Security Council Roundup: February 2022
February was marked by six Security Council meetings on the situation in and around Ukraine. Under Russian presidency, the Council held two high-level debates: on preventing humanitarian and unintended consequences of UN sanctions; and on cooperation between the United Nations and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in maintaining international peace and security. The Council held 7 briefings on situations under the purview of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA).
Preventing humanitarian and unintended consequences of UN sanctions
United Nations sanctions are no longer the blunt instrument they once were, but concerns remain, said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs briefing the Council on 7 February. Various resolutions make it clear that sanctions are “not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian populations”, she stated. DiCarlo said that UN sanctions remain a vital tool to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security, but are not an end in themselves. To be effective, they should be part of a comprehensive political strategy, working in tandem with direct political dialogue, mediation, peacekeeping and special political missions, for example supporting conflict resolution in Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Yemen, deterring unconstitutional changes of the Government in Guinea-Bissau, and curbing the illicit exploitation of natural resources that fund the activities of armed groups in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
To read the Under-Secretary-General’s remarks, click here
On 8 February, the Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, briefed the Council during closed consultations on Burkina Faso. He stressed to Council members that the current situation in the country demands continued attention and a coordinated response. He called for a roadmap for a consensual and reasonable transition to be put in place to restore constitutional order. This, he said, is an essential condition for meeting the many challenges the country is facing. He also reiterated his commitment to closely coordinate his good offices work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help Burkina Faso quickly emerge from this crisis.
James Swan, Special Representative for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) told the Council on 15 February that while occasional flare-ups of political tensions among some Somali leaders have so far been contained, a real risk remains that a miscalculation could spill over into conflict. He also noted that national elections are now more than a year behind the constitutionally prescribed schedule. In the past months, Upper House elections were concluded, and the pace of the House of the People elections progressed considerably, but “while this is a welcome development, this pace needs to be further accelerated,” he stressed. Only 130 of 275 seats of the House of the People have been filled to date, with 22% going to women candidates, a shortfall of the agreed 30% quota. In this vein, he urged all Somalia actors to redouble their efforts to meet this target.
To read his full remarks, click here
Following weeks of a military escalation that has stretched beyond Yemen’s borders into the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy for Yemen, in his briefing to the Council on 15 February, stressed that the conflict could spiral out of control. “It should be obvious to everyone just how high the stakes have become,” he said. Grundberg stated that a “way out of this war” still exists, outlining his work on a framework plan to move the parties towards an inclusive political settlement — while also continuing to explore options to fast-track de-escalation. “Through this process, the warring sides’ interests can be addressed within the context of a broader Yemeni agenda along the three tracks of political, security and economic matters,” he said. As part of those efforts, he would begin a series of structured bilateral consultations aimed at informing and refining the framework, engaging with the warring parties, political parties, representatives of civil society and Yemeni experts, among others.
To read his remarks, click here
Cooperation between the UN and the Collective Security Treaty Organization
“No single organization can alone ensure peace, security and development in a complex and rapidly changing world; it requires partnership across all levels — from the local to the regional to the global,” Secretary-General António Guterres said on 16 February at the Council. Now more than ever, a more effective United Nations depends on stronger and deeper cooperation with regional partners, among them, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Priority areas for action include cooperation on conflict prevention, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics, peacekeeping and addressing the worsening situation in Afghanistan.
To read a summary of the meeting, click here.
On 17 February, in an emergency meeting, the Council heard from Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo about the evolving situation in Ukraine. “Whatever one believes about the prospect of such a confrontation, the reality is that the current situation is extremely dangerous,” she stressed. Noting that the issues underpinning the crisis are both complex and long-standing — and touch on matters relating to the broader European security architecture — she said that, while seemingly intractable, they can and must be resolved through diplomacy.
In another emergency meeting late on 21 February, quoting the Secretary-General’s statement on the matter, DiCarlo said that the Russian Federation’s decree to recognize the independence of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the latter’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. “We very much regret this decision, which risks having regional and global repercussions.” She said the coming hours and days will be critical, warning that the risk of major conflict is “real” and must be prevented at all costs.
In opening remarks at another emergency meeting late on 23 February, Secretary-General António Guterres called on Russian President Putin to stop the troops from attacking Ukraine. “Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died,” he urged. Offering context, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo said Ukraine’s authorities had declared a nationwide state of emergency amid disturbing reports of heavy shelling across the contact line and repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure. But nearly an hour into the meeting, President Putin announced in a televised speech the start of an operation to “demilitarize” its neighbor. After the Council meeting concluded, calling it the saddest moment in his tenure as Secretary-General, Guterres called on the Russian President directly: “In the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia. In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century.”
On 25 February, the Council rejected a draft resolution intended to end the Russian Federation’s military offensive against Ukraine. The draft, submitted by Albania and the United States, garnered support from 11 members but was vetoed by the Russian Federation. China, India and the United Arab Emirates all abstained.
The Council, on 27 February, at its fourth meeting on the situation in Ukraine in a week, called an emergency special session of the General Assembly at which the world body can decide whether to use armed force, when necessary, to maintain or restore international peace and security. By a recorded vote of 11 in favor to 1 against, with 3 abstentions, the Council adopted resolution 2623 (2022). The procedural resolution precludes the use of a veto by the Council’s permanent members. An emergency special session of the General Assembly can be requested by the Security Council on the vote of any nine members, or by a majority of the members of the United Nations.
