Bienvenidos a las Naciones Unidas

Reports and Policy Documents

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 Ago 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 Ago 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 Ago 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 Ago 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 Mayo 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 Mayo 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 Mayo 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 Mayo 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 Mayo 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 Mayo 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 Abr 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 Abr 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 Abr 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 Abr 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.

  • 17 Feb 2016

    Monsieur le Président, Honorables membres du Conseil,

    Je vous remercie de l’opportunité qui m’est offerte de présenter, devant cette auguste assemblée, le rapport du Secrétaire Général sur la situation en Guinée-Bissau et les activités du Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies pour la Consolidation de la Paix dans ce pays (BINUGBIS).

    Depuis la parution de ce rapport, la situation en Guinée-Bissau reste marquée par des divergences continues au sein de la classe politique. Ces divergences se sont cristallisées lors du vote du programme du Gouvernement, le 23 décembre dernier, au cours duquel, 15 députés du Parti Africain pour l’Indépendance de la Guinée et du Cap-Vert (PAIGC), parti au pouvoir, se sont abstenus, en opposition aux instructions de leur parti. En réaction à cela, le PAIGC a décidé de les expulser et, en conséquence, a demandé leur substitution à l’Assemblée Nationale Populaire. A cet effet, la Commission Permanente, réunie le 15 janvier 2016, a prononcé la cassation du mandat de ces 15 députés.

    Aujourd’hui, les dissensions politiques qui étaient circonscrites au Parlement ont débouché sur un véritable imbroglio politico-judiciaire. Le Président de l’Assemblée Nationale d’un côté, trois des 15 députés expulsés de l’autre, ont séparément fait appel au Tribunal Régional de Bissau, pour statuer sur la décision de la Commission Permanente relative à la perte de mandat des députés susmentionnés. Le 8 février, ce Tribunal a rendu une ordonnance de référé qui contredit la suspension de la perte de mandats, en opposition avec sa première décision qui, elle, ordonnait à ces mêmes députés de se conformer à la décision de la Commission Permanente de l’Assemblée Nationale.

    C’est dans ce contexte que, le 1er février, le Président de la République a pris l’initiative de réunir les différentes parties en conflit afin de rechercher, par le dialogue, une issue consensuelle à l’impasse politique qui secoue actuellement le Parlement. Il a donc décidé d’inviter au Palais présidentiel le Président de l’Assemblée Nationale et les représentants du PAIGC, du PRS, des 15 députés dont le mandat a été cassé, et ceux de la société civile, pour des rencontres qui se sont déroulées en présence des représentants du Groupe des cinq partenaires internationaux de la Guinée-Bissau composé de l’Union africaine, de la Communauté des Pays de Langue Portugaise (CPLP), de la Communauté Economique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO), de l’Union Européenne et des Nations Unies. Le Président Vaz a donné lecture de toutes les correspondances qu’il a reçues au sujet de la crise actuelle, y compris celles où il lui était demandé d’user de sa magistrature d’influence pour dénouer la crise. Chaque partie a présenté sa position et les arguments politiques et juridiques qui la sous-tendent.

    Le 2 février, le Président a convoqué une deuxième rencontre pendant laquelle les parties ont réitéré leurs positions respectives. Il y avait d’une part, l’Assemblée Nationale et le PAIGC qui maintenaient que les députés avaient été exclus légalement et de l’autre, les 15 députés expulsés, appuyés par le PRS, qui considéraient que cette exclusion était illégale.

    A la suite de ce deuxième tour de discussions, le leader du PAIGC a adressé, le 4 février, une correspondance au Président de la République, demandant la modification du format des rencontres arguant que le dialogue devrait être mené entre institutions plutôt qu’entre individus. En conséquence, ni l’Assemblée Nationale, ni le PAIGC n’ont participé aux rencontres suivantes, y compris celle du 10 février qui s’est déroulée en présence de l’ancien Président Olusegun Obasanjo, Envoyé Spécial du Président du Nigéria et du Ministre des Affaires Etrangères du Timor-Leste, M. Hernani Coelho, qui assure la présidence tournante de la CPLP accompagné de M. Murade Murargy Secrétaire exécutif de cette organisation, en plus des représentants du Groupe des cinq partenaires internationaux.

    Dans l’intervalle, je me suis rendu au Sénégal et en Guinée du 3 au 8 février, pour m’entretenir avec les dirigeants de ces deux Etats voisins sur les derniers développements politiques en Guinée-Bissau. Au cours de notre rencontre, le Président Macky Sall, président en exercice de la CEDEAO, a exprimé sa préoccupation au sujet de l’impasse politique actuelle et m’a assuré que la CEDEAO continuerait à appuyer le processus de stabilisation de la Guinée-Bissau. Il a cependant souligné l’importance, pour l’organisation sousrégionale, d’obtenir une assistance financière pour maintenir sa mission militaire, l’ECOMIB, au-delà du 30 juin 2016. Le Président Alpha Condé qui est également médiateur de la CEDEAO pour la Guinée-Bissau, a partagé avec moi les mêmes inquiétudes que son homologue sénégalais. Monsieur le Président,

    Plus les institutions de l’Etat et les principaux acteurs politiques seront divisés, plus la situation politique actuelle gagnera en complexité, retardant de ce fait la mise en oeuvre des réformes essentielles. A l’heure où les partiesprenantes nationales tentent de résoudre leurs différends, et suite aux récentes décisions contradictoires du Tribunal Régional de Bissau, je leur lance à nouveau un appel pressant à accorder toute l’importance et la priorité requise à un dialogue franc et sincère, dans le strict respect de la Constitution et des lois. Toute autre formule en dehors de ces paramètres ne pourra que perpétuer le cycle d’instabilité politique qui prévaut dans le pays depuis fort longtemps.

    Par ailleurs, s’il venait à persister, ce blocage institutionnel, compromettrait les chances de la population à accéder aux services sociaux de base tels que la santé et l’éducation, la condamnant ainsi à continuer à faire les frais de l’échec de son élite politique à tenir les promesses d’un avenir meilleur. Je voudrais saisir cette occasion pour féliciter les Bissau-Guinéens pour le rôle constructif qu’ils ont joué pendant cette période difficile, en faisant preuve de retenue et d’un remarquable esprit de civisme. Je réitère donc mon appel aux dirigeants politiques à placer l’intérêt national au-dessus de toute considération individuelle ou de groupe. Il est temps que ces dirigeants se concentrent sur la recherche de solutions durables au lieu de se perdre dans des accusations réciproques qui ne contribuent en rien à la résolution de la crise. De son côté, la communauté internationale a démontré, à plusieurs reprises, sa détermination à aider la Guinée-Bissau à avancer sur la voie du développement et de la paix. Je l’encourage d’ailleurs à poursuivre son action en faveur de ce pays d’une façon plus concertée et coordonnée.

    Si les institutions de la République et les principales parties prenantes s’accordaient sur une feuille de route ou un pacte de stabilité, cela pourrait constituer un point de départ pour créer les conditions favorables à une stabilité institutionnelle, au moins, jusqu’à la fin de législature en cours. Ce pre-requis est fondamental pour la mise en oeuvre du Plan de Développement (Terra Ranka) qui a reçu, à la fois, le soutien des partenaires internationaux lors de la table ronde de Bruxelles de mars 2015, et bénéficie d’une large adhésion des Bissau-Guinéens.

    J’exhorte donc toutes les parties prenantes, en particulier le Président de la République, le Président de l’Assemblée nationale, le Premier Ministre, et les partis politiques, à poursuivre la voie du dialogue et à se pencher sur la possibilité d’adopter un tel pacte de stabilité dans l’intérêt de la nation. Comme le Secrétaire général l’a indiqué dans son dernier rapport sur la Guinée-Bissau, l’Organisation des Nations Unies est prête à soutenir toute initiative visant à renforcer la stabilité dans ce pays, pour peu que ses responsables fassent preuve de volonté politique à s’engager dans ce sens.   

    Monsieur le Président,

    Malgré des progrès enregistrés dans le renforcement de la sécurité intérieure, je demeure préoccupé par l’augmentation de la criminalité organisée dans le pays, en raison de la crise actuelle et de l’affaiblissement corollaire des institutions de l’Etat. Les récents actes de cambriolage à mains armées au domicile d’un membre du Gouvernement et dans la résidence d’un fonctionnaire international des Nations Unies illustrent la dégradation de l’environnement sécuritaire en Guinée-Bissau.

