posted on WED 20 AUG 2014 6:37 PM
Open Debate and Resolution on Conflict Prevention

Tomorrow (21 August), the Security Council will hold an open debate on conflict prevention, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay as briefers. A vote is expected on a draft resolution on conflict prevention during the debate. Following four meetings, the text was first put under silence procedure on Tuesday morning. Following silence being broken, it was once again put under silence on Tuesday afternoon and is now in blue.

On 5 August, the UK circulated a concept note for the event (S/2014/572). (For more background information and analysis, please also see SCR’s Monthly Forecast brief on conflict prevention.)

The draft resolution contains a number of core conflict prevention themes which are meant to reinforce the Council’s role in conflict prevention. First, there is recognition of the importance of early warning mechanisms and a commitment to taking preventive action. Second, there is a commitment to the settlement of conflict through peaceful means and an acknowledgement that Chapter VI has not been fully utilised thus far. Third, there is language regarding violations of human rights and humanitarian law as indicators of conflict onset and escalation as well as the role of certain actors in the UN system to raise awareness. Fourth, the significance of accountability as a preventative measure is emphasised, including through the work of ad hoc and mixed tribunals and the International Criminal Court. Fifth, efforts toward cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations on conflict prevention in accordance with Chapter VIII are highlighted, including the need to pursue these initiatives further at a working level.

During negotiations on the draft resolution, there were a few issues requiring lengthy discussion among Council members, mainly due to the objections of one permanent member. It appears that this member had an overall issue with what it saw as language that could be interpreted as an expansion of the Secretary-General’s mandate in conflict prevention. A specific issue was related to references to Article 99 of the Charter within the context of conflict prevention. It seems that the idea that Article 99 gave the Secretary-General a conflict prevention role in relation to the Council was questioned. (While the draft that went into blue retains references to Article 99, the specific linkage to the Secretary-General’s role in conflict prevention was weakened.) Apparently the same member expressed some skepticism regarding what specifically constitutes an “early warning” of conflict, such as violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Another critical point in negotiations concerned the request for a report by the Secretary-General, which most Council members supported and has been retained in the draft.

During the negotiation process, there were a number of additions made to the draft resolution, primarily at the request of various elected members, including content on: the importance of civil society in conflict prevention, the role of peacebuilding and the Peacebuilding Commission in particular, counter-terrorism as a complement to conflict prevention, sanctions as a preventative measure, cooperation with regional organisations, references to the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, affirmation of the responsibility to protect, and the role of women in conflict prevention.

Calls for the Council to more appropriately and in a more timely manner address conflict prevention have been in the offing for decades. Addressing the Council on 25 September 1985, as part of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the UN, then- Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali stated that as “crises have frequently been brought before the Council too late for preventive action, it would seem to follow that the Council might well establish a procedure to keep the world under continuing survey in order to detect nascent causes of tension. In this same context, there would seem to be substantial benefit to be derived from an agreed procedure for fact-finding which could be easily and quickly implemented where instances of potential conflict are detected.” Yet little has changed, with some early warning mechanisms such as the “horizon-scanning briefings” waning due to excessive concern by the Secretariat regarding potential political sensitivities within the Council. In addition, Council members have also been rather hesitant to use “any other business” to discuss issues of concern not on the agenda.

The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council on actions taken to strengthen and promote conflict prevention within the UN system, including through cooperation with regional and sub-regional organisations. The report is due by 31 August 2015, thus providing an opportunity for the Council to take up the subject once again in a year. What is less clear is whether this resolution will be able to improve the Council’s poor performance on conflict prevention. While reiterating many of the fundamental tenets related to conflict resolution, it seems unlikely that the resolution will change the standard operating procedures of the Council in this area. Instead what may be needed is a critical reappraisal of the Council’s approach to conflict prevention, possibly by an independent body which could be appointed to review the Council’s conflict prevention practice and offer policy recommendations.

posted on TUE 19 AUG 2014 12:59 PM
Briefing on the Council Visiting Mission to Europe and Africa

