Security Council Monthly Roundup: April 2021

Security Council members hold a videoconference on the Middle East (Syria) on 28 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

April saw six envoys leading UN political missions or peace processes under the purview of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) brief the Security Council on issues ranging from proposed ceasefires in Yemen and Syria to the progress made to implement the Colombia Peace Agreement and improved relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

Below are some key takeaways from those discussions:

Great Lakes Region

On 12 April, Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Huang Xia briefed the Council on a recently proposed new plan for consolidating peace and preventing conflict. The Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution was submitted to the Secretary-General in the latter part of 2020, with the aim of drawing on UN offices and agencies to support the region’s humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding efforts, he said.

Xia also presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the implementation of the 2013 Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. He noted that leaders of countries in the region, including the presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, remain committed to the Framework and are working to end violence committed by armed groups in the eastern part of the DRC.

Special Envoy Huang Xia (on screen) briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Great Lakes Region, 12 April, 2021. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

He also highlighted that, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the region are “on the right track” and have shown resilience in the face of the crisis.

To read a transcript of his full remarks in French, click here.

Yemen

On 15 April, Martin Griffith, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, told the Security Council that more must be done to ease what is still the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. “The way to end the war is known, and its principal elements frequently discussed with the parties,” he said. Not only must humanitarian concerns be addressed, but a national ceasefire must be called for so that the parties “do not walk back to war”.

Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, briefs the videoconference with Security Council members on 15 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Griffiths also painted a picture of what Yemen might look like after a ceasefire, noting that “the guns will fall silent; and the roads long blocked by front lines will open progressively…for the passage of goods, humanitarian first, but then for the free movement of people; for children to go to their schools without hindrance and for workers to return to their place of work across the lines that have impeded that”.

To read the Special Envoy’s full remarks, click here.

Colombia

On 21 April, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, told the Council that the signatories of the country’s 2016 peace agreement needed to “stay the course” and build upon the progress they have made, in the face of continued violence against former rebel fighters and community leaders.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC), briefs the virtual Security Council meeting on the situation in Colombia in a previous meeting on 21 January, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Massieu also noted that a 10 March meeting between President President Iván Duque and Comunes party leader Rodrigo Londoño was cause for optimism, as the two leaders are finding a way to move forward despite their differences.

To read the Special Representative’s full remarks in Spanish, click here.

The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

On 22 April, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General Tor Wennesland briefed the Council at an open debate.

Wennesland noted that “expectations for the holding of elections in Palestine are high and come after a long wait of almost fifteen years”. A successful outcome, he said, would aid reconciliation efforts with Israel and lead to a broader peace in the region. “The holding of credible Palestinian elections is a crucial step towards renewing the legitimacy of national institutions and re-establishing Palestinian national unity”, he said.

Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, briefs the open debate with Security Council members in connection with the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 22 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Wennesland also noted that he remained focused on a two-State solution, and that it was crucial that “the international community, particularly the Middle East Quartet, signal a way forward towards an end to occupation and the achievement of sustainable peace”.

Read his full remarks by clicking here.

Sudan and South Sudan

On 26 April, Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, briefed the Council as part of a meeting on Sudan and South Sudan, alongside the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, briefs the Security Council via videoconference, in connection with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and Sudan/South Sudan on 26 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN photo/Loey Felipe

The Special Envoy reminded the Council of the important progress that had been achieved for both Sudan and South Sudan since the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement.

Describing his recent visit to Sudan from 27 February to 2 March, he said that an exit strategy for UNISFA was discussed, as were relations between Khartoum and Juba. He further noted the February visit of Sudan’s Foreign Minister, Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi to South Sudan, during which the two countries continued to deepen their ties. They had agreed to form joint mechanisms to reactivate border trade agreements, which, he said, “will entail reopening trade corridors to benefit their two economies, thereby enabling the free movement of goods, services and people between both countries.”

On regional dynamics in the Horn of Africa, he noted the tense relationship between Ethiopia and Sudan and urged them to find a peaceful resolution to regional disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Syria

On 28 April, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Geir O. Pedersen, briefed the 15-member organ on the situation in the country, noting that all parties involved needed to prioritize finding a settlement to the conflict.

Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefs Security Council members on 28 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

“If this highly internationalized conflict is to move towards resolution, we need a more constructive and comprehensive international diplomacy on Syria to try to unlock progress step for step,” he said, noting that a nationwide ceasefire, as outlined in resolution 2254 (2015), was a prerequisite for such a settlement. Speaking on the planned 26 May election in Syria, Pedersen noted that it was not part of the political process established by that resolution.

Among other work in April, the Council extended measures against illicit petroleum exports from Libya; renewed the mandate of the 1540 Committee monitoring nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; and adopted a text on “the protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”. It also reviewed the situations in Mali, Kosovo and Western Sahara, all host to UN peacekeeping missions overseen by the Department of Peace Operations (DPO).

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