    Monsieur le Président,

    Comme vous le constatez, la situation politique dans le pays est préoccupante et le maintien de l’engagement des Nations Unies reste indispensable. Je voudrais donc réitérer la demande du Secrétaire Général au Conseil de Sécurité pour la prolongation du mandat du BINUGBIS qui expire le 29 février 2016 afin de permettre à cette Mission de continuer son actions été ses programmes, en vue de consolider la paix et l’Etat de droit en Guinée-Bissau.

    Je vous remercie de votre aimable attention.

  • 16 Feb 2016

    Mr. President,

    In the past reporting period, the heroic people of Iraq have been steadily gaining ground against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is gradually losing its appeal to the disenfranchised population. The liberation and holding of Beiji, Sinjar, and most of all Ramadi, and continuing clearance of the surrounding areas from ISIL fighters, have instilled the people of Iraq with hope that the country can and will be liberated from ISIL. It has also documented how important it is to rely on local and tribal fighters from areas under ISIL control to participate in the liberation and take responsibility for the security of their cities and provinces.

    The success also demonstrates the increasingly resolute and effective support to Iraq of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL in its fight against ISIL and provides lessons for preparations for the liberation of the remaining territories, most notably of Mosul. It serves as an encouragement for other members of the international community to assist Iraq in combatting ISIL.

     

    Mr. President,

    The terrorist organisation ISIL with its radical ideology and policies of sectarianism, violent extremism and terrorism constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Combatting ISIL by all means is a priority of the whole international community and Member States are called upon to re-double and coordinate their efforts.

    Following the 18 December 2015 meeting of the Security Council, bilateral and diplomatic efforts, assisted by international partners and the United Nations, continue to resolve the issues of the presence of Turkish forces in Camp Bashiqa, so far without mutually acceptable results. I reiterate the calls made by the Secretary-General for a solution in line with the Charter of the United Nations and in full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. I also urge both sides to take steps that will enable the deepening of cooperation in the field of security and continuous support in fighting ISIL, based on consultations with and full consent of the Government of Iraq.

     

    Mr. President,

    Regardless of the successes, ISIL remains a formidable and determined enemy that constantly adjusts its tactics and attack patterns, taking into account also the developments in Syria. ISIL cannot be defeated by military means alone, without addressing the root causes of violence and the underlying ideology, otherwise their effect will not be sustainable and lasting. Military victories need to be complemented by massive stabilisation and rehabilitation efforts that prioritise and allow for the safe return of IDPs to their towns of origin. Simultaneously, Iraqis must prioritise political and community reconciliation.

    The lack of progress in implementing the National Political Agreement reflects the absence of political consensus and the continued pursuit of partisan interests. The stability, security and unity of Iraq hinge on an effective and inclusive political system and equality in decision-making at the federal and local levels. Tangible solutions to prevent political and sectarian exclusion have to include amendments to or adoption of priority legislation, followed by swift implementation, such as the Accountability and Justice Law, the National Guard Law and the General Amnesty Law.

    Efforts by Sunni political forces and their leaders to unify their stance on national reconciliation, effective federalisation and decentralisation, and how to more successfully counter ISIL are equally necessary. I welcome such steps provided they add to internal consolidation and not divisions, while urging Sunni leaders and forces to continue such activities in the most inclusive manner possible.

     

    Mr. President,

    In early January, lethal attacks in Baghdad and in Muqdadiya, in Diyala governorate, perpetrated by ISIL and revenge violence by rogue militia elements and criminal groups prompted concern that the nation was again continuing down a spiralling trajectory of sectarian violence, compounded by internal political divisions along sectarian lines, as well as regional tensions and context. These attacks were an attempt to further stoke sectarian tensions and political polarisation in Iraq, and weaken the unity of Iraq and its people.

    They also highlighted the urgent need to reach progress in intercommunal relations and swiftly restore state and local authority, rule of law, good governance, justice and provision of services to the newly liberated areas and exert firm control over all fighters and weapons. Security sector reform addressing the issue of uncontrolled armed groups and their presence in cities, notably in liberated areas, is a priority.

     

    Mr. President,

    Stabilization in liberated areas and the safe return of IDPs are of enormous political importance. I am happy to report that the stabilization phase of Tikrit is almost complete. Overall, the Government has given very high priority to returns and so far, more than 500,000 displaced Iraqis have returned to their home communities. The Government intends that up to 900,000 will return in 2016.

    There are, however, a number of complicating factors impacting the pace of returns. These include a huge number of improvised explosive devices which have been laid by ISIL and which must be removed before populations can return home, as well as devastating destruction to infrastructure and homes. We are seeing this right now in Ramadi. I call on Iraq’s regional and international partners to enhance their support to the Government of Iraq’s efforts to hold and stabilise areas retaken from ISIL. These efforts also ought to focus on building the capacity of local security and police forces through training and material support.

     

    Mr. President,

    Persistent political polarization and divisions continue to hamper Prime Minister Abadi’s ability to advance the reform agenda, including in decentralisation and fighting corruption. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement aimed at establishing a more professional Cabinet with members selected on merit, and not on sectarian or political quotas, should be accompanied by accelerated implementation of a genuine political, security and economic reform package. The complex and deepening set of challenges before the country and its people requires that the political blocks finally work together in support of comprehensive and profound reforms, as they did when adopting the budget for 2016.

    Iraq’s persistent and rapidly-deepening fiscal crisis and growing budget deficit, compounded by the security and humanitarian situation and drastic decline in global oil prices, has almost halved the State’s planned income since then, and the Kurdistan Region faces at least a situation as grave as that of Baghdad. Fiscal challenges are also likely to impact the fight against ISIL as a significant number of fighters, notably the Peshmerga, have not received salaries for several months.

    I am mindful that if left unaddressed, such an unsustainable situation may seriously undermine the renewed morale of pro-government forces and confidence of the people, including youth, communities, minorities and IDPs that they can have a future in Iraq. And while the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil must rapidly prioritise and take full ownership over the state finances and reforms, I urge the international community to assist Iraq in overcoming these difficulties through increased technical support and funding, including through lending by international and regional financial institutions. Genuine economic reforms by the Governments in Baghdad and Erbil could pave the way to such financial and budgetary support.

     

    Mr. President,

    The severe economic crisis is having a sobering effect on the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil, with both sides showing renewed will to work together, militarily and economically, including on reforms. I am therefore hopeful that realism and pragmatism will prevail and help boost efforts in ensuring the stability and prosperity of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, needed to continue jointly the existential fight against ISIL.

     

    Mr. President,

    The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is highly complex, and is expected to widen and worsen this year. Today not only 3.3 million IDPs, but altogether some ten million Iraqis - almost one third of the population - urgently require some form of humanitarian assistance. Let’s not forget – without the necessary support, today’s IDPs will become tomorrow’s refugees. Humanitarian needs are now so great that they far outstrip national capacities. The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government simply do not have the resources to keep providing assistance, not because of a lack of will or a reluctance to assume responsibility, but because of the grave economic and fiscal situation.

    On 31 January, the UN jointly with the Government of Iraq launched a humanitarian appeal requesting US$861 million to help ensure that the most vulnerable people receive the assistance they need. On top of this, a potential catastrophe from the Mosul Dam adds new grave challenges and pressures and requires an urgent action of both the Government of Iraq and the international community, including the UN, as well as public awareness campaign and disaster response plans, including evacuation of the affected population in case of such catastrophe.

     

    Mr. President,

    Allow me to turn now to the ninth report of the Secretary-General on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives.
    As part of the Government of Iraq’s reform programme, the Council of Ministers agreed on the distribution of the files formerly under the mandate of the Ministry of Human Rights, deciding to transfer the technical overview of the missing Kuwaiti persons file to the Ministry of Defence. While this is a positive step, the Government of Iraq must now implement the decision and allocate the needed financial resources to ensure that work continues unabated.

    Cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait continues to reach new heights. In December, during the fifth session of the Kuwait-Iraq Joint Ministerial Committee, the parties signed agreements covering several fields, including youth and sports, inspection and control, and communications. Nonetheless, the international obligation of the Government of Iraq remains to ensure further progress.

     

    Mr. President,

    The UN continues to operate in difficult and often dangerous conditions in Iraq. With deep regrets I inform that yesterday we received the news that UNAMI’s staff member abducted in April 2015 in Diyala, Mr. al-Kaissy, was found dead. I am deeply shocked and saddened about this news. I strongly urge the Iraqi authorities to conduct immediately a thorough and transparent investigation into this abduction and murder and hold the perpetrators accountable. I remind the Government of Iraq that national authorities bear full responsibility for serving justice in this case, as well as they do to safeguard and protect all UN personnel serving in the country.

  • 11 Feb 2016

    Excellencies,

    Distinguished delegates,      

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    "Far too many victims of terrorism all over the world have suffered in silence, a neglect that compounds their trauma and wounds. Victims of terrorism can count on the solidarity of the United Nations."

    Terrorists have attacked, on several occasions, the United Nations itself, and we, too, have many victims among our colleagues who we commemorate and mourn.

    In this solidarity expressed by the Secretary-General, I would like to ask you for a minute of silence to commemorate the many men, women and children who have lost their lives and loved ones due to terrorist acts.

    [PAUSE FOR 60 SECONDS]

    Thank you.

    The Secretary-General’s words also remind us of our double duty: to make the voices of victims heard; and to ensure that their human rights are fully respected.

    But there is a third dimension that I would like to stress and address: with their courage and commitment to saving others from experiencing the same suffering, victims of terrorism are the strongest, most sincere and most convincing allies we have in preventing others from being lured to terrorist and violent extremist groups.

     

    Voices of Victims

    It is all too rare that we hear the voices of victims. In the recently released documentary “Je suis Charlies”, Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne “Coco” Rey shares a most tormented testimonial: Visibly upset, she recounts how the two gunmen first approached her, recognising her and calling her by name before forcing her to punch in the security code that would lead them to her unsuspecting colleagues.

    “They said, ‘No jokes, no jokes,’” she says, recalling how they identified themselves as al Qaeda. “That’s when I thought I was going to die. I put my hands behind my head. I was panicking. That’s when it dawned on me, after coming upstairs, that it could all end right there. It was the first time I heard a gunshot. Nothing at all like the movies. Just “tak-tak”.

    I would like to encourage all of us to ensure that the views and needs of victims of terrorism, especially the young and the vulnerable, are not forgotten.  Their welfare must be at the heart of our efforts.

    The UNCTITF Inter-Agency Working Group on Victims of Terrorism has been working hard on a number of activities to realise the Secretary-General’s commitment to victims of terrorism. 

    And the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) has made victims of terrorism a priority in its five-year Programme of Work. The launch of the UN Victims of Terrorism Support Portal by the Secretary-General last year highlighted his conviction and dedication to support victims of terrorism in a practical way. Already the Portal has reached approximately 60,000 people last year. The Centre is currently developing media training for victims to strengthen their voice in countering the narrative of violent extremists.

     

    Human Rights of Victims

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Terrorist groups are flouting international human rights and humanitarian law. On the basis of the information that we are getting from many theatres around the world, some of the activities reported may well even constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    It is our responsibility that the human rights of all affected by terrorism are fully respected.

    Today, we will be discussing the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. This report provides us with a solid basis to strengthen support for the rights of victims, and I would like to thank Mr. Ben Emmerson for his important work. The recommendations acknowledge that we still have a long way to go to recognize victims’ rights, and that protecting these rights can be facilitated by strengthening national policies, practices and procedures.  

    We will be exploring existing legislation on victims. Just like victims of crime, we need to strengthen the existing legal framework to take into account the specific needs of victims of terrorism. We must also strengthen national mechanisms that assist victims with the appropriate medical, psychological and legal services. 

    We also need to do better in addressing victims’ needs in criminal justice processes, with appropriate confidentiality and witness protection measures in place, and through establishing coherent and multidimensional responses to reparations. 

    I know that with your active participation today, this Conference will create momentum for change in all these areas, and I hope that we can translate our deliberations into practical actions at the national and global level.

     

    Victims as Allies in Prevention

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Through their unique experiences, victims can bring a perspective that can shape the debate, counter hateful narratives both at the community level and on online forums, and influence attitudes which can assist in reaching out to marginalised and at-risk communities.

    Many victims have shown that they want to be engaged, and we must do more to help them to help us to devise responses to narratives and thus prevent terrorist and violent extremist groups attract additional followers. If the unspeakable horrors and false promises of these groups are exposed by those who sadly have first-hand experience, potential followers will be able to draw informed conclusions. And thereby the sorrow and suffering victims endured will serve the common good and hopefully also contribute to their own healing. 

    Moreover, it is critical that the international community take a holistic approach when combatting terrorism. We must act earlier and we must be inclusive.

    For these reasons, the Secretary-General has just launched a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which places an emphasis on protecting and supporting victims of terrorism. It seeks to address the drivers of violent extremism through more than 70 recommendations at the national, regional and global levels.

    The Plan of Action recommends that each Member State adopt a National Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism. National laws, policies and procedures need to take into account and adapt to strengthening the rights of victims.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    As we look forward to commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy this year, we should be proud that there is universal agreement on the importance of support and assistance to victims of terrorism.

    However, we are only at the beginning. We will need your strong support during the deliberations of the fifth outcome review resolution of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy to ensure that victims will have a central role in all our strategies, so that we can build on previous commitments to victims, their families and communities.

    Now more than ever, victims of terrorism and violent extremism need to be engaged. They are our allies. Member States, the United Nations and the entire international community have the privilege and responsibility to work with them to save succeeding generations from similar suffering.

    Thank you.

  • 9 Feb 2016

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

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the first “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 resolution 2253 (2015), which the Council unanimously adopted last December in a meeting that included Ministers of Finance from around the world—an expression of the strong determination of Member States to address the threat that ISIL represents to the international community and the principles and values of the Charter of the United Nations.  

    Paragraph 97 of the resolution requested the Secretary-General to submit an initial strategic-level report that demonstrates and reflects the gravity of this threat, including “foreign terrorist fighters joining ISIL and associated groups and entities, and the sources of financing of these groups … as well as their planning and facilitation of attacks.” The Report also reflects the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering this threat, and contains recommendations for Member States to mitigate it, as well as ways in which the United Nations can support these goals.

    As requested by the Council, the Report was prepared “with the input of CTED, in close collaboration with the Monitoring Team, as well as other relevant United Nations actors,” including the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria.    

    Data and imagery provided by Member States on potential routes of illicit trade in oil and oil products by ISIL could not be independently verified by the United Nations. Moreover, differences in the material provided point to the difficulty in establishing exact routes and distribution networks given the variety and flexibility adopted by ISIL. It thus underscores the imperative of close coordination and cooperation amongst Member States, as demonstrated by the passage of UN Security Council resolution 2253.

     

    Threat Assessment

    Mr. President,

    The Report provides a strategic-level assessment of the threat. It highlights that ISIL’s emergence has been facilitated by the protracted conflicts and instability in Iraq and Syria, as well as the weakening of State institutions and the inability of the States to exercise effective control over territory and borders. The group, which has benefited from a flow of financial resources and its ties with transnational organized criminals, is expanding its operations to other regions.

    ISIL’s global expansion strategy may be a reaction to recent territorial losses inflicted by international military efforts. In this context, the swift expansion of ISIL’s operations across West and North Africa, the Middle East, and South and South-East Asia; the increasing number of terrorist groups pledging allegiance to its cause; and the substantial flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters from around the world, are sources of major concern.

    ISIL continues to perpetrate appalling human rights abuses against populations under its control, including mass executions, widespread torture, amputations, ethno-sectarian attacks, sexual violence, enslavement, and the systematic recruitment and abuse of children. The Secretary-General has said previously that some of ISIL’s crimes, if proven, constitute crimes against humanity.

    This situation has led to a “humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.” In Syria alone, around 12 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and more than 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Large-scale, systematic destruction and looting of cultural sites is also part of ISIL’s strategy. 

