Security Council Roundup: October 2021

A wide view of the Security Council meeting on peace and security in Africa.

In October, the Security Council held its annual high-level open debate on Women, Peace and Security to discuss the challenges and gaps that continue to prevent women from having an equal say. The Council also heard seven briefings on the work of political missions or peace processes under the purview of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and held meetings on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, United Nations-African Union cooperation and the situation in Ethiopia.


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 on the question concerning Haiti.

Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Haiti and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) on 4 October urged Council members to ensure that Haiti does not become a forgotten crisis. She said the country was undergoing one of the most fraught periods of its recent history. Already reeling from the 7 July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, Haiti was struck on 14 August by a devastating earthquake which affected over 800,000 people in its southwestern peninsula. Now long-awaited national and local elections have been further postponed, while insecurity has become rampant in Port-au-Prince, with gangs extending their control over large swaths of the city. In addition, thousands of migrants who had sought better living conditions in neighboring countries are being repatriated. “For most observers, it is difficult to envision an end to the country’s seemingly never-ending crises which have pushed the resilience of the Haitian people to the brink,” La Lime said. But through urgent, determined and concerted action, Haiti’s citizens can address the deep structural challenges, as well as the governance and development deficits, which feed the country’s instability, insecurity, and ever-growing humanitarian needs, she added.

To read her full remarks, click here


Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Security Council meeting on peace and security in Africa.

Secretary-General António Guterres on 6 October in the Council denounced Ethiopia’s expulsion of seven senior United Nations officials, most of them humanitarian staff leading critical aid operations amid the conflict in Tigray. “This unprecedented expulsion should be a matter of deep concern for us all as it relates to the core of relations between the United Nations and Member States,” Guterres said. He reiterated his warning that a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding in Ethiopia. He urged the new Government of Ethiopia led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to unite all Ethiopians, focus on the future and return Ethiopia to its place as a strong, unified, stable leader among nations. “Without peace, the challenges facing Ethiopia will intensify and further destabilize the broader Horn of Africa region and beyond,” Guterres added.

To read the Secretary-General’s remarks, click here
To read the Secretary-General right of reply at the Council, click here

Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the Security Council meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace, with a focus on diversity, state building and the search for peace.

Speaking at the Ministerial Open Debate on “Peacebuilding and Sustainable Peace: Diversity, Statebuilding and the Search for Peace” on 12 October, the Secretary-General said that even if parties to conflict settle their differences, the process of building peace can only be made possible by including diverse voices at every step of the process. “Longstanding grievances, inequalities, mistrust and social divisions do not simply vanish when the fighting stops,” he said. Inclusion, particularly gender-equality, is foundational to building sustainable peace, he continued. “When we open the door to inclusion and participation, we take a giant step forward in conflict-prevention and peacebuilding,” Guterres said. Further, he said countries should ensure a greater voice is provided for subnational regions, as excluding them risks giving rise to instability and fueling future resentments. “For countries emerging from the horrors of conflict and looking to a better future — indeed for all countries — diversity must not be seen as a threat,” he said, adding: “It is a source of strength. An anchor of peace and stability in parts of the world that have seen too little of either […] and the rallying point of a better future.”

Read his full remarks to the Council here


A view of a UN Interpreter as Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Yemen).

Hans Grundberg, Special Envoy for Yemen, warned the Council on 14 October that the gap in trust between warring parties is wide and growing. While interim progress should be made on urgent humanitarian and economic matters, a durable solution can only be achieved through a comprehensive negotiated political settlement, he stressed. There should be no preconditions for these urgent political talks and humanitarian measures should not be used as political leverage. Grundberg underscored that a comprehensive negotiated political settlement is needed to end the violence once and for all. He emphasized: “Let us not fool ourselves, this will be a laborious and complicated task that will take time, but it must take place.” His aim is to forge agreement on a way forward, he stated, adding that such an agreement will require support from Security Council members, regional States and the broader international community.

