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Reports and Policy Documents

2017

  • 24 Mar 2017

    Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief on this important topic.

    I would like to start by expressing my sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London and my deep sympathy to the people and Government of the United Kingdom

    We needed no reminder of the horror of terrorism. But the London attack -- like those in Kabul, Baghdad, Maiduguri and so many other places recently– must move us to strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation in line with international human rights and humanitarian law standards

     

    Mr. President,

    Today, terrorists, particularly in armed conflict situations, are destroying lives but also visiting their horrific violence on historical sites and objects. Indeed, the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage and the trafficking in items of great artistic, religious or cultural significance target individuals and communities on cultural and religious grounds. The protection of heritage, then, is not only a cultural issue; it is also a security and humanitarian imperative.

     Terrorist groups like ISIL exploit cultural sites to finance their activities while strengthening their linkages with transnational organized crime. And they destroy and traffic cultural heritage to undermine the power of culture as a bridge between generations, people of different backgrounds and religions.

    Today’s resolution aims to strengthen international cooperation to deprive terrorists of funding, but also to protect cultural heritage as a symbol of understanding and respect for all religions, beliefs and civilizations.

    Awareness of the essential importance of the protection of cultural heritage is not new, but it has grown considerably over the past several years. Creating MINUSMA’s mandate in 2013 through Resolution 2199, the Security Council established the link between the illicit trafficking of cultural objects and the financing of terrorism. Resolution 2322 (2016) urged States to bolster cooperation to prevent and combat trafficking in cultural property and related offences that benefit or may benefit terrorist groups.

    Meanwhile, during the fifth review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the General Assembly expressed concern in resolution 70/291 that terrorists may benefit from transnational organized crime in some regions, including from the trafficking of cultural property, and condemned the destruction of cultural heritage by terrorist groups. 

    In resolution 68/127, the General Assembly deplored “attacks on religious places and shrines and cultural sites in violation of international law, in particular human rights and humanitarian law”.   

    And there is already a strong international legal and normative framework to address these crimes. This is based on the United Nations Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and Corruption; the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism; and the International Guidelines for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses with Respect to Trafficking in Cultural Property and Other Related Offences.

     

    Mr. President,

    Protecting cultural heritage requires us to make every effort to implement this international legal and normative framework and strengthen international cooperation.

    It also demands a global criminal justice response that can prevent trafficking in cultural property by disrupting organized criminal and terrorist networks, including through anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering action, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

    We need to put a stronger focus on investigation, cross-border cooperation and exchange of information, and on bringing in private and public sector partners, including dealers and the tourism sector, to promote supply chain integrity and stop the illicit trade and sale of cultural property.   

    The United Nations system, particularly through the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) entities, is increasingly supporting Member States efforts to address these threats through advocacy and capacity-building assistance. 

    For example, UNESCO and UNODC are already working together, along with INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, and other partners, to assist Member States in protecting cultural heritage and countering the trafficking in cultural property.

    As CTITF Chairman, and in light of this debate and the resolution that was adopted today, I will encourage the CTITF Inter-Agency Working Group on Countering the Financing of Terrorism to develop new projects to help Member States protect their cultural heritage. 

     

    Mr. President,

    The United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, have demonstrated their determination to further integrate the protection of cultural heritage in their counter-terrorism work.

    With the support of United Nations entities, Member States are strengthening their legal frameworks and criminal justice systems, and enhancing their collaboration to prevent and respond to terrorists’ attacks against their cultural heritage. I believe we can, and must, do even more.

    This resolution provides a good basis to do just that. The United Nations stands ready to do its part.

    Thank you, Mr. President. 

  • 21 Mar 2017

    On 21 March 2017, the Office of the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions (UNRGID) organized and chaired the 44th meeting of the Gali joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM). The meeting took place in a constructive and business-like atmosphere. With the aim to solve existing problems, the participants have discussed in details all agenda points in good faith.

     

    In addition to the19 May 2016 murder case, which has remained on the agenda, the participants extensively discussed the recent closure of the two pedestrian crossing points at the line of control. In this regard, the participants have exchanged information on reasons for the decision to close the crossing points and several measures taken to minimize the impact.  Nevertheless, the concern was expressed about the implications on the daily lives of the local population, as well as security on the ground.  The Chair has once again appealed to the participants to look into the issue from the humanitarian point of view in order to avoid any negative impact on the local residents. Furthermore, one recent case of detention involving three women was addressed.

    The participants also discussed several alleged attempts of trafficking radioactive materials in previous years and agreed to exchange available information for the purpose of investigating the cases.

    The participants have agreed to hold the 45th IPRM meeting on 25 April 2017.

  • 15 Mar 2017

    This UN DPA guidance seeks to inform mediators and their teams, as well as conflict parties, about the principles and strategies for the effective inclusion of women, as well as a gendered perspective, in mediation processes. The guidance addresses mediation preparation, process design, and substantive issues including security arrangements, participation, constitutions, language and the implementation of peace agreements through a gender lens.

     

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  • 22 Feb 2017

    On 22 February 2017, the 43rd meeting of the Gali joint Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place under the chairmanship of the United Nations.  The atmosphere during the discussions was positive and businesslike.

    The participants followed up on some issues discussed at the previous meetings, including the May 2016 murder case; as well as health and safety conditions of a long-term prisoner. In particular, they exchanged views on the validity of previously presented investigation documents and discussed provision of necessary material evidence to the court in order to move forward the resolution of the murder case. In this context, the Chair encouraged the participants to take pragmatic steps in order to overcome existing impediments.

    The participants also continued discussions on the announced closure of two crossing points at the line of control, focusing on the possible implications for the movement of the local population. Information on the already implemented measures to facilitate the movement of the population was shared by the respective participants. The Chair and other participants appealed to look into the issue from the humanitarian perspective in order to minimize any negative impact in this respect.

    The participants agreed to hold the 44th IPRM meeting on 21 March 2017.

  • 16 Feb 2017

    Mr. President, members of the Security Council, 

    On the night of 8 February, ISIS and its affiliates in the Sinai launched a series of rockets towards the Israeli coastal resort of Eilat. Thankfully, no one was killed or injured in the attack. I unequivocally condemn this act as well as those who inspired, implemented and celebrated it.

    I recall this incident because it is a chilling reminder of the need for states to work together and stand firm against terror.

    The Middle East continues to be plagued by extremism, bloodshed and displacement that feeds intolerance, violence, and religious radicalism far beyond the region.

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sadly, is not immune from these sweeping regional threats. Although leaders on both sides agree on the need to continue Israeli-Palestinian security coordination, there is increasing anger in the street and radical views are hijacking the discourse as moderate voices are increasingly vilified and cast aside.

    It is critical that we all understand that we must never allow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to drift into the abyss of the extremism and radicalism sweeping the region. Palestinians, Israelis and the international community have a duty to act responsibly, avoid escalating tensions, refrain from unilateral actions and work together to uphold peace. 

    Sadly, today unilateral actions are returning the parties to a high-stakes collision course.

     

    Mr. President,

    In 6 February, the Israeli Parliament adopted the so-called “Regularisation Law” which enables the use of privately owned Palestinian land for Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank without the owners’ consent. The law has the potential to retroactively “regularise” – under Israeli law – thousands of existing settlement units built on land owned by Palestinian individuals living under occupation, as well as dozens of illegal outposts. Its passage marks a significant shift in Israel's position concerning the legal status of the West Bank and the applicability of Israeli law therein. It contravenes international law and according to the Israeli Attorney General it is also unconstitutional. It is expected that the Supreme Court of Israel will rule on its constitutionality soon.

    If the law stays in place, it will have far-reaching consequences for Israel, while seriously undermining prospects for the two-state solution and for Arab-Israeli peace.

    This period also saw Government statements announcing significant settlement expansion, which were quickly followed by action. Within a three-week period, the Israeli authorities promoted some 4,000 housing units in Area C, including tenders for around 800 units, advancement of around 3,000 units and approval of plans for an additional 230 units. These numbers are all the more worrying if compared to the whole of 2016, when 42 units were tendered and some 3,000 were advanced in Area C. Settlements were also advanced in East Jerusalem during the reporting period, with the issuance of building permits for over 900 units.

    Settlement activities are illegal under international law, as stated by the Middle East Quartet, they are one of the main obstacles to peace. All core issues, Mr. President, should be resolved between the parties through direct negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and mutual agreements.

     

    Mr. President,

    I continue to be concerned by the daily violence. So-called “lone wolf” attacks against Israeli civilians, though greatly reduced as compared to 2016, continue. On February 9th, in the market of Petah Tikva in central Israel, an 18-year-old Palestinian from Nablus shot and stabbed six Israelis, who were injured in the attack.

    In the West Bank, three Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli security forces in recent weeks, two allegedly attempting attacks on Israeli soldiers, while a teenager was killed during clashes with Israeli security forces. I once again call for the calibrated use of force and stress that live fire should be used only as a last resort, in situations of imminent threat of death or serious injury, with any resulting death or injury properly investigated by the authorities.

    The trend of demolishing Palestinian-owned structures continues. Some 57 structures have been torn down, displacing 108 people. Last year saw over 1,000 demolitions, the largest annual number of demolitions on record, nearly double the figure for 2015. I once again take this opportunity to urge Israel to cease this destructive practice.

     

    Mr. President,

    I welcome the Palestinian decision to hold the postponed local elections on May 13th, however I also take note of Hamas’ rejection of that decision. Let me urge all factions to work together in good faith to uphold democracy and to overcome the internal divisions that are undermining Palestinian national institutions and the legitimate aspirations for statehood.

    Local elections, if held simultaneously in both Gaza and the West Bank, and conducted in line with international standards, can contribute to advancing reconciliation. Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single, legitimate and democratic Palestinian authority on the basis of the PLO principles and the rule of law, in accordance with existing agreements. 

    In Gaza, we have consistently warned that the situation is not sustainable and that another escalation is likely, unless the pressing needs of the population are more systematically addressed.

    I also note that Hamas in Gaza has elected a new leadership. It is for this leadership to ensure that Gaza remains calm and avoid the risk of spiraling into another conflict. Rocket attacks, tunnel construction and smuggling only heighten that risk. 

    After over three months of relative calm, the launching of a rocket from Gaza towards Israel on February 5th – which landed without injury –reminds us all of the risk of further destabilizing an already combustible environment.  In this environment all sides should exercise maximum restraint.

    The volatile situation in Gaza continues to be exacerbated by the persistence of a major humanitarian and development challenges, related in large part to the crippling closures of the Strip and the continuing political divide. This winter has borne witness to a serious electricity crisis which in December left Palestinians in Gaza with only two hours of electricity per day. Tens of thousands of people came out in the streets in mass protests, many — including journalists, were detained. The crisis was temporarily resolved with a generous contribution of US$ 12 million from the State of Qatar.

    As we speak, the United Nations is working actively with the Palestinian Authority, all stakeholders and key donors, on a roadmap to ensure that Gaza’s massive electricity problems are addressed in a sustainable manner.

     

    Mr. President,

    Briefly turning to Lebanon, the reactivation of state institutions has continued. The President and Prime Minister have expressed their confidence that an electoral law will be agreed with the aim of holding timely elections.

    On February 11th, in an interview, President Aoun stated “[…] the need to maintain Hizbullah’s weapons”. The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon is in discussion with authorities on their continued commitment to relevant Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions1701 and 1559, which clearly call for the disbanding and disarmament of all non-state armed groups.

    Relative calm continued in the UNIFIL area of operations and along the Blue Line, with the exception of some ground and air violations. On 19 January, UNIFIL deployed on both sides of the Blue Line to mitigate tensions including weapons pointing between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Lebanese Armed Forces in the context of the placement of a soil barrier near El Adeisse by Lebanese municipal workers, in violation of the Blue Line. 

    Meanwhile in the UNDOF area of operations the ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic is holding, albeit in a volatile security environment on the Bravo side. On February 8th, the IDF carried out a strike on the Syrian side of the Golan in response to a spillover fire incident involving a tank shell that landed in an open area in Israeli-occupied Golan. Spillover from Syria continues to heighten the risk of further escalation between the two sides.

    Both sides however have stated their continued commitment to the Disengagement of Forces Agreement. Conditions permitting, the full return of UNDOF to the area of separation remains a priority.

     

    Mr. President,

    Returning to the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, recent developments should be of concern to all.

    Some may hold the illusion that the conflict can be “managed” indefinitely. That the absence of a clear strategy to advance peace is a strategy in itself.

    The Middle East Quartet Report and Security Council resolutions have clearly outlined what is needed to advance a sustainable and just peace. The two-state solution remains the only way to achieve the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples. Israel can take the necessary step to stop settlement expansion and construction in order to preserve this prospect, while the Palestinian leadership can demonstrate their commitment to tackling the challenges of violence and incitement on their side. This will create an environment that will facilitate bilateral final status negotiations that the international community can support.

    As Palestinians and Israelis face another period of uncertainty and concern for what lies ahead, I urge leaders on both sides to carefully contemplate the future they envision for their people.

    Will it be a future built on perpetual conflict, rising extremism and occupation? 

    Or will it be a future built on mutual respect and an appreciation for the unimaginable wealth of opportunities that would come with peace?

    The answer seems obvious but, as history has painfully demonstrated, the path to peace is riddled with hazards. The United Nations remains resolute in its commitment to help Palestinians and Israelis strive to overcome these challenges.

    Thank you.

  • 8 Feb 2017

    I am delighted to be with you to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Children and Armed Conflict mandate and I thank the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Peter Thomson, for convening this event.

    The mandate was an important call for us all to consider that how we treat children will affect future prospects for peace. In the Department of Political Affairs, we engage in preventive diplomacy, and work in partnership with national and regional partners to address the root causes of tensions and violent conflict. Through our experience, we have learned that how a society treats young people can be at the same time an indicator for how that society will be able to sustain peace.

    Looking back 20 years, to the time when the mandate was enacted, a fundamental shift in the nature of conflict was already underway: from interstate armed conflict to conflict within States.

    And indeed, the proliferation of non-state actors, the rise of violent extremism, regionalisation of conflicts and protracted unresolved conflicts together create a picture that is much more complex than we could have imagined.

    Many of these complex conflicts which the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict focusses on also see engagement by the Department of Political Affairs. This includes the UN Special Political Missions or Envoys, who work in the most dangerous and difficult situations we face together. And they are the places where children continue to be at the highest risk.

    I am therefore deeply aware of the importance of the visits that the SRSG makes to the countries, and of the work of her office. Her reports highlight the challenges we face. They help to influence parties to conflict and to bring international attention to where it is most needed.

    Yet even with the strength, commitment and expertise of this engagement, the news can be grim.

    The most recent report of the SRSG finds that violations against children are tragically on the rise.

    In Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, child casualties persist or have increased, and attacks on civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals continue. Elsewhere children are abducted or humanitarian access is denied.

    Even in these most difficult settings, however, SRSG Zerrougui and her team have had some crucial successes. The Afghan government has taken significant steps to end child recruitment in its security forces, including extending the police child protection units to 21 of the 34 provinces. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi has reiterated publicly that it is illegal to pay a military salary to anyone under 18. Monitoring and dialogue continues in the occupied Palestinian territory. And Action Plans have been developed in other places where conflicts are ongoing. Several of our Special Political Missions, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, have child protection advisers who work directly with mission leaders to negotiate with parties, ensure that children are protected and that the monitoring and reporting mechanisms are implemented.

    This is not enough, however. We must work to put an end to the use of military strategies that depend on violations of humanitarian law and we must support sustainable and inclusive peace processes that lead to meaningful political solutions.

    The Department of Political Affairs has also worked with SRSG Zerrougui and other partners to include provisions in ceasefire agreements and peace agreements that address the concerns around the involvement of children in armed conflict and on engagement with non-state armed groups. We welcome the development of the “Checklist for drafting children and armed conflict provisions in ceasefire and peace agreements” that was developed with UN and other partners and is a useful tool for mediators.

    DPA also commends the strong engagement of the SRSG and her office in the Colombian peace process. This has contributed to important commitments by the parties, which we hope to see implemented, to the early release of children from the FARC-EP and to the establishment of a special reintegration program tailored to their needs.

    20 years ago we had not envisaged the rise of violent extremism and the situation of children in conflicts involving terrorist groups. Increasingly, violent extremist groups are abducting children and are using children to perpetuate suicide attacks or as decoys, crimes that are, for example, committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria. We emphasise now more and more that any counter-terrorism effort must incorporate appropriate responses in its treatment of children.

    Finally and fundamentally, as Graça Machel so poignantly argued 20 years ago, the best way to protect children from armed conflict is to prevent the outbreak of armed conflict in the first place.

    We continue to believe in that goal. DPA’s central priority is conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

    The new Secretary-General’s vision intently focuses on integrating the work of the three UN pillars, peace and security, development, and human rights, to “sustain peace”. It is through working together, in a truly integrated approach, that sustaining peace and sustainable development will, together, deliver a better future for children.

    The plight of children affected by armed conflict, and the dedication Ms. Zerrougui and her office have shown, inspire us. We must continue to strive, and strive harder, in our efforts to protect children and to prevent and resolve violent conflicts. In DPA, we remain committed to and proud of our strong partnership with the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict and we congratulate you on the twentieth anniversary of your mandate.

    Thank you.

  • 7 Feb 2017

    Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the fourth “Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat.”

    This report was prepared with the input of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, and in close collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), and other relevant United Nations actors and international organizations.       

     

    Mr. President,

    The report stresses that ISIL is on the defensive militarily in several regions. But although its income and the territory under its control are shrinking, ISIL still appears to have sufficient funds to continue fighting. The group relies  mainly on income from extortion and hydrocarbon exploitation, , even though resources from the latter are on the decline. Member States are concerned that ISIL will try to expand other sources of income, such as kidnapping for ransom, and increase its reliance on donations.

    ISIL is adapting in several ways to military pressure – resorting to increasingly covert communication and recruitment methods, including by using the ‘dark web’, encryption and messengers. Moreover, it has expanded its area of attacks to countries neighbouring Iraq and Syria, while continuing to encourage followers farther afield to perpetrate attacks. Meanwhile, foreign terrorist fighters leaving Iraq and Syria augment the threat of terrorism in their countries of origin.

     

    Mr. President,

    The previous reports to the Security Council on ISIL’s global threat, have focused on South East Asia, Yemen and East Africa, Libya and Afghanistan. This, fourth, report focuses on Europe, North Africa and West Africa:

    1. Since declaring in 2014 its intent to attack Europe, ISIL has conducted a range of attacks in that region. Some of these attacks were directed and facilitated by ISIL personnel, while others were enabled by ISIL providing guidance or assistance or were inspired through its propaganda. 
    2. While the military offensive in Libya has dislodged ISIL from its stronghold Sirte, the group’s threat to Libya and neighbouring countries persists. Its fighters – estimated to range from several hundred to 3,000 – have moved to other parts of the country.
    3. ISIL has increased its presence in West Africa and the Maghreb, though the group does not control significant amounts of territory in the region. The reported loyalty pledge to ISIL by a splinter faction of Al-Mourabitoun led by Lehbib Ould Ali may elevate the level of the threat.
    4. ISIL-affiliate Boko Haram is attempting to spread its influence and commit terrorist acts beyond Nigeria, and remains a serious threat, with several thousand fighters at its disposal. It is, however, plagued by financial difficulties and an internal power struggle, and has split in two factions.

    The fourth report also notes some of the measures taken by Member States through the Security Council and the General Assembly since the last report.

    On international cooperation and information sharing, the report highlights Security Council resolution 2322 (2016), which calls upon Member States to consider establishing laws and mechanisms to allow for the broadest possible international cooperation in the judicial and law enforcement spheres. The report also notes the General Assembly consensus resolution of 21 November aimed at further enhancing and strengthening collaboration between the INTERPOL and the UN. INTERPOL reports that information sharing between Member States has since increased.

    The report also mentions Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), which recognizes the connection between human trafficking, sexual violence and terrorism and other transnational organized criminal activities, calling upon Member States to prosecute and penalize perpetrators. Some States, with help from UNODC, have instituted special procedures to screen for trafficking victims among refugees and asylum seekers.

    The report highlights some of the actions Member States have taken in Europe, the Mahgreb and West Africa to counter ISIL Regarding Europe, for example, it stresses the improvements in States’ information sharing and cooperation on addressing terrorist attacks and on curtailing the travel and transit of foreign terrorist fighters. Although more work needs to be done, including on the use of Advance Passenger Information systems, the report notes that substantial progress has been made to counter the financing of terrorism despite continuing challenges.

    The report also notes efforts by the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to prevent and counter violent extremism, including projects to bring together information on radicalization and intervention and raise awareness about the phenomenon.

    Regarding the Maghreb and West Africa, the report notes that States are pooling resources regionally to combat terrorism, while improving the sharing of information on FTFs. It also highlights that some States – with UN support – are developing and implementing counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism strategies. Some West African States are taking action on countering the financing of terrorism, including through legislation, though the report notes that few terrorist financing cases have been prosecuted.

    During the reporting period, a number of United Nations entities have taken further steps to support the efforts of Member States to counter the threat of ISIL. For instance:

    • The CTITF Office and CTED are currently reviewing the Security Council mandated “All-of-UN” Capacity Building Implementation Plan to Stem the Flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in order to adjust it to the changing phenomenon. The 37 project proposals address the entire life-cycle of the FTF phenomenon, including radicalization, travel, financing, return, and rehabilitation and reintegration should they return. The Plan is currently 23 per cent funded.
    • UNCCT provides capacity-building assistance to Member States through a number of projects at the global, regional and national level. At the global level progress was made on the Border Security Initiative, the development of the Border Security and Management programme, and the Advance Passenger Information (API) project, while at the regional level UNCCT continued to provide assistance on the development of strategies to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism. The centre also continued its efforts to improve the capacity of Member States in East and West Africa to address kidnapping for ransom, which is a potential source of funds for ISIL affiliated groups. At the regional and national levels, the Integrated Assistance for Counter Terrorism (I-ACT) initiative aims to develop a coherent and coordinated capacity building programme to counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism.  During the reporting period, much progress was made in the implementation of the I-ACT, both in Mali, with the support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, and regionally, in the preparation of an I-ACT for the G5 Sahel, as mandated by Security Council Presidential Statement 2015/24 on Peace and Security in Africa. The UNCCT has also continued its preparation for a project to enhance aviation security in Nigeria.
    • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons. UNODC also continued to provide assistance to Member States in the MENA region aiming to strengthen law-enforcement capacity at international airports, as part of its Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP).
    • UNODC and CTED collaborated to provide technical assistance to Member States on strengthening judicial cooperation on foreign terrorist fighters and have held technical consultations with Nigeria on the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of persons associated with terrorist organizations.
    • The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) implemented projects in the Maghreb on preventing and managing violent extremism, including in prison settings. 

     

    Mr. President,

    The need to develop sustained, coordinated responses to the grave threat posed by ISIL and associated groups and entities is beyond question. There are 19 universal counter-terrorism conventions and protocols, as well as related regional instruments on international terrorism, and relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. But we need to do more, as Member States continue to face significant challenges to ensure effective international cooperation.

    Improving our response is critical to address the growth of transnational terrorism as ISIL expands its area of attacks and foreign terrorist fighters leave Syria and Iraq. Even though many foreign terrorist fighters stay behind in the conflict zone, those returning or leaving the conflict could pose a grave risk to the country of origin or to the countries they are travelling to or transiting through, such as Iraq and Syria’s neighbours as well as countries in the Maghreb.

    The Secretary-General has warned that terrorism exacerbates conflicts, and that it takes little to trigger a crisis that can engulf a country, or a region, with global consequences. He has urged Member States to step up efforts to resolve conflicts, including those that are responsible for the dramatic increase in global terrorism.

    As we consider what more we can do to check and roll back ISIL, we must also step up efforts to prevent and resolve the violent conflicts that both drive and are made worse by terrorism. These are mutually reinforcing pursuits. Ultimately, it is the spread and consolidation of peace, security, development and human rights that will most effectively deprive terrorism of the oxygen it needs to survive.

    Thank you, Mr. President. 

  • 2 Feb 2017

    Mr. President,

    Distinguished members of the Council,

    The conflict in Ukraine will soon enter its fourth year. Since the Department of Political Affairs last briefed the Council on the situation in eastern Ukraine on 28 April 2016, fighting has continued unabated, with only short periods of respite.

    Almost 10,000 people have been killed (Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and members of armed groups), and over 23,000 injured since the beginning of the conflict, according to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). Over 2,000 of those killed were civilians.

    Since 7 January this year, and in particular over the last few days, we have seen a dangerous intensification of the conflict. On 1 February, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported over 10,000 explosions in the Donetsk region over 24 hours, the highest number of violations yet recorded by the Mission. While the most serious clashes in the last few days have predominantly hit the Avdiivka – Yasynuvata– Donetsk airport area, heavy fighting has also been reported near Mariupol, Popasna and the Svitlodarsk/Debaltseve areas, both in government-controlled and non-government controlled territory. The entire length of the Contact Line has seen a serious escalation of hostilities, and there is still a risk of further deterioration of the situation.  The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has also registered frequent use of heavy weapons proscribed by the Minsk Agreements, such as multiple-launch-rocket systems, including in the areas designated for disengagement as per the 21 September 2016 Agreement on Disengagement of Forces and Hardware. There are reports of civilian casualties, including at least four deaths since the escalation on 28 January, and heavy losses among the combatants on both sides. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission also recorded damage to civilian houses and a school in populated areas of Avdiivka, which raises serious concerns about possible violations of international humanitarian law by all sides.

    There are now reports of clashes that are directly endangering civilian crossing points, residential areas and critical civilian infrastructure, such as water purification plants and delivery systems, power lines and heating supply lines. Ensuring the urgent disengagement of forces at all checkpoints across the contact line would greatly improve the security of the population in conflict affected areas, where more than 20.000 people cross the contact line daily. Hundreds of thousands of civilians on both sides of the contact line are still at risk of losing all access to water, heating and electricity, bringing the spectre of further displacements closer. This is particularly worrying, given the frigid winter temperatures in the region at present.

    There are also real threats of serious environmental disasters should major chemical waste storage locations in the area be shelled. As of yesterday, thousands of inhabitants in Avdiivka, including children, were reportedly at risk of being evacuated. Combatants must stop the shelling in cities such as Avdiivka, on both sides of the contact line, and allow for the restoration of basic services. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs will shortly provide further updates on the humanitarian situation on the ground.

