posted on TUE 3 APR 2012 4:40 PMCouncil’s April Programme of Work
April has begun on a busy note for the Council. Yesterday (2 April), Council members were briefed by the Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, in consultations. This morning, Council members had consultations on the programme of work for April, followed by a briefing by DPA head, B. Lynn Pascoe, on the situation in Mali. Presidential statements on Mali and Syria are likely to be adopted as a result of the two briefings. This evening Council members at permanent representative level are involved in a retreat with the Secretary-General which ends tomorrow evening. (Please see our WIB story today on the Security Council Retreat for more details.)
Most of the programme of work for April appears to be routine briefings and mandate renewals. However, the US - as Council president for April - has chosen two issues to highlight. The first is an open debate on improving UN capacity to assist states in countering illicit flows. It seems the aim of this debate is to focus attention on the range of UN activities available to help states develop more effective customs and immigration systems. Either a presidential statement or a resolution is a possible outcome.
The second is a briefing by the Secretary-General on nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and security, which is likely to follow up on developments since resolution 1887 was adopted during the summit-level Council debate held in September 2009 during a previous US Council presidency. A presidential statement is a likely outcome following this briefing.
It seems the Council will continue to pay close attention to Sudan and South Sudan in April. The provisional programme of work includes a briefing in consultations on Abyei on 11 April by the Force Commander and Head of the UN Interim Mission in Abyei (UNISFA), Lt Gen. Tadesse Werede Tesfay. There will also be a briefing on the Joint UN/AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on 26 April by UN peacekeeping head, Hervé Ladsous, followed by consultations. Both these briefings have been scheduled as a result of regular Secretary-General’s reports. However, Council members are likely to want to follow the events along the Sudan-South Sudan border closely as well as keep an eye on the unresolved issues related to oil revenue-sharing, border demarcation and citizenship. Briefings and some sort of statement from the Council are possible on these subjects depending on how events unfold on the ground.
Although not formally on the programme of work, Syria is likely to occupy much of the Council’s time over the next week. It seems that there are likely to be expert level discussions starting this afternoon on a draft presidential statement supporting Annan’s initiatives in Syria and underscoring the importance of the Syrian government adhering to its commitments to halt military actions by 10 April and the opposition ceasing violence subsequently. It is possible that the presidential statement on Syria may be adopted before the end of the week. Syria is likely to continue to be a focus for the Council over April with a possible update from Annan likely to be scheduled after 10 April.
Besides its focus on Syria, the Council has several other issues on the Middle East on the programme of work. Iraq and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) will be given some attention during a briefing by the head of UNAMI, Martin Kobler, followed by consultations. In addition there will be the quarterly open debate on the Middle East where the focus is likely to be whether the Quartet has achieved sufficient impetus to break the stalemate in the Israel/Palestine peace process. (The debate is scheduled for 23 April and the next Quartet meeting is on 11 April in Washington DC.) Depending on progress in implementing Annan’s six-point plan, Syria might also be included in this debate.
The two mandate renewals expected this month are on the Cote d’Ivoire sanctions regime, along with its Panel of Experts, and the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Ahead of formal meetings to adopt these two mandate renewals Council members are scheduled to have consultations. During the MINURSO consultations Council members are likely to be briefed by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, on the Secretary-General’s latest report on MINURSO. Consultations on the Cote d’Ivoire sanctions regime are likely to be focused on the final report of the Panel of Experts and whether there is a need to modify the sanctions regime.
This month the Council will also hold elections (simultaneously with the General Assembly) for the vacant position on the International Court of Justice.
The Council will receive a briefing by the head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, and Ladsous on women, peace and security to be followed by consultations. Council members will also have consultations and a briefing by DPA on the recent by-elections in Myanmar.
One item that is not on the April programme of work is the monthly “horizon scanning” briefing by DPA. Since these briefings began in November 2010, the only other time it was not held was during the previous US Council presidency in December 2010.
The footnotes of the programme of work currently include non-proliferation (which could be either Iran or the DPRK), Syria, the PBC report, peace consolidation in West Africa, Libya and Security Council missions.