On 28 February, Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said: “We have all been watching the military offensive in Ukraine with a sense of disbelief and horror.” The scale of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure has been alarming. More people need to be reached with aid, and parties to the conflict must provide assurances that humanitarian workers and movements will be protected “even during the most severe days of the conflict”, he emphasized.
To read her 17 February remarks, click here
To read her 21 February remarks, click here
To read her 23 February remarks, click here
To read a meeting summary from 25 February, click here
To read a meeting summary from 27 February, click here
To read a meeting summary from 28 February, click here
Providing political and security updates to Council members, Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti Helen La Lime on 18 February, said that progress towards a sustainable democratic path in the country hinges on rebuilding crumbling institutions and forging an inclusive dialogue to foster stability and peace alongside a time-bound electoral calendar. She pointed out that Haiti “remains fraught and highly polarized despite some signs of progress”. To date there has been no progress in establishing accountability for the 2020 assassination of Monferrier Dorval or the 2018 massacre in La Saine, while the national investigation into the assassination of President Jovenal Moïse has stalled. At the same time, gang violence continues to terrorize communities across Haiti, and a new layer of complexity was added by the effects of the August 2021 earthquake, with 4.9 million people — 43 per cent of the population — needing assistance in 2022.
To read the Special Representative’s full remarks, click here
On 23 February, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, gave detailed updates on the situation on the ground and the political process, calling for a package of incremental — but significant and durable — steps that reflect a more coherent strategy to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and chart the way towards a two-State reality. “Getting there requires political leadership,” he said, urging Israelis, Palestinians, regional States and the broader international community to take firm action that enables the parties to re-engage on the path towards meaningful negotiations. Wennesland said that there were some encouraging economic initiatives, but that “we must push beyond the paradigm of managing, rather than resolving the conflict.” Economic steps alone, he said, will not put us on the path toward a just and lasting peace. “There is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict.”
To read the Special Coordinator’s full remarks, click here
A stagnant government formation process following Iraq’s largely peaceful elections last October is stalling urgently needed reforms, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) told the Council on 24 February. “Precious time” is passing while the political impasse continues. The ensuing vacuum is “risky business, with potentially far-reaching consequences undermining Iraq’s stability in the short and long run”, she stressed, emphasizing the need for meaningful reform to work towards durable solutions to the country’s formidable financial, economic and environmental challenges and to meet the urgent aspirations of its people for employment opportunities, security, public service delivery and justice. She called on all stakeholders to focus on what really matters, to unite instead of competing. “All efforts should centre on resolving outstanding issues, not by way of a power grab, but in a spirit of partnership and cooperation,” she stressed.
To read her full remarks, click here
Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen, on 25 February, cautioned that “it is plain that there is a stalemate, that there is acute suffering and that a political solution is the only way out.” This requires a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process, supported by constructive, global diplomatic efforts, he said, “however hard that is, and especially right now”. He warned that “all signs of an ongoing hot conflict” still exist and that “any of a number of flashpoints could ignite a broader conflagration”. Pedersen outlined several arenas for ongoing discussion, including the upcoming session of the Small Body of the Syrian-owned, Syrian-led, United Nations-facilitated Constitutional Committee, set to be held in March 2022. In addition, he met with the Women’s Advisory Board in Norway and is set to attend the Civil Society Support Room in Geneva. He emphasized that he is always encouraged to see discussions “on how to rebuild a Syrian society based on common civic values of independence, participation, plurality, transparency, dialogue and equality”. Alongside these efforts, he engaged with the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiations Commission, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Turkey and the Russian Federation.
To read his full remarks at the Security Council, click here
The global fight against the ever-shifting threat posed by Da’esh and its affiliates remains a “long-term game” for which there are “no quick fixes”, Vladimir Voronkov, Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism told the Council on 9 February. Recent events demonstrate the very real threat still posed by Da’esh, Al-Qaida and their spin-off groups.
On 15 February, the Council adopted resolution 2620 (2022) unanimously, extending through 12 March 2023 the Panel of Experts on Sudan. The Council requested the Panel of Experts to provide updates every three months on its work, as well as an interim report in August 2022 and a final report in January 2023 with its findings and recommendations.
Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), briefing the Council on 22 February, said while slow progress is being made to advance the peace process in the country, the new Government faces a host of challenges, including the resumption of republican dialogue, restoration of State authority and holding of elections for the first time in three decades.
The same day, Council members unanimously adopted a resolution confirming that the United Nations Compensation Commission has fulfilled its mandate in processing claims and paying compensation for losses and damage suffered by Kuwait as a direct result of Iraq’s unlawful invasion and occupation of its territory in 1990. The Council reaffirmed that Iraq has fulfilled its international obligations to compensate all claimants awarded compensation by the Commission for direct loss, damage — including environmental damage and the depletion of natural resources — or injury to foreign Governments, nationals and corporations.
Jim Kelly (Ireland), Chair of the Council’s Sanctions Committee on Somalia told the Council in a briefing on 24 February that Ali Mohamed Rage, spokesperson of the al-Shabaab armed group has been listed. The related Panel of Experts elaborated the areas on which it will focus under its mandate, renewed on 15 November 2021.
On 25 February, the Council unanimously renewed the mandate of its committee monitoring implementation of a resolution aiming to prevent non-State actors from acquiring nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and their means of delivery.
On 28 February, UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu said in a Council meeting on Syria that impunity for the use of chemical weapons is “intolerable”. “Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and the absence of accountability for the past use of such weapons remains a blight on the conscience of the international community,” she said.