     

    Mr. President,

    We welcome the prompt statement of the Security Council on 31 January concerning the deterioration of the situation in Donetsk region. The Secretary-General has expressed deep concern about the high level of military readiness and the recent intensification of fighting, which is having an increasingly serious impact on the civilian population in the conflict zones.  He has called on all parties to immediately halt all hostilities, fully observe the ceasefire, allow immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to the affected population, facilitate full and safe access to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to report on the situation on the ground, and renew serious efforts towards the peaceful settlement of the conflict. He particularly underlines the imperative for all sides to take all measures to protect civilians. The sides should refrain from any action that may be seen as provocative or escalates tensions.

    The hostilities in Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area increased in intensity in a few days to levels never recorded before in this area by the OSCE SMM. This escalation demonstrates how precarious the situation remains and how suddenly and abruptly the security situation can deteriorate. The statement agreed at the meeting yesterday in Minsk of the Trilateral Contact Group and the Representative from certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions lays down the urgent measures the sides should take not only in this area, but along the entire contact line in order to prevent further ceasefire violations that could in turn spiral out of control.

    This is a positive development, but the test will be in the implementation of the measures. The pattern of successive ceasefire agreements broken by fresh violence has left civilians caught in the crossfire and trapped in suffering. With every new day of fighting, the conflict becomes more entrenched and difficult to resolve. There is no military solution to this conflict.

     

    Mr. President,

    Despite the commendable efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group and the Normandy Four, the recent intensification of the conflict coincides with a period of relative stagnation in the diplomatic processes designed to find a peaceful solution and ensure the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The international community must remain constructively and actively engaged, however, if we are  to prevent this crisis becoming a catastrophe. In this regard, there is a pressing need to revitalise the negotiation process without delay. 

    The United Nations continues to strongly support the efforts in the Normandy Four and Trilateral Contact Group frameworks and of the OSCE Chairmanship in Ukraine. We commend the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, who are carrying out essential work under extremely difficult circumstances in the conflict areas. The United Nations calls on both sides to lift all restrictions on the OSCE SMM’s freedom of movement and to immediately end all use of force and threats against the Mission’s monitors . We welcome the visits of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz to Ukraine and the Russian Federation in January and hope that his engagements, along with other ongoing efforts, will bear fruit. The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts. I look forward to hearing shortly from Ambassador Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, regarding his assessment of the latest developments the ground.

     

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It has been almost two years since the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” was signed on 12 February in Minsk, which was in turn endorsed by the Security Council in Resolution 2202 on 17 February 2015. This remains the foundation through which we, the international community, have committed ourselves to engage in the search for lasting peace in eastern Ukraine. I urge you all to continue such efforts with renewed vigor.

     

    Mr. President, distinguished members of the Council,

    In accordance with relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the United Nations remains committed to supporting a peaceful resolution of the conflict, in a manner that fully upholds the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. The United Nations priority remains to support the peace efforts in Ukraine led by the OSCE and ensure the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. The parties themselves, however, have the main responsibility to work constructively towards this end.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

     

  • 24 Jan 2017

    On 24 January 2017, the 42nd meeting of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place under the chairmanship of the Office of the United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions (UNRGID). It was the first meeting this year, which took place in a businesslike atmosphere. The participants assessed the overall security situation on the ground since the previous IPRM meeting as relatively calm and stable.

    The participants discussed in detail the materials, which had been transferred earlier, on the May 2016 killing incident at Khurcha-Nabakevi crossing point, and exchanged views on how to proceed in a pragmatic way. They were encouraged to further develop this trend of cooperation and address concerns of each participant in good faith.

    The participants followed up on the issues discussed at the previous meetings. They also discussed new agenda points, with a particular focus on the imminent closure of the two pedestrian crossing points along the line of control and possible implications for the local population. The issues related to changes to the “border zone” in the Gali district were also discussed, and concerns were expressed about the possible negative impact on freedom of movement. The Chair appealed to the respective participants to look into the matter from the humanitarian point of view and to take into consideration the well-being of the local population, especially schoolchildren and people traveling for medical purposes.

    Furthermore, the participants discussed the issues related to sensitive activities, such as military exercises, and the need to exchange advanced notice with the purpose to enhance transparency and avoid misperceptions.

    The participants agreed to hold the 43rd IPRM meeting on 22 February 2017.

     

  • 18 Jan 2017

    Mr. President,

    Members of the Security Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    On 16 January, the United Nations welcomed the first anniversary of  “Implementation Day” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was endorsed by Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).  One year on, the Secretary-General is encouraged by the continued reaffirmation by all JCPOA participants, including during the meeting of the Joint Commission in Vienna on 10 January, of their unequivocal commitment to the full and effective implementation of the agreement.

    The JCPOA -- reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran on 14 July 2015 -- is a good example of how multilateral diplomacy, political will and perseverance can resolve the most complex issues.  It is imperative that its participants, the United Nations and the broader international community continue to support the full implementation of this historic multilateral agreement for its full duration.  Its comprehensive and sustained implementation guarantees that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful.  It will help realize the long-awaited aspirations of the Iranian people to be reconnected to the global economy, and bring to a satisfactory conclusion the consideration of the Iranian nuclear issue by the Security Council.

     

    Mr. President,

    Today’s meeting of the Security Council is taking place against a backdrop of steady implementation, cooperation and progress.  Since “Implementation Day”, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued five reports documenting continued implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments.  In her statement on the first anniversary of “Implementation Day”, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, noted that lifting of nuclear-related sanctions, as promised in the agreement, resulted in a surge in bilateral trade and investment in Iran, contributing to better living standards for the benefit of all.  The Secretary-General underscores the importance of all JCPOA participants equally accruing the full benefits of the agreement, and calls upon all its participants to continue to work together in good faith and reciprocity.

     

    Mr. President,  

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the second report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/2016/1136).  The report was submitted to the Council on 30 December 2016 pursuant to annex B to resolution 2231 (2015) and paragraph 7 of the note by the President of the Council issued on 16 January 2016 (S/2016/44).   

    As guided by the Security Council, the report of the Secretary-General focuses on the implementation of the provisions contained in annex B to resolution 2231 (2015).  It does not cover implementation of annex A to the resolution – namely implementation of its nuclear-related commitments by Iran and of their sanctions lifting commitments by other participants – nor touch upon issues falling within the remit of the Joint Commission. 

    Let me now turn to the main findings and recommendations of the second report of the Secretary-General related to annex B of resolution 2231. 

    First, the Secretary-General has not received any report, nor is aware of any open source information regarding the supply, sale or transfer to Iran of nuclear-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of the resolution.  Moreover, and also on an encouraging note, Member States have made greater use of the procurement channel process through which the transfer of nuclear-related items is approved by the Council on the basis of recommendation provided by the Joint Commission.  Five nuclear-related proposals were submitted since July last year.  Three of the proposals have been approved; the other two are still under consideration.

    The proposals were processed in accordance with the timelines established by resolution 2231 (2015), with due regard for information security and confidentiality.  The operational linkages established between the Security Council and the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission are functioning well, and I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the excellent cooperation that we have with the European External Action Service, especially its Coordinator of the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission.

    Second, the Secretary-General has also not received any information regarding Iranian ballistic missile activitiesor ballistic missile-related transfers to Iran undertaken contrary to the relevant provisions of the resolution.

    Third, in terms of restrictions on arms-related transfers, the report includes information on the seizure of an arms shipment by the French Navy in the Northern Indian Ocean in March 2016.  France concluded that the arms shipment originated in Iran and that such transfer had been undertaken contrary to annex B of the resolution.  In addition, the Secretariat also received information from Australia and the Combined Maritime Forces on another arms seizure, off the coast of Oman, in February 2016, by the Royal Australian Navy.  That shipment of arms was also assessed, by the US Navy, to have originated in Iran.  Both seizures bear strong similarities with the one reported by the United States in June 2016 (and mentioned in the first report of the Secretary-General).

    The Secretariat looks forward to the opportunity to examine the arms seized in all three instances and obtain additional information, in order to corroborate the information provided and independently ascertain the origin of the shipments.

    Still on arms-related transfers and of particular concern is the June 2016 televised statement by the Secretary-General of Hizbullah that Hizbullah receives its salaries, expenses, weapons and missiles from Iran.  The statement suggests that transfers of arms from Iran to Hizbullah may have been undertaken contrary to resolution 2231 (2015).  In addition, the report notes the November 2016 letter by Israel to the Secretary-General and the Council about the alleged use of commercial flights by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to transfer arms and related materiel to Hizbullah, and the subsequent response from Iran that such claims were baseless and unsubstantiated accusations.

    With regards to the case of Iranian participation in an arms exhibition held in Baghdad in March 2016, which was presented in the first report of the Secretary-General on this issue, I am able to inform the Council today that Iraqi authorities confirmed in October 2016 that all items exhibited were returned to Iran.  Therefore, no further follow-up will be taken by the Secretariat in relation to this matter.

    Finally, Mr. President, the report draws the attention of Council members to possible ongoing travel ban violations by individuals on the list maintained pursuant to resolution 2231 (2015).  The report includes information on two possible foreign travels by Brigadier General Naqdi and on numerous possible foreign travels by Major General Soleimani which are supported by photographic evidence released by Iranian and other regional media outlets.  The Secretariat raised these possible violations with the countries involved.  Iraq and Syria did not deny nor confirm such information, but emphasized that no invitations were extended or visas were issued by their respective authorities to the individuals.

    In response to the Secretariat’s request for clarification on the possible transfer of arms to Hizbullah as well as the possible travel ban violations, Iran underlined that “measures undertaken by [Iran] in combating terrorism and violent extremism in the region have been consistent with its national security interests and international commitments.”

     

    Mr. President,

    Looking forward to the second year of JCPOA implementation, I would like to once again emphasize the particular responsibilities of JCPOA participants in carrying the full and effective implementation of the agreement.  The wider international community also has an interest in and must contribute to the long-term implementation of the agreement.

    In closing, I would like to acknowledge the leadership of H.E. Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi (Spain) in his role as Facilitator for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015) in 2016. I would like to congratulate H.E Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi (Italy) on his selection as Facilitator for 2017.  Ambassador Cardi, you and the Security Council can count on the full support of the United Nations Secretariat in your stewardship of the resolution endorsing this historic agreement.

  • 12 Jan 2017

    Mr. President,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region, a region which continues to suffer from the combined effects of violent extremism, and a serious humanitarian crisis as well as human rights abuses and violations  by terrorist elements and counter-terrorism measures.

    Boko Haram continues to perpetrate violence against civilians in the Lake Chad Basin region with varied frequency and intensity through kidnappings, suicide bombings, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as ambushes on towns and villages. Since October 2016, Boko Haram has shifted most of its assaults to military positions.  It is unclear whether the military is the intended target.  However, the upsurge in clashes with the military seems to be the result of reaction to the counter-insurgency operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), as well as a shift in tactics following the split in Boko Haram’s leadership last August between Abu Bakr Shekau and his former second in command Abu Musab al Barnawi. The recent trend of attacks appears to be in line with al Barnawi’s stated intention to focus operations less on Muslim civilians, and more on military, Western and Christian targets.

    Despite the commendable military efforts by the region against Boko Haram, including the take-over of its stronghold in the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria, Boko Haram retains the capacity to carry out attacks, as illustrated by its attack on 3 January on a military check point in Baroua in Diffa region, Niger; the 7 January attack on a Nigerian military brigade in Buni Yadi town, Yobe State in north-eastern Nigeria; and the multiple suicide attacks in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, Nigeria on 8 January.  

      

    Mr. President,

    Far too long a time has passed since the fateful day of the kidnapping of the Chibok Girls. The release of some of the girls, especially the 21 that were released on 13 October following negotiations facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Government is encouraging. According to the Nigerian Government, negotiations for the release of the remaining girls are continuing. SRSG Chambas continues his engagement with Nigerian authorities and international partners to determine how best to support the Government’s efforts for the release of the remaining abductees. In his consultations, SRSG Chambas continues to stress the need for the international community to support Nigeria in addressing the issue of mass abductions by Boko Haram, the rehabilitation and reintegration of abductees, and for better humanitarian access to the north-east of the country.

     

    Mr. President,

    Under-Secretary-General Stephen O’Brien will brief on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad Basin region and the challenges therein. Countries of the Lake Chad Basin continue to face a serious humanitarian crisis.  The fact that the number of people in need of assistance has continued to increase and underscores the seriousness of the situation and the need to address the root causes of the crisis if further violence, displacement, and loss of lives are to be averted

    The ongoing violence has had devastating effects in the region.  It has destroyed lives, livestock and food stocks, paralyzed the local economy and undermined the economic development of the affected countries. The economic impact of the crisis is substantial and is estimated at about US$ 9 billion in north-eastern Nigeria alone.

    Boko Haram’s destructive activities are taking place in areas of entrenched poverty, marginalization and high levels of income and social inequality, caused, in part, by an absence of state authority and a severe financial crisis. The UN response, as well as that of concerned States and partners, will need to address the immediate violence and humanitarian needs, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of violent extremism and radicalization. Only a combined approach will help in repairing the material and social damage inflicted on communities. The overall goal of the response to the Lake Chad Basin crisis should seek to achieve durable solutions, recovery and sustainable development. Support should also entail measures to help reverse the adverse effects of climate change on the livelihoods of communities in the affected areas, including the resuscitation of Lake Chad and the preservation of its micro-economy.

    Despite the challenges, progress has been made in addressing the immediate humanitarian needs, as well as the restoration of state authority and local governance systems in reclaimed areas. In northern Nigeria, the UN has significantly increased its physical presence to help improve social cohesion, basic social services, livelihoods, reconciliation and psycho-social support for returnees and internally displaced persons, as well as in the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure and in building the capacity of local governments. The three-phased reconstruction and rehabilitation plan unveiled by the Nigerian Government on 7 January for the affected areas in the north-east over a five-year timeline is a welcome development and deserves support.  

     

    Mr. President,

    Grave human rights violations and abuses have accompanied Boko Haram attacks and the counter-terrorism responses. Women and girls remain subject to sexual violence, including sexual slavery and forced marriage. Counter insurgency operations, both national and under the MNJTF, have been accused of breaches of international humanitarian law; dire detention conditions for Boko Haram suspects, including children; and the prolonged holding of IDPs and refugees by security forces for ‘screening’ purposes.

    Notable measures have been taken by the Government of Nigeria to address incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against displaced women and children in camps. We urge the authorities in all countries of the region to strengthen their response to such violations and abuses, including by providing assistance to survivors, bringing all perpetrators to justice and providing targeted protection services in camps and host communities.

    There have been encouraging reports of surrender of former Boko Haram fighters in Chad and Niger, who are mostly nationals of the two countries. We encourage the authorities of the concerned countries to examine their rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for ex-Boko Haram fighters and their families, to enable UN and partners to better support the programmes.

    The promotion and protection of the human rights of victims of terrorism must be a priority in national responses to acts of terrorism. Respect for due process and prompt trials for persons detained for Boko Haram related offences, especially children, who should be treated as victims and dealt with in accordance with international standards for juvenile justice, should guide broader counter-terrorism measures.  All children encountered in military operations should be handed over to child protection actors and standard operating procedures should be developed in this regard.  

    The importance of ensuring that military and security responses respect international human rights law, humanitarian law and refugee law and take all precautionary and preventive measures during operations to ensure the protection of the civilian population is self-evident. Failure to do so could fuel pre-existing grievances and perpetuate conflict. As the Secretary-General has emphasized, counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights should not be seen as conflicting goals, but rather as complementary and mutually reinforcing.   

     

    Mr. President,

    To support Member States’ efforts to combat terrorism and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice, the UN continues to provide strategic counter-terrorism technical assistance and trainings. Additionally, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the support of the European Union, held in December 2016 a high-level meeting with Nigerian federal and local authorities to consider approaches to prosecuting, rehabilitating and reintegrating persons associated with Boko Haram. The consultations underlined the need to develop a comprehensive legal framework to deal with persons associated with Boko Haram, including a prosecution strategy and to design and implement human rights compliant and gender-sensitive rehabilitation and reintegration strategies. Similar consultations will be proposed to Cameroon, Chad and Niger during a visit by the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee planned for early this year. The visit will aim at facilitating the development of national comprehensive and integrated approaches to prosecuting, rehabilitating and reintegrating persons associated with Boko Haram and to promote regional cooperation in criminal law and other related matters.  

     

    Mr. President,

    The MNJTF is presently undertaking military operations in the thickly forested riverine shores of Lake Chad. The operation faces unique challenges, including a difficult terrain, lack of dedicated airlift capability especially for casualty evacuation, logistics and sustenance of troops, amphibious capabilities, IED detection equipment, night vision equipment, reconnaissance assets and long-range field communication equipment.

    The  contribution of 50 million Euros by the European Union Commission to the African Union Commission in support of the MNJTF, and funds provided by other bilateral donors need to be disbursed in a timely manner to the Lake Chad Basin Commission to enable the regional force to address the challenges it faces.

     

    Mr. President,                                                                                                            

    A military approach will not bring an end to Boko Haram. Affected countries must simultaneously tackle the humanitarian consequences as well as the root causes that led to the emergence of the group. Military operations should be followed with stabilization measures, the restoration of state authority and addressing the social, economic and political grievances of marginalised communities. The four countries of the Lake Chad Basin region are, without distinction, equally affected by the Boko Haram scourge, in a context of dire financial crisis and associated political and social tensions. They need the Security Council’s and the wider international community’s support to succeed in their efforts to bring about stability, and build the resilience of affected communities.

    The UN remains committed and ready to support regional efforts to address the consequences and root causes of the Boko Haram crisis. However, the apparent failure of Economic Community of Central African States and the Economic Community of West African States to hold their long-planned joint Ministerial Summit on Boko Haram is of concern. The UN continues to encourage the region to develop a common strategy to address the drivers of the Boko Haram crisis. The support of the Security Council in urging ECCAS and ECOWAS to convene their joint meeting will underscore the urgency of the matter.  

    Thank you.

2016

  • 25 Dec 2016

    The end of year 'Politically Speaking - Year in Review 2016' publication features some of the highlights of our online magazine Politically Speaking. 

  • 20 Dec 2016

    Your Excellency Mr. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly,

    Your Excellency Ms. Ana Silvia Rodriguez Abascal, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba and Chargé d’affairs.

    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     

    Allow me, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, to deliver his message to mark the passing of former President of Cuba Fidel Castro.

    I join with all of you in conveying sincere condolences to the Government and people of Cuba on the death of His Excellency Fidel Castro Ruz. 

    Fidel Castro was one of the most important Latin American leaders of the 20th century.  He was the most influential shaper of Cuban history since his own hero, José Martí, struggled for Cuban independence in the late 19th century.

    As Prime Minister, President, Commander of the Cuban Armed Forces and First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, his role at the helm of Cuba spanned nearly 50 years, during which he left a major imprint on his country and on global politics.

    As President, Fidel Castro turned Cuba into a regional model of access to education and public health. He went on to make on Cuba’s expertise in these areas the center of the country's regional and international cooperation.  This commitment is still evident today in Cuba’s invaluable support to the Colombian peace process and its rapid medical response to the recent Ebola crisis in Africa. 

    I have vivid memories of my visit to Cuba in January 2014, during which I had the opportunity to hold discussions with President Fidel Castro.  Until his last days he was deeply concerned about the future of humanity and the challenges of our times.

    I once again express condolences to the Government and people of Cuba.

  • 30 Nov 2016

    The 2017 Update complements the MYA 2016-2017providing an overview of what’s new for 2017 with a particular focus on DPA’s response to the twin “Sustaining Peace” resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the General Assembly in April 2016.

  • 17 Nov 2016

    Mr. President,

    Excellences,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I thank Senegal for organizing this briefing on the cooperation between the United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

    The holding of this meeting clearly demonstrates that the two organizations are more than ever willing to work together to address global and regional challenges. The magnitude and complexity of these challenges are simply too big for any country or organization to tackle alone. To be successful in preventing and resolving conflicts we need to join forces with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to devise joint strategies and draw on our comparative advantages.

    In this regard, the Secretary-General has taken note of the OIC-2025 Programme of Action adopted by the Islamic Summit in Istanbul in April 2016 and its Ten Year Programme of Action, which identified conflict situations as a major challenge facing the Islamic Ummah in the 21st Century. The Secretary-General welcomes the Communiqué of the OIC’s 13th Islamic Summit and its support for the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and his Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.

     

    Mr. President,

    The United Nations has been working closely with the OIC for more than 20 years in promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding.  In the last years, the UN, in particular through the Department of Political Affairs, has stepped up its cooperation with this regional organization and has engaged with it to promote a deeper political dialogue.

    There is no doubt that our cooperation has not been without challenges. Resources, capabilities and mandates vary, and our memberships, although overlapping, are different. The strategies of the United Nations and the OIC, at times, may also be different.  The best approach to these challenges is to deepen our strategic dialogue to forge common approaches to emerging crises.

    In that sense, cooperation between the UN and the OIC is reinforced through direct contacts between the secretariats of the two organizations and between the specialized agencies and bodies of the United Nations system and the OIC.  The Secretaries-General of the two organizations meet during UN General Assembly sessions and on many other occasions. 

    The UN supports the OIC call for ‘strengthening its role in conflict prevention, confidence building, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitations in Member States as well as in conflict situations involving Muslim communities.’

     

    Mr. President,

    The UN has taken a number of steps to institutionalize its relationship with the OIC by helping strengthen its capacity through mediation and electoral assistance, and by holding desk-to-desk talks with the OIC on areas of mutual concern, such as peace and security. The Secretariats of the UN and the OIC hold General Cooperation Meetings every two years, as mandated by the General Assembly. These meetings are attended by a large number of agencies from organizations and set objectives and matrixes of implementation for joint projects and activities. The 13th General Cooperation Meeting took place in May 2016 at the UN Office in Geneva.

    The UN and OIC share common objectives in promoting and facilitating the Middle East peace process and the Question of Palestine. The OIC Extraordinary Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds al-Sharif in Jakarta adopted a resolution entitled “United for A Just Solution” which reaffirmed the positions of Member States and the Jakarta Declaration to pursue concrete steps in support of Palestine and the protection of the Holy Sites in East Jerusalem. Additionally, in the last Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, the OIC reiterated the need to preserve the two-state solution and for Security Council to act on settlements.

    On Yemen, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UK Department for International Development and the OIC co-chaired a high-level event on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. The meeting generated over $100 million in additional funding for the 2016 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

    The UN appreciates the OIC’s support for a peace process in Afghanistan, whose realization is crucial for long-term growth and stability of the country. Despite some delays, the planned international OIC conference of Ulema on Afghanistan is a positive step towards constructive dialogue aimed at strengthening the foundations of peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

    In Sudan, the partnership between the UN and the OIC remains an indispensable part of the collective effort of the international community to bring peace, security and development to that country. In Darfur, the core of that partnership has been the support of the OIC, under the leadership of Qatar, for the signing and the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. We need to continue this level of engagement to achieve an all-inclusive peace process which addresses the roots causes of the conflict and ensures durable solutions.

    In Somalia, the UN and OIC maintain a critical partnership in state-building, as well as in promoting comprehensive peace and security. The challenge now is for the international community to harmonize its support to achieve comprehensive progress toward common objectives that include coordinated support to the security sector, preventing violent extremism, and community recovery and extension of basic services at the local level.

    In Mali, the OIC was a member of the international mediation team during the 2014-15 inter-Malian dialogue and remains a committed member of the Agreement Monitoring Committee to this day.

    During the electoral process in Central African Republic at the end of 2015, the OIC played an instrumental role in defusing tensions between rival political parties in the country. In agreement with Chad, the OIC successfully called on the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) to cease hostilities in the Central African Republic and allow for the elections to take place in areas that were under its influence.

     

    Mr President,

    The UN appreciates the OIC’s support to the political dialogue process in Libya.  We would welcome a greater role of the OIC in supporting the UN mediation efforts in the country and in encouraging OIC Members States to use their leverage with Libyan parties to make the compromises needed to fully implement the Libyan Political Agreement. 

    The OIC has played a key role in Sierra Leone’s recovery efforts since the civil war there and, more recently, in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak.  It is worth mentioning that the last meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Sierra Leone, which was held in New York at the ministerial level on 19 September, focused, inter alia, on progress made in Ebola recovery.

    I would like also to note the continued importance of the still active OIC Trust Fund for Sierra Leone, which was established in 2002, to assist in the process of reconciliation and rehabilitation.  And the UN is thankful to OIC members for their continued economic cooperation with Sierra Leone, particularly in the areas of agriculture, natural resources and energy.

    The UN continues to collaborate and strengthen its electoral engagement with the OIC. This involves the training of electoral staff and observers and support towards the establishment of the database and institutional memory of the organization. In addition, the Electoral Assistance Division and UNDP provide technical electoral assistance to a number of OIC Member States.

     

    Mr. President,

    Let us use this valuable Security Council meeting to reaffirm and deepen our common commitment to promoting peace, respect for human rights and offer of better opportunity for all the peoples of these regions and the world.

    Thank you very much

  • 11 Nov 2016

    On 11 November 2016, the 41st meeting of the Gali Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) took place under the chairmanship of the United Nations. The participants of the meeting followed up on several matters discussed at the previous meetings.

    The participants also went through new agenda points registered by them, including concerns related to alleged detentions and denied crossing in certain occasions, as well as, one specific humanitarian issue. The emphasis has been made to avoid any steps, which might negatively impact the freedom of movement of the local population, especially school children.

    Similarly to the previous meetings, the participants have used the IPRM platform for bilateral dialogue on issues of their concerns, which the Chair of the IPRM has welcomed as an opportunity to solve technical problems on the ground.  

    The participants have also exchanged detailed information in writing about some criminal cases.

    The meeting took place in a constructive and businesslike atmosphere.

    The participants agreed to hold the 42nd IPRM meeting on 24 January 2017.

  • 31 Oct 2016

    Mr. President,

    Thank you for this opportunity to update the Council on the latest developments in Yemen and challenges facing efforts to ensure the country’s return to peace and stability.

    What Yemen is witnessing today contravenes the commitments made by the parties to the United Nations to peace. The security situation is dire, and the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate despite the efforts of the humanitarian agencies.

    With regards to security, the Grand Hall in Sana’a witnessed a tragic attack on 8 October, where nearly one thousand Yemenis were gathered to pay their condolences at a funeral, left more than 140 dead and 550 injured. I visited the site of the attack several days ago together with family members of the victims, and saw for myself the shocking scale of destruction. The Mayor of Sanaa, Abdel Kader Hilal, a seasoned politician known for his bravery and commitment to peace until his last day, and two members of the De-escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC) were among the victims of the attack. The bombing of a funeral is contrary to all Yemeni norms and traditions and the perpetrators must be held accountable. I extend, once again, my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in this attack. I commend the statements by the families of the victims, which called for restraint and thorough investigation of the incident. This is a clear demonstration of their sense of nationalism and their commitment to peace.

