posted on Wed 2 Mar 2011 4:48 PM
Insights on the March Programme of Work

Council members met today to discuss March’s Programme of Work. This month China has the presidency and the Council could have around 12 days of scheduled meetings. The Chinese ambassador in briefing the press divided the Council’s work for March into three main categories: regional hotspots (Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia and a briefing by DPA on potential issues that could arise), regular briefings (Cyprus, Liberia, Afghanistan, Middle East, Sierra Leone and Lebanon) and reviewing the work of the Council sanctions bodies (Iran, Sudan and Somalia). There is also a footnotes section containing potential issues that may need to be put on the programme of work over the month such as non-proliferation, Haiti, Libya and Sudan.

Somalia will feature prominently on the Council’s agenda this month. China has decided to use its presidency to talk about a comprehensive strategy for peace and security in Somalia. It has in the past had a keen interest in the situation in Somalia and was the lead country on this issue in mid-2000. Somalia may also come up on the Council’s radar this month if Council members reach agreement on the Russian draft of a piracy resolution. A draft has been under discussion among the P5 and wider discussions are expected over the next few weeks. Having China and Russia lead on these two initiatives is an interesting development and may signal a willingness on the part of these two permanent members to play a more active role on some issues on the Council in the future.

Another item which is now appearing regularly on the Council’s programme of work is a briefing by DPA on emerging conflicts.

Council members will also be focusing on sanctions reports from three committees–Iran, Sudan and Somalia. Ambassador Nestor Osorio of Colombia will brief the Council on Iran and Sudan. The Office of Humanitarian Affairs is expected to brief the Council on the impact of the assets-freeze provision of the Somalia sanctions regime and the Council will make a decision on this provision ahead of its expiry on 18 March. Council members will also be briefed in consultations by the chair of the Somalia Sanctions Committee, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, on the work of the Committee.

Two resolutions are anticipated in March. A resolution extending the UN mission in Afghanistan’s mandate is expected on 22 March. The other resolution is likely to be a technical resolution on Liberia formalising the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Liberia’s military guard force from the Special Court of Sierra Leone’s premises in Freetown.

Most briefings currently on the Council’s agenda are related to previously scheduled reports from the Secretariat concerning the situation in Cyprus, and UN operations in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Lebanon.

Two additional consultations were scheduled today, on Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire. The peacekeeping head, Alain Le Roy, is expected to brief on Côte d’Ivoire.

The Council will have several briefings related to peacebuilding over the month. When the Council discusses the Secretary-General’s reports on Liberia and Sierra Leone, besides being briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives, there will also be briefings from the chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission’s configuration on Liberia and Sierra Leone. Peacebuilding will be discussed in more detail during the discussion on the Peacebuilding Commission’s annual report on 23 March.

The Council will review the Middle East as is its practice every month. This may give the Council an opportunity to discuss the outcome of the high-level Quartet meeting expected in mid-March.

The footnotes of the programme of work indicate possible issues that may arise over the month. The Council is keeping a close eye on developments in Libya and may need to consider further action if there is a deterioration in the situation. Sudan is also being closely watched for signs of instability, particularly leading up to the end of the mandate of the UN Mission in Sudan in April. Haiti may also come up during March if the Council chooses to react to the 20 March run-off presidential elections. Non-proliferation has been in the footnotes of the Council’s programme of work for several months with both Iran or DPRK in mind.