Security Council Roundup: June 2021

The Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 2579 (2021), extending the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) until 3 June 2022. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

June saw the Security Council move away from virtual consultations and towards the holding of more in-person meetings. A total of six Special Envoys, Special Coordinators and Special Representatives leading UN political missions or peace processes under the purview of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) briefed the 15-member organ on issues ranging from the need for stability in Yemen and the proposed referendum in Haiti, to the uptick in violence in Afghanistan and the need to solidify the ceasefire in Gaza.

Central Africa

On 7 June, the Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), François Louncény Fall, briefed the Council on the situation in Central Africa. He noted that continued violence threatened stability and the safety of civilians.

SRSG Fall (on screen) briefs the Security Council on the Central African region, 7 June, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Fall also highlighted the situation in Chad following the death of President Idriss Déby Itno, which mirrored other challenges in the subregion in addressing the consequences of unexpected changes in government. He welcomed efforts to overcome border tensions between Chad and the Central African Republic.

The SRSG noted the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the mandate of UNOCA be extended for a further three years, which could help Member States with regard to security challenges, as well as promote the involvement of women, youth and civil society.

To watch his briefing to the Council, click here.

Yemen

On 15 June, Martin Griffiths, Special Envoy for Yemen, gave his final briefing in that role. He will go on to succeed Mark Lowcock as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. Griffiths told the Council that “No amount of humanitarian assistance can compensate for the prospect of a brighter future”, underscoring that “only a negotiated political settlement can truly turn the tide in Yemen”. In that regard, he said that “the parties to the conflict need to be courageous enough and willing to choose that path over the continuation of the conflict”.

The Security Council meets on Yemen, 15 June, 2021. On the screen are SRSG Martin Griffiths (upper right), USG Mark Lowcock (upper left), and Najiba Al Naggar, founding Member and Programmes Manager of SOS Center for Youth Capabilties and Development. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Griffiths continued by noting that, while he was “painting a bleak picture”, he wanted to emphasize “the achievements of Yemenis who…daily work to open roads, release prisoners, irrespective of the diplomatic mediation or its absence between their leaders”. They have also carried out initiatives that “span from non-partisan media platforms to mobilization and organization of activism of civil society and community safety networks”. These, he said, “are courageous efforts and they are the hope and future of that wonderful and currently tragic country”.

The people of Yemen want “stability based on rights and freedom”, Griffiths concluded. To that end, they needed “a government accountable to its people, united in support of fundamental rights, and an open and prosperous economy linked to the region and beyond”.

To read his full remarks, click here.

Haiti

On 17 June, Helen La Lime, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), told the Security Council on that the polarization of Haitian politics is ever-growing and that technical preparations for the referendum have been faced with critical operational delays. “A political consensus remains the best possible means to holding a peaceful process that will allow the Haitian people to fully exercise their right to vote”, she said.

Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, briefs the Security Council meeting, 17 June, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

La Lime noted that there had been a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in Haiti in recent weeks, which prompted authorities to declare a new state of health emergency and, as a result, led the Provisional Electoral Council to postpone the proposed constitutional referendum scheduled to take place at the end of this month. In addition, she noted that a resurgence in inter-gang violence had caused the displacement of hundreds of families in several poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince and “deepened the sentiment of insecurity which pervades Haitian society”.

The Special Representative also sounded a deeper warning, highlighting that “in spite of several Haitian-led mediation efforts, the deep-rooted political crisis which has gripped the country for the better part of the last four years shows no sign of abating. A political agreement remains elusive, as the rhetoric used by some political leaders grows increasingly acrimonious”.

To read her full remarks, click here

Afghanistan

On 22 June, Special Representative and Head of United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Deborah Lyons briefed the Council on the situation in Afghanistan. She emphasized that there had been a continuous increase in violence over the last year, despite the commencement of peace talks in Doha last September.