    The Arab Coalition has taken responsibility for the attack and its Joint Incidents Assessment Team conducted a rapid preliminary investigation, which recommended action against those involved and a revision of the Coalition’s rules of engagement. It will be very important to complete the investigations and to ensure accountability of those involved.

     

    Mr. President,

    Sadly, the 8 October attack was not the only incident where civilians and civilian infrastructure were targeted in the past weeks. On 3 October, shelling of Bir Basha district of Taiz, from areas controlled by the Houthi-GPC forces, resulted in nine civilian deaths including three children. Indiscriminate attacks on residential areas of Taiz have been ongoing for many months. They have caused great damage to the city and its population and must stop. These incidents are a horrific reminder of the consequences of war, a war that has blighted the country during the last eighteen months of conflict.

     

    Mr. President,

    The conduct of the parties on the ground is contrary to the commitments they made previously to engage fully and constructively in the UN-mediated peace process. I called on the parties to recommit to the April 10 Terms and Conditions for the Cessation of Hostilities. Although I would have preferred an open-ended Cessation of Hostilities, I was able to gain agreement on 72-hour pause which entered into force on 19 October. I regret to report that both sides were involved in significant violations of the Cessation of Hostilities from its first day. I am deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities, which has continued at an alarming rate in the past few weeks. Fighting has escalated in Taiz, Maarib, al-Jawf, Hajjah and on the border with Saudi Arabia, where ballistic missile attacks have increased in both frequency and range. Targeting the area of Mecca al-Mukarrama was a dangerous development, which affects the course of the war and the feelings of more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

    I am also concerned that international vessels travelling off the coast of Yemen have come under fire from Houthi-controlled territories in recent weeks. A UAE vessel was targeted in the Strait of Bab al-Mandab. US destroyers travelling through international waters were reportedly targeted by direct missile attacks, and responded by reportedly firing on Houthi radar sites. These incidents risk a more acute escalation of the conflict, and threaten the security of international maritime movement. I thank the Council for its call on 4 October, for “such attacks to cease immediately”.

    In southern Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) continue attacks on state institutions and civilian targets. In Aden, on 1 October a suicide bomber killed one civilian and injured three others, and on 29 and 30 September, gunmen affiliated with IS assassinated a retired intelligence officer and a security officer. As part of their counter-terrorism efforts, Yemeni security forces raided the house of a prominent IS leader and confiscated a variety of weapons and explosives. In Abyan, counter-terrorism forces killed three militants, including a high-ranking AQAP affiliate and arrested two others.

     

    Mr. President,

    The escalating military situation continues to worsen a very dire the humanitarian situation which requires far greater attention from the international community. Local authorities are unable to provide basic social services for the population. This is particularly prevalent in the health sector, where only 45 per cent of facilities are functional. In addition to the growing difficulty for Yemenis to obtain medical treatment at home, many Yemenis are also unable to seek treatment abroad due to the prohibition of commercial flights from Sanaa. I call for the immediate resumption of commercial flights to and from Sana’a. I also call on the Houthis and the GPC to ensure that access for humanitarian agencies are free from bureaucratic impediments and intimidation. My colleagues Stephen O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, and Mohannad Hadi, Regional Director of the World Food Programme for the MENA region, will provide you with a more detailed briefing of the humanitarian situation and the UN’s efforts to provide assistance.

    I should add that the worsening economic situation threatens to create a far greater humanitarian crisis in the coming months if urgent action is not taken. Salary payments for most civil servants have already ceased. This was a primary source of income for much of the population. Unless they are continued quickly, many more Yemenis will face destitution and be forced to rely on humanitarian aid to survive. There should be a commitment from all parties, including the Government of Yemen, the Houthis and GPC to collaborate to ensure the continued functioning of the Central Bank and a rapid resumption of salaries throughout the country.

     

    Mr. President,

    Despite the International Community’s calls for the Yemeni parties to fully commit to the peace process, the parties continued to embark on unilateral actions, which risk undermining the prospects for peace. On 2 October, the High Political Council established by the Houthis and GPC, asked the former Governor of Aden  to form a new government. President Hadi’s decision to replace the Governor of the Central Bank and relocate the Bank to Aden has created further economic uncertainty at a time when urgent measures to save the economy are necessary. Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher announced via social media plans to convene the National Body to ratify the draft constitution. I urge the parties to refrain from taking any further measures, which will only complicate reaching a negotiated settlement to put Yemen on the path to peace.  

    I conducted extensive consultations with the Yemeni parties and members of the international community over the last few weeks, and presented the parties with a comprehensive and detailed roadmap to end the conflict. The roadmap is consistent with Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) and other relevant resolutions, the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, and the Outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference. The Roadmap contains a set of sequenced political and security steps, conducted in parallel, which would help Yemen return to a peace and orderly political transition.

    The Roadmap foresees the creation of military and security committees, which would supervise withdrawals and the handover of weapons in Sanaa, Hodeida and Taiz. The committees would also be tasked with ensuring the complete end of military violence and the safety and security of the population and state institutions. The Roadmap also lays out interim political arrangements including the appointment of a new Vice President and the formation of Government of National Unity which would lead Yemen’s transition process and oversee the resumption of political dialogue, completion of the constitutional process and ultimately elections. I was informed, unofficially, that the parties have rejected the Roadmap. This demonstrates that the political elite in Yemen remains unable to overcome their differences and prioritize national, public interest over personal interests. It is time for the parties to realize that there can be no peace without concessions, and no security without agreement. They should base their positions on the question of how to ensure security and stability for the Yemeni people.

    I will return to the region immediately following this briefing to start consultations with both parties in Sana’a and Riyadh with the aim of reaching a detailed agreement based on the Roadmap. It is now the responsibility of the delegations to prioritize peace, rather than partisan agendas. The Roadmap and the agreements discussed in Kuwait should allow process towards a comprehensive settlement in the coming weeks if the parties engage in good faith and demonstrate a sense of political and national awareness.

    I am grateful for the International Community’s continued support to my proposal for a comprehensive agreement and calls for a Cessation of Hostilities. The quadrilateral meetings of the Foreign Ministers of the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Jeddah, New York and in London have supported these efforts along with their counterparts from the remaining members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. These calls were echoed in other meetings with the Foreign Ministers of the Sultanate of Oman, France, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the deputy Foreign Minister of Russia. I am grateful to the Council Members for their unwavering support of the efforts to restore peace in Yemen.

     

    Mr. President,

    After 18 months of horrific fighting, thousands of deaths, injuries and unspeakable human suffering, we all need to ask how long will Yemenis remain hostages to personal and reckless political decisions? What are the parties waiting for to sign a political agreement? Have they not understood that there are no winners in wars?

    The Roadmap I have proposed to the parties is widely supported by the International Community because it provides a comprehensive solution, and includes guarantees for the political representation all political groupings.

    I would like to ask the Council for its full support of the peace plan, and for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a release of detainees. And to the Yemenis I say, the dawn of peace could be near, in case those responsible decide to prioritize national interest and start working on rebuilding a stable state, which guarantees the rights of all of its people without discrimination.

    Thank you.

  • 26 Oct 2016

    Mr. Chairman,

    Excellencies,

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    It is a great pleasure for me to address the Fourth Committee and introduce the Secretary-General’s latest report on “Overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions”, requested by the General Assembly in its resolution 70/92.

    I am pleased to be accompanied by my colleague Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, in this debate.

    I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the delegations of Finland and Mexico for their continued leadership on this agenda item, and their close cooperation with the Secretariat.

     

    Mr. Chairman,

    This is the fourth General Assembly debate on special political missions. We view this annual debate as a crucial opportunity for the Secretariat and Member States to exchange views on some of the key challenges that SPMs face today. Our discussions over the last few years have fostered greater understanding and awareness regarding the important role that SPMs continue to play, and their contribution to international peace and security.

    Since the creation of this agenda item in 2013, we have continued to see a deterioration of the global strategic environment, with significant implications for special political missions and the broader UN peace and security agenda.

    The Secretary-General’s recent report to the World Humanitarian Summit depicted this bleak reality. After two decades of consistent decline, the number of civil wars has increased quickly since 2008. The eruption of violent and intractable conflicts has led to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis: 60 million people are currently displaced, the highest number since the Second World War. 80 percent of all United Nations humanitarian assistance is directed at conflict-affected victims.

    If we are to reverse these trends and fulfill the purposes of the UN Charter, a global effort will be required to prioritize and prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts. A new “diplomacy for peace”, to use the words of the Secretary-General-designate, is urgent.

    Special political missions are one our most important mechanisms to achieve this goal. Their recent experience shows that they can play a vital role to prevent and resolve conflicts, and build a sustainable peace.

     

    Distinguished delegates,

    This year’s report addresses a number of policy issues that are critical for the work of special political missions. As requested by the General Assembly, the report contains detailed information regarding the efforts undertaken by the Secretariat to improve geographical distribution and gender representation in SPMs, as well as to advance transparency and accountability.

    I am proud that the staff in our Special Political Missions is broadly geographically representative of the United Nations membership, and in particular of the regions where they are deployed. At the same time, we are fully aware that we must continue to improve our geographical representation from specific regions as well as the number of senior female officials. This will remain a priority for DPA.

    We also recognize that significant progress needs to be made to improve the representation of women in SPMs at all levels. As a priority, we must address some of the structural obstacles that have stood in the way of gender parity, and develop mechanisms to nurture the next generation of women who will rise to leadership ranks within our missions.

     

    Mr. Chairman,

    Allow me to turn to some of the other policy issues addressed in the report.

     

    First, conflict prevention and sustaining peace.

    The peace and security reviews carried out over the last two years have brought renewed attention to conflict prevention. They have reminded us that the United Nations was established with the central purpose of “saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. They also recognized that conflict prevention remained under-prioritized and under-resourced, calling for a sustained engagement to bring prevention back to the fore.

    The report before this Committee describes the measures taken by the Secretary-General to transform this rhetorical commitment into action. But let us make no mistake: conflict prevention is a shared responsibility of the international community at large: the Secretariat, UN agencies, funds and programmes, regional and subregional organizations, international financial institutions and, primarily, Member States.

    This is why I strongly welcome the adoption of the “Sustaining Peace” resolutions by the General Assembly and the Security Council. They reflect the commitment of the membership towards improving our preventive capacities across all stages of a conflict, in order to ensure that peace is indeed sustainable.

    Sustaining peace lies at the core of the work of all special political missions, from those deployed in preventive settings – such as UN regional offices – to those overseeing complex political transitions – such as our missions in Guinea Bissau or Iraq. Sustaining peace is also at the heart of the mandate of our special envoys and mediation teams, who work daily to bring the parties around a peaceful solution to conflicts.

    I reiterate my Department’s strong support to this agenda, as well as our commitment to work closely with the broader UN system as we move forward with its implementation.

     

    Second, regional partnerships.

    It is an undeniable reality of the 21st century international peace and security landscape that the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organizations need to work closely together if we are to truly make a difference in resolving conflicts and supporting a sustainable peace.

    From our regional office in Central Africa to the newly-deployed United Nations Mission in Colombia, SPMs are often mandated to work side-by-side with their regional counterparts in pursuit of peace and stability. Our cooperation is based on a shared understanding that the UN and regional actors can have a multiplying effect by drawing on our respective comparative advantages.

    These partnerships are important not only to advance crucial country-specific processes, but also to allow us to support Member States in addressing cross-boundary issues that affect entire regions. Organized crime, illicit trafficking and violent extremism are transnational in nature, and demand that Member States devise regional and sub-regional strategies.

     

    Third, the women, peace and security agenda.

    The Review of the Implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) was an important milestone that conveyed a key message: the direct and effective involvement and leadership of women in peace processes, politics, public institutions and justice systems is essential to peaceful societies and sustainable development.

    In DPA, we are fully committed to this agenda. I personally act as the Departmental focal point for women, peace and security issues, and oversee our progress towards the 15 commitments DPA has undertaken in the context of Security Council resolution 1325. In 2016, DPA established a stand-alone gender, peace and security unit and developed a Department-wide gender strategy, in close consultation with our special political missions in the field.

    These new capacities have better positioned DPA to respond to the significant expectations from Member States – and the international community more broadly – for progress on the women, peace and security agenda.

     

    And finally, safety and security.

    Over the past decade, SPMs have been deployed to increasingly volatile environments, often amidst active conflicts or in the immediate aftermath of war. Our missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen all serve as examples. The volatility of these operational settings puts great pressure on the ability of our missions to implement their mandates. They also represent an everyday risk for our staff working in this area.

    The cost of doing business in these contexts is high. Take Somalia as an example. In 2016 alone, there were 10 direct attacks on the UN. To carry our mandated tasks in such a challenging setting, our mission requires the necessary security and operational measures that allows us to deploy and operate responsibly while mitigating risks. Our guard unit, in particular, plays an essential role to allow the mission to operate.

    But this is an investment that we must be willing to make. This is where the United Nations can make a difference for the people we serve. In Somalia, the UN helps 800,000 people meet their food security needs on a monthly basis. We have vaccinated 2 million children against polio, ending a serious outbreak. We provide support to federal and regional governments for the first national development plan in 30 years. And to enable these activities and ensure that progress on the ground is sustainable, we engage closely on the political front to support the emerging federal states, promote national reconciliation, and assist a host of institutions, including the justice and electoral systems.

     

    Mr. Chairman,

    As the report illustrates, special political missions continue to play a critical role. I am grateful for the support that Member States have continued to demonstrate to this crucial tool, both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council.

    From our part, the Secretariat remains committed to working closely with this Committee to discuss overall policy matters pertaining to special political missions, including through the useful mechanism of regular interactive dialogues. We look forward to working closely with the Bureau of the Fourth Committee to plan our next interactive dialogue.

    Before concluding, I would like to pay a special tribute to the United Nations staff members serving in special political missions, working under the most difficult conditions to advance international peace and security.

     

    Thank you.

  • 19 Oct 2016

    As agreed at the previous Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) meeting, the fortieth meeting took place on 19 October 2016 in Gali town under the chairmanship of the United Nations.

    Participants have actively engaged in the discussion, exchanged information and views on all points on the agenda, thus contributing to business-like atmosphere at the meeting. They were encouraged to continue this trend in their future engagements. 

    Participants followed up on the issues and cases raised at previous IPRM meetings. They once again exchanged information on the investigation process with regard to the 19 May 2016 killing of an unarmed person. In this respect, a representative of the Abkhaz military prosecutor office, who was present as an expert, provided an update on the status of the investigation and the next steps, which should be taken. He also responded to questions raised by other participants. 

    Furthermore, with regard to the previous murder cases and other incidents, participants exchanged additional information on some of them. In addition, they have discussed new points on the agenda, including a murder case, which took place in 2006; and freedom of movement of school children as well as detention of two individuals in September 2016.

    The participants agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM on 11 November 2016 in Gali.

  • 19 Oct 2016

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,

    I would like to begin today by thanking the Council for your support, expressed during the previous briefing for the work of UNSCO on the ground under challenging circumstances as the situation in Israel and Palestine, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate. 

    International focus on the Question of Palestine may have been overtaken by the tragedy in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, but it cannot be allowed to be relegated to a secondary problem.

    Sadly, settlement announcements, outbreaks of violence and terror, and the absence of visionary leadership continue to define the conflict. The inability to see beyond the horizon and grasp the benefits of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, of ending the occupation, of establishing a two-state solution that meets the national aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis alike, is a historic loss to the region as a whole.

    The absence of progress has led to growing anger and frustration among Palestinians and profound disillusionment among Israelis. It has strengthened radicals and weakened moderates on both sides.

    On October 9th, a Palestinian opened fire, killing two Israelis and injuring six others in a terror attack in occupied East Jerusalem. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

    Deplorably, Hamas and many others chose to justify and glorify the attack and its perpetrator. 

    This tragic incident once again underscores an undeniable truth – if Palestinians genuinely hope to reach the long-overdue goal of statehood and an end to the occupation, this will not be achieved through violence, but must be reached through negotiations.

    In separate incidents, during recent clashes in East Jerusalem, a 20-year-old Palestinian civilian died after being shot by Israeli security forces. Separately, an unarmed 12 year old girl was also shot in the legs by security guards while approaching a checkpoint.

     

    Mr. President,

    During the reporting period, Israel has continued with settlement planning, including the recent promotion of an initial 98 out of 300 housing units in Shilo, located deep in the occupied West Bank. If implemented, this plan will drive a wedge between north and south in the West Bank and jeopardize the contiguity of a future Palestinian state. Israeli officials have defined this move as an attempt to relocate settlers from the illegal Amona outpost, which has been slated for demolition by the Israeli Supreme Court.

    I once again reiterate the position of the Secretary-General that settlements are illegal under international law and undermine the two-state solution.

     

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,

    Adding to this troubling overall picture, Palestinians have again been unable to exercise their democratic rights after local council elections in the West Bank and Gaza were postponed. The political bickering, mutual accusations, legal challenges and counter-challenges that followed have left the people of Gaza and the West Bank feeling more apart.

    I am concerned by recent calls by Hamas legislators in Gaza for the Hamas led government to resume its work in Gaza. Such a step would seriously undermine the Palestinian Government of National Consensus and would also make the reconciliation almost impossible.

     

    Mr. President, 

    In August, I raised UN and international concerns about the steady continuation of Israel’s policy of expanding its presence in the occupied West Bank. Today, I wish to discuss another impediment to a negotiated solution — the security, humanitarian and political situation in Gaza. Three deadly conflicts in the past eight years have eroded both Palestinian belief that Israel wants anything more than Gaza’s destruction and Israeli conviction that their Palestinian neighbours desire peace.

    Fueling Israeli fears is that Gaza is controlled by a de facto authority whose overtly anti-Semitic Charter equates resistance with violence, rejects peaceful solutions and aspires to the obliteration of Israel.

    Israel accuses Gaza militants of continuously seeking to obtain money and military matériel, including by smuggling in civilian boats, concealing components for the production of rockets inside commercial shipments and diverting construction materials from needy beneficiaries. The United Nations has been informed by Israel of at least 41 serious smuggling attempts which have been intercepted since the beginning of 2016. Although the UN lacks the capacity to independently confirm the smuggling accusations, if accurate, they show the intention to continue attacks against Israel.

     

    Mr. President,

    Last week, I travelled to Gaza where I witnessed warehouses, empty of construction materials, as the reconstruction process is significantly slowing down. And this is due to limitations of imports. No new residential reconstruction projects have been approved since March. In the recent days the approval of some 80 projects – some of which had already been started - has been revoked by Israel.

    I saw residential buildings half built. I met with families whose projects have been cleared for reconstruction, yet have not received any cement for months. I heard from those that have tried to navigate the web of rules governing the import of materials considered ‘dual-use’ with no luck or response. I stand with the people in Gaza who have suffered through conflicts, closures and continue to face unimaginable suffering.

    At current rates, it will take more than one year to catch up on the backlog of approved projects and years to address the full housing and reconstruction shortage in Gaza.

    These trends are worrying and I call on the parties to the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism to recommit once again to ensuring its smooth operation. Failing to do that will put in question the viability of the mechanism and undermine the precarious calm in Gaza today.

     

    Mr. President,

    According to some estimates, in the last decade, militants in Gaza have fired nearly 16,000 rockets and mortars at Israel. Some 200 projectiles have been fired since the end of the last conflict. While since 2014 there has been little damage or injury, there is an ever-present risk of a potentially catastrophic escalation that neither wants nor needs.

    During the 2014 conflict, Israel discovered and destroyed 14 tunnels crossing into its territory and, in May of this year, detected and destroyed two more.

    Allow me to reiterate the joint position of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the Secretary-General of the UN as stated in the Quartet report: the illicit arms build-up and militant activity in Gaza must be terminated. Such actions increase the risk of a new escalation of hostilities, keep thousands of people on both sides of the border under constant threat of attack, and undermine the reconstruction process.

    The militant threat, however, should not serve as an excuse for Israel to indiscriminately harm civilians in Gaza. In addition to the continuing severely restrictive closures, I am concerned by persistent incursions and the almost daily firing and shelling by Israeli forces into Gaza along the fence and at sea.

     

    Mr. President,

    The vicious cycles of conflict in Gaza must end. To do so, control of Gaza must return to the Palestinian Government of National Unity committed to the PLO principles. The closures on Gaza must also be lifted in line with Security Council resolution 1860. Palestinians and Israelis both deserve the right to lead a normal life in freedom and security, with their human rights respected.

    Since Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007 40 per cent of Palestinians living in the occupied territory are beyond the control of the legitimate Palestinian government.

    Israel’s closure policy and severe restrictions have brought social, cultural and economic interaction between Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to a virtual standstill. The widening chasm that has emerged between both parts of the occupied Palestinian territory undermines the national state-building enterprise and threatens the very viability of establishing a unified Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. Unity is, therefore, critical.

    I encourage Hamas to pursue reconciliation with Fatah in line with the PLO principles and to consider redefining its political stance.

    Turning briefly to the Golan, Mr. President, I remain concerned by the volatile situation which undermines the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement and jeopardises the ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. It remains critical that the parties to the Disengagement Agreement maintain liaison with UNDOF in the first instance, exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any action that could escalate the situation across the ceasefire line and the already volatile regional environment.

     

    Mr. President,

    Returning back to the Question of Palestine, let me close my briefing by issuing two warnings.

    Firstly, to those who believe that the people of Gaza can be punished by closures or by imposing restrictions on the entry of construction materials that are vital for the economy. They should know that the temperature in Gaza is rising.

    Allow me to also be abundantly clear to those who build tunnels, fire rockets, smuggle military materiel, profit from the black market or seek to create confrontation. Their actions are dangerous and irresponsible. They are stealing from their own people and risk the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike.

    We must all avoid the risk of sleep-walking into another violent conflict at a time when the region as a whole needs moderate forces to unite and stand up to the radicalisation that we see across the Middle East.

    Gaza’s future is inextricably linked to the future of the Palestinian people and their goal of establishing an independent state. But the longer its population continues to suffer under the intolerable weight of Gaza’s current dynamics, the further Palestinians are from realizing that objective, and the closer we are unfortunately to the next major escalation.

    Thank you.

  • 13 Oct 2016

    Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the third “Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat.”

    As with the previous reports, the report was prepared with the input of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, and in close collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, and other relevant United Nations actors and international organizations.        

     

    Mr. President,

    The report stresses that ISIL and its affiliates have continued to experience significant military setbacks, which has undermined ISIL’s ability to hold territory, generate assets and maintain “governmental” structures. ISIL is attempting to adapt to this new reality and has intensified its efforts at extortion, to compensate for the loss of revenue from oil. In Iraq and Syria, ISIL’s previous success in holding territory and operating as a quasi-State has been significantly challenged due to the efforts of several Member States.

    However, the report notes that the threat posed by ISIL continues to be significant and to diversify. ISIL and associated entities continue to compete strategically but also to cooperate tactically, occasionally providing each other with operational support. The military pressure currently being exerted on ISIL in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic has resulted in an increase in the number of Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ returnees, in particular to Europe and the Maghreb, presenting a growing challenge to global security. ISIL has also increased the number of attacks outside conflict zones, and employs deadlier tactics.

    Increasingly complex and nearly simultaneous attacks in different countries—committed through large-scale operations and individual or small terrorist cells, either directed or inspired by ISIL—have a significant impact and present particular problems to Member States in terms of the security response.

    ISIL continues to assert itself in cyberspace, using closed fora, encrypted messaging systems, and communications through the “dark net” to recruit and distribute its propaganda.

     

    Mr. President,

    To highlight the impact of ISIL in various regions of the globe, the report focuses on South-East Asia, Yemen and East Africa:

    1. In South-East Asia, ISIL’s propaganda has re-energized pre-existing terrorist networks and inspired individuals to travel to conflict zones as foreign terrorist fighters. the region hostsforeign terrorist fighters actively directing attacks, is affected by ISIL  propaganda and fundraising efforts, as well as the risks that foreign terrorist fighters’ returnees present.
    2. In Yemen, even though it has intensified its attacks, especially in the Aden area, and recruitment efforts, ISIL has not yet managed to gain significant local support and is generally rejected by the population. Nevertheless, the ISIL leadership maintains a close interest in Yemen. 
    3. Two new ISIL cells have emerged in Somalia. One of these groups, operating in the Puntland region, is being supported by ISIL in Yemen. The second one is operating in southern Somalia. Both groups face strong resistance from Al-Shabaab.

    In regard to Member States’ efforts to address the threat of ISIL, the report highlights some of the actions taken in South-East Asia. For example, it stresses that countries in the region have introduced and continuously updated national counter-terrorism strategies and legislation; established national counter-terrorism coordinating bodies; strengthened international cooperation—although more work needs to be done in this area; developed institutional and legislative counter-terrorism financing tools; recognized the importance of putting in place effective border controls; and payed increased attention to developing comprehensive approaches to countering and preventing recruitment and violent extremism.     

    A growing number of Member States have addressed the potential threat posed by returnees through a broad range of criminal justice, administrative and rehabilitation and reintegration measures, as called for in resolution 2178 (2014). They have also taken a preventive approach, including by charging individuals with inchoate and preparatory offences. However, Member States continue to face numerous challenges in this context, such as generating and converting intelligence information into admissible evidence.

    The overall progress made by Member States in developing and implementing rehabilitation and reintegration strategies, remains more limited among Member States of some of the most-affected regions.

    During the reporting period, a number of United Nations entities have taken further steps to support the efforts of Member States to counter the threat of ISIL. For instance:

    • The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force has further developed the Security-Council mandated capacity-building implementation plan for countering the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The plan was presented to Member States almost ten months ago but has only been 20 per cent funded to date
    • UNODC is developing a program for South and South-East Asian States on strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for targeting the financial flows and economic resources of ISIL, Al-Qaida and their associates.
    • OHCHR submitted a report on best practices on how protecting and promoting human rights helps prevent violent extremism.
    • CTED has been assisting ASEANAPOL (ASEAN Police Chiefs) to establish a Regional Joint Operations Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
    • UNICRI is enhancing its cooperation with Jordan, Kenya, Mali, Morocco, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia in the design and implementation of rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for Violent Extremist Offenders (VEOs) and FTFs.
    • In the field, UNSMIL continued to prepare assessment reports on ISIL, which it shares with Member States.

     

    Mr. President,

    As the military operations against ISIL in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Libya continue to make progress, we anticipate an increase in the number of returnees and of attacks outside conflict zones. The increasingly transnational threat that ISIL represents may therefore become a growing challenge to international peace and security.

    In this context, the Secretary-General’s call for “comprehensive and purposeful international cooperation to effectively prevent violent extremism and counter-terrorism,” becomes all the more important.  Despite the international community’s efforts, international counter-terrorism cooperation is still not up to the level of the danger posed.