Read Special Envoy Grundberg’s remarks here


Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia, briefs the Security Council meeting on the situation in Colombia. The Council heard a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia.

On 14 October, Special Representative Carlos Ruiz Massieu briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Colombia (S/2021/824). While acknowledging “unquestionable advances” made, including in reconciliation efforts and the creation of seats in Congress that will allow the democratic participation of people from areas hardest-hit by the conflict, he warned that, if all elements of the accord are not fully implemented, its transformative potential will remain unfulfilled, and eradicating the challenges that led to the protracted conflict will remain impossible. Ruiz Massieu said that the elections planned for 2022 present an important opportunity for local populations to elect their candidates for the special electoral districts for peace. The success of that process requires a genuine commitment by all actors to foster an electoral campaign free of stigmatization.

To read Special Representative Ruiz Massieu’s full remarks, click here

The situation in the Middle East

A wide view of the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, as Gilad Erdan, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, takes his seat at the left end of the table. On the screen are: Tor Wennesland (upper left), Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; Hanan Ashrawi (upper right), Political and civil society leader; and Daniel Levy, President of the U.S./Middle East Project.

“We can no longer lurch from crisis to crisis” in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland warned the Council in his briefing on 19 October. A broader package of parallel steps by the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community is needed, he said, adding that such a framework should begin to address key political, security and economic challenges that are preventing progress. Wennesland welcomed the ongoing engagement between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials, which can pave the way towards reinvigorating the peace process. He noted however that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to deteriorate and no progress has been seen towards realizing a two‑State solution. This political stagnation is fueling tensions, instability and a deepening sense of hopelessness.

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

Great Lakes Region

Huang Xia, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, briefs the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Great Lakes region. The Council hears a Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.

On 20 October, Special Envoy Huang Xia, briefing Council members on the situation in Africa’s Great Lakes region told ambassadors that the countries concerned now stand “at a crossroads”. For Xia, the main threat to peace and stability in this region remains the persistence of non-State armed groups. He pointed to “an upsurge in attacks”, whether by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), or those launched by the RED-Tabara against Bujumbura airport, in Burundi, last September. “This violence continues to have serious consequences on the already fragile humanitarian situation, as well as on the socio-economic stability of the affected area”, the Special Envoy said. Despite the challenges, he highlighted several bilateral and regional initiatives, saying they “attest to the emergence of a community aware of the added value of dialogue and cooperation.”

To read his full remarks in French, click here

Women, Peace and Security

A wide view of the Security Council open debate on women and peace and security.

On 21 October, Secretary-General Guterres, warning that an “avalanche of crises” including an uptick in military coups and armament races, is rapidly setting back the clock on women’s rights, made a fervent call to Council members to put women front and center in peacebuilding efforts worldwide. “Today, women’s leadership is a cause, tomorrow, it must be the norm,” he told the Council members during their day-long in-person debate on women, peace and security. Noting that conflict prevention is at the heart of women-led movements, he pointed out that his latest report on women, peace and security (S/2021/827) shows that an increase in investment in arms led to a rise in insecurity and inequality suffered by women. Gender inequality is the most “stubborn and persistent” of all inequalities, he said.

Full remarks by the Secretary-General here

Sudan and South Sudan

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, briefs the Security Council meeting on the Sudan and South Sudan. The Council hears a report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Abyei.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, told the Council on 27 October that most of what he was reporting “may sound a bit removed from the unfolding situation in Sudan”, but also hoped that “the recent positive trend will not be derailed.” He said the two countries have been deepening their relationship, pointing out several high-level visits and initiatives in support of each other’s peace processes. For the Special Envoy, a newly agreed deal to resume export and border trade is a crucial step, but has so far not materialized, having been overtaken by the unfolding events in Sudan.

To read Special Envoy Onanga-Anyanga’s full remarks, click here


Geir Pedersen (on screens), Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefs the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Syria).