SRSG and Head of UNAMA Deborah Lyons briefs the Council via videoconference, 22 June 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

On the Taliban, she noted that its “recent advances are even more significant and are as a result of an intensified military campaign”. Many districts that the group has taken surround provincial capitals, “suggesting that the Taliban are positioning themselves to try and take these capitals once foreign forces are fully withdrawn’. If this continues, she warned, “it would lead to increased and prolonged violence that would extend the suffering of the Afghan people and threaten to destroy much of what has been built and hard won in the past 20 years”.

Lyons called on all parties to the conflict to move away from the battlefield and return to the negotiating table.

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

The situation in the Middle East

On 24 June, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, updated the Security Council on developments in the region. He noted that Israel’s new coalition Government had been sworn in on 13 June, and went on to describe settlement-related clashes in the West Bank, as well as the launching of incendiary balloons and subsequent air strikes between 15 and 17 June.

Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland, briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 24 June, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

On Gaza, he said that the UN was coordinating the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and called on Member States to ensure that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has the resources it needs to carry out its operations.

He also reiterated that “the cessation of hostilities reached last month between Israel and Hamas remains very fragile” and that the UN was working with all concerned parties and partners to solidify a ceasefire and stabilize the situation in Gaza.

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

Syria

On 25 June, Special Envoy Geir Pedersen briefed the Council on the situation in Syria. He spoke on areas where common ground between concerned parties needed to be found, including the establishment of a nationwide ceasefire and countering terrorism. There are issues “where mutual and reciprocal actions could begin to make a positive difference for Syrians and give impetus to a political process”, he said.

Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pederson briefs the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, 25 June, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

The Special Envoy also noted that there were signs that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) was becoming stronger, while other listed groups also remained at large.

He also noted that a nationwide truce was necessary, as the current situation, with regional de-escalation and ceasefire agreements, could fall apart easily.

Watch his full remarks here.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, the head of DPPA, briefed on the Iran nuclear issue.

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo briefs the Security Council on the JCPOA on 30 June, 2021. Photo credit: UN Web TV.

She noted that the Secretary-General has always regarded the Plan to be the best way to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme remained exclusively peaceful. The context for its implementation, alongside resolution 2231 (2015), has improved since the last Council meeting on the subject.

Continued diplomatic efforts in Vienna offer an opportunity for the UN and Iran to “return to the full and effective implementation of the Plan and of the resolution”, she said, underscoring that this would be a welcome and crucial development. In so doing, the JCPOA would “serve as a powerful example of successful multilateral diplomacy and as proof that even the most contentious issues can be effectively addressed through dialogue, understanding and reciprocity”.

Read the Under-Secretary-General’s full remarks here.

Other meetings

On June 3, the Security Council extended the mandate of the Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, with the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2579 (2021). The Mission will continue to assist Sudan’s political transition and provide technical assistance to the drafting of the constitution. It will also support the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement.

Also on June 3, the Council adopted Resolution 2578 (2021), renewing the authorization to inspect vessels suspected of being in violation of the Libya arms embargo. On the same day, it was briefed by the Executive Director of UNEP on the SAFER tanker off the coast of Yemen, as well as on Syria by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Also that day, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, told the Council Syria that has yet to fulfill its obligations under the international instrument prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. [link needed].

On 8 June, the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) briefed the Council on the final judgement against Ratko Mladić by the Appeals Chamber. On 9 June, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor told the Council that Sudan must end impunity for atrocity crimes in Darfur. On 10 June, the Council held its annual debate on strengthening relations between the United Nations and the European Union, under its agenda item on cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.

On 14 June, Mali El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) briefed the Council via video-conference in the wake of a coup d’etat that had cast a shadow on efforts to restore an elected democratic government.

Also on 14 June, the Chair of the Security Council’s sanctions regime told members that the updated sanctions, which now include three additional members of Al-Shabaab, can help the Somali government in its fight against the armed group. On the same day, the head of the sanctions committee for Darfur reaffirmed the need for targeted sanctions.

On 21 June, SRSG and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) briefed the Council on the security and humanitarian challenges facing that country. On 23 June, the Council was briefed on the situation in the Central African Republic and the work of MINUSCA.

The Council also held open debates on children in armed conflict on 28 June and cyber security on 29 June.

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