    Furthermore, if we aim to anticipate new terrorist threats and dynamically address the evolving nature of ISIL, military, security and law enforcement measures need to be complemented with preventive actions that address the drivers of violent extremism conducive to terrorism, as demonstrated by the focus provided by the Security Council.

    Nevertheless, to effectively address the growing transnational threat of terrorism and violent extremist, I would like to underscore the importance of political will. I would also like to encourage you to consider the need to further mobilize necessary financial and technical resources to meet the growing demands of counter-terrorism and PVE programmes. These efforts would enormously help the United Nations to support Member States in implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

     

  • 25 Sep 2016

    Madam President, Members of the Security Council,

    These are indeed chilling days, as the Secretary-General said, for Syria and for the people of Aleppo in particular. The past week has been one of the worst ones in Syria during the near six years of this devastating conflict. Earlier in the week I had to deeply regret the fact that the meeting of the International Syria Support Group did not yield the results we were hoping, and actually saw the outcome that it put in jeopardy the agreement reached by the two co-chairs – in which we want to continue to believe – on 9 September in Geneva, which was meant to reinvigorate the concept and the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities.

    The ISSG meeting took place in the middle of news of the government of Syria declared an offensive of now a de facto besieged eastern Aleppo. And it came on the footsteps of two unrelated but compounding tragic events. One refers to the incident in Deir El Zor. The second one was the attack on a humanitarian convoy. I can only reiterate the concern expressed by the Secretary-General on the first incident, which was acknowledged as a tragic mistake by the US, and our shared deep outrage on the deadly attack on the humanitarian convoy. But no incident, irrespective of whether it can be attributed or not, does justify what is going on in front of our own eyes: the unravelling of the CoH and the simultaneous unleashing of unprecedented military violence affecting innocent civilians as well.

    Madam President, let us recall briefly that following the 9 September announcement of the agreement between the Russian Federation and the US which was a complicated agreement which took long time and which required long evening and night discussions –, the renewed cessation of hostilities that came into effect three days later did indeed reduce violence. Even Aleppo witnessed a reduction of military activities. We heard of families coming out of their shelters and houses to celebrate Eid on the streets. People started to become cautiously optimistic. But there was still sporadic shelling inside of the city and some airstrikes in the countryside, but at a lower level.

    And then on 18 September, airstrikes resumed on Aleppo City, when five districts were hit reportedly with five severe airstrikes. And when the Government unilaterally declared the end of the cessation of hostilities on 19 September, we began to hear reports of use of barrel bombs and airstrikes in eastern Aleppo, where, I want to remind all of us, up to 275,000 people are currently de facto trapped – fair enough, there is 1.6 million people on the other side of Aleppo, but they are not isolated as the ones in eastern Aleppo. Only minutes after the Government’s announcement, our own team in Aleppo – which happened to be there because we had sent them to accompany and assist these possible truck convoy that was meant to leave Turkey in order to get via Castello Road to eastern Aleppo – they clearly heard the sounds of shelling and bombardment begin in Aleppo.

    As the Secretary-General has reported to this Council, on the evening of the same 19 September, there was a horrific attack which took place against a humanitarian convoy to Oram Al-Kubra, killing 20 humanitarian Syrian workers and drivers including the team leader, destroying 18 out of 31 clearly identified trucks. We have condemned this attack in the strongest terms – as have many other Member States around this table who have offered condolences and have been calling for an enquiry and for those who committed such an action to be held accountable.

    Since that fateful day, we have seen the situation in eastern Aleppo deteriorate to new heights of horror. Amid intensive airstrikes reported on Friday, following the announcement of the beginning of a government offensive – an announcement made by the government itself –, the community across opposition-controlled eastern Aleppo even called off their own Friday prayers. Information received by OHCHR indicates dozens of airstrikes on Friday and Saturday, that have been hitting residential buildings across the de facto besieged eastern Aleppo, causing scores of reported civilian deaths and injuries, including those of many children.

    First responders appear overwhelmed and unable to respond to many of the sites. We have seen reports of 3 of the 4 centres operated by the White Helmets in eastern Aleppo being hit. As numbers of casualties are rising, rescue workers struggle to remove people from under the rubble. Even tools that might or might have been able to mitigate some of the suffering of civilians have reportedly been destroyed in the attacks against the civil defence stations.

    Information received from sources on the ground, allegedly due to airstrikes on AOG-held areas, suggest the following numbers to date – we can’t verify them but these are the figures we are seeing at the moment: 213 fatalities in Aleppo province, 139 fatalities in eastern Aleppo, 74 fatalities in rural Aleppo, all including dozens of women and children.

    How many airstrikes? Obviously we have no independent capacity to verify. And sources on the ground tell us that they no longer have the capacity to count them accurately, given the chaos in Aleppo city, due to the fact they often take place at night and with remarkable new intensity. We heard the words “unprecedented”, in quantity and also in scale and type, in the types of bombing. We have seen reports, videos and pictures of reported use of incendiary bombs, that create fireballs of such intensity that they light up the pitch darkness in eastern Aleppo, as though it was actually daylight. We now hear of bunker-busting bombs being used and see pictures of large craters in the earth much larger than in previous aerial bombings. If it is confirmed, the systematic indiscriminate use of such weapons in areas where civilians and civilian infrastructure are present may amount to war crimes. Civilians across town must be asking themselves where on earth is now safe to be in this tormented city.

    We have also seen reports of armed opposition groups firing hellfire rockets – you know what they are? They are basically gas canisters full of nails, stones and iron, which are being thrown in a rudimentary way across the other side of the line and do kill civilians, including one which hit al-Maari school in Hamidiyey neighbourhood on 22 September. On 19 September, the area close to the UN hub in western Aleppo was actually hit with two mortar shells coming from the opposition, killing one civilian.

    Reports continue that medical centres are being targeted, including an alleged strike on an ambulance and medical triage centre in an AOG-held area of south-western Aleppo, which has caused fatalities also amongst medical staff, once again. We hear of streets so filled with rubble, huge piles of rubbles due to this new type of bombs, that ambulances cannot even pass through them.

    Madam President, up to 275,000 people – and they can’t be all terrorists frankly – in Eastern Aleppo have now been under a form of de facto siege for almost 20 days, since the al-Ramouseh corridor was closed and after the Castello road was blocked since 7 July.

    Since this closure, the humanitarian situation has taken a turn for the worse. &nbspIn essence, basically supplies are running out. WFP stocks inside eastern Aleppo amount to only 12,000 food rations (which means basically sufficient for 60,000 people out of 275,000). And there is no prospect of replenishing them, since both roads are blocked. Bread is available only for 3 days a week and bakeries are being hit (which could reduce again in coming days). There is lack of fuel for general public use, reducing the services on transport, private wells, and household use - especially for cooking.

    As this Council is aware, the UN/WFP had planned to send a convoy to eastern Aleppo at the beginning of the renewed cessation of hostilities and WFP had mobilized a convoy of 40 trucks – I have the pictures here, every morning at 5 o’clock they are ready, they are waiting to go –, loaded with food rations sufficient to provide full food rations for some 35,000 people and wheat flour assistance for an additional 130,000 people of the 275,000. We all know what happened: the convoy never moved because it never received sufficient guarantees – frankly, let’s be honest – from either side and the cessation of hostilities broke down. We had complicated arguments raised by the government, such as driving licences suddenly becoming crucial in the whole conflict, and on the opposition side all sorts of arguments asking for all sorts of impossible conditions in order to make sure we would have the guarantees. Obviously there was a hesitation from both sides to see this convoy moving, and we saw the result of this.

    2 million people now have no access to running water through the public network, after intense fighting stopped water pumping from the two key pumping stations that service the population - both eastern and western parts of the city. On 22 September, the Bab Al-Nairab water pumping station, that serves the eastern part of the city, was reportedly hit by airstrikes. And Jaish al-Fateh turned off as a retaliation the water to 1.5 million people in the western part of the city –so no water-, in a grave tit-for-tat type of move. Water has now been luckily, and we hope more regularly, turned back on, after difficult last-minute negotiations led by UNICEF. However, people in eastern Aleppo still remain at risk due to interruptions to safe drinking water. Water from wells, which used to be plenty, has become, due to the conflict, highly contaminated and people, particularly vulnerable children, are at risk of catastrophic outbreaks of waterborne diseases. &nbspGod forbid, that’s the last thing we need in a moment like this.

    If nothing else, from a humanitarian point of view, we ask this Council: (1) to press for a cessation of the violence and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. (2) weekly 48-hour pauses in the fighting to ensure at least that the UN and partners can reach eastern Aleppo – without preconditions neither from the government nor frankly from the opposition. (3) to press for medical evacuations, and there are several cases, for urgent cases from eastern Aleppo.

     

    Madam President,

    Returning to the military situation on the ground, where we have several accounts of almost each event, there were reports of the Government announcement to retake all of Aleppo city. Indeed, shortly after the agreement announced in Geneva on 9 September close to midnight between Russia and the US, President Assad visited what was left of Darayya and he announced his intention to “liberate every inch of Syria”. Furthermore we saw reports that indicated that the reported objective of government and pro-government forces is to “squeeze out terrorists without civilian casualties” – I repeat “squeeze out terrorists without civilian casualties” –, and maintain a corridor for fighters to leave eastern Aleppo. However, we are seeing it, civilians are dying, and are dying in large numbers.

    The last days have seen intense military clashes on major front lines including Handrat, Shaikh Sa’id, Old Aleppo, Old Ramousa and Hamdaniah districts. Yesterday, government forces said they had taken over Handrat district north of the city – a claim that armed opposition groups now dispute – whatever the case it is a fact there has bee heavy fighting there. There were contradicting statements from the opposition on whether counter offensives are led by Al-Nusra Front or Fatteh Halab Operations Room of FSA groups. We have seen information from other sources that tell us that more than half of fighters present in eastern Aleppo are Al Nusra. We have also seen reports alleging the intentional placement of firing positions close to social infrastructure and inside civilian quarters. &nbspWe have seen that in other conflict, it is not a reason for anyone to destroy the whole building.

    The one constant in this violently unpredictable conflict is that neither side will win and therefore both ultimately will lose, and above all Syrian people are going to lose and they are losing their lives day by day. All we can expect from Aleppo, if the Syrian Government is intent on retaking it is completely – and this is a military analysis done by people far more competent than us – a slow, grinding, street-by-street fight, over the course of months, if not years, whereby the ancient city will be almost completely destroyed. In the face of these illusions of imminent victory, I must reiterate what we now believe to be an almost self-evident truth, but a truth that does not seem to be actually implemented: a so-called military ‘solution’ or victory in Syria is impossible, including in Aleppo.

     

    Madam President,

    Syrians on all sides still make clear their demand for a ceasefire and a credible political solution. But trust is seriously broken. On 9 September, in Geneva that night, I remember very much both Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry being concerned about it, saying they can’t go on making statements that do not have a follow-up. But I want to believe – because I am still a naïve UN official – that they really meant what they said and they really negotiated hard, comma by comma, because they wanted every word. But frankly the international community and the Syrians are swiftly losing any remaining hope and the international community is losing any credibility with the parties – unless we salvage what was agreed upon.

    A tiny window of opportunity, dear friends, still exists, and we want to believe does exist, for the Russian Federation and the US to actually help the Syrians and the region step away from the brink of more years of bloody conflict which risks to become even worse.

    On Wednesday I reported to the Security Council how the Secretary-General has asked me to present a framework of proposals to the sides as a starting point for negotiations in resumed talks as requested by the ISSG co-chairs. I am ready to do just that. But the ISSG and the co-chairs, including this very Council as suggested through an important comment made by HE the Chinese Foreign Minister on Thursday at the ISSG, that this Council has a responsibility to ensure the relaunching the Cessation of Hostilities without delay and ensure its implementation, with all the risks and difficulties this entails.

    We all know that this conflict cannot be resolved through negotiations without the help and assistance of the co-chairs and the region. So I am asking, indeed urging, both of them to go that extra mile to see if they can save their agreement of 9 September and do so at the eleventh hour – since that agreement not only provides some basis for the resumption of talks, but it also provides a wider framework for how to combat terrorism – we have no doubts about that, I want to believe we all agree on that – and de-conflict the region more generally and ground the Syrian air force, as it was part of that agreement.

    My appeal to this Council today is the following: please, develop a common course of action to enforce a cessation of hostilities in Syria. I am still convinced that we can turn the course of events. We have proven this more than once before. We have come a long way to date to not allow the small but tangible achievements of the CoH to be buried under the dust of Aleppo’s rubble.

    I have been asked, Madam President, by many – Mr de Mistura, why don’t you resign at this point? Frankly all this is leading nowhere and this will send a strong signal. No I am not. Because any sign of me resigning would be a signal that the international community is abandoning the Syrians, and we will not abandon the Syrians, and neither will you. We don’t need that kind of signal that would make news for five minutes and then not only Syria would be abandoned by everyone but also the hope that the international community does believe that we want to get out of the conflict.

    Thank you Madam President.

  • 9 Sep 2016

    On 9 September 2016, the thirty-ninth meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) chaired by the United Nations was held with the participation of Georgian, Abkhaz, Russian and European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) representatives.

    The meeting took place in a constructive and professional atmosphere.  The participants followed up on the issues raised at previous IPRM meetings. Accordingly, they exchanged views on the current state of investigation into the 19 May fatal incident at the crossing point in Khurcha village, Zugdidi district.  They agreed to continue the discussion on this issue at the next meeting, including possible exchange of additional information to be provided by the authorities in charge of the investigation process.

    Furthermore, the participants revisited the murder case, which had occurred in 2010, and had been discussed at the 18th IPRM meeting on 15 June 2010. They exchanged information about the condition of one detainee, as well as one missing person. Recent developments on the ground and at the sea were also discussed. In the framework of advance notice of sensitive activities, the point on “Early warning on military and other activities in the vicinity of ABL (Administrative Boundary Line)” was addressed. It was noted that this issue is important for conflict prevention and confidence building purposes.

    The participants agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM on 19 October 2016 in Gali.

  • 31 Aug 2016

    Mr. President,

    I am grateful for this opportunity to brief the Security Council on the latest developments in the pursuit for peace in Yemen.

    The last month has been tragic for Yemen. The departure from Kuwait without an agreement has betrayed the expectations of millions of Yemenis who had hoped that these talks would bring an end to the conflict and open the way for Yemen’s return to a peaceful and orderly transition.

    The end of the Kuwait talks was followed by a severe breakdown of the Cessation of Hostilities and a dangerous escalation in military activities. Extensive military confrontations have been on-going in recent weeks in Sana’a, Taiz, Al Jawf, Shebwa and Mareb governorates and along the border between Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The clashes have involved the use of artillery, airstrikes and ballistic missiles and have resulted in tens of casualties, extensive destruction and renewed displacement.

    As has been the case throughout the conflict, numerous violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have accompanied the fighting.  On 17 August, the Secretary-General noted with concern the continued escalation of hostilities in Yemen and along the border area, including airstrikes and ground fighting.  He also condemned in the strongest terms the attack on a rural hospital in Hajjah.

    According to human rights organizations, at least 60 members of the Baha’i community in Sana’a have been detained without charge, including six children. Further arrests were reportedly carried out on 16 August. This demonstrates a worrying disrespect for the human rights of minority groups, and I echo the call from human rights groups for the immediate release of those still in detention and I call on all parties to fulfil their obligations and release all prisoners and detainees.

    I call on all groups to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilian life and infrastructure.

    The military escalation will continue to provide opportunities for the spread of terrorist groups. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State continue to wreak havoc in significant parts of Yemen. For example, a suicide attack in Aden killed and injured tens of Yemenis on 29 August. The Yemeni Army’s growing ability to confront extremist groups, evidenced by the recent detention of suspected AQAP militants and military operations in Zinjibar and Hadramout, is encouraging.  However, the absence of the state in many parts of Yemen, in addition to the chaos created by war, will continue to facilitate the expansion of these terrorist groups which represents a real threat to the region.

     

    Mr. President,

    The Kuwait talks concluded after over three months of difficult negotiations. I would like to restate my gratitude to the Emir of Kuwait for hosting these talks and for his efforts to encourage the Yemeni parties to conclude an agreement. The talks in Kuwait did not yield an agreement but they were not without important results. During the talks, the architecture of a roadmap emerged, which we will expand upon in the coming weeks. Before departing Kuwait, I agreed with both parties to continue consultations separately and to reconvene direct talks at a later stage.

    Delaying progress towards an agreement is particularly dangerous considering the grave deterioration in the economic situation. Of particular concern are delays in the payment of salaries in many parts of the country. Without external support, the lack of revenue and shortage of liquidity could make it impossible for salaries to be paid in the coming months. There are  reports of civil servants unable to collect their wages in Aden and other parts of the South. The stoppage of salary payments risks driving many more Yemenis into destitution and vastly exacerbating the humanitarian situation. It will be necessary to find practical  solutions which will allow Yemen to overcome the liquidity crisis and ensure continued payments of salaries without discrimination everywhere in the country.

    From a humanitarian perspective, the escalation in fighting has led to tragic and unnecessary civilian deaths, casualties and a worsening of humanitarian suffering. The number of internally displaced persons has risen to over three million. Food prices are on average at least 60 per cent above pre-crisis levels while income levels have dropped dramatically. Despite the rising levels of need, it has become increasingly difficult for humanitarian agencies to access many areas. The health care system and other basic social services are struggling to cope with an increased workload and fewer resources. The cessation of Yemenia flights to and from Sana’a has blocked access to Yemenis seeking urgent medical treatment outside of the country, removing a much needed humanitarian life-line. In this context, I welcome US Secretary of State Kerry’s announcement of an additional sum of $189m to the YHRP, which remains only 28% funded. 

     

    Mr. President,

    Over the past two weeks I have conducted intensive meetings in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In Riyadh, I met with President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Ahmed Bin Dagher, who reaffirmed their willingness to continue consultations on the basis of the principles agreed upon in Kuwait. During these visits I also held extensive discussions with the Foreign Ministers and senior officials of Yemen, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. These discussions have reaffirmed the strong international and regional support for settlement of the conflict in Yemen and a commitment to help overcome the desperate economic and humanitarian challenges the country is facing.

    During my last visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia I briefed a joint meeting of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States which had been called specifically to discuss how to overcome obstacles in the peace process. The meeting was followed by a discussion with the Foreign Ministers of the GCC member states, who emphasized their full support of the United Nation’s efforts in Yemen. In both encounters, there was strong support for a return to the Cessation of Hostilities, which began on 10 April 2016. There was also consensus on the need for a full and comprehensive political solution, involving clearly sequenced political and security measures, firmly grounded in the GCC initiative and its implementation mechanism, Security Council resolution 2216 (2015) and the National Dialogue Conference outcomes.

    This proposed agreement will define a path for the rapid formation of a Government of National Unity to be formed immediately following the withdrawals and handover of heavy weapons in Sana’a and some other vital areas.  Implementation would be overseen by Military and Security Committees comprised of senior military professionals, acceptable to both parties, who would assume responsibility for the security of the population, critical infrastructure and state institutions. The agreement would provide for the immediate restoration of the functioning of state institutions free of interference from revolutionary committees or other bodies created during the conflict.

     

    Mr. President,

    The effective resumption of talks will only be possible if all parties maintain their commitment to a negotiated settlement and refrain from unilateral actions. I am extremely concerned by the announcement by Ansar Allah and former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, of the formation of a Supreme Political Council with broad administrative, security, economic, and legislative powers. These actions breach the commitments provided by both Ansar Allah and the GPC to engage constructively in the peace process as requested by this Council and creates a new potential impediment to progress towards an agreement.

    Unilateral actions of this sort will only complicate Yemen’s path to peace and delay the end of military violence. We cannot effectively negotiate new political arrangements while unilateral steps are being taken which are inconsistent with a future comprehensive agreement.  I therefore urge both to refrain from taking any additional unilateral steps, which could undermine attempts to reach a peaceful settlement.

    With the foundation of international and regional support, I will resume consultations with the Government of Yemen, Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress in order to take advantage of this new initiative to and build on the progress made in Kuwait.

     

    Mr. President,

    In order to accelerate the path to renewed talks, the resumption of the Cessation of Hostilities will be critical. Further military violence will not ease the way to a negotiated settlement. As I resume consultations, my priority will be to gain a re-commitment from all sides to the Cessation of Hostilities. This should start with the full deployment of the De-escalation and Coordination Committee in Dharan al-Janub. As specified in the Terms and Conditions, which were agreed before the start of the Kuwait consultations, the Cessation of Hostilities should include a full end to all military activities by land, sea or air, and using any kind of weapon. It should include a complete de-escalation along Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia.

    The re-commitment to the Cessation of Hostilities will spare Yemen the further loss of life, allow the increased flow of humanitarian assistance and generate much needed confidence for the negotiation of a comprehensive and peaceful solution. Only a negotiated political settlement can put an end to the devastation and injustice brought about by this horrific war.  The Yemeni people have suffered for far too long and understandably demand that Yemen’s leaders demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of Yemen and the Yemeni people, and that they restore peace and security to their country without further delay.

    Peace in Yemen is a priority, and the safety and security of all Yemenis should not be taken for granted. The United Nations has dedicated all of its political and administrative expertise to help Yemenis, but this will not be sufficient, if the decision-makers do not uphold their responsibilities and prioritize the interest of the population. The United Nations has not and will not fail Yemen. Yemen’s leaders must not fail the Yemeni people, all the Yemeni people, in the South and in the North.

    Thank you Mr. President

  • 30 Aug 2016

    Mr. President,

    Distinguished Members of the Council,

    As part of UNIOGBIS efforts to assist in resolving the political crisis, I have continued to engage with multiple stakeholders in furtherance of the Secretary-General’s good offices, including through meetings with regional Heads of State to advocate for support to Guinea-Bissau. I also convened several meetings with the AU, the CPLP, ECOWAS and the EU, as well as with key bilateral partners and national stakeholders, to promote the coordination of mediation efforts to break the political gridlock. I have been greatly encouraged by the commitment of all international partners to remain engaged in the country.

    I am pleased to note the collective commitment by national stakeholders to engage in dialogue. The ongoing political impasse can and must be resolved. The parties to the crisis should be urged to honour their commitment to make the necessary sacrifices and concessions needed to end the parliamentary standoff and put the government machinery back on track. In this regard, I call upon political leaders to put partisan considerations aside and focus on the national interest as well as the welfare of the suffering population.

    I am also pleased that the military continues to demonstrate restraint and neutrality in the face of the political stalemate. Many of them look forward to receiving pledged support for their demobilization and socio-economic reintegration. For the stability of Guinea-Bissau, we must not fail them.

    While addressing the current impasse remains the immediate priority, breaking the stalemate should also provide the opportunity to the political actors of Guinea-Bissau to reflect on ways of ending the recurrent cycle of institutional paralysis and ensuring sustainable stability. This can only be achieved through genuine and inclusive dialogue among the citizenry. Such an exercise has the potential to stabilize institutions and pave the way for tackling related priorities, including justice and reconciliation, the restructuring of the judicial and human rights architecture, the reform of the defence and security sectors, and the fight against drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime.

    In this connection, it is heartening to note that preparations for the National Conference are on course. Earlier this month, a delegation of the Organizing Commission of the National Conference, with funding from the Peacebuilding Fund, visited Timor-Leste to learn from the country’s experiences in national dialogue and transitional justice processes. This experience will no doubt feed into the impending dialogue.

     

    Mr. President,

    As we all know, there is no development without stability. The path to stability will require a pragmatic and integrated approach. This means that in addition to the current focus on achieving stability from the top down, we should also invest energy and resources to foster stability from the bottom up. To this end, I call upon the donor community to consider allocating more resources to the social sectors, including health and education, and to programmes that empower women and create opportunities for the youth.

    The people of Guinea-Bissau are resilient, peaceful, decent and hard working. All they aspire to is mainly to improve their daily lot and overcome the harshness of poverty. These aspirations should not be held back or constrained by political contingencies. While we continue to work with the Bissau-Guineans for the return to full stability, we should design resilient policies and programmes for their benefit that would be impervious to fragility and instability.

    The people of Guinea-Bissau are counting on the support of this august body and that of the international community at large.

    I thank you very much for the attention. 

     

    Original version in French.

  • 29 Aug 2016

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,

    With no prospect for resuming negotiations in sight, developments on the ground continue to undermine an already precarious situation. Illegal settlement construction advances, Gaza remains beyond the control of the legitimate Palestinian authority and the political leadership on both sides continues to shy away from the steps that are necessary for peace. This is the reality which continues to erode trust in the prospect of a two-state solution, the constituency for which is dwindling both in Israel and Palestine. 

    Although the past month has been relatively calm in terms of the frequency and intensity of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory a number of security related incidents continue to cause concerns.

    Firstly, the apparent extrajudicial execution by members of the Palestinian Security Forces in Nablus on 23 August of a man, while in custody. He was suspected of orchestrating the killing of two security personnel earlier in the week. I welcome the announcement by Prime Minister Hamdallah of an investigation and call for a thorough, independent and transparent process in line with international standards in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime.

    On 21 August, militants in Gaza fired two rockets, one of which landed in a residential area of Sderot, causing no injuries. Israel responded by directing some 60 missiles and shells at 30 suspected military installations in Gaza. Once again I reiterate that such rocket attacks and the response they elicit risk lives of both Palestinians and Israelis and do not serve the cause of peace.

    On 26 August a Palestinian man, who was reportedly under psychiatric care, was killed by members of the Israeli Security Forces. A preliminary investigation has established that he was unarmed and did not pose a threat. I call upon Israel to ensure accountability and take all necessary measures protect against the unjustified use of force.

    It is against such backdrop that preparations are advancing for the 8 October Palestinian local council elections. In a positive development, on 25 July, political parties signed an electoral code of conduct, to which all parties and candidates must adhere. These elections are expected to be the first simultaneous polls in the West Bank and Gaza since 2006.

    Conducting the local elections in line with established international standards can contribute to advancing Palestinian reconciliation. The lack of unity however, or any attempt to influence the outcome of the elections, including through intimidation, threats, violence or coercion, risks widening divisions and undermining the Palestinian national cause. In this respect, the recent decision by Fatah to bring the party together, a decision welcomed by Jordan, Egypt and the region, is an important step towards laying the groundwork for national reconciliation and unity.

    Turning briefly to Gaza, Mr. President, three days ago we marked the two-year anniversary of the ceasefire of the last Gaza conflict. While progress has been made on reconstructing the physical damage, sadly we are miles away from repairing the physical and psychological damage of the conflict. While Gaza remains locked away from the rest of the world, in the grip of militants, and dependent on aid and humanitarian assistance, the status quo will sadly prevail.