    The Report also analyses ISIL’s finances, highlighting its capacity to rapidly and effectively mobilize vast resources. The main funding sources include the exploitation of oil and other natural resources, “taxing”, confiscation, looting of archeological sites, external donations, ransom payments; and other financing techniques, such as the use of the Internet and social media to raise funds.

    ISIL’s attraction to potential recruits continues unabated — particularly among young people in both developed and developing States. It is estimated that around 30,000 Foreign Terrorist Fighters, originating from over 100 Member States and driven by a number of social, economic and geopolitical conditions, combined with individual circumstances, are actively engaged with ISIL and associated groups. These groups are using the Internet and social media as a promotional and recruitment tool. Information and Communication Technologies play a crucial role in the preparation of FTF travel to join ISIL and its affiliates, the training and sharing of “effective practices” and the planning of attacks.

    ISIL sympathizers acting alone or in small cells have effectively expanded the geographical scope and complexity of their attacks in the second half of 2015, both in terms of planning and facilitation, as the attacks in Beirut, Paris and Jakarta demonstrated. The combination of home-grown small cells and terrorists who travel back and forth from Syria and Iraq, as well as the use of sophisticated technologies to plan the attacks, new logistical and training techniques, suicide attackers, and rosters of Foreign Terrorist Fighters with specialized skills all represent new and complex challenges.

     

    UN Support to Member States

    In its second part, the report stresses that, while the primary responsibility for countering the threat of ISIL lies with Member States, the United Nations and other international organizations have a critical role to play in supporting the efforts of Member States and have already taken a number of measures in this regard. These include the assessments of the threat and of States’ capacities undertaken by the 1267/1989/2253 Monitoring Team and CTED; the CTITF-UNCCT’s development of a UN Capacity-Building Implementation Plan for countering the flow of FTFs; and the development of capacity-building programs and projects such as those being implemented by UNCCT, UNODC, UNESCO, UNICRI, UN Women, and INTERPOL, among others.

     

    Recommendations

    In the third part of the report, the Secretary-General provides a number of strategic responses for Member States and the United Nations to address the threat of ISIL. These include addressing the underlying political and socio-economic causes of relevant conflicts, particularly in Syria, and strengthening the operational and legal framework needed to choke off ISIL’s funding.

    In the context of countering the financing of terrorism, Member States should ensure the timely exchange of information and financial intelligence, implement relevant Security Council resolutions, and strengthen their collaboration with private sector actors to address the threat. The United Nations should support these efforts in a more comprehensive way, particularly in its field operations, including by enhancing its research on the nexus between ISIL and transnational organized crime, and stepping up technical assistance to build Member States’ capacities.

    In order to counter recruitment and address violent extremism and radicalization, Governments should consider developing national plans of action to prevent violent extremism, focus preventive efforts on education and youth, and strengthen strategies and legal frameworks to address the abuse of information and communication technologies. The United Nations should support these efforts, including through measures proposed by the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism currently under consideration, and the development of new tools that will facilitate cooperation between investigators and prosecutors involved in terrorism cases.

    Member States should criminalize FTF travel in accordance with relevant resolutions and take measures to strengthen their border-management regimes, including by using INTERPOL databases, assessing FTF travel routes and trends on a continuous basis, and improving the exchange of information between States. The United Nations should step up capacity building assistance in this context.

    From preventive to security and criminal-justice measures, Member States should strengthen their tools to disrupt ISIL’s capacity to plan and facilitate attacks — including through the use of special investigative techniques and effective inter-agency coordination.

    Applying a case-by-case approach to ISIL returnees and ensuring the support of the United Nations in protecting cultural heritage is also recommended.    

     

    Conclusion - Next Steps   

    Mr. President,

    Despite the efforts of the international community to counter ISIL through military, financial and law enforcement measures, and the substantial losses inflicted upon ISIL, the group continues to pose one of the major challenges of our time to international peace and security.

    In the face of this common threat, I would like to echo the Secretary-General’s call to unity and action, including in finding political solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Libya, and assure you that the United Nations is committed to supporting Member States’ efforts.

    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. 

  • 26 Ene 2016

    Sadly, 2016 has begun much like 2015 ended – with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse across the spectrum in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. 

     

    Stabbings, vehicle attacks, and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians – all of which I condemn --  and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, have continued to claim lives.

    But security measures alone will not stop the violence.  They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people. 

    The full force of the law must be brought to bear on all those committing crimes – with a system of justice applied equally for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

    Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process.  

    Some have taken me to task for pointing out this indisputable truth.  

    Yet, as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.

    So-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity.   

    In an effort to overcome the political impasse, Quartet Envoys met Israeli and Palestinian officials on 17 December last year.  

    They reiterated the urgent need for significant steps, in line with previous agreements, to strengthen Palestinian institutions, security and economic prospects while addressing Israel’s security concerns.

    Changing Israeli policies is central to advancing this goal, particularly in Israeli-controlled Area C, which comprises 61 percent of West Bank territory and is home to some 300,000 Palestinians. 

    Approvals of master plans for Palestinian sectors of Area C would allow for much needed growth in these areas and prevent demolitions.

    Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise. 

    Continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community.  They rightly raise fundamental questions about Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution.

    I am deeply troubled by reports today that the Israeli Government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

    This is combined with its announcement last week declaring 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho, as so-called "state land".  These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead.

    I urge the Israeli Government not to use a recent decision by the Israeli High Court affirming a large tract of land south of Bethlehem as state land to advance settlement activities. 

    The demolitions of Palestinian homes in Area C of the occupied West Bank continue.  So do the decades-long difficulties of Palestinians to obtain building permits. 

    The Bedouin community, in particular, is paying a heavy price.  I reiterate the UN’s call for an immediate end to Israeli plans to forcibly transfer Bedouin communities currently living within the occupied Palestinian territory in the Jerusalem area. 

    At the same time, the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains perilous.   

    Eighteen months after the end of hostilities, conditions have not significantly improved. I condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel from militant groups in Gaza.

    Chronic security and governance challenges and funding shortages have slowed the pace of reconstruction.  Much work remains to be done.  Meanwhile, the people of Gaza face dire unemployment, water and electricity needs.  

    Meeting these concerns must be a top priority.  However none of this can be accomplished without critical support from donors, the fulfilment of pledges from the Cairo Conference, as well as the full return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.  

    I continue to strongly believe that conditions in Gaza pose a severe threat to long-term peace and security in the region. 

    Palestinians must also demonstrate commitment to addressing the divisions among Palestinians themselves. 

    I strongly urge the Palestinian factions to advance genuine Palestinian unity on the basis of democracy and the PLO principles. 

    Reconciliation is critical in order to reunite the West Bank and Gaza under a single legitimate Palestinian authority.  

    Healing Palestinian divisions is also critical so that Palestinians can instead focus their energies on establishing a stable state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.

    Genuine unity will also improve the Palestinian Government’s ability to meet pressing economic problems, which are adding to the frustration and anger driving Palestinian violence.

    The international community also has a responsibility – not least by responding generously to UNRWA’s recent emergency appeal of over $400 million to support vulnerable Palestinians. 

    And as we continue to uphold the right of Palestinians to self-determination, let us be equally firm that incitement has no place, and that questioning the right of Israel to exist cannot be tolerated. 

    In an already tense regional environment, it is imperative to promote and consolidate stability wherever possible. 

    In Lebanon, I urge all political leaders to work with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and to intensify efforts to resolve the presidential crisis. 

    The Syria Donors Conference on 4 February in London will be an important opportunity to mobilize support.  This must include meeting neighbouring countries huge humanitarian, infrastructure and stabilization needs in light of the refugee crisis.  We are all aware of the strains on Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

    I welcome the resumption of calm along the Blue Line and in UNIFIL’s area of operations following the serious incidents of 20 December and 4 January. 

    All parties have a responsibility to uphold the cessation of hostilities and to ensure full respect for Security Council resolution 1701.​​

    On the Golan, it remains critical that parties to the Disengagement Agreement maintain liaison with UNDOF.  They must refrain from actions that could escalate the situation across the ceasefire line.

    Some may say the current volatility across the region makes it too risky to seek peace.  I say the greater peril is not seeking a solution to the Palestinian question.

