The Security Council in June
The Head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) talks to members of the Syrian opposition.
© UN Photo / Neeraj Singh
China, one of the five permanent members, is taking over the presidency of the Security Council. One of the subjects the UN body will deal with is the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. Its agenda moreover includes extending the mandates of several UN missions as well as the annual joint meeting with the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
As in recent months, the Security Council will also be concentrating on developments in Syria. Consultations concerning the UNSMIS Supervision Mission are scheduled for 7 and 26 June. On 21 April, the Security Council decided to send up to 300 UNSMIS observers to Syria to monitor the cessation of armed violence. Their task is also to support the implementation of Kofi Annan’s peace plan. Germany is a contributor to UNSMIS, providing personnel, material and logistical support.
Depending on developments on the ground, Syria will also be put on the agenda of other Security Council meetings.
The Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
UNAMID peacekeepers in Darfur
© UN Photo / Albert Gonzalez Farran
Several African conflict hot spots will feature prominently on the Council’s June agenda. On 5 June, for instance, there will be a briefing by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague concerning his investigations into crimes against international law committed in the West Sudanese Darfur region. These briefings are conducted every six months, the most recent one in December 2011, when Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who will hold the office of ICC Prosecutor until the end of June, informed the Council of the situation.
The Security Council had tasked the ICC with investigating the situation in Darfur in its Resolution 1593 of March 2005.
Since 2003, there have been many violent clashes in Darfur between native African farming tribes which have traditionally rival interests. The Sudanese Government armed and continues to support the Janjaweed mounted militias, who frequently attack civilians. According to UN estimates more than 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and millions displaced.
In 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants for the Janjaweed leader and a former Minister of State for the Interior of the Government of the Sudan. Three further rebel leaders are being investigated. In 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir, followed in March 2012 by one for Defence Minister Hussein. The Sudan refuses to cooperate with the ICC.
Another item on the Council’s agenda is the extension of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO). Established as MONUC in 1999, it is the largest UN peacekeeping mission, comprising around 19,000 soldiers and police officers as well as additional civilian personnel, local staff and UN volunteers.
MONUSCO blue helmets in the DR Congo
© UN Photo / Sylvain Liechti
In July 2010, MONUSCO was given what is known as a robust mandate. That is, it may use all necessary means in self-defence and for the protection of civilians and the mission itself. Apart from protecting civilians and humanitarian personnel MONUSCO assists the Congolese Government in safeguarding internal peace and security.
The Security Council will also look at other crisis and post-conflict countries in Africa. Meetings are planned which will focus on Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed group in Central Africa, among other items.
Meeting with the African Union
For much of the last two decades, the Security Council has been deeply involved in conflict resolution on the African continent. It increasingly aims to involve regional organizations in this process. Since 2007, there have been annual meetings with the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to discuss strategies for conflict resolution and possible forms of cooperation. This year’s meeting is scheduled for 13 June. The agenda includes items such as the Sudan/South Sudan, Somalia, Guinea-Bissau and Mali.
Chapter VIII of the UN Charter provides the legal basis for UN cooperation with regional organizations. The latters’ role was given more concrete shape by then Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, who spelled out their importance for conflict prevention and peacekeeping in his 1992 Agenda for Peace.
Since 2002, when the OAU was transformed into the African Union and its Peace and Security Council established, cooperation between the UN Security Council and the AU has become ever more important.
Protection of civilians
For 25 June, an open debate is scheduled on the protection of civilian populations during armed conflicts. This subject is dealt with by the Security Council twice a year; the most recent discussion took place in November 2011.
The Security Council is the most powerful UN body. It is composed of five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and ten non permanent members elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term. The presidency rotates on a monthly basis according to the alphabetical order of the English names of the countries currently serving on the Council.
Last updated 30.05.2012