    We need a radical overhaul of how we deal with the problems of Gaza.

    Until the closures are lifted, the militant buildup has ceased, and Gaza is back under the control of the legitimate Palestinian authorities, international funding and an uninterrupted flow of aid are a lifeline to over one million Palestinians in the Strip, who are struggling to survive within a dire humanitarian situation. In this context, I commend the Government of Palestine for enabling a much-needed humanitarian payment to over 20,000 unpaid civilian employees in Gaza, made possible by the generous donation of the State of Qatar.

    Separately however, I am very concerned about the recent Israeli indictments of two aid workers accused of diverting funds and/or material to Hamas. These are very serious and deeply troubling accusations that must be investigated thoroughly, quickly and proven in a court of law. I welcome the commitment of the United Nations Development Program and World Vision International to uphold the highest standards of accountability. It is important that the international community continues to enforce its policy of zero tolerance for any wrongdoing and assures partners that robust measures are in place to ensure that aid goes to whom it is intended to.

     

    Mr. President,

    It has been nearly two months since the Middle East Quartet outlined spoke clearly of the threats to the two-state solution and offered practical recommendations to ensure an eventual return to meaningful negotiations to end the occupation that began in 1967.

    Its recommendations continue to be ignored, including by a surge in Israeli settlement-related announcements and continuing demolitions.

    Let me focus briefly on the expanding Israeli footprint in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, which Russia, the EU, United States and the UN Secretary-General — all part of the Quartet, clearly condemned.  

    We heard that settlement construction is not an impediment to a two-state solution; that “a few houses” are not a problem for peace. Let me ask in return Mr. President: How will advancing the construction of over 1,700 housing units bring the parties closer to negotiated peace, how will it uphold the two-state solution, how will it create hope for the Palestinian people, or how will it bring security to Israelis?

    Since 1 July, Israel has advanced plans for over 1,000 housing units in occupied East Jerusalem – in Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Homa, and Gilo – as well as 735 units in Ma’ale Adumim and other settlements in the West Bank.

    It has published tenders, some new, for 323 units in East Jerusalem settlements and reissued tenders for 42 units in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, for which it also allocated over USD 13 million of new funding.

    It is undertaking a new land survey to identify potential ‘state land’ in the sensitive E2 area. This step could enable the establishment of a new settlement on the outskirts of Bethlehem, further restricting that city’s development and contributing to the dismemberment of the West Bank.

    It is also reportedly examining plans for new housing units for over 100 Israelis on a portion of a military compound in Hebron that it has allocated for this purpose.

    Israel advanced the so-called retroactive ‘legalisation’ of the Horesh Yaron and Rechelim outposts  and put forward a potentially precedent-setting proposal to relocate the illegal outpost of Amona – which is slated by Israel’s High Court of Justice for dismantling by the end of the year – onto nearby ‘absentee land’.

    All of these plans Mr. President would essentially create new illegal settlements and I call on Israel to cease and reverse these decisions.

    Let me be clear: no legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts – whether ‘legalised' under Israeli law or not, whether located on state land, or absentee land, or private land - just like all settlements in Area C and East Jerusalem, remain illegal under international law.

    It is difficult to read in these actions a genuine intention to work towards a viable two-state solution. This appears to reinforce a policy, carried out over decades, that has enabled over half a million Israelis to settle in territory that was occupied militarily in 1967.

     

    Mr. President,

    The Quartet highlighted that Palestinians living in Area C and East Jerusalem are also disproportionately denied Israeli building permits. The past two months have seen an increase in the enforcement of non-punitive demolition orders against Palestinian structures in East Jerusalem, with 43 structures demolished, affecting more than 340 people. According to our colleagues in OCHA, in Area C, in August alone, over 91 structures across 26 communities were demolished for the lack of Israeli building permits, displacing some 125 people and affecting the livelihoods of over 2,100.

    The Bedouin in Area C are particularly vulnerable. Some communities, such as the herders in Susiya and those in the controversial E1 area around East Jerusalem, are particularly at risk, especially as settlement expansion plans move forward. Repeated rounds of demolitions of homes or livelihoods and restrictions on basic services are part of an environment that pressures these communities to move.

    Susiya, for example, is built on private Palestinian land in the southern West Bank. It is sandwiched between a settlement and an outpost. For years, planning schemes submitted by the residents to the Israeli authorities have been repeatedly rejected, while the neighbouring settlement has been granted a generous planning scheme, and the nearby illegal outpost, is connected to water and electricity networks.

    The demolition of this community would set a dangerous precedent for displacement and feed the perception that Israel aims at a de facto annexation of Area C.

     

    Mr. President,

    I note a new plan for the occupied West Bank, announced recently, promoting differential treatment to areas of the occupied West Bank from which perpetrators or suspected perpetrators of attacks against Israelis originate.

    While measures that generate economic opportunities for some Palestinians are helpful, they cannot come at the cost of what may amount to collective punishment for others, or undermine the legitimate Palestinian institutions and aspirations for ending the occupation.

     

    Mr. President,

    Turning briefly to the Golan, the situations remains volatile and continues to undermine the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement. Fighting between the Syrian armed forces and armed groups in the areas of separation and limitation continue with several incidents across the ceasefire line reported.

    I take the opportunity to also draw attention to a nearly 100 million dollar shortfall in UNRWA's core budget. This funding gap affects the Agency's key services for vulnerable Palestine refugees throughout the region and compounds regional instability. It must be addressed with utmost urgency.

     

    Mr. President,

    Let me say that more than 37 years ago, the Security Council determined that Israeli settlements in occupied territory have no legal validity and are an obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. That determination was true in 1979, and is equally true and even more urgent of a concern today.

    For years we have been managing this conflict, while the occupation has continued, Palestinians have been dispossessed, and a one-state reality has been establishing itself on the ground. It is time for all of us — the leaders on both sides, with support from the region and the international community, to end the conflict on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and in a manner that meets the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples.

    Both sides should work to reverse the negative trajectory, to build trust and to restore hope that a negotiated two-state solution is not just a political slogan but a reality that can be achieved through negotiations in our lifetime.

    Thank you.

  • 2 Aug 2016

    On 2 August 2016, the thirty-eighth meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) chaired by the United Nations was held with the participation of Georgian, Abkhaz, Russian and EUMM representatives. The meeting took place in a positive atmosphere, in which the participants discussed various issues on the agenda.

    Based on their undertakings to provide feedback on cases discussed at the previous IPRM meeting, the Georgian and Abkhaz participants exchanged useful updates on the ongoing investigations and subsequent legal proceedings of the 19 May fatal incident at the crossing point in Khurcha village, the fate of a missing person from Gali town since early 2007, and the killing of an Abkhaz serviceman in October 2008.  They also discussed a new case on the agenda – a double murder, which took place on 29 December 2011 in the Gali district. 

    Crossing modalities for the local population and representatives of international organizations at the central crossing point [Inguri Bridge], and other related issues, which might have an impact on the freedom of movement were discussed in detail.  The participants exchanged information on the arrangements for the schoolchildren, who cross from one side to another to attend schools, and agreed to ensure smooth crossings for the upcoming academic year. 

    It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM in Gali on 8 September 2016.

  • 27 Jul 2016

    Mr. President,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Council on the situation in the Lake Chad Basin region.

    Attacks by Boko Haram continue, mainly in north-eastern Nigeria and southern Niger, and to a lesser extent in northern Cameroon and the Lac region of Chad. Terrorists persist in targeting innocent civilians, including through suicide attacks, often using young children. Despite commendable regional efforts, the group continues to threaten regional stability, as illustrated by the 3 June attack on a military base in Bosso town, south-eastern Niger.

    Lake Chad Basin countries face a serious humanitarian crisis. Significant numbers of refugees and internally displaced people add pressure on host communities that are already food insecure. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, will brief you on the humanitarian challenges.

    The United Nations has received reports of increased incidents of sexual and gender-based violence among the displaced. In Nigeria, the Protection Working Group, comprising the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission, reports of rape and sexual abuse in almost half of the 26 sites covered. In Cameroon, allegations of human rights abuses committed by security forces persist, especially against youth belonging to Muslim communities in the North. Vigilante groups, going after suspected suicide bombers, have injured innocent civilians.

    To protect human rights, concerned States must ensure accountability for serious violations by national forces and that the use of force is in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. States must adopt measures to protect civilians and respect due process when dealing with persons arrested for Boko Haram-related charges. Children used by Boko Haram should be treated as victims and dealt with in accordance with international standards for juvenile justice. We welcome the establishment of a Human Rights Desk by the Nigerian Army to investigate allegations of human rights violations committed by its forces. We encourage other affected countries to institute similar mechanisms.

     

    Mr. President,

    The Boko Haram crisis has devastated the region’s economy. Economic growth dropped sharply with the decline of oil prices and other commodities. Decreasing resources affects the states’ ability to deliver basic social services and to pay the salaries of security forces and civil servants.

    Insecurity has disrupted trade routes between Chad and Nigeria, interrupting the supply of basic goods and producing price hikes. Youth unemployment is at a worrisome high, providing recruitment ground for Boko Haram. We urge that military operations be complemented with development interventions, including to address the effects of climate change.

     

    Mr. President,

    We commend the Lake Chad Basin countries’ efforts to combat Boko Haram. The regional offensive involving Chadian, Cameroonian, Nigerian and Nigerien troops operating under the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), has recaptured 80 per cent of areas once under Boko Haram control, freed thousands of captives and prevented terrorist attacks.

    I returned yesterday after visiting  a number of Central and West African countries. As part of my tour, I met with President Idriss Déby Itno in N’Djaména and visited the MNJTF headquarters. MNJTF’s main challenge remains a severe lack of funding. The 1 February African Union’s Donor Conference aimed to mobilise $750 million. Only $250 million was pledged, and even less disbursed. The success of MNJTF operations also depends on timely and actionable intelligence as well as specialised counter-terrorism skills and equipment, given the evolving tactics of Boko Haram.

    So far, the Lake Chad Basin countries have borne the financial responsibility of combatting Boko Haram despite their own economic crisis. As President Déby Itno explained to me with frustration they have been forced to divert national spending away from basic services to security. Lake Chad Basin leaders have expressed their growing impatience over delays by international partners to support the MNJTF financially.

    I commend the United Kingdom for the financial support already provided to the MNJTF and welcome the European Union’s intention to commit funds for the operationalization of the force. I urge the international community to support the MNJTF through the mobilization of required political, logistical and financial support.

     

    Mr. President,

    The United Nations supports national and regional efforts to combat terrorism, and to ensure that the perpetrators of terrorism are brought to justice. However, counter-terrorist operations must abide by the rule of law and international human rights norms. MNJTF commanders have reassured me that every effort was being made to protect human rights, including by the deployment of dedicated personnel to monitor human rights issues.

             

    Mr. President,

    Further to the Council’s request to extend the Integrated Assistance on Countering Terrorism (I-ACT) initiative to the G5 Sahel region, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Integrated Task Force (CTITF) is working closely with the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) to develop the G5 Sahel I-ACT. In this regard, CTITF, accompanied by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will meet G5 representatives from 30 August to 1 September in Nouakchott to produce the outline of a Capacity Building Framework for counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism, including concrete regional projects.

    The Chairman of the Counter-Terrorism Committee will also visit the Lake Chad Basin countries in October, accompanied by the SRSGs for Central Africa and for West Africa and the Sahel, CTED, CTITF and the Special Representative of the African Union for Counter-Terrorism Cooperation. In Central Africa, the UN Centre for Counter-Terrorism supports the efforts of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) in implementing the Central Africa Counter Terrorism strategy. We will meet with partners in the fall to discuss specific projects.

     

    Mr. President,                                                                                  

    A military approach, while essential, will not bring end to the Boko Haram threat. Affected countries must tackle not only the humanitarian consequences but also the root causes that contributed to the emergence of the group, including the social, economic and political grievances of marginalised communities. The SRSGs for Central Africa and for West Africa and the Sahel continue to encourage regional interlocutors to address the Boko Haram crisis holistically and beyond an exclusively security lens. Lake Chad Basin countries need our support so that military operations are followed by stabilization measures and restoration of state authority.

    The Second Regional Security Summit for the Lake Chad Basin held on 14 May in Abuja, reaffirmed the need to address the root causes. Among a number of noteworthy recommendations, the Summit encouraged affected countries to utilize the services of community and religious leaders to discourage impressionable youth from being radicalized and to lead de-radicalization programmes. The Summit took note of the negative consequences of climate change, affecting livelihoods of those dependent on Lake Chad, in particular youth. The Summit urged the concerned countries and partners support the restoration of Lake Chad as part of a strategy to combat Boko Haram.

    Mr. President,                                                                                  

    The UN stands ready to support the Lake Chad Basin countries in addressing both the consequences and root causes of Boko Haram. We encourage the leaders of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to hold their long-planned joint Ministerial Summit to adopt a common regional strategy to address the crisis. Your support would help underscore the urgency of the matter.  

    Thank you.

  • 18 Jul 2016

    Mr. President, Member of the Security Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    A year ago, the Security Council adopted resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  This resolution, including the historic agreement it addresses, stands apart as a signal accomplishment in the history of this Council.  Through diplomacy and negotiations – China, France, Germany the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, with the support of the European Union,  and Iran – addressed one of the most pressing peace and security issues on the agenda of the Security Council for the last decade.  

    Resolution 2231 (2015) heralded a new chapter for Iran’s relationship with the Security Council.  Fully implemented, the JCPOA will reinforce global non-proliferation norms, and assure the international community of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme.  It will also, through sanctions lifting, help to realize the long-awaited hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people to be reconnected to the global economy and the international community.  

    Six months after Implementation Day, the Secretary-General commends the Islamic Republic of Iran for implementing its nuclear-related commitments, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  He also commends the European Union and the United States for the steps they have taken in accordance with their sanctions-related commitments under the JCPOA.  

    As we consider today’s report on the implementation of the provisions of Annex B to resolution 2231 (2015), we do so against this backdrop of progress in the implementation of the JCPOA and the expressed commitment of all its participants to jointly work through implementation challenges. 

    As the Secretary-General noted in his report, implementation challenges exist for any agreement, let alone one as comprehensive and complex as the JCPOA.   He calls on all participants to stay the course, fully implement all aspects of this landmark agreement, and work through challenges in a spirit of cooperation and compromise, good faith and reciprocity.

     

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the first report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 2231 (S/2016/589).  This report was circulated to the Council on 1 July pursuant to Annex B to resolution 2231 (2015) and paragraph 7 of the note by the President of the Council issued on 16 January 2016 (S/2016/44) and has been issued today.   

    This report focuses strictly on the restrictive measures in Annex B to resolution 2231 (2015) that came into force on 16 January 2016.  Our mandate is not to report on all other provisions of the resolution or Annex A (on the JCPOA), nor touch upon the work of the Joint Commission established in the agreement. These Annex B provisions include restrictions on nuclear-related transfers and activities; ballistic missile-related transfers and activities; arms-related transfers; as well as an assets freeze and a travel ban. 

    The report informs the Security Council that, since 16 January 2016,  the Secretary-General has not received any report, nor is he aware of any open source information, regarding the supply, sale, transfer or export to Iran of nuclear-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of the JCPOA and resolution 2231 (2015).  

    As Council members are aware, the Secretariat helped to establish the operational linkages between the Security Council and the Procurement Working Group of the Joint Commission for the processing of nuclear-related proposals submitted by Member States under the procurement channel.  These have been established, with due regard for information security and confidentiality.  Optional forms in all six UN official languages are also available for use by Member States on the Council's 2231 webpage.

    I now turn to the restrictive measures on ballistic missile-related transfers and activities. Mr. President,  since 16 January, the Secretariat has received no information regarding the supply, sale, transfer or export to Iran of ballistic missile-related items undertaken contrary to the provisions of  resolution 2231 (2015).   

    However, in early March 2016, during military exercises, Iran launched a series of ballistic missiles.  The report includes details of those launches from Iranian media sources and information provided to the Secretary-General from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.  The report also includes the views of Iran on the issue.  As you are aware, the Security Council discussed those launches on 14 March and 1 April.  There are clear differences in the Council regarding whether those ballistic missile launches are inconsistent with the resolution. Iran too has its own interpretation of this provision. While it is for the Security Council to interpret its own resolutions, the Secretary-General stressed that we must maintain the momentum created by the conclusion of the JCPOA, consistent with its constructive spirit. In this regard, he calls upon Iran to avoid such ballistic missile launches which have the potential to increase tensions in the region.

    In terms of restrictions on arms transfers, the report notes the seizure of an arms shipment by the US Navy in the Gulf of Oman in March of this year.  The United States concluded that the arms had originated in Iran and that this transfer was contrary to the provisions of Annex B to the resolution. Iran informed the Secretariat that it never engaged in such activity. The Secretariat will continue reviewing the information provided by both countries.  

    The report also provided information to the Security Council on the participation of Iranian entities in the Fifth Iraq Defense Exhibition held from 5 to 8 March in Baghdad. It is our understanding that the transfer of arms from Iran to Iraq should have required prior approval by the Security Council, pursuant to paragraph 6 (b) of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015).  Iran considered that no prior approval was required from the Council for this activity because Iran retained ownership of the items exhibited. It also appears that the Defense Industries Organization, an entity currently on the 2231 List, may have participated in the exhibition, which may have implications for the implementation of the assets freeze provisions in Annex B. 

    Finally, the report also draws the attention of Council members to the possible foreign travel undertaken by Major General Qasem Soleimani contrary to the provisions of Annex B to the resolution. 

     

    Mr. President,

    In resolution 2231 (2015), the Council expressed its desire to bring about a fundamental shift in is relationship with Iran.  I would like to share with you that we had regular and close interactions with Iran throughout the process of drafting this report, including sharing with its representatives relevant information that the Secretariat was examining and providing them with a right of reply.  The Secretariat intends to continue its close interaction with Iran.  The next report of the Secretary-General will be submitted to the Council in January 2017. 

     

    Mr. President,

    As we mark the first anniversary of the JCPOA and the adoption of resolution 2231 (2015), the Secretary-General wishes to reaffirm the enormous responsibility that JCPOA participants carry for the full and effective implementation of this agreement.

    Hope for a more secure world, closer partnership to resolve common challenges, and the deliverance of tangible benefits for the people of Iran rest in your hands. 

     

     

  • 7 Jul 2016

    Офис Представителя ООН на Женевских Международных Дискуссиях

    тридцать седьмая встреча механизма по предотвращению и реагированию на инциденты (МПРИ) состоялась под председательством ООН в Гали.

    Участники обсудили различные вопросы по повестке встречи, включая обсуждение фатального инцидента, произошедшего 19 мая в точке пересечения, село Хурча. Они обменялись обновленной информацией о ходе расследований инцидента и последующих процессуальных действий, проводимых грузинскими и абхазскими правоохранительными органами. Грузинские участники передали всем участникам дополнительные материалы по своему расследованию.

    Участники также обсудили похищение и исчезновение бывшего официального лица Гальского района в феврале 2007 года, а также, убийство одного абхазского высокопоставленного военного офицера в городе Гали в октябре 2008 года. Абхазские участники передали грузинским участникам документ по второму случаю. Было решено продолжить обсуждение этих случаев и инцидента от 19 мая на следующей встрече МПРИ.

    Другие вопросы, включая обеспокоенность по поводу установление заграждений (“borderization”), процедур пересечения и необходимых документов для пересечения для местного населения, были подробно обсуждены.

    Участники также отметили полезность «горячей линии» в своевременном и надлежащем рассмотрении возникающих вопросов.

    Встреча прошла в конструктивной и деловой атмосфере, характеризуемой профессиональным подходом всех участников.  

    Было решено провести следующую встречу МПРИ в Гали,  2 августа 2016 г.

     

    Go to English version.

  • 6 Jul 2016

    On 6 July 2016, the thirty-seventh meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) chaired by the United Nations was held in Gali.  

    The participants discussed various issues on the agenda, including follow up of the 19 May fatal incident at the crossing point, Khurcha village. They exchanged updates on the ongoing investigations of the incident and subsequent legal proceedings conducted by the Georgian and Abkhaz law enforcement authorities. The Georgian participants submitted additional materials on their investigation to all participants.

    The participants also discussed the kidnapping and disappearance of a former Gali district official in February 2007, as well as, the murder of one Abkhaz high-ranking military officer in Gali town in October 2008. The Abkhaz participants handed over a document related to the second case to the Georgian participants. It was agreed to continue a discussion on those cases and the 19 May incident at the next IPRM meeting.

    Other issues, including concerns about erection of barriers (“borderization”), modalities of crossing and the required crossing documents for the local population, were discussed in detail.

    The participants also noted usefulness of hotline in addressing emerging issues in a prompt and adequate manner.

    The meeting took place in a constructive and businesslike atmosphere characterized by professional engagement of all participants.

    It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM in Gali on 2 August 2016.

  • 15 Jun 2016

    Mr. President,

    I have the honour to present the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA). The report before you presents the main threats to peace and security in Central Africa, as well as an update on the activities undertaken by UNOCA in the last six months, in consultation with Member States, United Nations entities, and sub-regional organizations.

    The successful holding of presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic has brought the Transition to an end. I am pleased that the country has reached this important milestone, putting the Central African Republic back on the path of sustainable peace, development and longer-term peacebuilding. I commend the Governments, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and other United Nations entities, as well as partners that have worked tirelessly to end the crisis in the Central African Republic. President Faustin Archange Touadéra enjoys widespread support and the population wants and needs change for the better. At the same time, the challenges before the Central African Republic remain immense, in the context of ongoing, serious protection and humanitarian needs, crushing poverty and urgent requirements in the areas of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation as well as on security sector reform. Armed groups still control large parts of the country, and the Government is in need of the full political, programmatic and financial support of the international community to ensure the re-establishment of state authority throughout the country. Despite recent positive developments, it is critical that partners remain engaged and redouble their assistance to the country across all the thematic areas of need, in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity that is before us. I commend the Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States for their invaluable support to the Central African Republic to date and encourage them to continue to accompany the Central African Republic in its post-transition efforts.

    As I previewed during my last briefing in December, there are political tensions of concern in other countries in Central Africa linked to recent or upcoming electoral processes. This undermines the ongoing work to consolidate stability, development and democracy in countries of the sub-region and also the necessary work of integration across the area.  I will continue to use my good offices to engage with stakeholders in the sub-region to encourage the peaceful resolution of these disputes. I also believe that it is crucial to redouble our conflict prevention efforts in countries where elections are still due to take place this year, including through the promotion of inclusive political dialogue.

     

    Mr. President,

    Since my last briefing to the Council, I am pleased to report that the collective efforts of the Lake Chad Basin countries have reduced the capacity of Boko Haram to undertake frequent attacks, as it had in the past. The cross-border operations by the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have captured Boko Haram fighters, freed captives and reclaimed territory from the terrorist group. However, the ability to conduct precise counter-insurgency operations is often compromised, due to an assessment by security forces that Boko Haram operatives live among the local population. Despite the successes realized, Boko Haram continues to pose a serious threat to regional stability. The group persists in targeting civilians, including through suicide attacks, often using young girls as bombers. Additionally, the risk that Boko Haram attracts or catalyzes other terrorist threats in the sub-region should not be discounted. While humanitarian assistance has been mobilized for the populations affected by Boko Haram, the number of internally displaced persons and refugees fleeing from Boko Haram violence continues to rise, with limited funding received thus far to address the growing humanitarian needs.

    For these reasons, it is crucial that international partners maintain their support to the region to end the threat posed by the group and stress the need for a holistic regional approach, as emphasized during the Second Regional Security Summit, held in Abuja on 14 May.  I urge the international community to support the Multi-National Joint Task Force through the mobilization of requisite political, logistical and financial support in a flexible manner.

    While assistance to the MNJTF is critical, so is the need to finance and implement early recovery and development activities in the affected areas.  In this regard, I will continue to work in close cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel to engage the concerned Governments and the sub-regional bodies ECCAS and ECOWAS to ensure their continued support to the MNJTF and the allocation of adequate humanitarian and development assistance to the affected populations. We will also continue to encourage them to ensure that counter-terrorism operations are carried out in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. However, the support and assistance of the international community to reduce the burden on the affected States will be crucial to winning the fight against Boko Haram.

     

    Mr. President,

    The LRA continues to threaten the security of the population in its operating area and has notably increased its alleged attacks in the Central African Republic during the reporting period, reportedly extending into areas that had previously seen little to no LRA movement.  Group elements have also persisted in attacking the civilian population in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Overall, the LRA appears now to be deviating from what had been for a certain period of time a low-profile posture, with attacks against larger and less isolated population areas being noted and an increased number of children kidnapped and kept. We must keep this in mind and continue our efforts until the job is finally completed.

    UNOCA has continued its active engagement to fill coordination gaps on the LRA issue during the reporting period, convening the bi-annual meeting of LRA focal points in April and also, together with the African Union and other United Nations partners, organizing a workshop in March to identify more clearly the respective roles and responsibilities of different actors in LRA-affected countries that are assisting LRA members who have defected or escaped from the group. UNOCA also assisted in the organization of a meeting of the African Union’s Joint Coordination Mechanism in May, which called for the mobilization of additional resources for the Regional Task Force, a particularly important issue given the decision of Uganda to withdraw from the force in the near future. The UN is concerned about the impact of Uganda’s potential withdrawal on the security situation in eastern Central African Republic and calls on all stakeholders, including the Governments of Uganda and of the Central African Republic, as well as partners, to ensure that a potential departure of Ugandan troops is undertaken in an orderly and coordinated manner.

     

    Mr. President,

    I am pleased to report that progress has been made in the operationalization of the regional strategy on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, to include a number of recommendations having been adopted regarding the programme of activities, budget, and administration of the Interregional Coordination Centre. I also welcome the scheduling of the African Union summit on maritime security and development in Lomé in October.

    In all of UNOCA’s work, our principal partner remains the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and during the reporting period we have focused on the further strengthening of the relationship between the two institutions.  This has included coordination with the Secretary-General of ECCAS on the provision of UNOCA support for the reform of ECCAS’ institutions, as well as the conclusion of a new cooperation framework agreement to guide our joint action.  In this context, I welcome the briefing of Secretary-General Ahmad Allam-Mi to the Council today.

     

    Mr. President,

    We look forward to the continued engagement of the Security Council in promoting peace and security in Central Africa. UNOCA will continue to work closely with Member States of the sub-region towards this important endeavor.

    I thank you for your attention.

  • 8 Jun 2016

    Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the second “Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat.”

    This Report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 97 of Security Council resolution 2253 (2015), which requested the Secretary-General to submit an initial strategic-level report, followed by updates every four months, that demonstrate and reflect the gravity of the threat that ISIL represents to the international community and the principles and values of the Charter of the United Nations.

