) last briefed at the 9 October annual Security Council meeting with force commanders (S/PV.7275). Singha said the thrust of the mission’s activities was now on the ceasefire line, or Alpha (Israeli) side. He informed the Council that, in response to the 19 September presidential statement, DPKO had sent a high-level team to assess the mission. The DPKO team also consulted with Israel and Syria on feasible options to modify how UNDOF’s mandate could be fulfilled given the challenging security environment and the relocation of the majority of personnel to the Alpha side. Council members will be interested in hearing more about the substance of these discussions, in particular the views of both governments on the possible use of new technologies, such as unmanned, unarmed aerial vehicles or satellite imagery, to carry out monitoring tasks without exposing personnel to risk. Council members understand that preliminary indications are that both parties are reluctant to grant authorisation for the use of such new technologies.

Regarding risk mitigation, Council members will want to know how the safety of peacekeepers that remain positioned on the Syrian side of the ceasefire line will be guaranteed. Peacekeepers continue to be deployed at Mt. Hermon and one other position that is extremely close to the Alpha line. Mt. Hermon is strategically important for Israel, and if there were no UNDOF security presence there, Israel might feel compelled to man the position itself. Such a possible scenario would be an especially difficult challenge to the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement and so Council members will want assurances that UNDOF can effectively sustain its operations at Mt. Hermon.

UNDOF’s former headquarters, Camp Faouar, was one of the vacated positions. Singha has said the command is now being split between a smaller element in Damascus and the larger Camp Ziouani on the Alpha side. Council members will be interested to hear on Monday how liaison tasks between these two command centers will be carried out.

The Council has always generally agreed that UNDOF contributes to stability in the region in the absence of a peace agreement between Israel and Syria. Its utility is particularly high now to avoid further negative security implications for the region. In this regard, most Council members are keen to maintain good relationships with troop-contributing countries to ensure UNDOF’s ability to operate effectively.

Barring any further deleterious security developments, the Council will meet again to consider UNDOF when its mandate expires in December 2014.

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posted on WED 15 OCT 2014 4:41 PM
Security Council Elections 2014

Tomorrow morning (16 October), the General Assembly will hold elections to fill five of the ten non-permanent seats in the Security Council (for the 2015-2016 term).… Read more »

posted on TUE 14 OCT 2014 10:18 AM
Briefing and Consultations on Ebola

This afternoon (14 October), the Council will receive a briefing on Ebola followed by consultations. Briefers will be Anthony Banbury, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. The meeting, proposed by the US, is expected to focus on the security implications of the Ebola epidemic and its impact on the political and peacekeeping missions in the region.… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 8:09 PM
Resolution Renewing the Mandate of UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti

Tomorrow morning (14 October) the Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). At press time, the US, the penholder on Haiti, had put a draft resolution in blue authorising a further drawdown of MINUSTAH’s military strength as recommended by the Secretary-General in his latest report (S/2014/617) and extending the mission’s mandate for a further 12 months until 15 October 2015. However, with some Council members continuing to have reservations… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 3:57 PM
UN Interim Security Force for Abyei Mandate Renewal

Tomorrow morning (14 October), the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The draft resolution was circulated by the US, the penholder on UNISFA, to Council members last week, followed by one negotiating session on Thursday (9 October). It appears that negotiations were generally smooth. The draft was put under silence the following day (10 October), after which it went into blue.… Read more »

posted on MON 13 OCT 2014 12:02 PM
Consultations on Yemen

This afternoon (Monday, 13 October) Council members will be briefed in consultations by Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen Jamal Benomar. While the periodic consultations on Yemen, agreed to when the programme of work was adopted earlier this month, remain scheduled for 29 October, in light of the sharp deterioration in the security and political situation in Yemen, the UK, the lead country on Yemen in the Council, requested on Friday today’s briefing by Benomar. Also on Friday, the… Read more »

posted on WED 8 OCT 2014 6:03 PM
Public Briefing by UN Force Commanders

Tomorrow morning (9 October), the Council expects to discuss key cross-cutting operational issues in UN peacekeeping during a briefing by Military Advisor Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmed from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and force commanders Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), Major General Jean Bosco Kazura (Rwanda) of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha (India) of the UN Disengagement… Read more »

posted on TUE 7 OCT 2014 4:21 PM
Briefing and Consultations on the Security Situation and Political Process in Mali

Tomorrow (8 October), the Security Council will hold a briefing followed by consultations on the situation in Mali with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous speaking via video-teleconference from Mali. The meeting is expected to provide Council members with an opportunity to discuss the 22 September Secretary-General’s report on Mali (S/2014/692), particularly the implementation of the 18 June 2013 Ouagadougou preliminary agreement and the expansion of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in the north.… Read more »

posted on FRI 3 OCT 2014 12:32 PM
Syria: OPCW-UN Joint Mission Concludes, Work Remains

Tuesday (7 October), Sigrid Kaag, the former Special Coordinator of the recently concluded joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN, will brief Council members in consultations via video-teleconference. She will present the twelfth monthly report (S/2014/706) on the implementation of resolution 2118, which required the verification and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.… Read more »

posted on THU 2 OCT 2014 4:36 PM
Security Council’s October Programme of Work

Argentina assumes in October its second presidency during its two-year Council term. There will be three open debates in October: the quarterly open debate on the Middle East and the annual open debates on women, peace and security and working methods. The High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (by video-teleconference), the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and a civil society representative are the scheduled briefers for the debate on women, peace and security, with a presidential statement as… Read more »