This afternoon, the Security Council is expected to hold a public briefing on its 8-14 August visiting mission to Europe and Africa. One of the co-leaders of each leg of the trip will brief -Australia on Belgium, Chile on the Netherlands, the US on South Sudan and the UK on Somalia. Interventions from other Council members are not anticipated. The briefings are expected to provide a factual overview of the meetings held and other interactions during the mission. Some key… Read more »

posted on MON 18 AUG 2014 5:58 PM
Briefing on the Protection of Humanitarian Workers

Tomorrow morning (19 August), the Security Council will hold a briefing on the protection of humanitarian workers in armed conflict to mark World Humanitarian Day, which honours the efforts of aid workers. World Humanitarian Day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 19 August 2003 bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, in which 22 people were killed. Briefings will be provided by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, ICRC President Peter Maurer, and Masood Karokhail,… Read more »

posted on MON 18 AUG 2014 5:45 PM
Briefing on Preparations for Deployment of the Mission in the Central African Republic

Tomorrow (19 August), Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Babacar Gaye will brief the Security Council on preparations for the deployment of MINUSCA, due to take place on 15 September, and on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/562). Morocco will also brief as the chair of the Central African Republic (CAR) Peacebuilding Commission. The briefing will be followed by consultations and no outcome had been discussed at press time.… Read more »

posted on FRI 15 AUG 2014 3:59 PM
Briefing on Middle East Peace Process

On Monday (18 August), Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry will brief Security Council members on Israel-Palestine during the regular monthly briefing on the situation in the Middle East. Consultations will follow, during which members may also discuss other developments in the region.… Read more »

posted on THU 14 AUG 2014 6:35 PM
Adoption of a Resolution on Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and Al-Nusra Front

Tomorrow afternoon (15 August), the Security Council is set to adopt a resolution listing six individuals affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front on the Al-Qaida sanctions regime in an attempt to cut off funding to these groups. The draft resolution was circulated by the UK late last week and the Council seems ready to put it to a vote after holding two rounds of negotiations. At the request of Russia, silence procedure… Read more »

posted on THU 14 AUG 2014 4:48 PM
Dispatches from the Field: Security Council Concludes Visiting Mission to Horn of Africa

Mogadishu and Nairobi - (13 August) Last night Council members ended their visiting mission to Europe and Africa. During the trip, Council members visited five countries in five days and met with three presidents and two prime ministers; several other high-level government officials; presidents and other officials of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court and international criminal tribunals; representatives of the UN, the AU and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD); internally displaced persons; and a number of… Read more »

posted on WED 13 AUG 2014 9:47 AM
Dispatches from the Field: Council Meetings in South Sudan

Juba and Malakal— Yesterday (12 August), Council members traveled to South Sudan, where they had a full schedule of activities. The day included briefings from senior UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) officials, meetings with President Salva Kiir and the cabinet, a tour of the UNMISS Protection of Civilians Site in Malakal that included a meeting with internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the camp, a meeting with civil society representatives and a videoconference discussion with rebel leader Riek Machar, head… Read more »

posted on MON 11 AUG 2014 5:41 PM
Dispatches from the Field: Security Council Meetings in The Hague

The Hague - On Monday (11 August), Council members focused on justice and accountability issues as they engaged with representatives of the various international legal institutions headquartered in The Hague. They also received an update on the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is also located in this city.… Read more »

posted on SUN 10 AUG 2014 6:46 PM
Dispatches from the Field: Belgium and Lessons from World War I

Day 1: Dinant, Leuven, Ypres The Security Council’s visiting mission to Europe and Africa began in Belgium yesterday (9 August) with activities in Belgium related to the centennial of the start of World War I in August 1914. The three towns visited yesterday—Dinant, Leuven and Ypres - all suffered greatly during the war. Throughout the day, the themes of conflict prevention, reconciliation and protection of civilians were emphasised, as Council members reflected on lessons learned from World War I in… Read more »