    The Secretary-General’s initial report (S/2016/92), published on 29 January 2016, addressed the areas identified by the Council, including the risks posed by Foreign Terrorist Fighters and ISIL’s funding sources, and contained recommendations for strengthening the capacities of Member States to mitigate the threat posed by ISIL, as well as ways in which the United Nations could support those efforts.

    This update report (S/2016/501) provides an updated assessment on the gravity of the threat posed by ISIL and associated groups and entities, their funding sources, and geographic and thematic trends of the threat. It also highlights Member States and United Nations efforts and progress in implementing related counter-terrorism measures.

    The report was prepared with the input of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, the contribution of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, and in close collaboration with the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), and other relevant United Nations actors and international organizations.        

     

    Mr. President,

    The report stresses that the threat posed by ISIL and its associates remains high and continues to diversify. ISIL’s military setbacks in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic could be one of the factors behind the marked increase in the rate of returnee foreign terrorist fighters.  However ISIL is yet to be strategically or irreversibly weakened. The inflow of arms and ammunition directly or indirectly into ISIL-held territory remains a serious concern.

    Given its recent military setbacks, ISIL may be moving into a new phase, elevating the role of its affiliates; trying to move funds outside the current zones of conflict; and increasing the risk of complex, multi-wave and international attacks.

    The bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March 2016 demonstrate the important role that returned foreign terrorist fighters can play in coordinating terrorist operations.

    The Report also notes that for the first time since the declaration of its so-called Caliphate, in June 2014, the ISIL core is under financial pressure. ISIL is trying to compensate for the loss in oil revenues, mostly due to international airstrikes, by intensifying efforts at “taxation” and extortion. It is not clear how much revenue ISIL earns from antiquities smuggling, which now also may be from Libya and Yemen, but this practice remains a source of income as well.

    The Report emphasizes that in this context, ISIL may attempt to: exploit additional revenue-generating activities, such as the kidnapping of international hostages; move funds internationally, through informal and formal channels; and convert local currency into currency or commodities such as gold which can be more easily transferred internationally. ISIL’s provision of funds to its affiliates and networks also represents a major concern. 

    Significant numbers of foreign terrorist fighters continue to travel to join ISIL in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq from States around the world, often using “broken travel” techniques and false or stolen travel documents. In terms of current trends, the Report notes the risks that returned foreign terrorist fighters represent for regions such as South-East Asia and countries such as Libya.

    This update Report also highlights evolving aspects of the threat posed by ISIL:

    1. In Libya, the terrorist group has gained control over territory in a relatively short time. Despite its difficulties to consolidate gains, build alliances, and compete with other actors, Libya risks to become a hub for ISIL’s expansion in the wider Maghreb and Sahel region and beyond. 
    2. In Afghanistan, despite some military setbacks in 2015 and 2016, ISIL has proven its ability to hold limited terrain and to conduct terrorist attacks in cities beyond its core territory.
    3. Information and communication technologies continue to be a key enabler for ISIL and its affiliates, and play an essential role in helping these groups function, recruit, gather supplies and attack.
    4. Sexual violence continues to be used as a tactic of terrorism to increase ISIL’s power, revenue and recruitment base, as well as to shred the social fabric of targeted communities.  

     

    The Report also highlights Member States and United Nations efforts and progress in implementing related counter-terrorism measures in a number of thematic areas:

    Since the Secretary-General’s initial report on the threat posed by ISIL, Member States have continued to update their legislation in response to Security Council resolution 2178; strengthened their capacities to effectively investigate and prosecute complex terrorism-related cases; sought to identify barriers to the sharing of financial information; worked on designing and implementing comprehensive border-management strategies; and paid increased attention to the development of comprehensive approaches to countering recruitment and preventing and countering violent extremism, among other areas.

    During the same period, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force finalized the Security-Council mandated capacity-building implementation plan for countering the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. The implementation plan includes 37 mutually reinforcing project proposals submitted by 12 CTITF entities, prioritized by CTED geographically and thematically. The Plan addresses the entire life-cycle of the Foreign Terrorist Fighter phenomenon, from their radicalization, to travel, operationalization, fighting, reintegration and rehabilitation. The total budget of the entire plan is 100 to 120 million dollars over 3 to 5 years. To date, we have identified approximately 10 percent of the needed funding from donors, and commenced a number of the projects included in the Plan, including on Advanced Passenger Information.

    To implement all the projects and help Member States make an impact on the Foreign Terrorist Fighter phenomenon, further funding will be required. To this end, you will recall that in S/PRST/2015/11, the Security Council encouraged “Member States to provide needed financial and other assistance to CTITF and UNCCT”.

    Since January, the UN CTITF entities have also implemented specialized capacity-building programmes to counter the financing of terrorism, strengthen border controls and implement Advanced Passenger Information systems; developed a Counter-Terrorism Prosecutors Network; launched an innovative project on private sector engagement in responding to terrorists’ use of information and communication technologies; organized a major international conference in Geneva on preventing violent extremism.

    In the field, UNSMIL has prepared assessment reports on ISIL, which it shares with Member States to support their efforts to counter the threat of ISIL. UNSMIL has continued to support the efforts of the Presidency Council in leading Libya’s transition and the establishment of the Government of National Accord to curtail further expansion of ISIL.  

     

    Mr. President,

    Despite the efforts of the international community, including the United Nations, to counter ISIL and despite ISIL’s military setbacks in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic and its financial pressures — ISIL continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security.

    In the face of this common threat, I would like to reiterate the Secretary-General’s call to unity and action, including in finding political solutions to the conflict in Syria, and assure you that the United Nations will continue to support Member States in implementing the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly.  

    The Secretary-General will provide an update of this report to this Council in four months’ time, as mandated by resolution 2253.

    Thank you, Mr. President. 

  • 27 May 2016

    On 27 May 2016, the thirty-sixth meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) chaired by the United Nations was held in Gali.  The meeting took place in a constructive and respectful atmosphere. Participants contributed to the discussion in a professional manner.

    The main agenda item of the meeting was the 19 May 2016 fatal shooting incident at Khurcha crossing point.  The Chair expressed his condolences to the family of the victim.  He appealed to the participants to share available information on the progress of investigations of the incident by respective law enforcement agencies in order to avoid escalation of tensions. 

    Participants exchanged information on the preliminary outcomes of these investigations.  They agreed to follow up the case at the next IPRM meeting.  

    It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM in Gali on 6 July 2016.

  • 27 May 2016

    On 27 May 2016, the thirty-sixth meeting of the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism (IPRM) chaired by the United Nations was held in Gali.  The meeting took place in a constructive and respectful atmosphere. Participants contributed to the discussion in a professional manner.

    The main agenda item of the meeting was the 19 May 2016 fatal shooting incident at Khurcha crossing point.  The Chair expressed his condolences to the family of the victim.  He appealed to the participants to share available information on the progress of investigations of the incident by respective law enforcement agencies in order to avoid escalation of tensions. 

    Participants exchanged information on the preliminary outcomes of these investigations.  They agreed to follow up the case at the next IPRM meeting.  

    It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the IPRM in Gali on 6 July 2016.

  • 26 May 2016

    Mr. President,

    Thank you for the renewed opportunity to brief the Council on challenges to peace, security and stability in West Africa, particularly in the Sahel region. I speak to you from Niamey, in Niger, where I have travelled as part of a tour of five Sahelian countries who are on the front line of humanity’s struggle with climate change. I will be travelling to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, right after this briefing, and will be sure to brief my hosts on the Council’s concern for the impact of climate change on peace and security in this region.

    West Africa and the Sahel have for some time now been faced with multifaceted challenges. From Dakar to Djibouti, climate change is one of the most important of these challenges as it directly affects, through its impact on societies and their livelihoods, security, development and stability. In this context, climate change becomes a fundamental threat to human security. In the maritime domain, natural resources are under-regulated and over-exploited, and criminal activities and piracy are threatening security and economic activities. Erosion and rising sea levels constitute another serious threat. Both regions experience various unresolved conflicts ranging from the renewed insurgency in the Niger Delta, deadly clashes between farmers and herders over scarce, and dwindling, agricultural resources, to terrorist activities in Northern Mali and North East of Nigeria, which have spilled over to neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger. These threats come hand in hand with organized crime, trafficking and violent extremism, and are exacerbated by recurring droughts that climate change, by all accounts, has rendered more frequent and hazardous. The landlocked character of the area and poor transport links is yet another strain, preventing regional trade that could provide employment and stimulate economies.

    On the positive side, the fight against terrorist activities is beginning to yield tangible and encouraging results, owing to a strengthened cooperation between the concerned countries and significant support by partners. In the short run, however, more effort is still needed to back the military campaign against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin area in terms of financial and operational support to the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), as well as to provide assistance to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of displaced persons and refugees, facilitating their return to safe areas and assisting them to rebuild their livelihoods. Further West, strengthened regional cooperation and sustained international support is also required to help the countries of the Sahel address the threat of terrorism which continues to spread beyond northern Mali and into West Africa and the Sahel. The United Nations remains committed to playing its part, within the parameters of its mandates, to help the region face these security challenges.

    In the long run, there is a growing awareness of the need to address the underlying causes of the crisis, which are underdevelopment, poor governance, and attendant poverty – all of which are, at least in part, linked to climate change. The theme of the 2nd regional Summit on security held in Abuja on May 14, “consolidating collective efforts for regional peace and development”, testified to the willingness of stakeholders to focus on the economic potential of the Lake Chad to alleviate poverty and bring development to the region. In the Sahel region, the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel guides the UN System’s multidimensional engagement to address the root causes of instability in the region. Mitigating the impact of climate change, which features prominently under the resilience pillar of the strategy, is a major objective of the strategy. This is being achieved in close partnership with actors like the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), which supports environmental monitoring and governance of natural resources.

     

    Mr. President,

    The Boko Haram onslaught has galvanized attention on the devastating effects of climate change affecting the Lake Chad Basin area: To mention just one, in the last 50 years, the surface area of Lake Chad has shrunk from 22,000 km2 in 1960, to 1,700 km2 in 1985. Since then, it has rebounded to about 8,000 km2, showing the unpredictability of external shocks severely straining people’s coping mechanisms. The Lake Chad, despite its vulnerability, is blessed with a rich biodiversity that offers opportunities for fishing, agriculture and livestock farming. It directly provides livelihood to about 2 million people while at the same time constituting a food-exporting hub that supplies nearly 13 million people, including inhabitants of the Chadian Capital N’Djamena and the capital of Borno state in Nigeria, Maiduguri.

    The economic opportunities of the Lake led to significant migration movements in the past, the consequence of which prove challenging today. As of 2015, the Lake Chad Basin is home to up to 50 million people, whereas its resources have decreased sharply. It is anticipated that the population would again double by 2030. The importance and urgency to restore the productive capacity of the Lake Chad in order to prevent crises in the future cannot be overemphasized.

    Another important area of note is the Niger River Basin Area. It is an enormous resource for sustaining and improving livelihoods as well as economic growth in the Sahel but now quickly dwindling as a result of the impact of extreme climate change and rainfall variability of the Niger River, the mainstay of Niger River Basin. The Basin covers nine countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Seven out of these nine countries are amongst the twenty poorest countries in the World. Up to 70% of the 130 Million people in the Basin area live in rural communities amidst food insecurity, a situation that can only get worse as the population is expected to double between now and 2050. Without real concerted and tangible efforts by these countries with international development support to address the acute challenges confronting the inhabitants of the basin, the consequences in the emerging future could be horrific when the river Niger along its 4,200 km course begins to dry up as can be visible in some sections already.

    I would also like to mention the “Great Green Wall Initiative” to combat desertification, conceived in 2005 by the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, adopted by the African Union in 2007, and signed by participating countries in Ndjamena in 2010. The Great Green Wall is another example of long- term approach attacking the root causes of poverty and marginalization. In fact, the ongoing security deterioration due to deadly confrontations between farmers and cattle breeders in some regions of Nigeria is just another reminder of the devastating effects of desertification.

     

    Mr. President,

    Faced with these challenges, West African and the Sahel countries are at a crossroads. While the responsibility for the implementation of these plans rests with the concerned governments, national budgets are already put under additional strain for higher security spending. External factors like insecurity in Libya and northern Africa, 'jihadists' returning from the Middle East, and environmental degradation are challenges beyond the scope of individual governments, and require international collective action. Thankfully, support starts to be forthcoming. The EU has already announced that 200 million euro from the Trust Fund for Africa that have been earmarked for security. However, humanitarian needs in the Lake Chad Basin area continue to grow, with some 9.2 million people in need of assistance. Over 2.4 million people have been driven out of their homes due to terrorist activities, of these, 1.5 million are children. Up to 90 per cent of the displaced have found refuge with host communities, placing a heavy strain on their resources and weakening their ability to withstand shocks. Despite this dire humanitarian situation, of the US $535 million requested for humanitarian assistance in the region, only 10 per cent has been received.

     

    Mr. President,

    Two days ago, world leaders gathered around the Secretary General in Istanbul to consider ways and means to jointly make the world hospitable for all. Amongst the five cores defined by the SG in his report “One humanity: shared responsibility”, I would like to highlight particularly the responsibility number one, “global leadership to prevent and end conflicts” and number 4: “change people’s lives – From delivering aid to ending need”, which very much apply to the situation in the Lake Chad Basin area and the Sahel.

     

    Mr. President,

    To conclude, I would like to stress that the issues cited above have been thoroughly reviewed over the years. Problems are identified, so are the set of actions to be taken to address those problems. A number of sound initiatives exist and yet, there is a feeling of frustration because results are not as tangible as one would have wished them to be. Pulling efforts together to rationalize the implementation of the existing plans would go a long way in achieving our common goal.

    I thank you for your attention.

  • 25 May 2016

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,

    Over the past decades, a broad consensus has been built around the understanding that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can only be resolved through negotiations and on the basis of a two-state solution. This consensus is at the core of the work of the Middle East Quartet, which continues to work with the parties and the region to bring about the necessary conditions for the resumption of meaningful negotiations. The Quartet is also finalising its first report on the impediments to the two-state solution and the way forward.

    In a matter of days a number of countries and the Secretary-General will come together in Paris to reaffirm their commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and to discuss how they can support constructively both parties in achieving this goal. All these efforts, Mr. President, important as they are, cannot be divorced from the stark reality on the ground that is affecting the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike.

    Despite the general downward trend in violence, on 18 April a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian teenager detonated a bomb on a bus in Jerusalem injuring 21 people, several of them seriously.

    I welcome President Abbas’ firm rejection of this brutal attack. It is deplorable, however, that some Palestinian factions chose instead to praise it. The UN’s is firm in its convictions that there can never, under any circumstances, be a justification for acts of terror.

    Days later on 27 April, a pregnant, 23-year-old Palestinian mother and her 16-year-old brother were tragically shot and killed under questionable circumstances at a checkpoint close to Jerusalem, reportedly by Israeli private security contractors, after allegedly attempting to carry out a knife attack against Israeli security forces. Palestinian eyewitnesses refute this claim and the case has once again raised concerns about the need to calibrate the use of force. I note that Israeli authorities have initiated an investigation and I encourage them to conduct it in a swift and transparent manner.

    The beginning of May, Mr. President, saw the biggest escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 conflict. Two tunnels were discovered and Israel carried out 14 incursions into Gaza in order to destroy them and seek out others. In the violent exchanges that followed, militants fired 40 mortars and eight rockets at Israel and the IDF conducted 13 airstrikes on targets in the Strip. Tragically, a Palestinian woman was killed by shrapnel and several others wounded.

    These incidents in recent weeks underscore the fragility of the security dynamics on the ground, particularly the threat to the ceasefire in Gaza, which needs to be vigorously upheld by all sides if we have to avoid slipping into another devastating conflict.

    Against this backdrop, the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) met in Brussels on 19 April and expressed concern over the damaging consequences of the current political impasse, the importance of preserving the two-state solution, and the sharp decline in donor aid to the Palestinian Authority. I am encouraged that both sides agreed to work with donors over the coming two years to build a more sustainable Palestinian economy by reducing the budget deficit and stimulating long-term economic growth.

     

    Mr. President,

    As Palestinians face mounting financial and institutional challenges, negative developments continue in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials on security arrangements for Area A have all but reached an impasse. I urge both sides to continue to work to bridge existing gaps. It is important to strengthen the capacity, the capability and authority of the Palestinian Security Forces in the areas of their responsibility, continued security coordination between both sides has played and continues to play a key part in reducing violence.

    I welcome the announcement by the Israeli authorities to facilitate access to a number of West Bank checkpoints and encourage them to make further efforts to ease movement between communities within the West Bank, including to East Jerusalem.

     

    Mr. President,

    I take this opportunity to note the continuation of demolitions of Palestinian structures in the West Bank. While the pace has somewhat slowed compared to last month, the number of structures that have been demolished or confiscated across the West Bank in 2016, exceeds the total for all of 2015. At least 900 people have been displaced. Although many of the structures that have been demolished are not dwellings, the loss of water wells, solar panels and animal shelters has impacted the livelihoods of over 2,500 people.

     

    Mr. President,

    Allow me to turn now to Gaza, where the situation continues to be desperate and highly volatile.

    We in the international community have a responsibility not to fail the Palestinians in Gaza, we have the responsibility to help them recover from the physical and emotional traumas of war, we have the responsibility to assist them in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods and, ultimately, to see Gaza and the West Bank reunited and the closures lifted.

    In early April, Israel suspended the private import of cement following the diversion of a substantial amount from its intended legitimate beneficiaries. After 45 days and intense efforts by the United Nations team on the ground, this suspension has been lifted. I highly appreciate the constructive work by Palestinian and Israeli authorities to successfully address the situation. All sides need to ensure that cement is used for civilian purposes only. Individuals or groups seeking to benefit from the deviation of construction materials -- for corruption, for building tunnels, or other reasons — must understand that they selfishly compound the suffering of their own people and sow the seeds of future violence.

    Reconstruction is a lifeline for the people of Gaza, however Gaza’s chronic energy and water crisis needs to be tackled without delay. Today, residents receive at most eight to twelve hours of electricity. On May 6th this crisis turned to tragedy, as three children from the al-Hindi family burned to death when their house in Gaza City caught fire from a candle lit during a power cut. It is deeply regrettable that some factions sought to use this tragedy to trade accusations and score political points, instead of uniting to address the energy crisis.

     

    Gaza’s hardships, Mr. President, seem to have no limits!

    Palestinians in Gaza are growing ever more desperate, seeing their prospects for living a normal life and recovering their economy blocked by Hamas’s military build-up, by Israel’s security measures and closures, by the lack of Palestinian unity, and the insufficient fulfilment of aid pledges by donors.

    Recent events clearly demonstrate that the spectre of violence looms ominously over the territory. Unless radically more is done to address the chronic realities in Gaza, it is not a question of ‘if’, but rather of ‘when’ another escalation will take place. I once again encourage donors to fulfil their commitments to support Gaza’s reconstruction, recovery and development.

    I welcome the recent opening by Egyptian authorities of the Rafah crossing on 11 and 12 May this year during which 2,090 Palestinians entered and exited. I encourage Egypt to explore ways to facilitate more frequent openings of the crossing, particularly for humanitarian cases, while respecting its legitimate and pressing security concerns in the Sinai.

     

    Mr. President, I want to turn briefly to one extremely important development, that is Hamas announcement of its intention to implement a number of death sentences.

    International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes” and pursuant to a trial and appeals process that scrupulously follow fair trial standards. I have serious doubts as to whether capital trials in Gaza meet these standards. There are also disturbing media reports indicating that the sentences could be carried out in public. This raises even more alarms as public executions are prohibited under international human rights law.

    What is also concerning is that these executions will be implemented without the approval of the Palestinian President, which is required under Palestinian law. Palestine is one and Gaza and the West Bank are its two integral parts.

    I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and I call on President Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty.

     

    Mr. President,

    As circumstances on the ground continue to deteriorate, to many, lamenting the disappearance of a negotiated two-state solution has become a default narrative. And yet, according to a recent study conducted by Tel Aviv University, close to 60 percent of the Jewish population and over 70 percent of Palestinians remain in favour of conducting peace negotiations.
    The will to advance towards peace clearly exists. What remains glaringly absent is the political will and bold leadership to make genuine progress a reality.

    We need collectively to ask ourselves whether those Israelis and Palestinians who today support a return to negotiations will continue to do so next year, or two years from now, if the prospects for peace remain out of reach. Prolonging the current impasse will sap any remaining optimism for finding a solution to the nearly 50-year old occupation.

     

    Mr. President,

    Turning briefly to other regional matters, you will be briefed separately on Syria later this week. With regard to Lebanon, the Secretary-General and the Security Council reiterated their calls yesterday on the Lebanese political parties to build on the holding of the municipal elections and elect a President of the Republic, a post which has now remained vacant for two years.
    In closing, Mr. President, let me welcome the recent statement by Egyptian President Sisi expressing Egypt‘s readiness to mediate a reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions so as to pave the way toward a lasting peace agreement with Israel. His call also to Israelis and Palestinians to continue the historic step towards peace taken by Israel and Egypt 37 years ago must not go unheeded, not in Israel, not in Palestine, and certainly not in the rest of the Arab world.

    I urge Palestinian leaders in Gaza and the West Bank to take up this opportunity and to deliver, at long last, to the Palestinian people an end to the issues that divide, and a commitment to strengthening the ties that bind them. And I also urge Palestinian and Israeli leaders to engage, through the initiatives that have been put forward, to bring a just, comprehensive and enduring peace to the people of Israel and Palestine.

    Thank you.

  • 24 May 2016

    Mr. President,
    Members of the Security Council,
    Excellencies,
    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Thank you for this opportunity to address the Open Debate on cooperation between the United Nations and African Union in the area of peace and security. I thank Egypt – as President of the Security Council – for bringing us together today for this timely discussion.

    While much progress has been made, threats to international peace and security in Africa remain real and numerous. The findings and recommendations of recent high level reviews of UN Peace Operations and of the Peacebuilding Architecture emphasize the imperative for strengthening the partnership between the UN and regional organizations, particularly with the African Union. This is based on the recognition that no single organization can succeed on its own in addressing the challenges that confront us. The United Nations values cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations. In the past decade, regional and sub-regional organizations have gained greater influence over conflict dynamics and regional politics. My office, the United Nations Office to the African Union is a critical bridge in supporting and strengthening the rapidly evolving cooperation and partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in peace and security.

    We are already reaping the dividends of our partnership. Working closely with the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities and Mechanisms (RECs/RMs), we have made significant progress in enhancing consultations, harmonizing positions and jointly engaging in international efforts to avert open conflict and to manage ongoing ones in many parts of Africa. Increasingly, the United Nations is working hand in hand with the AU and RECs/RMs to stabilize volatile situations across the continent – from the Lake Chad Basin to Somalia, Burundi and the Sahel.

    The 2016-2020 Africa Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) Roadmap emphasizes coherence and coordination across all pillars of APSA, and between the AU and its RECs/RMs, and provides a coherent approach for strengthening joint peace and security actions with the UN. 

     

    Mr. President,

    In recent weeks the UN and AU acted together to de-escalate political tensions in Comoros. Concerted United Nations and the African Union engagements with the parties in Comoros show the value of having the international community speak with one voice on an issue – encouraging restraint and promoting peaceful outcomes to disputes. These efforts should continue.

    In Burundi, we are working with the African Union, the East African Community (EAC) and other partners to support the parties to engage in an inclusive dialogue, the only way to resolve their differences in a sustainable manner. The United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council should continue to work together to encourage Burundians to find a durable solution to the crisis.      

    Yesterday, the UNSC and the AUPSC held their 10th annual consultations. In February, the two Councils met informally in Addis Ababa, focusing on the situation in Burundi. We commend the growing relationship between the two Councils as it helps build synergies, coordinate positions and promote the adoption of resolutions that are mutually supportive.

    To enhance the value of the growing strategic partnership between our two organizations,  the United Nations Secretariat is working with the African Union Commission to systematize working-level consultations, share information,  support  joint training and carry out joint exercises in early warning and  conflict prevention As part of our efforts,  we are working on a holistic approach that will elevate the partnership from ad-hoc arrangements to a more institutionalized approach to conflict prevention, management and resolution.. In that regard, we are finalizing a Joint UN-AU Framework for an Enhanced Partnership on Peace and Security.

     

    Mr. President,

    The report of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the subsequent Report of the Secretary General call for a stronger global partnership to ensure that the Councils can draw on a more resilient and capable network of actors, while continuing to stress the need for the African Union to have access to predictable and sustainable funding. The reports also call on the UN and AU to strengthen conflict prevention and mediation capacities.  The African Union has built and continues to put in place the African Peace and Security Architecture underpinned by the realization that conflicts are resolved through political solutions. Our collective challenge is to support and strengthen this architecture, particularly the African Standby Force and the African Union’s preventive diplomacy and mediation capabilities.

    I am more hopeful than ever that efforts to strengthen the partnership between the African Union and the United Nations will remain critical to the continued quest for security and stability in Africa.

    I wish you fruitful deliberations and look forward to the outcomes of this Open Debate and suggestions on how we can take them forward. Thank You.

  • 4 May 2016

    Mr. President,

    The Council has requested the Department of Political Affairs to brief on the political and security implications of the recent developments in Aleppo.

    At the outset, I wish to emphasise what the Secretary-General said to this Council yesterday. The pattern of systematic destruction is evident in Aleppo.  No corner of the city has been spared.  Aleppo is increasingly becoming a shell of what it once was. Government aerial bombardment of the city over the last two weeks represents some of the worst of the war.  Opposition shelling of government-controlled neighbourhoods has also led to death and destruction. There is a clear danger that these attacks and counter-attacks would continue to escalate and even spread beyond Aleppo.  We take note of the statement just issued by the U.S. Department of State that the United States and Russia concluded arrangements late yesterday to extend the nationwide Cessation of Hostilities to Aleppo, and we urge parties to abide by this immediately and comprehensively.

    You will hear shortly from Under Secretary General Stephen O’Brien on the humanitarian dimensions of the recent developments in Aleppo. But let me be clear, denying people access to essential humanitarian relief is a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Using starvation as a weapon during conflict is a war crime.  No cause can justify the toll in civilian lives that we continue to register around the country every day. All State and non-State parties to conflict are bound by a strict obligation to comply with rules of international humanitarian law. I remind Council members of the Secretary-General’s call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court. Those responsible for war crimes must be held to account.