    Some say the two sides are entrenched in their respective positions.  I say that we must not succumb to passivity, resignation or hopelessness that a comprehensive resolution of the conflict is not achievable. 

    A lasting agreement will require difficult compromises by both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  

    Yes -- but what are the alternatives? 

    The continuing deadly wave of terror attacks and killings? 

    The possible financial collapse of the Palestinian Government? 

    Ever greater isolation of the Israeli Government?

    A further deterioration of humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the agonizing build-up to another terrible war? 

    A hollowing of the moral foundation of both Israeli and Palestinian societies alike, a creeping moral blindness that ignores the suffering – and indeed the humanity -- of one’s neighbour?

    More unilateral acts by each side, intentionally designed to pre-empt negotiations and provoke the other side?

    The parties must act – and act now -- to prevent the two-state solution from slipping away forever.  

    [Upholding] and implementing this vision – two states living side-by-side in peace and security - offers the only means by which Israel could retain both its Jewish majority and democratic status.  

    As the wider Middle East continues to be gripped by a relentless wave of extremist terror, Israelis and Palestinians have an opportunity to restore hope to a region torn apart by intolerance and cruelty.  I urge them to accept this historic challenge in the mutual interest of peace.

    The support of regional partners in this pursuit is essential. The Arab Peace Initiative provides a valuable basis for broader support. 

    And finally, the whole international community must be ever more committed to actively help Palestinians and Israelis to rebuild trust and achieve an enduring peace before it is too late.

    Thank you.  Muchas gracias.

  • 14 Ene 2016

    Africa:

    Americas:

    • UN Mission in El Salvador (MINUSAL)
    • UN Office of Verification in El Salvador (UNOV)
    • OAS/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH)
    • International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICAH)
    • United Nations Mission for the Verification of Human Rights and of Compliance with the Commitments of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights in Guatemala (MINUGUA)
    • UN Mission in Colombia

    Asia and Pacific:

    • UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET)
    • UN Special Mission in Afghanistan (UNSMA)
    • UN Political Office in Bougainville (UNPOB)
    • UN Observer Mission in Bougainville (UNOMB)
    • UN Office in Timor-Leste (UNOTIL)
    • UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding (UNTOP)
    • UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN)

     

     

  • 14 Ene 2016

    Mr. President,

    Distinguished Council Members,

    I am pleased to be here today to brief you on the situation in West Africa and the implementation of UNOWA’s mandate. Further to the 16th report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), which is before you, I would like to highlight a few issues and update you on the most recent developments.

    In the last six months, there were a number of key political developments in West Africa. Peaceful and credible elections were held in several countries. In Burkina Faso, the transitional institutions ensured the holding of the presidential and legislative elections in a timely manner, despite the challenges that emerged following the failed coup d’état of 16 September.  I would like to seize this opportunity to reiterate my congratulations to the people and leaders of Burkina Faso for their exemplary conduct and peaceful and responsible participation during the polls. The inauguration of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré marked a successful end to the transition period. In Guinea, a dialogue process, supported by the United Nations in coordination with regional and international actors, enabled the holding of presidential elections in accordance with constitutional deadlines. The peaceful holding of the polls, which resulted in the re-election of President Alpha Conde, constitutes an important milestone in the country’s process of democratic consolidation. Peaceful polls were also conducted in Côte d’Ivoire, resulting in the re-election of the incumbent President Alassane Ouattara. With regard to Nigeria, I am encouraged by the establishment of a new Government and its commitment to actively combating corruption. This will contribute to the creation of an environment that will allow the country to realize its full economic potential. These developments demonstrate the democratic resolve of the people of West Africa.

    As Council members are aware, five presidential elections are scheduled to take place in 2016 in Benin, Cabo Verde, The Gambia, Ghana and Niger.  In the lead-up to these elections, I will continue to call on national stakeholders to utilize dialogue to resolve outstanding electoral-related issues so as to create a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, credible and inclusive elections.

     

    Mr. President,

    Violent extremism and terrorist activities remain a major threat to security and development in West Africa, further aggravating the region’s humanitarian challenges. While some progress has been made in the fight against Boko Haram, the terrorist group continues its indiscriminate attacks against civilians not only in Nigeria, but also in Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Boko Haram continues to adapt its tactics, and is increasingly resorting to using young boys and girls for suicide attacks. In response, countries in the region have intensified their efforts to combat these terrorist threats, and have improved cooperation in areas such as intelligence-sharing.  As they conduct military operations against the group, it is critical that they maintain adherence to international Human Rights, Humanitarian and Refugee Laws.  It is also crucial for countries of West and Central Africa to also work on developing strategies that address the root causes of the insurgency, and notably the underlying socio-economic grievances of marginalized communities. In this regard, SRSG Bathily and I are working to ensure that the expected joint ECOWAS and ECCAS Summit take place as soon as possible.

     

    Mr. President,

    There has also been some progress in the area of Security Sector Reform. The new UN Senior Security Sector Reform Adviser, recently appointed by the Secretary General to support President Alpha Conde of Guinea in his efforts to advance the implementation of SSR, is already working intensely with the President and the government.  At the President’s request, the Technical Follow-Up Commission and all five technical sectoral committees on SSR, led by the Senior SSR Adviser, have resumed the holding of meetings.

    Concerning drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, in November, I chaired a meeting of the High Level Policy Committee of the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI).  I was pleased to note the commitment of countries in the region to fight this scourge. The Transnational Organized Crime Units in Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Liberia have been conducting effective joint investigations, while the unit in Côte d’Ivoire is working to become operational shortly.

    Regrettably, progress has been slower in the area of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. The Inter-regional Coordination Centre in Yaoundé, inaugurated in September 2014, is still not fully operational, and the Coordination Centre covering Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria, has yet to receive staff, funding and equipment. We continue to urge all partners to intensify their cooperation on this matter.

     

    Mr. President,

    We welcome, with satisfaction, the news that there are no more active Ebola cases in the region. In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the national and international actors that contributed to this achievement. At present the task of rehabilitating essential services calls for our undivided attention. The epidemic has dramatically unveiled the fragility of national health systems, and highlighted the importance of effective governance. Its repercussions will continue to be felt in the form of secondary fatalities due to inadequate capacities and loss of livelihoods, which have compounded an economic crisis in countries already severely affected by the decline in commodity prices.

    I salute the resilience of the people of West Africa in overcoming adversity and their commitment to uphold democratic principles, and I want to assure you that the UNOWA will not relent in accompanying their efforts toward enhanced democracy and sustainable development.  In light of the support this Council has consistently provided to our engagements, I am confident that the United Nations will continue to remain a most relevant partner to the countries and institutions of the West African region.

     

    Mister President,

    Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

    I thank you for your attention.

  • 9 Ene 2016

    Today UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman concluded a two-day visit to Nepal. During his visit, he met with a number of Nepal''''s political and civil society leaders, including President Bidya Devi Bandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

    On behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr Feltman ‎conveyed the United Nations'' appreciation for Nepal''s unwavering commitment and contribution to the work of the United Nations in its 60 years of membership, citing in particular Nepal''''s role in UN Peacekeeping operations and in representing the concerns of land-locked developing countries. In turn, Mr Feltman assured Nepal of the UN''''s unwavering partnership in ‎its recovery following the devastating earthquakes of 2015 as well as in addressing broader humanitarian and development needs. ‎

    Mr Feltman expressed deep concern about current developments that are adversely affecting Nepal''''s humanitarian situation, economic performance and reconstruction efforts. Commending Nepalis on their resolve to address these issues with a spirit of flexibility and compromise, Mr Feltman encouraged political leaders to overcome urgently current differences on constitutional arrangements through inclusive dialogue and parliamentary process. He also underscored the importance of rebuilding trust amongst different groups, including through agreement on the modalities of the process to delineate internal borders. Mr Feltman expressed the sincere hope and conviction that an understanding on these immediate matters will‎ allow Nepalis to meet their aspirations of economic development, accountability and the full implementation of constitutional provisions. The UN fully supports this Nepali process.

2015

  • 16 Dic 2015

    Madam President, Members of the Security Council,

    Some two months ago the Secretary-General visited Jerusalem and Ramallah to support collective efforts to stop the violence which had begun to erupt in Israel, the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza.

