posted on THU 24 JUL 2014 3:44 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Tomorrow (25 July), Security Council members are set to meet with Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro and Karen AbuZayd of the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria in a closed Arria-formula format session arranged by the UK. It seems the meeting was organised to keep the Syria accountability track alive and a closed format was chosen to allow for a frank exchange of views. (Similar meetings with the Commission of Inquiry were organised by Australia in June 2013 and by then Council members Germany and Portugal in March and October 2012, respectively.)

Many Council members will be interested in more details about the Commisson of Inquiry’s work on Syria that has, over the course of three years, collated testimonies that indicate a massive number of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed. Their investigations have reinforced that the main causes of civilian casualties are due to deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate attacks, attacks on protected objects—such as schools, hospitals and mosques—and the punitive imposition of sieges and blockades. The scale of government violations continues to outpace that of the opposition with aerial bombardment by barrel bombs, targeting highly populated areas, systematic and widespread reports of deaths and torture in government detention centers and extra-judicial killings, sexual assaults, beatings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests becoming commonplace occurrences at government checkpoints. Indiscriminate attacks by armed opposition groups, including mortars, rockets and car bombs, are increasing. Meanwhile, the spread of dominant extremist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have brought the threat of regional and international instability into sharp relief.

Tomorrow’s meeting comes at a time of increasing pessimism regarding the Council’s ability to ever effectively address impunity for the atrocities committed in Syria following the 22 May joint veto cast by China and Russia that blocked the referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Commission of Inquiry has said that the ICC veto silenced the victims and empowered the perpetrators. Many Council members will likely emphasise the importance of the Commission’s work in collecting a body of evidence that can be used in the future even though there is no immediate path to a judicial mechanism.

Council members also expect Pinheiro and AbuZayd to raise many of the same points included in their 17 June update to the Human Rights Council, when they said the unprecedented level of violence in Syria threatened the entire region (A/HRC/26/CRP.2). Their update emphasised the need to find a negotiated political solution, insisted that accountability must be part of any future settlement and called on the Security Council to use the tools available to strengthen the mechanisms for implementing its resolutions, indirectly referencing Chapter VII, Article 41 measures such as targeted sanctions or an arms embargo.

Some members may be interested in picking up Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s 20 June call for an arms embargo and discussing the Commission’s findings that “influential states” have abandoned attempts for a political solution and continue to deliver mass shipments of arms to the government while others support armed opposition groups with weapons and financial support. While an arms embargo or targeted measures would enjoy support among many Council members, in practice it has been impossible to achieve. China and Russia have vetoed four draft resolutions on Syria and have effectively blocked the use of Chapter VII in any of the six adopted resolutions (resolutions 2042, 2043 and 2059 on the short-lived observer mission, resolution 2118 on chemical weapons and resolutions 2139 and 2165 on humanitarian access).

Tomorrow’s meeting seems to reflect a growing degree of comfort among Council members in interacting with Human Rights Council-mandated Commissions of Inquiry. The session tomorrow will mark the fourth time Council members are meeting with the Syria Commission. In April, Council members held a similar session with the Commission of Inquiry on the DPRK. It seems since then the issue of human rights has been consistently raised in the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Sanctions Committee and the Commission’s report was circulated as a Council document on 11 July (S/2014/501). Separately, the Council itself mandated the Secretary-General to establish a Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic and may consider its first report (S/2014/373) in August.

Establishing human rights focused interactions of this kind regarding the situations of the CAR, DPRK and Syria have been useful in transmitting information that might otherwise not be available to the Council. Perhaps this new dynamic will open up space for the new Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly focusing on Gaza following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, to interact with Security Council members in the future. This Commission was established yesterday through the adoption of a Human Rights Council resolution. (There were 29 votes in favour, one vote (from the US) against and 17 abstaining, including Council members France, the Republic of Korea and the UK (A/HRC/RES/S-21/1).)

posted on MON 21 JUL 2014 6:44 PM
Middle East Debate to Focus on Situation in Gaza