    Unfortunately, the ever more shocking reports have been received from Aleppo city over the past two weeks. You have all seen the horrifying images of attacks on hospitals in both government and opposition held neighbourhoods of the city. Let me be absolutely clear once again: intentional and direct attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Indiscriminate attacks on civilian neighbourhoods in Aleppo also continue. There have been reportedly attempts at territorial advances by both government and opposition forces over the past weeks. Finally, reports of joint military operations being conducted by groups which are parties to the Cessation of Hostilities and those outside it such as the Al Nusra Front present a major challenge to stabilising the situation.

    The overall situation in Aleppo increasingly resembles some of the worst days of the pre-Cessation of Hostilities period. As mentioned, we understand that the US and Russia concluded arrangements for a “day of silence” in Aleppo and its surroundings starting at 00:01 Damascus time last night but whose implementation has proven challenging even as it has led to an overall decrease in violence. Consolidating and extending this agreement would be an important step in the right direction.  We also hope that the earlier announced arrangements of “days of silence” in parts of Damascus and Rural Latakia will also be consolidated and welcome the news that the “silence” has been extended in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus for the next 48 hours.

    We need to put the Cessation of Hostilities back on track throughout the country. All should do their fair share in this respect. Moving forward, additional measures are also needed to reinvigorate and ensure enhanced monitoring of the Cessation of Hostilities. In this respect, Special Envoy de Mistura held consultations with the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) Ceasefire Taskforce over the past two days and is in Berlin today meeting with the German and French officials. He also met separately the head of the opposition High Negotiations Committee.  I welcome the decision of the co-chairs to deploy additional staff to Geneva to increase the oversight of the Cessation of Hostilities.

     

    Mr. President,

    Turning now to the political process, Special Envoy de Mistura was clear in his briefing to the Security Council on 27 April. In order to be credible, the next round of negotiations should be supported by tangible progress on the ground in terms of a consolidated Cessation of Hostilities and increased humanitarian access. The Special Envoy intends re-convene Intra-Syrian negotiations in May, but doing so without progress in these two areas runs the real risk of a failed political process. The current levels of violence in Aleppo in particular negatively impact the ability of the Syrian parties to engage in negotiations.

    The Secretary-General has repeatedly said that there is no military solution to this conflict. The basic fact remains that the only way for peace to come to Syria is through a political solution based on a credible political transition that emerges from intra-Syrian Negotiations. With this in mind, during the 13-27 April round of negotiations, Special Envoy de Mistura developed a “Mediator’s Summary” that identified eighteen points necessary to move forward on political transition arrangements.  

    During this last round of negotiations progress was made in the sense that all participants, including the Syrian government, accepted that a Syrian-led transition is necessary in order to end the conflict. In future rounds, there is a need to determine how the respective visions of political transition that have been put forward conform to the requirements of SCR 2254 for a credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, the resolution´s endorsement of the Vienna Statements in pursuit of the full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué, and the resolution´s reiteration that inter alia a sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria includes the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions.

    Through SCR 2254, the Vienna Statements, and the Geneva Communiqué, the international community has already defined a number of core principles for any transition. Chief among these to ensuring a credible transition is the requirement set out in the Geneva Communiqué for all government institutions, including the security and intelligence services, to perform according to human rights and professional standards and operate under a leadership that inspires public confidence, under the control of the transitional governing body.

    We are at a point where the renewed backing of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) is required to take the intra-Syrian negotiations on a political transition process forward, based on the full implementation of SCR 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué. 

     

    Mr. President,

    As per SCR 2253 and numerous other resolutions of this Council, combatting terrorism is a top priority. The need to tackle this issue, however, should not prevent us from advancing serious negotiations on a political transition.  Now that terrorism is being addressed in a separate credible and parallel international track, it should not hinder progress on the political transition process.  Let us also be clear that there cannot be place for terrorism in Syria or anywhere else. Through the political process, one of the greatest contributions we can make to fight against ISIL and Al Nusra Front and their ideology is to achieve a comprehensive political transition to an inclusive, democratic and participatory state. 

     

    Mr. President,

    In accordance with SCR 2254, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy are trying to arrive at an agreed way forward by August. We cannot waste the opportunity of the negotiations in Geneva.  Allowing the parties to the conflict to play for time or territory on the ground to strengthen their position at the negotiating table would be a mistake. The UN will strive to resume the negotiations as soon as feasible, in the hope that meanwhile efforts to put the Cessation of Hostilities back on track will bear fruit. 

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • 28 Apr 2016

    Mr. President,

    Members of the Security Council,

    As the conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine is entering its third year, the Security Council meets today with both a sense of urgency and hope.

    The continued failure to fully implement the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” has underscored the crucial need to make progress toward a political settlement of the conflict.

    Since the Security Council last considered the situation in Ukraine, on 11 December 2015, some positive developments have been registered. Not least among them was a largely respected ceasefire during the last weeks of 2015. Also, the commitment, announced at the beginning of March this year in the framework of the Security Working Group regarding the implementation of additional sectorial agreements on demining in priority areas, and the prohibition of military training in the proximity of the contact line were encouraging steps.

    The meeting of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, the Russian Federation and Ukraine on 3 March and the continued investment of time and political capital by all relevant actors has also been instrumental in efforts to bridge prevailing differences and keep the focus on concrete milestones towards the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Regular meetings of the OSCE Trilateral Contact Group and its four Working Groups on political, security, humanitarian and economic matters, continue to be central in this regard.

    As the Council is aware, on 14 April 2016, the Ukrainian Parliament voted for the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Mr. Volodymyr Groysman. The new Government’s commitment to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements has been widely welcomed and there is expectation that it will be translated into further concrete actions. 

     

    Mr. President

    These developments are highly valuable in their own right. However, to an extent, these positive steps forward continue to be heavily undermined to some extent by an overall precarious and unsustainable situation in the conflict area. The total number of conflict-related casualties continues to climb, now standing at 30,729, including 9,333 killed and 21,396 injured since the beginning of the conflict in mid-April 2014. The latest tragic incident, which occurred on 27 April  during which at least four civilians were killed and at least eight others were injured by shelling in the village of Olenivka near the city of Donetsk, is a stark reminder of the high human cost of the continued conflict.

    While some of the recent civilian casualties have been caused by indiscriminate shelling, most are caused by landmines, booby traps, and other explosive remnants of war, which continue to represent the biggest threat to civilian life and security, underscoring the urgent need for extensive mine clearance and mine awareness actions on both sides of the ‘contact line’.

     

    Mr. President,

    We are pleased Ambassador Apakan is joining us, despite the late hour in Kiev. We look forward to hearing his assessment of the security situation in eastern Ukraine and thank the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) for continuing to dutifully carry out its mandate in what is often a challenging and dangerous environment.

    The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s role in eastern Ukraine remains instrumental. In order to carry out its mandate, the Mission must urgently be granted full and unfettered access, including to the border, as stipulated under the Minsk agreements. All efforts to hinder such access should be condemned.  And although the restrictions are happening on both sides of the contact line according to statistics provided by the Special Monitoring Mission, they seem to take place more in rebel-held areas.  Efforts to harass, intimidate and especially to perpetrate violence against the Mission must be deplored, and must cease immediately.

    Fighting is still reported daily, with a sustained period of escalation witnessed over recent weeks and months, at levels not seen since the intense phase of the conflict in August 2014. The frequent clashes are also coupled with increased presence and use of proscribed heavy weaponry, with more such weapons now reported outside of storage sites. In addition to these sobering developments, there is a lack of systemic mine action and reportedly high levels of military readiness and preparedness. This precarious situation should not be allowed to persist, because it will create fertile ground for a further deterioration of the situation.

    All parties must immediately cease hostilities and implement in earnest their commitments under the Minsk agreements as well as those made since then in the Trilateral Contact Group and its Security Working Group.

    Clearly, an improvement in the security situation would be crucial to create an environment conducive to progress in the political sphere. Of note are the ongoing negotiations in Minsk and among Normandy partners related to modalities for holding local elections in rebel-held areas of Donetsk and Luhansk under Ukrainian law and as per international standards. We hope that ensuing political, technical and legal divergences can soon be overcome. All concerned should find common ground and take immediate steps to live up to the commitments they have undertaken on other bedrock political issues, including amnesty and “special status” constitutional changes, as well as on exchange of prisoners.

     

    Mr. President,

    The situation in Ukraine is also grave on the humanitarian front. More than three million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance, especially those close to the ‘contact line’ and in areas beyond Government control. The ongoing suspension by the de facto authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces of almost all UN and INGO operations since July 2015 is of great concern. Undue bureaucratic impediments deprive hundreds of thousands of people access to urgently needed essential services, supplies and other protection activities.

    This is further compounded by the decision of the Ukrainian Government to suspend social payments, including pensions, to an estimated 600,000 displaced people, pending verification of their status. While the legitimate right of the Government to combat fraud is understandable, it is important to put in place a transparent system that provides clear information about the criteria for any cancellation of benefits, and proper communication to those concerned.

    It is also important that freedom of movement of civilians is ensured and that they have sustained and safe access across the ‘contact line.’  As a result of recent closure of and failure to open new checkpoints,  many civilians continue to queue for hours, often at night, in unsafe locations just to access basic services or visit  families and properties. 

     

    Mr. President

    The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, through its Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, continues to monitor and report on the situation of human rights throughout the country, and to make recommendations to all parties to the conflict.

    There are a number of pressing human rights concerns. The question of missing persons and the need to create a mechanism by which all parties to the conflict exchange information and cooperate to establish the whereabouts of those who went missing in the conflict zone remains critical. In Crimea, isolation from mainland Ukraine continues to grow, with deepening concerns for the human rights situation in the peninsula. The recent decision to ban the activities of the Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatars, are of particular concern.  

    On a positive note, on 29 December 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine published the National Human Rights Action Plan. This is a welcome step as the document is a roadmap to address systemic human rights challenges and conflict-related matters, and envisages a list of actions to be taken by different state institutions pursuant to the National Human Rights Strategy. It is of paramount importance that the Plan be implemented. However, nearly four months after its adoption, not all activities envisaged during that period have been implemented.

     

    Mr. President,

    The United Nations Secretariat continues to cooperate closely with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and remains ready to support, as requested and deemed helpful, the complex and challenging mandate entrusted to OSCE in Ukraine.  We commend the vital contribution of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, the Trilateral Contact Group and its four Working Groups, and the Normandy Four leaders, as well as other diplomatic partners for their efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

    In coordination with local and regional organizations, the United Nations also continues to carry out critical and effective work in the humanitarian, human rights, reconstruction, and reconciliation spheres, aimed at responding to urgent as well as longer needs of the affected population in Ukraine.

    Ultimately, however, progress in the peace process depends on the political will of the parties, on their readiness and willingness to find a peaceful resolution of the conflict, through tangible deeds both on the ground and at the negotiation table. The United Nations remains committed to supporting a peaceful resolution of the conflict, in a manner that fully upholds the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

  • 25 Apr 2016

    Mr. President,
    Members of the Council,
    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Thank Mr. President for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

    As the Council is aware, piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea is regularly covered in the biannual briefings provided by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for the Central Africa and West Africa regions. However, this is the first time in almost five years that the Security Council has a dedicated a session on the subject matter.

    Over the past few years, there has been a steady decline in the number of recorded incidents of piracy, armed robbery at sea and other illicit and illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.  However, insecurity at sea remains a source of concern in the region.  In the first quarter of 2016, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre has recorded six attacks and six attempted attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, including nine in Nigeria, one in Côte d'Ivoire, and two within the territorial waters of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Cases of hijacking of vessels for political purposes by the self-described “Biafra” militants off the coast of Nigeria and kidnappings along the coasts of Western and Central Africa have also been recently recorded.

     

    Mr. President,

    As you may recall, following an upsurge in incidents of piracy, armed robbery at sea and other illicit activities in the Gulf of Guinea, the Security Council, in its resolutions 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012), encouraged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) to develop a comprehensive regional anti-piracy strategy for the Gulf of Guinea with United Nations support.

    As a result, a Summit of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, ECCAS and the GGC on Maritime Safety and Security in the Gulf of Guinea was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in June 2013, with the support of UNOWAS and UNOCA.  During the Summit, the Heads of State and Government committed to work towards the promotion of peace, security and stability in the Gulf of Guinea.  Notably, the Summit adopted: i) a Memorandum of Understanding on maritime safety and security in Central and West Africa that set objectives and areas of cooperation; ii) a Code of Conduct; and iii) a Political Declaration on enhancing cooperation in the Gulf of Guinea.  The Summit also agreed on the creation of an Inter-regional Coordination Centre (ICC) to implement the Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa and established a clear division of labour which charged the  regional organizations with responsible for strategy and coordination, and the States with responsibility for operations.

    The Inter-Regional Coordination Centre was inaugurated in Yaoundé on 11 September 2014 to coordinate all operations with regard to the suppression of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.  This marked an important, positive step in the cooperation between West and Central Africa in the fight against piracy and crimes at sea in the Gulf of Guinea region.

    The Inter-Regional Cooperation Centre is expected to coordinate two Regional Maritime Coordination Centres: namely the Regional Maritime Security Centre for Central Africa (CRESMAC) located in Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo, and ii) the yet to be established Regional Maritime Security Centre for West Africa (CRESMAO) to be located in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

    The Regional Maritime Coordination Centre for Central Africa has been operational since its official launch in October 2014, while the Multinational and Regional Maritime Coordination Centres are at different stages of operationalisation.  However, despite its inauguration in 2014, the ICC itself is not fully operational due to staffing, funding and other logistical constraints.

     

    Mr. President,

    An Extraordinary Meeting of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS, ECOWAS and the GGC was held in Yaoundé on 12 February 2016 to address the challenges towards the operationalisation of the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre. Both the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for West Africa and Central Africa attended the meeting on behalf of the UN.  The meeting reviewed the ICC’s staff recruitment and procedures, the budget for the second half of 2016 and for 2017, as well as a proposed programme of activities.

    With regard to the budget, the meeting recommended that member States contribute 40 percent of the necessary resources, while bilateral and international partners would contribute the rest. The Summit also recommended that ECCAS, ECOWAS, the GGC and their member States expedite the disbursement of funds to allow for the operationalization of the ICC between July and December 2016. Moreover, it was proposed that additional sources of funding be explored through the taxation of beneficiaries of the ports situated in the Gulf of Guinea.

    The mobilization of resources remains a key priority for ensuring the effective operationalization of the ICC, particularly given that a significant component of the centre’s budgetary resources is expected to come from bilateral and international partners.  For this reason, the Heads of State and Government of ECCAS, ECOWAS and GGC have agreed, in principle, on the organization of a future conference of partners and third-party contributors in Yaoundé. The conference is expected to be held immediately after the meeting of the G7 ++ and Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, which is scheduled for 6 to 7 June in Lisbon, Portugal.  The United Nations is committed to assist in this endeavour through its regional offices in Central and West Africa.

     

    Mr. President,

    Tackling international crimes of trafficking, piracy and theft requires a combination of efforts and an understanding that suppression, while necessary, is not sufficient. Those who commit illegal acts at sea are highly adaptable, increasingly sophisticated in their methods and often well-informed. This requires national, regional and global efforts to be flexible and proactive.  Initiatives aimed at addressing socio-economic development and lack of job opportunities are also required to provide prospects to marginalised populations that may be involved in piracy activities, most notably the youth.

    Ultimately, countering the current threats requires a combination of capacities including qualitative improvements in the collection of intelligence; the sharing and improved analyses of intelligence; enhancement of the capacities (both infrastructure and training) of local law enforcement agencies of the Gulf of Guinea countries; and the establishment of an effective customs and border control system throughout the sub-region. 

    It is also important to avoid duplication of international capacity-building efforts with respect to maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.  The G7++ and the Friends of the Gulf of Guinea groups have been serving as useful coordination platforms in this regard.

    Finally, and most importantly, the African Union is scheduled to hold an Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security and Development for Africa on 15 and 16 October 2016 in Lomé, Togo.  We believe the Summit will provide a unique opportunity for the countries of the region to renew their commitment to jointly enhance the maritime security architecture in the Gulf of Guinea.

    Thank you for your attention.

  • 12 Apr 2016

    Today, United Nations Under-S‎ecretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr Jeffrey Feltman, concluded his two-day visit to Armenia. In meetings with President Sargsyan, Foreign Minister Nalbandian, Minister of Justice Hovhannisyan, Mr Feltman discussed UN-Armenian cooperation, ranging from Armenia's  contributions to the United Nations as well as the work of the UN Country Team in Armenia to assist Armenia in attaining the SDGs, governance and human rights as well as  addressing humanitarian emergencies. He witnessed the signing of the Country Programme actions plans of UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA with the Foreign Minister.

    Mr Feltman  emphasised the UN's full support for the ongoing efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Co-Chairs to bring the parties urgently back to the negotiating table to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Nagarno-Karabakh conflict. Mr Feltman underscored that there had to be accountability for violations of the Geneva Conventions and international human rights.‎ While it is encouraging that the ceasefire is largely holding, he underscored the imperative of stabilising the situation irreversibly and preventing a return to military action. There is no alternative to a political process as proposed by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and to restore trust between the sides.‎ 

    Read the Politically Speaking article here.

  • 8 Apr 2016

    Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 
    Dear Colleagues,

    First of all, words of thanks: to H.E. Mr. Stephan Husy, Ambassador-at-Large for Counter-Terrorism, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, for co-chairing this session with me. 

    And to my UN colleagues for their participation - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al-Hussein, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura, CTED Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde, UNDP Assistant Administrator, Izumi Nakamitsu, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner Volker Türk, and UN Women Deputy Executive Director Yannick Glemarec.

    And of course to all of you for contributing to our common thinking on and efforts to prevent violent extremism.

    Under the theme of this session, “Preventing Violent Extremism -  The Way Forward - Action at the Global Level”, I would like us to consider two aspects in particular, building on the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action:

    • How and where does the global level in general and the UN in particular add value to the efforts of Member States?
    • And how is and should the UN therefore (re-)oriente its support to Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations at Headquarters and in the field to enhance our common efforts to prevent violent extremism?

     

    How and where does the global level in general and the UN in particular add value to the efforts of Member States?

    Let me start off by reaffirming the principles underpinning the UN’s work:

    First, the principle of national ownership is at the origin of all our efforts, as recognized in the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action by the emphasis on the development of national PVE Plans of Action. Thus, the role of the United Nations should be to support Member States who have the primary responsibility for developing National Plans of Action.

    Second, as the Secretary-General has consistently stated: “The threat of violent extremism is not limited to any one religion, nationality or ethnic group.” Contexts differ, there may be external factors that have to be taken into account, but violent extremism is a global phenomenon, as starkly demonstrated by the more than 30.000 Foreign Terrorist Fighters that come from more than 100 countries across the world. That is why the Secretary-General has called for a global and inclusive PVE partnership.  

    Third, the UN’s conviction and commitment to addressing all areas affected by violent extremism and in turn conducive to its prevention in a balanced manner: peace and security, human rights, sustainable development and humanitarian assistance.

    And fourth, the questions of definitions of and differentiation between terrorism and violent extremism is the prerogative of Member States. At the UN, we have followed your guidance in that we address “violent extremism as conducive to terrorism”. We are thereby striving to move our support to Member States upstream, from reaction and response to prevention at pre-terrorism stages. And this is not entirely new either: it is about addressing what all of us pledged to do in the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy: addressing conditions conducive to terrorism.

    Based on these premises and on our discussions with Member States and within the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, we have identified the following areas where global cooperation and UN support can provide benefits that national or regional activities and approaches cannot: 

    First, the global normative framework that UN Member States have set up and subscribed to sets inviolable standards that people who feel disenfranchised aspire to see realized for themselves. Moreover, and especially in the absence of definitions, it also provides us with a common agenda and reference points as to what deviates and undermines our principles and thus needs to be addressed. With our universal membership, Member States have also endowed us with convening power.

    Second, violent extremists do not respect borders, state sovereignty or thematic divisions in the executive branch of Government. We can only outsmart them, if we become as nimble as they are. 

    And third, we have to learn from one another. The UN can build bridges and facilitate the sharing of experiences and good practices, including South-South cooperation.

     

    How is and should the UN therefore (re-)orient its support to Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations at Headquarters and in the field, to enhance our common efforts to prevent violent extremism?

    We are anchoring our support to Member States in the broader preventive work of the UN: from preventing conflict to preventing relapse to preventing human rights violations to preventing unfulfilled SDGs. The Secretary-General has therefore asked us to adopt an “All-of-UN” approach in supporting Member States to prevent violent extremism both at Headquarters and in the field. Only if we leverage the individual strengths of our mandates and expertise will we be able to provide Member States with comprehensive support to their “all-of-Government and all-of-society” approaches. 

    To this end, the Secretary-General has asked that all relevant UN entities collaborate in developing specific deliverables in the seven priority areas identified in the Plan of Action: conflict prevention, human rights and rule of law, the engagement of communities, youth and women, skills development and strategic communications.

    The Secretary-General has also asked that UN missions and country teams review their own activities to ensure that they are doing everything possible to address the local drivers of violent extremism, and support requesting Member States, for example when developing National Plans of Action. 

    To better organize the UN system to allow for an effective “All-of-UN” approach, he Secretary-General will establish a High Level PVE Action Group, and a CTITF Inter-Agency Working Group on Preventing Violent Extremism will look at recommendations to develop PVE-sensitive programming across the UN system.

    My fellow UN panelists will inform you about their initiatives to support Member States in addressing the drivers of violent extremism.

    We are looking forward to hearing from you on where to prioritize, sensitize and adapt existing programmes to permit them to target the drivers of violent extremism more precisely and to introduce new PVE specific initiatives to close gaps.

    And we are looking to you for working with us to chart the global counter-terrorism and preventing violent extremism agenda in the coming years by reflecting your aspirations in the General Assembly resolution on the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy in June.

    Thank you.

  • 30 Mar 2016

           

  • 28 Mar 2016

    Madam President,
    Members of the Security Council,
    Excellencies,
    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Thank you for this opportunity to address the Open Debate on the role of women in conflict prevention and mediation in Africa, on behalf of the Department of Political Affairs.

    The Secretary-General has made the advancement of women a top priority since he assumed office in January 2007, and has instructed the senior management of the secretariat to place the issue at the centre of what they do. This system-wide focus signalled the beginning of an important reorientation informed by the basic fact that women living with conflict have strategic knowledge and networks that can contribute to its resolution.  Recent research has also established that women’s participation in peace talks not only facilitates the conclusion of agreements and their implementation, but crucially also the sustainability of peace.

     

    Madam President,

    For the Department of Political Affairs, promoting women’s effective participation in conflict mediation and addressing their specific needs in peacemaking efforts has been a priority since the Department undertook fifteen women, peace and security commitments in 2010.  As you are aware, the Department monitors and reports annually to the Security Council on progress made in implementing these commitments.

    As a result of senior leadership and institutional buy-in, combined with a systematic effort to mainstream these commitments in its work, the Department’s conflict prevention work has become increasingly inclusive.

    Since 2012, all UN mediation support teams have included women.  UN co-led mediation processes consult with women’s representatives on delegations of negotiating parties. These positive developments have improved the inclusion of stronger gender relevant provisions in ceasefires and peace agreements.

    To advance these efforts, the Department of Political Affairs has developed a high-level mediation skills training.  Half of the participants are women and the training aims to enhance gender parity and the future character and configuration of international peacemaking.  To build institutional capacity, the Department conducts a semi-annual Gender/Women Peace and Security training for our own staff.  In addition, some 164 envoys and senior mediation actors have taken part in our separate High-level Seminar series on Gender and Inclusive Mediation. 

    The Department also continues to implement its Joint Strategy with UN Women on Gender and Mediation.  It helps build mediation capacity for envoys and mediation teams by providing gender expertise and training while UN Women strengthens the capacity of regional, national and local women leaders and peace coalitions, and supports access opportunities for women in peace negotiations. We also document relevant lessons learned and develop practical guidance materials for mediators. The UN Guidance on Effective Mediation and the Guidance for Mediators on Addressing Conflict-related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements are yielding concrete results on the ground, where it matters the most.

     

    Madam President,

    We must, however, not forget that despite the concerted efforts by international and regional organizations, as well as by national governments to eliminate discrimination and promote the empowerment of women, unequal access and opportunities for women’s participation in political decision-making processes persists worldwide.

    As highlighted by all three peace and security reviews that were undertaken last year, prioritizing prevention and inclusive political solutions has never been more urgent.  It is only by uniting our efforts that we will be able to advance the principles underpinning the UN Charter.  Peace processes afford unique opportunities for promoting women’s effective participation.  The UN therefore supports regional and sub-regional organizations by promoting and strengthening regional capacities for inclusive mediation to enable more effective participation of women at all levels of peacemaking.

    This cooperation is built on the knowledge that women’s effective participation in transformative decision making processes will help address underlying inequalities and social divisions.  It also addresses the specific needs of women and helps to incorporate a stronger gender perspective in reconstruction, reconciliation and post conflict peace-building.

    During the last decade, we have sharpened our preventive tools and achieved some progress.  The good offices of the Secretary-General, our regional presences and our cooperation with regional organizations have yielded positive results.  Today, about 85 per cent of UN mediation involves working closely with regional and sub-regional organizations.

    To cite one example, the Department of Political Affairs has been working very closely with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) following the signing of a Framework for Cooperation between the two organizations in September 2010, focusing on the need to strengthen partnership in prevention, peacemaking and mediation.  In close coordination with UN Women, DPA continues to complement SADC’s efforts to advance the promotion of the women, peace and security agenda in the region.

    Further policy initiatives have seen the development of a Framework for Mainstreaming Gender into SADC's Peace and Security Architecture, and a Strategy for Combating Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Conflict and Post-conflict Situations.  And regionally, we welcomed the appointment by the African Union of its first Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security in 2014.

     

    Madam President,

    Our work on elections also underscores the centrality of women’s participation in decision-making processes.  The UN Office for West Africa actively enhances the role of women in conflict prevention and political participation.  In 2011, the Office started training and building the mediation and negotiation capacities of women and set up a network of 32 women mediators.  These women mediators have moved on to build the capacity of other women in the region, and have since contributed to national dialogue processes in Mali and Guinea.  The Office also helped advance women’s participation in electoral processes in Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Togo by supporting the adoption of legislation on gender parity and quotas to help women assume political office.

    Noticeable efforts have also been made by the African Union and other partners in the region to ensure that gender is more systematically integrated in electoral processes, including in election observation.  It is encouraging to note that currently the average rate of women Members of Parliament in Africa is slightly above the global average.

    To promote women’s political participation in Central Africa, the UN Office for Central Africa, in cooperation with its regional partner, ECCAS, organized in 2014 a gender workshop on the role of women in electoral processes in the region.  That effort has helped the Central Africa region to establish a platform for the promotion of women's participation in politics in the region.  And ahead of elections in Chad next month, the Office is taking steps to facilitate a national political dialogue.  A workshop on the participation of women was organized to feed into the broader dialogue with civil society organizations.