    It is sad that over the past few weeks, despite a decline in attacks, the bloodshed has not stopped with some seven Israelis and 34 Palestinians killed during the reporting period. Stabbings, vehicle attacks and shootings by Palestinians targeting Israelis continue to claim victims on an almost daily basis – including, just two days ago, serious injury to a one and a half year old baby, one of eleven victims of a car ramming in Jerusalem -- as suspected assailants are shot and killed in return and as clashes continue to result in Palestinian deaths.

    Hebron continues to be a hotspot and the most volatile component of the current escalation.

    On behalf of the Secretary-General, I reiterate the United Nations’ firm condemnation of all terrorist attacks. Leaders on all sides have the responsibility to stop incitement and to consistently, and unequivocally stand against acts of terror and violence in all its forms.    

     

    Madam President,

    The current circumstances should not be accepted as “the new normal”. Israelis and Palestinians should not be resigned to living under the threat of violence. However, a comprehensive strategy to limit that threat cannot rely uniquely on enhanced security measures. It must also address the primary elements motivating Palestinian anger.

    I am pleased to report some positive developments in this regard: Tensions have calmed around the flashpoint of Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount and efforts are underway to implement the understandings reached between Israel and Jordan. The situation remains precarious and requires both sides to maintain an active and open communication.

    Perceived impunity for settler violence against Palestinians has also driven violence. Positively, four months after the Dawabsha family was brutally murdered, a number of arrests have been made.  I take this opportunity to underscore the need to charge and swiftly bring the perpetrators of this terrible crime to justice.

    At the same time grave concerns persist on a range of issues that continue to undermine prospects for ending violence and rebuilding trust. The injustices associated with an occupation which shows no prospect of ending feed into a perspective – particularly among the youth – that they have nothing to lose by sacrificing their lives.

    Palestinians continue to endure extensive movement restrictions, intensified by the ongoing violence, which negatively impact access to basic services and livelihoods.

    Ongoing demolitions against Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, such as in al Hadidiya village a few days ago, remain troubling. All the more so as the relief provided to these households has been repeatedly seized by the Israeli security forces despite the onset of winter.

    Israeli authorities have also carried out two punitive demolitions against families of those convicted or accused of attacks. Such acts are a clear violation of international law, aggravate an already tense environment and may be counterproductive.

     

    Madam President,

    Turning to Gaza, during the past month, Palestinian militants fired ten rockets toward Israel, two of which impacted Israeli territory, without injury. Palestinian militants in Gaza also conducted cross-border shooting at the IDF on two occasions. The IDF retaliated with four airstrikes. The United Nations reiterates its condemnation of the firing of rockets by militants from Gaza towards Israel. These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.

    Despite persistent security and governance challenges and funding shortages, the reconstruction process advances. More than 90 percent of damaged schools and hospitals have been repaired while repairs have either been completed or are ongoing on about half of all partially damaged homes. The key challenge is reconstruction of those homes – indeed those neighborhoods -- that were completely destroyed during the war and here, progress has been slow.  Reviving the economy and productive sectors also remains a major outstanding task. Donors need to accelerate efforts to translate pledges into disbursements particularly for housing reconstruction. And let us not forget that repairing damage from the most recent hostilities will not fix the underlying chronic problems of Gaza.

    Last week’s global launch of humanitarian funding appeals included a $571 million projected funding needed for Palestine. It covers a range of interventions from provision of legal assistance and the safe disposal of unexploded ordnance in Gaza, to the provision of basic services such as water and health. The appeal represents a 19 per cent reduction as compared to 2015, but remains elevated due largely to Gaza’s significant humanitarian needs in the aftermath of the 2014 hostilities.

     

    Madam President,

    A political horizon to end the conflict now seems more distant than ever. Leaders on both sides cannot continue to ignore the underlying causes perpetuating violence and fueling extremism on all sides.

    It is extremist voices that currently resonate. Voices that want to capitalize on the darkest of human emotions, while seeking to sabotage any genuine effort to rebuild trust.

    But where are the voices urging restraint?

    Where are the proponents of peace, tolerance and a shared Israeli-Palestinian future?

    How can we begin to shift the momentum back towards these advocates of reason?

    These questions demand answers, first and foremost from Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It is for them to choose whether they will show leadership in building sustainable peace and security, or will allow the future of their people to drift in uncertainty as radicalism and extremism take over.

    Welcome Israeli statements committing to a two-state solution have yet to be followed by actions demonstrating the sincerity of that commitment. The settlement enterprise continues to deepen its roots within the occupied West Bank. The transition to greater Palestinian civil authority contemplated by prior agreements has yet to begin. Progress in the areas of housing, water, energy, communications, agriculture, and natural resources are lagging.

    In the course of the last several months the United Nations and its international partners, have consistently advocated for Palestinian unity as well as for fundamental changes in Israeli policies on the ground. Such changes should bring tangible improvements to Palestinian lives by strengthening Palestinian institutions, economy and security. Without such steps, it is difficult to see how the parties can return to meaningful negotiations so as to reach a just and sustainable solution to this long-standing conflict.

    Even as we speak, the Envoys of the Middle East Quartet are in Israel and Palestine. They continue their efforts to promote significant steps on the ground, consistent with prior agreements that can restore hope to the Palestinian people and preserve the viability of a negotiated two-State solution.

    In addition, we continue to look to the Security Council for any additional guidance on developing a new peace architecture for resolving the conflict.

     

    Madam President,

    Turning to Lebanon, let me reiterate the United Nations support for the leadership of Prime Minister Tammam Salam under difficult conditions. While Lebanon remains resilient in the face of serious challenges emanating from the conflict in Syria, the political paralysis in the country is preventing it from managing these challenges effectively.

    We note the discussions in Lebanon on the question of the presidency which has now been vacant for over 18 months. The Secretary-General has consistently stressed the importance of Lebanese parties showing flexibility to enable the election of a president without delay. We sincerely hope that the current efforts can lead to an opening which will enable the institutions of State to function effectively.   In the wake of last month’s ISIL attack in Beirut, we further urge the international community to redouble efforts for Lebanon’s security and stability. The release two weeks ago of the members of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security services held hostage by the Nusra Front since August 2014 is a welcome development. We hope for the speedy release of the remaining hostages held by ISIL. 

    Meanwhile, the situation along the Blue Line and in UNIFIL’s area of operations has remained relatively calm. Both parties continued to work with UNIFIL through the established liaison and coordination arrangements. Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace continued on a daily basis.

     

    Madam President,

    Overcoming today’s challenges in Israel and Palestine will require unprecedented vision by Israeli and Palestinian leadership to see beyond today's confrontations and take bold steps to create a peaceful future.

    We call upon them to let go of their immediate political fears and focus on the greater good of achieving a sustainable long-term peace for the Palestinian and Israeli people.

    The United Nations remains committed to supporting these efforts in every possible way.

     

  • 11 Dic 2015

    Madam President, 
    Distinguished Members of the Council

    I would like to thank you for this opportunity to address today the Council so soon following my appointment as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya.

    There have been important developments with respect to the Libyan political dialogue process since my predecessor last briefed this Council on November 5th.

    Since assuming my duties about three weeks ago, I have endeavoured to ensure seamless transition from my predecessor and continuity in the Libyan political dialogue process.

    I am fortunate to have met in such a short period a wide array of political leaders, civil society representatives, tribal elders, as well as women and youth leaders. I also met the respective leaderships of the House of Representatives in Tobruk and the General National Congress in Tripoli.

    I also had the opportunity to hold extensive consultations with countries in the region and beyond. I travelled to Algeria, where I had the privilege of meeting all of Libya’s neighbouring countries, as well as to Egypt, France, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

    I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received from all, inside Libya and outside, for their invaluable insights to the complexities of the Libyan political and security landscape.

    In all these countries, there is a growing sense of alarm at the prospect of a spillover of the terrorist threat from Libya into neighbouring countries.

    Today, along with the Libyan dialogue participants, I met with the President of Tunisia who also expressed his deep concern regarding the risk of Daesh rapidly consolidating its influence within Libya and the danger it poses to Tunisia and the wider region.

    I have no illusion about the difficult realities that confront us in Libya. The two institutions at the centre of the political conflict in Libya are beginning to show dangerous signs of internal fragmentation.