Geir O. Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria, briefing the Council on 27 October on the sixth session of the Small Drafting Body of the Constitutional Committee held from 18 to 22 October in Geneva — bringing together delegates appointed by the Government, opposition and civil society — said that despite “frank, open and businesslike” interactions between the parties, by the final day, the 45 members of the body were unable to progress to a productive textual drafting process. Further, he noted that a commitment on meeting twice before the year‑end was “regrettably not possible”. Nonetheless, he emphasized that it is important for the Committee to continue its work with urgency and purpose. “I remain convinced that progress on the Constitutional Committee could, if done the right way, help to build some trust and confidence,” he stated, adding: ”But let me stress that this requires real determination and the political will to try to build some common ground.”

To read his full remarks, click here

UN-African Union Cooperation

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed briefs the Security Council videoconference debate in connection with Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations (African Union).

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed during the Council meeting on the cooperation between the UN and the African Union on 28 October said that despite “worrisome developments”, Africans continue to work relentlessly for a prosperous, sustainable and peaceful continent, based on the universal principles of human rights, as witnessed through growing cooperation between the UN, AU and sub-regional organizations on sustainable development, elections and peace processes. The Deputy Secretary-General cited the example of Libya, where the UN, AU, League of Arab States, and European Union, are working to support the ceasefire agreement and prepare for upcoming elections. Citing Our Common Agenda, she underlined the need to “reembrace global solidarity” to find new ways to work together for the common good of all people in every country. “Ultimately, sustainable and inclusive development is our best chance to address the root causes of conflict and achieve a future of peace and prosperity for all”, she said.

To read her full remarks, click here

Other meetings

A wide view of the Security Council meeting on small arms and light weapons.

Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told the Council on 4 October that as a result of unresolved identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Technical Secretariat’s assessment is that at this stage, the declaration submitted by Syria could not be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Government should facilitate arrangements for the deployment of the Team as soon as possible, Nakamitsu stressed.

On 6 October, Nakamitsu told the Council that the proliferation and stockpiling of illicit weapons continues to threaten international peace and security, exacerbating the plight of civilians in strife-torn countries worldwide. She encouraged the Council to integrate weapons and ammunition management considerations into its work, as poorly maintained stockpiles pose humanitarian hazards and are known sources of weapons diversion which impact peace in conflict and post‑conflict settings.

“Trust continues to be the element in shortest supply”, said Zahir Tanin, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in his briefing to the Council on 15 October. Noting that the enforcement of a new licence plate validity regime in northern Kosovo had sparked a flare‑up between Serbia and Kosovo, he warned that “History in the region has tragically and repeatedly shown that ostensibly small incidents, misreading of intentions and outright mistakes can trigger an unstable security escalation that puts lives at risk and benefits no one”.

Unabating attacks by illegal armed groups in the Central African Republic are exacerbating the already‑fragile security situation and undermining valuable progress made in establishing institutional stability, Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Mankeur Ndiaye told the Council on 15 October.

The Council decided on 15 October to extend the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) to 15 July 2022 and requested the Secretary-General to assess its mandate, including whether and how it could be adjusted to address Haiti’s ongoing challenges.

Geraldine Byrne Nason (Ireland), Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 751 (1992) concerning Somalia, briefed the Council on the subsidiary body’s work between 15 June and 20 October. She said that the Committee had sent two letters covering issues concerning possible adjustment of the arms embargo, and measures to counter the funding of Al-Shabaab.

Through a presidential statement, the Council urged signatory states of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as regional organizations and the international community, to coordinate their efforts to undercut the economic lifelines of armed groups that benefit from the illegal exploitation and trade in natural resources, and to prevent the exploitation of women and children in the trade of these resources.

The Council in a presidential statement on 27 October requested the Secretary‑General to set up a dedicated team to assist the electoral process in South Sudan towards the country’s democratic future, as members also discussed the impact of the 25 October military coup d’état in Sudan on the bilateral border administration.

On 29 October, the Council extended the mandate of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia, noting the 5th anniversary of the peace agreement, urging the parties to build upon the progress made and address ongoing challenges, in particular the continued violence in conflict-affected areas.



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The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs