posted on MON 24 NOV 2014 6:10 PM
Resolution and Briefing on Sanctions

Tomorrow, 25 November, the Council is scheduled to hold a briefing and vote on a draft resolution on sanctions. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock are the expected briefers. After four meetings at the expert level, bilateral discussions over the weekend between the penholder Australia and Russia, and the circulation of four drafts, the draft resolution was expected to be put into blue as of press time. A silence procedure was not utilised, apparently due to irreconcilable differences remaining among Council members on one or two points in the draft text. (After the story was published, a decision was made to postpone a vote on the resolution with the intention of continuing negotiations on the draft in an effort to achieve consensus at a future date.)

The draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to establish a Policy and Coordination Unit within the Security Council Affairs Division (SCAD) of the Department of Political Affairs. The purpose of the unit would be to identify best practices, manage the roster of experts and consolidated list of sanctioned individuals and entities, identify and mobilise experts within the UN system to assist with sanctions implementation and support efforts by the Council and subsidiary organs to provide guidance and technical assistance to member states on sanctions implementation.

During negotiations, the proposal was opposed by China and Russia, apparently due to concerns that the Secretariat could become a de facto policymaking body challenging the authority of the Council. In effect, according to this line of thinking, the unit could also side-step the consensus-based decision making of the sanctions committees, therefore potentially reducing the utility of one mechanism for individual committee members to block action. As a compromise, additional language was included requesting SCAD to consult regularly with the Council to ensure the unit’s activities are consistent with the goals of the Council. However, it is unclear whether this will be sufficient to satisfy the concerns of the two permanent members opposing the proposal.

The draft resolution also requests the Secretary-General to increase cooperation with relevant international, regional and inter-governmental organisations. These include Interpol, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the International Air Transport Authority, the World Customs Organisation and the Financial Action Task Force. In response to objections voiced by China and Russia, the request was modified to “in coordination with the Security Council and upon its request”, thus potentially reducing the Secretary-General’s latitude within a UN sanctions context in pursuing cooperation with other organisations. A proposal made by Russia to include an operative paragraph stating that regional and national sanctions contravene international law, inflict economic damage on member states, are counter-productive to conflict resolution and undermine international cooperation was rejected by the penholder (and presumably would have been opposed by three permanent members and numerous other elected members who also belong to regional organisations that authorise sanctions measures).

In order to improve implementation of sanctions, the draft resolution encourages Special Representatives of the Secretary-General to ensure that field missions understand their role in sanctions implementation and speak with one voice when dealing with the authorities of the host state. The draft resolution also calls upon peacekeeping and other field missions to share information with sanctions committees and expert groups, within their mandate, while preserving their confidentiality. At least one elected member opposed language in an earlier draft encouraging Special Representatives to engage with authorities of the host state on implementation of sanctions, apparently on the basis that this may compromise other roles, such as good offices and mediation, which require a degree of impartiality.

During the negotiations, there was discussion regarding the process for the appointment of members of the expert groups supporting sanctions committees. It seems Argentina proposed using the procedures currently in place for the 1540 committee on non-proliferation, whereby the Secretariat proposes a short-list of candidates and the committee takes an active role in selecting the Group of Experts. (In sanctions committees, the Secretariat proposes a specific slate of candidates which the committee can then approve prior to appointment by the Secretary-General.) The proposal for a more active role by sanctions committees in the selection of expert groups was supported by several elected members, but was then dropped due to opposition by the US. As a compromise, the text encourages the Secretariat to continue discussing the process with the Council.

In order to mitigate one of the current weaknesses in UN sanctions implementation - inadequate state institutional capacity, particularly in developing countries - the draft resolution includes provisions regarding technical assistance for member states. Upon the request of member states, it directs SCAD to assist member states and encourages further engagement with relevant UN offices, programmes and specialised agencies. The draft also encourages member states to communicate to SCAD problems associated with the implementation of UN sanctions. A proposal made by Jordan calling upon the international community to consider creating a special voluntary fund for technical assistance was also included.

The draft resolution includes several transparency-related provisions, particularly with respect to the sanctions committees: directing sanctions committees to maintain and publish a document consolidating all of the measures currently in force; calling upon sanctions committees to consult regularly with states to communicate expectations regarding cooperation, information sharing and implementation requirements; and encouraging sanctions committees to brief member states on their work and publish the text of these briefings on the committees’ website.

As a follow-up mechanism, the draft resolution requests the Secretary-General to present a report to the Council by 25 November 2015 and every two years thereafter. This report would cover implementation challenges reported by member states, discuss how the Council has addressed the coordination of sanctions regimes with other peace and security mechanisms, and provide recommendations for improving coordination within the UN system and support to member states. The bi-annual report by the Secretary-General was initially opposed by China during negotiations, but appears to have been retained within the text after considerable support was expressed by the elected members of the Council.

Tomorrow’s briefing, held at the initiative of Council president Australia, draws in part upon the High Level Review on UN Sanctions (HLR) initiative launched on 28 May. The HLR had five state sponsors - Australia, Finland, Germany, Greece and Sweden - and included the participation of representatives of the Secretariat, UN member states and civil society. Its initial findings were conveyed at a briefing for the Secretariat and member states organised by the permanent representatives of the five member states sponsoring the HLR on 31 October.

During tomorrow’s briefing, Feltman is likely to discuss the UN Interagency Working Group on Sanctions, which was created in response to the HLR and which he chairs. Stock may focus on Interpol’s assistance in the implementation of UN sanctions, particularly targeted travel bans. He could also highlight how sanctions can address emerging threats through enhanced cooperation among international organisations.

posted on MON 24 NOV 2014 4:53 PM
Resolution and Briefing on UN Mission in South Sudan

Tomorrow morning (25 November), the Security Council is scheduled to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for an additional six months. Following consultations on Syria tomorrow afternoon, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is expected to brief Council members on current developments in South Sudan and the related peace process under “Any Other Business”.… Read more »

posted on MON 24 NOV 2014 11:17 AM
Syria: Humanitarian Briefing

Tomorrow afternoon (25 November), Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos will present to the Council the Secretary-General’s latest report which identifies the trends in humanitarian access in Syria since resolution 2165 was adopted on 14 July (S/2014/840). The public briefing will be followed by consultations. The authorisation in resolution 2165 for cross-border and cross-line humanitarian access, including the monitoring mechanism, expires in early January 2015. It seems that Australia and Luxembourg, two leading Council members on the Syria humanitarian track,… Read more »

posted on SUN 23 NOV 2014 1:44 PM
Sudan Sanctions Committee Briefing

Tomorrow (24 November), the Security Council will hold a public briefing, followed by consultations, on the work of the 1591 Sudan Sanctions Committee. Ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval of Argentina, chair of the Committee, is expected to brief.… Read more »

posted on FRI 21 NOV 2014 2:44 PM
Semi-Annual briefing on the Work of the 1540 Committee

On Monday afternoon (24 November), the Council is scheduled to hear the semi-annual briefing by the chair of the 1540 Committee, Ambassador Oh Joon (Republic of Korea). This would normally have been done as part of a joint briefing with the chairs of the Council’s two other counter-terrorism-related committees, namely the 1267/1989 Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee and the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee, but since they participated in the Council’s 19 November counter-terrorism open debate, only Oh will be speaking on Monday.… Read more »

posted on FRI 21 NOV 2014 2:11 PM
Council Debate on Ebola

This afternoon (21 November), the Security Council will hold a debate on Ebola chaired by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Anthony Banbury, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ebola David Nabarro and the Head of the French Red Cross in Guinea, Thomas Mauget will brief (Banbury and Mauget will brief via video tele-conference). Representatives of affected countries, Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone, may also address… Read more »

posted on WED 19 NOV 2014 6:01 PM
Resolution on UN Policing, Inaugural Briefing by Police Commissioners and Interactive Dialogue on Review of Peace Operations

Tomorrow morning (20 November), at the initiative of Australia, the Security Council will receive a briefing by the heads of police components of three UN peace missions and vote on the first standalone resolution on UN policing. In the afternoon, Council members will hold an informal interactive dialogue with the chair of the recently appointed High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, José Ramos-Horta.… Read more »

posted on WED 19 NOV 2014 6:35 AM
Open Debate and Presidential Statement on Counter-Terrorism

This morning (19 November), the Security Council is scheduled to hold a high-level open debate focused on international cooperation in combating terrorism, including addressing the interrelated threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, violent extremism, Al-Qaida, and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop will preside. The briefers will be Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaité (Lithuania), the chair of the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC); and Ambassador Gary Quinlan (Australia), the chair of the Al-Qaida… Read more »

posted on MON 17 NOV 2014 3:21 PM
Briefing and Consultations on Guinea-Bissau

Tomorrow afternoon (18 November), the Security Council will be briefed on Guinea-Bissau by Miguel Trovoada, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS). (This will be Trovoada’s first briefing since assuming his position on 26 August.) The chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and of the PBC Guinea-Bissau country-specific configuration, Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota (Brazil), will also address the Council, as will Guinea-Bissau’s Prime Minister, Domingos Simões Pereira.… Read more »

posted on MON 17 NOV 2014 1:39 PM
Iraq: Briefings by Human Rights, Humanitarian and UN Mission Heads

Tomorrow morning (18 November), the Council will hold its regular quarterly briefing and consultations on Iraq. Since the surprise takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in June, the Council’s revived engagement on Iraq has been almost exclusively ISIS-related. The Council has reinforced its counter-terrorism framework and deliberations tomorrow will include a discussion of the efforts by Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition to counter the threat of ISIS. However, with the security response to… Read more »