    The military conflict, particularly in Benghazi, continues to exact a heavy toll on the civilian population, adding further to existing humanitarian situation.

    Across the country, 2.4 million people are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, of whom 435,000 are estimated to be internally displaced, in addition to several hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants. Basic items of daily use and the necessary medication have become scarce in many hospitals.

    In the south, criminality and lawlessness have reached endemic levels.

    Extremist and terrorist groups continue to expand their spheres of influence.

    Falling oil revenues and rapidly depleting financial resources are accelerating Libya’s economic decline.

    But in the face of all this, Libyans are overwhelmingly united on one key point. Libya can and should no longer wait for peace to come.

     

    Madam President, Members of the Council

    In the face of the continued inability of the House of Representatives and the General National Congress to move forward with the formal endorsement of the outcomes of the Libyan political dialogue, I convened a new round of the Libyan political dialogue to discuss the way forward.

    The two days deliberations in Tunis, which concluded earlier today, culminated in the agreement on a number of key points.

    First: a political settlement should be on the basis of the Libyan Political Agreement negotiated within the framework of the UNSMIL-facilitated political dialogue.

    Second: notwithstanding the legitimate concerns by some of the parties, vis-à-vis elements of the Agreement, there would be no reopening of the text.

    Third: an agreement on the need to move forward with the immediate endorsement and signature of the Libyan Political Agreement. The participants of the political dialogue – some 40 courageous men and women who take considerable risks to put the interest of Libya above personal interest – decided to publicly announce 16th of December as a target date for the signature.

    Fourth: a unanimous call on all political and security actors to create a conducive environment to enable a future Government of National Accord to assume its responsibilities in the Libyan capital without threat or intimidation. All underlined the need for collective agreement on the necessary security arrangements to facilitate this.

    In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to call directly on the leadership of the General National Congress to allow my colleagues and myself to land with our airplane in Tripoli and other cities in Libya to freely interact with whomever we deem necessary. We can only fulfil our mandate if we have free access to all security actors, particularly in Tripoli.

    Critically, the participants in the political dialogue highlighted the urgency, the time factor. Libya is in a race against time, its very social fabric, national unity, and territorial integrity is directly endangered by the forces of extremism and terrorism, the likes of Daesh, which are actively consolidating and seeking to extend their influence beyond areas under their immediate control. Many dialogue participants referred to the imminent danger of Daesh expansion.

     

    Madam President, Members of the Council

    In thinking over their options, the plight of Libya’s civilian population featured prominently in the deliberations of the Libyan dialogue participants today.

    Yesterday, the world marked International Human Rights Day. But for many in Libya, yesterday marked yet another day of chaos, fear and hardship.

    Libya’s civilian population, including children, bear the brunt of gross human rights violations. Many civilians continue to be victims of arbitrary killings and violent attacks.

    Much of Benghazi, the cradle of the 17 February Revolution, is today a wasteland. Hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants have had to flee their homes. The city’s infrastructure and vital facilities lie in ruin. 

     

    Madam President, Members of the Council

    The last two days of deliberations, which in part were attended by Tunis-based ambassadors and Libya envoys from Egypt, Italy and the United States who travelled to Tunis, revealed that the Libyans expect this Council’s support and the support of the wider international community. This support is indispensable to help them to forge peace through unity.

    In this regard, the forthcoming High Level Ministerial Conference in Rome hosted by Italy and the United States will provide an opportunity for the international community to speak with a strong and united voice in support of the Libyan Political Agreement.

    And it is with the Rome Conference in mind that I also wish to convey on behalf of the Libyan dialogue participants the following four key points.

    First: that this Council unequivocally supports the outcomes of the Libyan political dialogue and the Libyan Political Agreement. This would send a clear message to all those whose narrow agendas continue to stand in the way of peace.

    Second: every effort must be made to ensure that technical support to the future Libyan Government of National Accord is visible, tangible and sustainable in order to ensure that it can deliver quickly.

    Third: concerted efforts will need to be exerted to address the humanitarian situation and the terrible plight endured by the civilian population.

    Fourth: I cannot overstate the threat posed by Daesh. Mobilising international support to assist Libyan authorities to take decisive measures to combat, contain and eliminate this imminent danger is a must.

     

    Madam President, Members of the Council

    The Libyans have a unique opportunity before them. The time has come to make peace. It is unlikely that there will be other opportunities without inflicting further suffering and hardship on the Libyan people. 

    I wish to take this opportunity to assure all Libyans that the door will always remain open for those who wish to join on the road to peace. Once the agreement is signed, we will immediately assist in broadening the basis of support for the new Government which should ultimately be based in Tripoli. Through engagement with the militias, political parties, tribal elders, and civil society, we will advocate for the acceptance of the Libyan Political Agreement.

    I appeal to the sense of patriotism and statesmanship of Libya’s leaders to give consideration to Libya’s higher national interests and the long-term welfare of the Libyan people.

    Their support to the Libyan Political Agreement will be the first step on Libya’s road to peace, security and prosperity.

    Thank you. 

  • 10 Dic 2015

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

    Thank you for the opportunity to brief the Security Council on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

    One year ago, on 22 December 2014, the Security Council extended its debate on the DPRK beyond nuclear concerns to include human rights. It is fitting that we meet today, Human Rights Day, commemorating the day on which, in 1948, the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    Madam President, on 19 November, the Third Committee approved, by a recorded vote of 112 in favour, the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. The General Assembly is due to formally adopt the resolution later this month. As is well known, the Commission of Inquiry concluded that “the gravity, scale and nature of the violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”. Efforts to engage the Government of the DPRK to improve the human rights situation in the country must go hand in hand with efforts to hold perpetrators of crimes accountable.  

    In keeping with its obligations under international law, the DPRK has a responsibility to protect its population from the most serious international crimes. And the international community has a collective responsibility to protect the population of the DPRK, and to consider the wider implications of the reported grave human rights situation for the stability of the region. 

    The international community has yet to find and agree on an effective way to address the serious human rights concerns raised by the report of the Commissions of Inquiry, and how to bring about positive and lasting change for the North Korean people. Particular challenges have been posed on how to balance calls for accountability and focus on security matters, and the need for engagement and dialogue. 

    Despite different perspectives on this matter, discussion of human rights concerns by Member States, including in the Council, allows for a more comprehensive assessment and action when addressing security and stability concerns in the Korean Peninsula. History has shown that serious violations of human rights often serve as a warning sign of instability and conflict, especially in the absence of accountability for such violations.

     

    Madam President, 

    The DPRK has on multiple occasions made clear its objection to the General Assembly resolution on the human rights situation in the country. Unlike in 2014, however, the DPRK has refrained from raising the possibility of conducting a fourth nuclear test in its statements rejecting the resolution.

    We are concerned by the report that the DPRK conducted a further submarine-launched ballistic missile test on 28 November. The Security Council has repeatedly demanded through relevant resolutions that further launches using ballistic missiles be ceased and obligations be met for the verifiable denuclearization. Although each challenge has different contexts, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran shows that diplomacy can work to address non-proliferation challenges. There is strong international consensus on the need to work for peace, stability and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. To achieve this goal, dialogue is the way forward. Meaningful dialogue must be revitalised and conducted in a sincere manner.

     

    Madam President, 

    Over the past two years, consistent efforts by the humanitarian community to engage, and the commitment on the part of the Government to improve its disaster management capacity have resulted in concrete progress in improving overall United Nations-DPRK relations. The Government’s increasing openness to carrying out joint assessments with United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations has facilitated access and data collection, ensuring that assistance reaches those in need. Continued engagement is key to maintaining this momentum.

    The engagement between the DPRK authorities and the United Nations in the preparation of the 2016 Needs and Priorities document is welcome. The document will provide an overview of the urgent humanitarian priorities in the country and will call on Member States to support the activities of the humanitarian community in this regard.

    International assistance plays a critical role in safeguarding the lives of millions in the country. Humanitarian funding to the DPRK has however steadily declined during the past decade, from USD 183 million in 2003 to less than USD 50 million in 2014.  Lack of timely, predictable and sufficient funding is crippling humanitarian agencies’ ability to respond effectively to the affected communities. The United Nations urges Member States to increase humanitarian assistance to those in need in the DPRK. 