Tomorrow morning (22 July), the Security Council will hold its regular quarterly open debate on the situation in Israel/Palestine with Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry expected to brief. (Update: After this story was published, we learned that Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, who was on a trip to the Middle East, would brief by video teleconference.) The main focus of the debate will be on the continually escalating violence in Gaza as a result of the Israeli… Read more »

posted on MON 21 JUL 2014 2:18 PM
Vote on Draft Resolution Condemning Downing of MH17

The Draft Resolution This afternoon (21 July), the Security Council is scheduled to vote on a draft resolution condemning the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans are both expected to attend the meeting. (Australia, a non-permanent Council member, lost 37 of its citizens, and the Netherlands lost 193 citizens, the highest number from one nationality on the downed flight.) Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn was… Read more »

posted on FRI 18 JUL 2014 1:58 PM
Israel/Palestine: Political Affairs Chief to Brief following Israeli Ground Operation in Gaza

This afternoon at 3 pm(18 July), Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will brief the Security Council on the situation in Israel/Palestine. An urgent meeting was requested last night by Jordan, the Arab Group’s voice on the Council, in response to Israel’s announcement that it was initiating a ground operation into Gaza. It seems there were divergent views over the meeting’s format. Turkey, though not a Council member requested an open debate and was supported by Council members Argentina, China,… Read more »

posted on FRI 18 JUL 2014 7:14 AM
Ukraine Meeting Following Crash of Malaysia Airlines Plane

This morning the Council will meet in its chamber to be briefed by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, following yesterday’s Malaysia Airlines jet crash in the eastern Ukraine amidst continued fighting in south-east Ukraine. The UK, supported by Lithuania, requested an urgent meeting on the situation in Ukraine yesterday. A similar request came from Ukraine who also asked to participate in the meeting and is likely to be represented by its Ambassador, Yuri Sergeyev. At press time, it seemed… Read more »

posted on WED 16 JUL 2014 5:26 PM
Briefing and Consultations on Critical Security Situation in Libya

Tomorrow morning (17 July), the Security Council is scheduled to receive a public briefing by Tarek Mitri, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), via video teleconference, which will be followed by consultations. Even though resolution 2144 requests the Secretariat to brief on UNSMIL’s mandate every 90 days, during the last consultations on 9 June some Council members requested more frequent meetings, given the worsening security and political situation in Libya.… Read more »

posted on TUE 15 JUL 2014 2:51 PM
Sudan-South Sudan Consultations

Tomorrow morning (16 July), the Security Council is scheduled to hold its monthly consultations on Sudan-South Sudan. Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan Haile Menkerios (via videoconference) and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos are expected to brief.… Read more »

posted on MON 14 JUL 2014 4:38 PM
Briefing and Interactive Dialogue on the Peacebuilding Commission

Tomorrow morning (15 July), Vladimir Drobnjak (Croatia) and Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), the past and current chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), respectively, will brief the Security Council on the occasion of the presentation of the 2013 PBC annual report, which was adopted on 29 January (S/2014/67). In the afternoon, Council members will have an informal interactive dialogue with the country-configuration chairs and representatives of the PBC’s six agenda countries. No outcome from the briefing is expected.… Read more »

posted on SUN 13 JUL 2014 11:31 AM
Syria: Monday Vote on Draft Resolution on Cross-Border and Cross-Line Humanitarian Access

On Friday (11 July), the penholders on the humanitarian track on Syria—Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg—put a draft resolution on cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access in Syria in blue for a vote at 12 noon on Monday (14 July). The draft was finalised following five weeks of intense negotiations between the penholders with the P5, followed by a further two rounds on 7 and 10 July with the full Council, and a final meeting on 11 July to work out remaining… Read more »

posted on THU 10 JUL 2014 4:07 PM
Meetings on Central African Republic and Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committees

Tomorrow morning (11 July), the Security Council expects to discuss the work of the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee and the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee. The Council will receive the briefing on the CAR Sanctions Committee in a public session. In the consultations that follow, Council members will continue their deliberations on the CAR, while also receiving a briefing on the Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee.… Read more »