     

    Madam President,

    The case for inclusive preventive diplomacy is compelling. Experience has shown that if we are present, with early diplomatic initiatives, actively engaging civil society, and notably women’s organizations, with the support of the international community and the necessary resources, we stand a better chance of helping prevent and resolve conflicts, and in making political stability and peace sustainable.

    Thank you, Madam President. 

  • 24 Mar 2016

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,
     
    The past month has been marked by some of the bloodiest incidents in this current wave of violence across Israel and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. On March 8th, 28 year-old American graduate student Taylor Force was killed in Jaffa during a vicious stabbing spree by a Palestinian that left a dozen Israelis and a number of tourists wounded. Less than an hour before that, two Israeli police officers were seriously wounded in a shooting attack near Jerusalem's Old City, while at almost the same time, an Israeli man was stabbed in an attack outside Tel Aviv; thankfully he survived. Israeli security forces killed the Palestinian perpetrators in the first two incidents while in the third; the attacker was reportedly killed by his own knife in a struggle with his attempted victim.
     
    Mr. President,
     
    Six months into this latest round of violence which has killed 30 Israelis and 198 Palestinians – with most of the Palestinians killed while reportedly carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks – it is time that the international community moves beyond mere condemnations of such acts of terror and violence. It is time to send a clear message to both parties.
     
    To the Palestinian people we need say very clearly-- stabbing someone in the street will not bring about a Palestinian state. Nor will praising and glorifying violence in the media. Those radicals determined to poison the minds of Palestinian youth must recognise their central role in the slow evisceration of the dream of Palestinian statehood.
     
    By the same token, we must also be very clear- Israel should understand that building more walls, administrative detentions, punitive demolitions and movement restrictions, all breed anger among people who feel they are being collectively humiliated, punished and discriminated against.
     
    Heavy-handed responses play into the hands of extremists, undermine moderate voices, and further deepen the gulf between the two sides.
     
    Six months after the initial upsurge, it remains blatantly clear that security measures alone will not contain the forces that perpetuate violence.
     
    Israelis and Palestinians must, at long last, face the stark realities that continue to drive the violence and hold the two-state solution hostage. First and foremost this means both sides actively taking steps that will demonstrate their commitment to, and create the conditions for, an eventual return to negotiations to achieve a viable Palestinian state and ensure Israel’s long-term security.


     
    But, Mr. President,
     
    We in the international community must also be clear both in our understanding of the conflict and our role in how to help resolve it. Our immediate priority must be ending the violence which is tearing Israelis and Palestinians apart when both face the rise of radicals among their own constituents. We only need to look at the rest of the region to see the dangers of religious extremism, sectarianism and terrorism.
     
    But let us be also abundantly clear that the current security challenges cannot be addressed if we lose sight of the fundamental problems that have led us here -- the persistent inability to achieve a just and lasting solution that meets the national aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis and allows them to live in two states, side by side, in peace, security and mutual recognition. This is why today we must once again play an important role by saying no, the prospect of a two-state solution is not dead, it remains the best pathway for peace.
     
    The time has come to ring the alarm bells that the two-state solution is slipping from our fingers, that it is disappearing as the realities on the ground - driven by the ongoing settlement activities and confiscation of Palestinian land, as well as the continued lack of genuine Palestinian unity - make the prospect of a viable and independent Palestinian state less possible and less likely. The time has come for us to speak clearly as to the risks that undermine the two-state solution but also point to the way forward to a return to meaningful negotiations.
     
    This is why the United Nations Secretary-General, the EU, the Russian Federation and the United States of America -- all members of the Middle East Quartet, have stepped up their efforts to break the political impasse. The Quartet Envoys have started our work on a report which will review the situation on the ground, identify the dangers to a two-state solution, and provide recommendations on the way forward. We remain seriously concerned that current trends – including continued acts of violence against civilians, incitement, ongoing settlement activity, and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures – are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.


     
    And yet, Mr. President,
     
    While the international community explores avenues for constructive engagement, there are trends that raise questions about the commitment of the parties to seriously address the main challenges blocking the progress towards peace.
     
    Israel’s settlement enterprise continues, despite broad international condemnation. In a particularly troubling development, on March 10th Israel classified 580 acres south of the city of Jericho, in the West Bank as so-called ‘state land’. The area includes the 378 acres, reportedly approved, and widely condemned, in January of this year. This is evidence of a continued policy of systematic consolidation of Israeli control of the occupied West Bank, in direct contravention of international law.  
     
    Since the early 1980s, Israeli authorities in the West Bank have adopted, based on a controversial interpretation of the Ottoman Land Law, a policy of declaring as “state land” land that is not otherwise registered as private. This has resulted in the State seizing control over certain areas where Palestinians claim ownership and has proved to be a precursor for settlement construction. Any such declaration, particularly of a large scale, raises justified concerns over further settlement expansion. Settlements are illegal under international law and I urge Israel to halt and reverse such decisions.
     
    The demolition and confiscation of Palestinian structures across the West Bank has also surged in 2016 with some 468 houses and other structures demolished since the beginning of the year. On March 23, Israeli authorities demolished 53 structures in Khirbet Tana, including 22 homes, the third demolition this year in this particular community because Israel has declared by Israel as a firing zone. The total number of structures demolished or confiscated in these first 12 weeks of 2016 has now reached 85 per cent of the total number demolished or confiscated in all of 2015. As Palestinians are consistently denied permits to build legally, residents in the affected areas are left with few options but to build without permits, leaving them in constant fear of their homes and livelihoods being destroyed. I urge Israel to respect international humanitarian law and cease such unfair and unjust planning processes in the West Bank.


     
    Mr. President,
     
    Allow me to turn briefly to political developments on the Palestinian front. Achieving a genuine Palestinian unity on the basis of non-violence, democracy and the PLO Principles would constitute a crucial building block for the foundation of a Palestinian state. The formation of a National Unity Government that abides by the PLO programme and the holding of long-overdue elections are important elements of this process. Sadly we are nowhere near this goal as recent discussions between Palestinian factions in Qatar have yet to yield any agreement. I strongly encourage the factions not to squander this important opportunity to reach a consensus that can enable the advancement of the long-term Palestinian national goals as well as near-term fiscal and development goals for the Palestinian people.
     
    I take the opportunity to welcome the suspension, on March 12th, of the month-long Palestinian teachers’ strike, following President Abbas' commitment to fully implement a 2013 trade union deal that provides a ten per cent salary increase to teachers.
     
    I also note that, on 10 March, Najat Abu Bakr, a Fateh member of the Palestine Legislative Committee ended her 18-day sit-in at the Parliament building after the Attorney General cancelled an arrest warrant against her; issued after she had raised allegations of corruption. Such allegations must be duly investigated.


     
    Mr. President,
     
    Turning to Gaza, the security situation remains volatile, as a number of factors continue to produce a highly combustible environment.
     
    Despite a relative pause over the past month, the past weeks saw five rockets fired from Gaza to Israel. In response, on March 12th, Israel conducted four airstrikes, in which two Palestinian children, Israa and Yassin Abu Khusa, were tragically killed. These incidents point to the fragile nature of the current ceasefire. I call on Palestinian factions to uphold the current ceasefire, which is vital for Gaza's recovery.
     
    As the Gaza reconstruction mechanism continues to enable the purchase of materials for critical repairs and rebuilding, the reconstruction of fully destroyed homes remains painfully slow, in large part due to the slow disbursement of donor pledges. I strongly encourage all Member States, who have not done so, to disburse their commitments without delay.
     
    Failure to comprehensively address the chronic problems affecting Gaza risks another escalation in the future.


     
    Mr. President,
     
    Very briefly on Lebanon, the Security Council was briefed on 16 March by Special Coordinator Kaag. The Secretary-General welcomes the press statement adopted subsequently by the Council, reaffirming its united support for Lebanon’s stability and state institutions. The Secretary-General is currently on a two-day visit in Lebanon, jointly with the President of the World Bank. This visit in itself illustrates the strong commitment of the UN and international community to help Lebanon address the multiple challenges it faces as a result of the impact of the Syrian crisis.


     
    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,
     
    In closing, I would like to emphasise that there can be no peace without hope. But fostering hope requires courageous leadership willing to articulate a clear political horizon; it requires moving beyond unilateral actions and ending the policy of eternal management of the shifting status quo; and it requires a commitment to improving the dynamics on the ground with the genuine aim of reaching a negotiated two-state solution which still remains the stated goal of both sides. The obstacles are many, certainly, but not insurmountable. 
     
    People often say that the lack of trust between the parties precludes any advance towards peace. Certainly, re-establishing that trust and laying the foundations for a peaceful resolution must remain our collective focus, but change certainly requires political will from the parties. Without that political will, Palestinians and Israelis will continue to face an uncertain and dangerous future as the Middle East’s violent and unpredictable tectonics continue to shift around them.
     
    Thank you.

  • 22 Feb 2016

    Today, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča concluded a two-day visit to Maldives. He met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, Attorney General Mohamed Anil, and Minister for Legal Affairs Azima Shakoor. He also met with Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, the judges of the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Commission, civil society organisations and representatives of the diplomatic community. Mr. Jenča also conducted separate meetings with all parliamentary political parties, members of both the ruling coalition and the opposition, namely Adhaalath Party (AP), Jumhooree Party (JP), Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

    Mr. Jenča’s visit took place at the invitation of the Government of Maldives as a follow up to the request made last year by President Yameen to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to assist the Government on dialogue with the opposition political parties. Mr. Jenča welcomed the President’s invitation for political party talks to all parliamentarian political parties on 15 February, an invitation reiterated during his meeting with the President on 21 February. 

    The meetings further revealed that the United Nations is a trusted partner for all parties and should stay engaged. Mr. Jenča expressed the readiness of the United Nations to continue the facilitation of the process, depending on the developments on the ground and the willingness of the parties. He underscored the importance of building trust including through strengthening independent democratic institutions and reforming the judiciary. 

    Mr. Jenča ‎conveyed appreciation for Maldives’ commitment to the work of the United Nations in its 50 years of membership, citing in particular Maldives' role in such important global issues such as the adoption and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate change agreement. Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and Mr. Jenča further discussed regional cooperation in South Asia, preparation for the world humanitarian summit, irregular migration and refugee flows, as well as the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

  • 22 Feb 2016

    MALE`, 22 February 2016 – Today, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča concluded a two-day visit to Maldives. He met with President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, Attorney General Mohamed Anil, and Minister for Legal Affairs Azima Shakoor. He also met with Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, the judges of the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Commission, civil society organisations and representatives of the diplomatic community. Mr. Jenča also conducted separate meetings with all parliamentary political parties, members of both the ruling coalition and the opposition, namely Adhaalath Party (AP), Jumhooree Party (JP), Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

    Mr. Jenča’s visit took place at the invitation of the Government of Maldives as a follow up to the request made last year by President Yameen to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to assist the Government on dialogue with the opposition political parties. Mr. Jenča welcomed the President’s invitation for political party talks to all parliamentarian political parties on 15 February, an invitation reiterated during his meeting with the President on 21 February. 

    The meetings further revealed that the United Nations is a trusted partner for all parties and should stay engaged. Mr. Jenča expressed the readiness of the United Nations to continue the facilitation of the process, depending on the developments on the ground and the willingness of the parties. He underscored the importance of building trust including through strengthening independent democratic institutions and reforming the judiciary. 

    Mr. Jenča ‎conveyed appreciation for Maldives’ commitment to the work of the United Nations in its 50 years of membership, citing in particular Maldives' role in such important global issues such as the adoption and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate change agreement. Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon and Mr. Jenča further discussed regional cooperation in South Asia, preparation for the world humanitarian summit, irregular migration and refugee flows, as well as the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

  • 18 Feb 2016

    Mr. President, Members of the Security Council,
    I regret to inform you that the violence which has been erupting in Israel and Palestine since October of last year shows no sign of relenting.
     
    Some recent incidents may point to a troubling new phase in the conflict. On 31 January a Palestinian security officer traveling in an official vehicle opened fire at a checkpoint near Ramallah and injured three Israeli soldiers. This was one of three incidents to date involving a member of the Palestinian security forces. Although he was acting independently, such incidents can be potentially harmful to the relationship between both security forces. On 3 February a complex attack took place at Damascus Gate that resulted in the death of an Israeli border policewoman.  In a worrying advancement in weaponry and tactics the three assailants, all of whom were killed, carried semi-automatic weapons, pipe bombs and knives.
     
    Just a couple of hours before this session, in a supermarket in the West Bank, two Israelis were stabbed; one of whom later succumbed to his wounds. The two 14 year old Palestinian attackers were shot by an armed civilian. Our thoughts go out to the families of these latest victims.
     
    As tensions persist, Israelis continue to grapple with the fear of terrorism and Palestinians continue to be killed and injured in clashes across the West Bank. Once again, the United Nations strongly condemns all acts of terror and violence. This spiral of violence which has to date taken at least 169 Palestinian and 30 Israeli lives, including two Israeli-Arab reported perpetrators, cannot be reversed by security means alone. It must be addressed at the political level with leaders showing a political horizon to their people and standing up to incitement and the radicals among their own constituents.

     
    Mr. President,

    Only genuine progress towards just peace that allows the people of Israel and the people of Palestine to live side by side in safe and secure borders will end the bloodshed and counter the rise of extremism. Against the backdrop of radicalisation, terror, sectarian violence, war and tectonic geo-political shifts in the Middle East peace and security for Palestine and Israel is imperative now more than ever.
     
    Over the last year the United States, Russia, the European Union and the Secretary-General, as part of the Middle East Quartet, have engaged actively in seeking a way forward out of the deadlock. Quartet envoys have travelled to the region to meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. We have consulted with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and most recently Norway. Since September of last year the Quartet Principals have met three times.
     
    We have sought how not only to preserve the two-state solution, but to create the conditions that would allow the parties to return to meaningful negotiations on resolving the final status issues and ending the occupation that began in 1967. This includes steps on the ground, consistent with prior agreements that both parties can take to strengthen Palestinian institutions, security and economic prospects, while upholding security for Israelis.
     
    We have voiced our common concern that the current trends on the ground - including continued acts of violence against civilians, ongoing settlement activity, and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures - are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution.
     
    The commitment of the Middle East Quartet to remain engaged with the parties and to work with key international stakeholders, the region and the UN Security Council is unequivocal. This is why at their latest meeting in Munich the Principals agreed that the Quartet should prepare a report on the status quo, including recommendations on the way forward. The report should focus on the dangers of continuing on the current trajectory, identify the impediments to the two-state solution on all sides and point the way towards restoring a political horizon. Ultimately this report should also help build international consensus for the way ahead.

     
    Mr. President,
    Collective international efforts to help establish a political horizon will all be for naught, absent genuine Israeli and Palestinian motivation to address the chronic realities endangering the two-state solution. From the outset, significant policy shifts by Israel, including increasing Palestinian investment and economic activity in Area C, are required to strengthen Palestinian institutions, economy and security prospects.
     
    Israel's settlement enterprise continues to be an impediment to peace. While 2015 may have seen a slower overall pace for settlement planning and construction, the reality is that Israel continues to push forward with consolidation of its control of the West Bank. Several moves since the beginning of the year -- such as the classification of new "state land" in the Jordan Valley and the approval of several plans in settlements - also appear to point towards an increase in settlement activities.
     
    During the past few weeks alone, Israeli authorities in Area C and East Jerusalem demolished 201 Palestinian-owned structures including 79 which were donor-funded. As a result, 320 people were displaced. Since the beginning of 2016, Israel has demolished, on average, 29 Palestinian-owned structures per week, three times the weekly average for 2015. These actions run directly counter to the idea of peace.
     
    Separately, we also remain deeply concerned about the deteriorating condition of Mohammed Al-Qiq, the Palestinian journalist on hunger strike for over 85 days to protest against his administrative detention. I take this opportunity to once again join the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and call for all persons subject to administrative detention to be either charged or released immediately.

     

     
    Mr. President,
    The challenge of getting back to an environment conducive to peace also falls heavily on the shoulders of the Palestinians. Advancing genuine reconciliation on the basis of non-violence, democracy and PLO principles is a key priority. I welcome the recen unity talks in Qatar and urge all sides to continue their discussions and implement previous agreements, particularly those brokered by Egypt. The formation of a National Unity Government and long-overdue elections are vital to laying the foundations of a future Palestinian state.
     
    The issue of incitement runs to the heart of the current climate of tension and fear. It is essential that authorities on both sides do more to address this scourge. I am particularly concerned that some Palestinian factions continue to glorify violence and terror. Such acts only contribute to tensions and violence.
     
    Governance reforms must also remain a central commitment of the Palestinian Authority.

     

     
    Mr. President,
    Volatility persists in Gaza amidst a tenuous security situation. The collapse of another four tunnels -- bringing the total to date this year to five -- and the continued test firing and launching of rockets at Israel indicate that Hamas continues to directly threaten the security of Israel. Such actions risk not only people's lives but the fragile reconstruction process in the devastated Strip.
     
    The population of Gaza is squeezed from all sides. With little prospect of seeing public sector salaries paid, increased informal taxation and a strangled economy, tensions are rising. I have just returned from Gaza where I visited the Shujaiya neighborhood that had been devastated during the conflict in 2014. It was encouraging to see the visible positive changes and new construction as life is reborn out of the rubble. But I am too well aware that work is yet to start on the homes of some 74 per cent of families displaced in 2014.
     
    Rebuilding their houses however will not be enough. We must secure peace and focus on building Gaza for the future. This means providing clean water and sufficient energy, creating jobs and a sustainable economy, restoring free movement for people and goods and, above all, ensuring integration between the West Bank and Gaza under a single democratic and legitimate Palestinian Authority.

     

     
    Mr. President,
    Turning to Lebanon, in a positive sign, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Salam resumed sessions on 28 January and 2 February and approved several decrees. However, I remain deeply concerned that the presidential vacancy impairs Lebanon's ability to address the many challenges facing the country. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I call on Members of Parliament to convene urgently and elect a President.
     
    The recent Syria Donors Conference in London yielded important commitments of international support to reinforce Lebanon's stability in the face of the refugee crisis. The United Nations will continue to work closely with Lebanon to monitor and implement commitments on the basis of the Government's "Statement of Intent".
     
    With respect to UNIFIL, at the first tripartite meeting since the 20 December and 4 January incidents, Israel and Lebanon concurred on the need to maintain calm and stability and to ensure security along the Blue Line. Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace however continued on an almost daily basis.
     
    Turning to the Golan, the situation in the vicinity of the ceasefire line continues to be of concern as fighting between the Syrian armed forces and armed groups, and between different armed groups continues. These developments have a potential to escalate the situation in an already tense regional environment.

     

     
    Mr. President,
    In closing, let me return to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and appeal to the leaders of both peoples and all international stakeholders. There are clear avenues out of the current political morass but they require unity of effort and bold, creative actions by all sides. Despite the courageous work of many, the cold reality for the Israeli and Palestinian people is that all have failed them. The conflict has now arrived at a pivotal point: Israelis and Palestinians must now actively shape their future - with the dedicated support of the international community -- before the opponents of peace decide their fate for them.
     
    Thank you.

  • 17 Feb 2016

    Mr. President,

    Thank you for this opportunity to brief the Security Council once again on the latest developments in Yemen.

    It has been two months since the parties met in Switzerland, for the first face to face talks of the peace process. Those talks produced agreements on several measures which have provided much needed practical and moral support to the Yemeni people, including the delivery of humanitarian aid to the city of Taiz and the release of some prisoners. 

    The announcement of a cessation of hostilities on the first day of the talks was accompanied by the creation of a De-escalation and Coordination Committee, aimed at strengthening adherence to the cessation of hostilities.  There was also broad agreement to the principles of a general framework based on the provisions of Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015).  The talks have served as the beginning of a process toward agreements on ending the war and Yemen’s return to a peaceful political transition.

    The parties left the last round of talks in a positive spirit, with practical proposals, recommendations and hope for a better future for Yemen and the Yemeni people.

    Tragically, the security situation in Yemen has deteriorated since the end of the talks. The latest UN reports indicate that more than 6,000 Yemenis have lost their lives since March 2015, and more than 35,000 have been injured.

     

    Mr. President,

    Yemen is living through the most heart-rending days in its history.

    Many parts of Yemen are again witnessing airstrikes and extensive ground fighting. There has also been a significant increase in the number of missiles fired indiscriminately into Saudi Arabia. The escalation of military activities along with a worsening of regional tensions has created additional obstacles which threaten to delay a new round of talks. 

    There has been a notable upsurge in the number and magnitude of attacks carried out by terrorist groups in Aden, Lahej, Abyan, Shabwa and Sana’a.  There have been attacks on Yemeni Army checkpoints and residences of key security officials. The assassination of prominent political and security officials in the South of the country has continued unabated. On 28 January, an attack on the Presidential Palace in Aden resulted in the death of eight people including civilian bystanders. Earlier today, a suicide bomber attacked a Yemeni army camp in Aden, reportedly killing at least ten people.

    I have repeatedly underlined the increasing presence of terrorist groups in Yemen which create a long-term threat for the country and the region.  The absence of the State in many parts of Yemen has facilitated the expansion of these terrorist groups.  Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are present in many parts of Yemeni territory. There are reports of their growing influence in large areas of the governorate of Hadramout and their control of its port, maritime traffic, and illegal oil trade.  Reports of attacks on civilians, including stonings, and executions of captured civilians and Yemeni army soldiers are deeply worrying. 

    The basic freedoms of Yemenis, including freedom of expression, continue to be undermined. There has been significant rise in the systematic persecution of civil society activists in Yemen, including reports of violent attacks and arbitrary detention of many journalists.  Acts of intimidation, harassment and disappearances of journalists are a clear violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

     

    Mr. President,

    Yemenis continue to face grave violations of international humanitarian law. Respect for human rights and international humanitarian law is critical to the ability of Yemenis to survive this current crisis with dignity and safety. The agencies, funds and programmes of the UN are doing their best to uphold the rights of Yemenis and provide needed assistance. It is important that all UN staff are able to work in safety and without restriction. I call upon the Government of Yemen and all other stakeholders to uphold these principles and to respect and support the work of the UN and its agencies.

     

    Mr. President,

    I have been engaged in an intensive round of consultations with Yemeni leaders and regional partners in recent weeks.  I discussed the challenges facing the peace process with the Foreign Ministers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, France, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in addition to the vice Foreign Minister of Japan and the vice Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, all of whom underlined their continued support for an end to violence in Yemen a political settlement.

    I met with Yemeni Vice President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah on 8 and 16 January, in addition to repeated meetings with representatives of the Yemeni Government, other Yemeni leaders and civil society figures. I also traveled to Sana’a, where I met with senior officials from the Houthis and the General Popular Conference, as well as key political parties, women’s and youth groups.

    During this latest round of consultations, I sought to ensure that some of the positive commitments which emerged from the talks in Switzerland were implemented.  While far from a comprehensive settlement, these commitments yield tangible benefits to the Yemeni people and bolster the peace process.

    I worked for the release of two Saudi nationals by the Houthis on 14 January, after almost ten months in captivity, which was welcomed by the Secretary-General and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  This positive development was shortly followed by the release of the Yemeni Minister of Technical and Vocational Education, Abdul Razak al-Ashwal and four Yemeni political and media activists. I will continue to press for and work towards the release of others detainees.

    Building on commitments made in Switzerland, UN agencies and international NGOs expanded the delivery of assistance to Taiz, including to areas that had been cut off for many months. WHO, WFP and MSF have all been able to deliver critically needed assistance to Taiz in recent weeks and I hope that this city, and other areas which have suffered tremendously in recent months, will continue to receive assistance on a regular basis. I call on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies have free and unhindered access to all parts of Yemen.

    I have also pursued agreements which seek to preserve the functioning of key state institutions on which the Yemeni people depend. Preserving their functioning helps current service delivery and will also facilitate a faster and more effective recovery after an agreement. The Central Bank’s Board of Directors met recently in Amman, with the participation of the Yemeni Minister of Finance and the Sana’a-based Central Bank Governor. Together with the Resident Coordinator, UNICEF and the WB, I am working to relaunch Yemen’s Social Welfare Fund, which will provide critical financial support for the poorest of Yemen’s people.  

    These are some positive measures which demonstrate willingness to cooperate in order to preserve the viability and effectiveness of key state institutions in advance of a settlement.  Implementation of these measures will require continued political support from all of the parties, as well as generous support from donors to replenish the various funds and mechanisms, so as to contribute to the stability of the Yemeni economy.  The conflict is causing grave damage to the capacity of Yemen’s public and private sectors. Both are critical for Yemen’s future economic prospects and the ability of people to survive in the present circumstances. Humanitarian aid is critical, yet limited in its reach. Many Yemenis continue to rely on private sector economic activity. The extensive damage to private sector infrastructure, for this reason, is of great concern.

    In spite of the collapse of the cessation of hostilities, the De-escalation and Coordination Committee has continued to function, with constructive participation from all sides. The parties committed to strengthening the Committee’s capacity and to agree on a precise location for its meetings.  The work of the De-escalation and Coordination Committee is essential in order to ensure the success of cessation of hostilities in the future.  

    Despite these areas of limited progress, deep divisions persist that prevent me from calling for the next round of talks.  The parties are divided over whether a new round of talks should be convened with or without a new cessation of hostilities.  I have not, unfortunately, received sufficient assurances that a new cessation of hostilities, should I call for one, would be respected.

    As the Secretary General has stated repeatedly, there is no military solution to this conflict. A recommitment to a cessation of hostilities which leads to a permanent ceasefire is the practical expression of this truth and I urge the Council to support this step and take action towards its implementation as soon as possible.

     

    Mr. President,

    Yemen has suffered greatly, and its people have withstood an unspeakable tragedy. The country’s infrastructure is destroyed; families dispersed, and its social fabric torn apart. This is a critical and most difficult phase. With every passing day, more and more Yemeni lives are lost.

    A new cessation of hostilities will open the way of new talks and agreements on Yemen’s return to a peaceful and orderly transition.  I will continue to work with all sides in Yemen, the region and the international community to build consensus on the key elements of such future agreements.  

    The conflict in Yemen is political, so the solution must also be political. Only an inclusive peace process will ensure a future of reconciliation and peace in the country. The Yemeni people have shown a spirit of compromise in the interest of preserving the unity of their country many times in the past.

    We must, collectively, help Yemen rediscover this spirit of compromise. Only in this way can Yemenis overcome the current violence and build a peace process which can bring together all of Yemen’s diverse communities and allow them to jointly and peacefully look to their future and the future of the country.