posted on THU 26 FEB 2015 6:36 PM
Briefing on Minsk Agreement Implementation in Ukraine

Tomorrow (27 February), the Security Council may hold a public meeting on Ukraine possibly followed by an informal interactive dialogue session. The Chief Monitor of the Special OSCE Monitoring Mission, Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan (Turkey), and the Chair of the OSCE’s Trilateral Contact Group, Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini (Switzerland), is expected to brief the Council by video teleconference. (The Trilateral Contact Group is made up of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE.)

The meeting seems to have been initiated by the P3 in order to get an update on the implementation of the Minsk Agreement. The Council seems to be generally supportive of the role of the OSCE in Ukraine and most Council members are likely to reiterate their support during the meeting. However, it seems there were some members, including Russia, who initially felt that in terms of timing and usefulness, it would be better to have this meeting at a later date. It seems they also advocated having an informal meeting, but this was met with resistance from members who preferred to have only the public session. At press time it was still unclear if there would be an informal interactive dialogue session following the briefing.

The Council last met on Ukraine on 17 February, when it unanimously adopted a Russian-drafted resolution endorsing the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements signed on 12 February by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. Just prior to the resolution’s adoption, Council members agreed on a press statement (SC/11784) reinforcing the role of the OSCE regarding the implementation of the commitments made in the Minsk Agreement and calling on all parties to facilitate access to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to verify compliance with the Minsk Agreement.

The two briefers are expected to focus on the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Agreement. The main provisions of this agreement include: immediate bilateral ceasefire (effective 15 February), withdrawal of heavy weapons (to be completed within 14 days after the ceasefire), prisoner exchange, withdrawal of all foreign armed groups, weapons and mercenaries, constitutional reform aimed at decentralisation of Ukraine, and restoration of the control of the Ukraine-Russia border to Ukraine by the end of 2015 (pending fulfillment of certain conditions regarding special status of Donetsk and Lugansk).

Apakan is likely to elaborate on two of the most immediate provisions mandated by the Agreement: the 15 February ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. As the SMM is tasked with the monitoring and verification of these two provisions, Council members are likely to be looking for more information from Apakan on the OSCE’s role in monitoring the implementation of the ceasefire and weapons withdrawal as well as the ability of the SMM to carry out its mandate.

One area that might be covered during the briefing is violations of the ceasefire. Soon after it was supposed to come into effect on 15 February, the ceasefire was violated with heavy fighting for the control of the town of Debaltseve. The Ukrainian army was forced to withdraw its forces and give up control of the town to pro-Russian rebels on 19 February. Sporadic fighting in eastern Ukraine has continued after 15 February, constantly jeopardising the ceasefire and threatening the collapse of the Minsk Agreement. However, there are signs that the ceasefire is now in place. The Ukrainian army reported today that it has not suffered any casualties in the past 48 hours and that it had begun the process of heavy weapons withdrawal. Rebels have also reported that their forces have also started heavy weapons withdrawal.

However, at press time, the OSCE had not been able to confirm the pull back of heavy weapons from the frontlines. In addition, the SMM has reported that its ability to carry out its mandate has been impaired by restricted access and security considerations. It seems that neither the Ukraine army nor the rebel forces have disclosed the locations of the designated sites for the weapons withdrawal or provided detailed plans about it to the SMM

On the diplomatic front, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine met in Paris on 24 February with the aim of following up on the implementation of the package of measures of the Minsk Agreement. After the meeting, they called for strict implementation of all provisions of the Agreement and called on all parties to ensure full access for OSCE monitors. The ministers also called on the Trilateral Contact Group to establish working groups to initiate the political process as stipulated by the Agreement. In addition, the ministers also asked for a reinforcement and extension of the SMM, which is set to expire on 20 March.

Though the ceasefire and withdrawal of weapons are immediate priorities, Council members are likely to be interested in getting more information from Tagliavini on the activities of the Trilateral Contact Group. The activities of the Group are likely to intensify as the process moves towards implementation of the political aspects of the Minsk Agreement, such as constitutional reform and elections in Donetsk and Lugansk.

posted on WED 25 FEB 2015 6:07 PM
Syria Humanitarian Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (26 February), Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang and High Commissioner for Refugees Ant÷nio Guterres will brief the Council on the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria and neighbouring countries.… Read more »

posted on WED 25 FEB 2015 5:14 PM
Adoption of Resolution on UN Interim Security Force for Abyei

Tomorrow (26 February), the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until 15 July 2015. The first draft was circulated to Council members on 18 February and after three rounds of negotiations and some additional bilateral exchanges between Russia and the US the draft was put under silence until 11:00 am today. Silence was not broken and the text is now in blue.… Read more »

posted on WED 25 FEB 2015 1:14 PM
Briefing on the Central African Republic under “Any Other Business”

Tomorrow (26 February), Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous will brief Council members on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) under “any other business”. The focus of the briefing will be the Secretary-General’s request to the Council to authorise a troop increase for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) contained in his 29 January letter to the Council president (S/2015/85). At present, it seems that Council members are generally in favour of… Read more »

posted on MON 23 FEB 2015 5:51 PM
Briefing by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office

Tomorrow morning (23 February), Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić will brief the Council in his capacity as Chairperson-in Office of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE briefing is held annually usually soon after the new OSCE chairperson assumes office. (In 2012, Switzerland and Serbia decided to jointly run for the chairmanship of the OSCE (2014 and 2015) in an effort to foster long term planning for the organisation.… Read more »

posted on MON 23 FEB 2015 4:10 PM
Adoption of Resolution Renewing Yemen Sanctions Regime

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, 24 February), the Security Council will adopt a resolution that extends the Yemen assets freeze and travel ban sanctions measures until 26 February 2016. The new resolution also extends the mandate of the Panel of Experts responsible for assisting the 2140 Yemen Sanctions Committee until 25 March 2016. Expert level negotiations were held on Wednesday 18 February. The UK circulated a revised draft the following day, and it was put in blue on Friday.… Read more »

posted on MON 23 FEB 2015 2:30 PM
South Sudan Briefing and Consultations

Tomorrow ( 24 February), the Council is expected to hold a briefing on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which will be followed by consultations. Briefers will include Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous and Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović, while Ambassador Francis Deng of South Sudan may make a statement in the public session. Ladsous will likely highlight the main findings of the Secretary-General’s recent UNMISS report (S/2015/118), while Šimonović will discuss his visit to South… Read more »

posted on SUN 22 FEB 2015 5:35 PM
Council Ministerial Open Debate on the UN Charter

On Monday (23 February), the Security Council will have a ministerial-level open debate on the UN Charter where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief and member states are expected to reflect on the history of the Charter and reaffirm their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter. China, as president of the Council this month, initiated the open debate to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN and to commemorate the end of World War II.… Read more »

posted on THU 19 FEB 2015 2:26 PM
Arria-Formula Meeting with the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Tomorrow morning (20 February), Security Council members are set to meet with the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria in a closed Arria-formula format session arranged by the UK. A closed format was chosen to allow for a frank exchange of views between Council members and the commissioners.… Read more »

posted on WED 18 FEB 2015 1:11 PM
Council to Adopt Presidential Statement on Burundi

Today (18 February), the Council is set to adopt a presidential statement on Burundi. The statement comes at a time of transition from the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) to the UN Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB). (In accordance with resolution 2137, the BNUB’s mandate ended on 31 December 2014 and MENUB was established on 1 January 2015.)… Read more »