By J Nastranis
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – While the Middle East, counter-terrorism and Africa will draw the Security Council’s focus in February, the Kuwait Presidency has chosen as its centrepiece a ministerial-level briefing on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in the maintenance of international peace and security, with the Secretary-General as the main speaker.
Council President Mansour Ayyad Sh. A. Al-Otaibi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the UN in New York, told journalists on February 1 that It has also planned an open debate on working methods. Kuwait is the chair of the Working Group on Documentation and Other Procedural Questions.
Kuwait is assuming the presidency of one of the most influential and principal organs of the United Nations – which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security – for the second time in 39 years since its 1978-1979 term as a non-permanent member of the 15-nation body.
Each member has one vote, the permanent members of the council known as the “P5”, including China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while the ten non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. The current members include: Sweden, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Poland and Peru.
An open debate on the Council’s working methods would take place on February 6, followed by a high-level meeting on the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter on February 21, chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait with the Secretary-General briefing. The open debate will be the first of its kind since July 2016.
While no outcome is expected from the open debate, Kuwait aims to receive from the UN’s broader membership practical proposals for how to enhance the Council’s working methods in a way that would enable it to improve its effectiveness and better fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.
The Middle East issues will shine with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, attending the Council meeting on the situation in the region, including the question of Palestine, on February 20.
Responding to questions, Al-Otaibi said it would be for Council members to listen to Palestine Authority’s Abbas directly. No Council member opposed his presence, he said, adding that there was no information so far as to whether Israel would participate.
Other Middle East issues that will be considered are an update on the activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), the regular monthly meeting on Israel-Palestine, and an update on the political process and humanitarian situation in Yemen.
In addition to the February 20 briefing, Al-Otaibi said, the Council would also hold an Arria formula meeting on the Middle East on February 22, with Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, invited to attend.
Asked about Carter’s participation and the Arria formula meeting, he said the former United States President – during whose term in office the Camp David Accords were agreed – had followed the question of Palestine for a long time, and that his positions on Israeli settlements were widely known. He had a role to play and that was why he was invited.
The political, humanitarian and chemical weapons dimensions of the conflict in Syria would be discussed during three separate meetings during the Kuwait presidency of the Council, while the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Yemen would brief Council members on February 27.
The Council President admitted that differences remained between Council members on Syria and chemical weapons, and that experts were discussing a draft resolution put forward by the Russian Federation.
He added that efforts were continuing to reach consensus on a presidential statement on humanitarian aspects of the conflict that would support a list of five priorities set out by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.
There will be two counter-terrorism briefings: one on UN counter-terrorism efforts against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, by Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism; and the other on a report from the 1373 Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on the implementation of resolution 2341 concerning critical infrastructure.
Consultations were scheduled for February 26 on non-proliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands participating in his capacity as Chair of the 1718 Sanctions Committee, Al-Otaibi told media representatives.
The Council would hold briefings and/or adopt resolutions pertaining to Sudan sanctions on February 8, Guinea-Bissau on February 14 and 27, Central Africa Republic on February 22, South Sudan on February 27 and Burundi on February 26.
The Council’s quarterly meeting on Kosovo is expected to take place on February 7.
Asked about the Council’s recent visit to Washington, D.C., where members were shown pieces of a missile said to have been of Iranian origin and fired by Houthi rebels in Yemen, he said it seemed an attempt was being made to propose a presidential statement on the matter, with consultations taking place outside the Chamber. [IDN-InDepthNews – 05 February 2018]
Photo: Mansour Al-Otaibi (centre), Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of February, briefs journalists on the Council’s programme of work for the month. 01 February 2018. United Nations, New York. UN Photo/Evan Schneider.
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