    The new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. As we move to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the principle of leaving no one behind is a challenge that every nation must address. The United Nations Country Team is in discussion with the Government on a new strategic framework starting in 2017 that would cover both humanitarian assistance and development support for the coming five years. 

     

    Madam President, 

    This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, as well as the division of the Korean Peninsula. Inter-Korean relations have remained deadlocked for far too long. 

    The United Nations therefore warmly welcomes the holding of family reunions between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea from 20 to 26 October at Mount Kumgang. Humanitarian measures such as the reunions of separated families should be regularised and not subject to political and security considerations. 

    The Secretary-General is encouraged by the positive trends related to inter-Korean relations, particularly the “August Agreement”, and plans for inter-Korean talks on 11 December. He hopes that the recent momentum will pave the way for greater inter-Korean dialogue, people-to-people contact, reconciliation and cooperation. He further hopes that more dialogue and exchanges will contribute to the promotion of human rights, and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

     

    Madam President, 

    For the second time, Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong of the DPRK attended the General Assembly Debate in September 2015 and met with the Secretary-General, confirming the commitment of his country to sustaining and continuing the dialogue with the United Nations. The Secretary-General has often stated his willingness to play a constructive role if there was an opportunity, including through a visit to the DPRK, in an effort to promote inter-Korean peace and reconciliation. 

    The DPRK has extended invitations to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for the first time in history, and the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights to visit. While the DPRK continues not to recognise the mandate of the Special Rapporteur or the OHCHR Seoul Office, the invitations are positive signals that the DPRK may become more substantively engaged with the United Nations human rights system. 

     

    Madam President, 

    It is worth noting that several Members of this Council have previously made it known that they stand ready to adjust their positions in response to concrete steps that the DPRK takes to improve human rights in the country. The international community’s attention on the human rights situation in the DPRK, including the discussion today, is an opportunity for the DPRK authorities and the international community to take concrete steps to improve human rights and the living conditions of the people in the DPRK. I urge both the DPRK Government and concerned Member States to begin taking these steps. The United Nations is committed to helping toward that end. 

    Thank you, Madam President.

  • 30 Nov 2015

    This Strategic Plan sets out a vision for DPA that is centered on the need to promote inclusive political solutions as the key to preventing, managing or resolving conflicts and acts of political violence, while ensuring long lasting solutions that reduce human suffering and make peace sustainable. The Strategic Plan complements and integrates many aspects of the GA approved biennial Strategic Frameworks 2016/17 and 2018/19, and comprises three goals involving eight strategic objectives.

  • 25 Nov 2015

    Mr. President,

    It is my honour to brief the Security Council for the second time on the implementation of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the situation in the Sahel. It is an important opportunity to highlight the predicament of a region which desperately needs the continued focus of the Security Council.

    I take the floor at a time when terrorist attacks have taken place around the world: in Bamako, Northern Cameroon, Nigeria, Paris, Lebanon and targeting a Russian aircraft over the Sinai; attacks in which too many innocent lives were lost and which I strongly condemn.

    The attacks attest to the global reach of terrorism and the interconnectedness of all communities, whether rich or poor, and are a reminder to us all that no one is immune to this threat. The fight against terrorism requires international solidarity. Global partnerships in the fight against terrorism are no more an option but an imperative for survival.

    Security threats continue to be the main preoccupation in the Sahel region. Increasingly, the countries of the region, who are amongst the poorest and least developed in the world, are forced to dedicate important percentages of their budgets to address security threats, in a region where only 56 percent of children have access to primary education, and only 36 percent of the population can read and write. This unsustainable vicious cycle can only worsen without a strong international assistance.

    It is very alarming that youth and women in the Sahel, who constitute a vast majority of the population, are the targets of recruitment into radical movements. Up to 41 million youth under 25 years of age in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger alone face hopelessness and are at risk of radicalisation or migration.

    If nothing is done to improve  access to education, increase employment and integration opportunities for the youth, the Sahel, I am afraid, will become a hub of mass migration, and of recruitment and training of terrorist groups and individuals, which, as you know, will ultimately have grave consequences for global peace and security.

    Drug traffickers are increasingly colluding with armed groups and terrorist movements which grant them safe passage in exchange for financial benefits. If conflicts are to be prevented in the Sahel, illicit trafficking, including of drugs, weapons and humans should be stopped.

    Governance challenges are persisting, with important segments of the populations, continuing to be denied meaningful political participation.

    Building communities’ resilience continues to be a real challenge in the Sahel, due to the persistence of extreme environmental degradation, repeated climate shocks, and demographic trends which together are pushing millions of people on the brink of humanitarian disaster.

     

    Mr. President,

    The persistence of these challenges notwithstanding, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Sahel.

    First of all, the Sahel has continued to receive the sustained attention of the international community, as evidenced by the numerous Sahel strategies. Improvements in the coordination of our efforts and strategies will enhance the benefits of these activities to Sahel communities.

    Secondly, the countries of the region have taken greater leadership and ownership of initiatives addressing regional challenges in the Sahel. There is evidence of enhanced partnership and coordination between the countries of the region and international partners using various platforms established by the G5 Sahel, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).

    Thirdly, the United Nations entities working in the region have improved coordination and coherence in the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. My office has made ownership of projects by the countries of the region the hallmark of its regional programming by ensuring full consultations and effective operational partnerships with regional organisations, governments, civil society and beneficiary communities.

    We have, in an innovative manner, worked closely with several United Nations agencies, funds and programmes which are now jointly developing and implementing projects aimed at addressing multi-dimensional issues in the areas of governance, security and resilience. In that regard, significant progress has been made in the development of regional projects by United Nations entities and the International Organisation for Migration, in collaboration with regional organisations and countries of the region.

    I recognise the central responsibility of the Sahel countries to take the lead in finding solutions to the challenges they face. I am, however, also obliged to admit that the Sahel is a victim of the effects of global phenomena such as climate change, drug trafficking, violent extremism and the global economic decline which surpass the nations’ capacity to address them, and which require diverse tools to mitigate and prevent these trends.

     

    Mr. President,

    As I conclude, I would like to make two recommendations:

    First, I would urge the Security Council to remain engaged in support of the Sahel region.

    Second, I would urge the Security Council to fully use existing mechanisms to better monitor, report on and prevent the trafficking of weapons, drugs and persons in the Sahel region. This trade finances terror and instability, and must be choked if our efforts are to be successful. I would also like to highlight the importance of listing all those who indirectly finance or support terrorist activities in the Sahel. In that regard, I commend the efforts of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1267 and 1989 concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities, which has so far listed seven (7) entities and six (6) individuals who have their origins in the Sahel region.

    Finally, I encourage the international community to enhance its support to the United Nations and regional organizations in addressing cross cutting and trans-boundary issues. Together, we can prevent further deterioration of the situation in the Sahel.

    I thank you for your kind attention.

  • 23 Nov 2015

    It is an honour to be invited by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the occasion of the Observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

    My Department, through the Division for Palestinian Rights, provides substantive support to help the Committee implement its mandate. That mandate is to raise international awareness on the question of Palestine and on the urgency of finding a peaceful settlement to this question on the basis of international law and United Nations resolutions.

    I wish to thank the Committee for organising this photo exhibit. These powerful photographs feature child victims of the hostilities in Gaza who are still suffering from the slow reconstruction of the territory. In Gaza, children older than six have already endured three conflicts. Children aged 9 or less have only known life in Gaza under the blockade.

    Today, as we observe the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, it is also worth recalling that on 20 November, we commemorated Universal Children’s Day. The majority of the Palestinian population is made up of youth. I urge Member States not to lose sight of the impact conflicts have on children in particular, not only owing to the physical and psychological traumas, but also for the loss of hope they bring about. That hopelessness has political, long-term repercussions. We all must protect children caught up in conflict. This is an obligation under international humanitarian, human rights norms and refugee law. It is our obligation as human beings.

    This exhibit is primarily a much needed reminder of this collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable populations from the scourge of war. But it  is also a reminder that it is past time for the international community to assume its responsibility to help bring about a peaceful solution to the question of Palestine.